Catholic grassroots groups reject bishops' attack on Socialist reforms

7th January 2008, Comments 0 comments

Church has ignored realities facing Spanish families today, followers say.

7 January 2008

MADRID - A group of grassroots Catholics have come out against last weekend's demonstration organised by senior bishops, who publicly condemned the Socialist government for its reforms.

Known as Christian Network, the association of about 150 Catholic organisations across Spain issued a statement in which it claimed the bishops have overlooked the true problems facing Spanish families today.

"They have ignored the reality of many Catholics who with different visions live and experience family life, but according to the same values of the Gospel," the statement said.

A week ago Sunday, about 160,000 people attended a rally in Madrid's Plaza de Colón organised by Catholic bishops, who slammed reforms introduced by the Socialist government such as homosexual marriage and speedier divorces. In this unprecedented public dip into the turbulent waters of Spanish politics, the nation's top bishops charged that the government's policies have weakened human rights and eroded democracy. The Socialist Party responded with a strongly-worded statement in which it blamed the Church for "moving away from the essential foundations of democracy," and declared that "it will not take one step back on legislation that has extended the rights of Spaniards."

Because some senior Popular Party members were present during the demonstration, the Socialists have accused the opposition of instigating the rally as part of its campaign in the lead-up to the 9 March election.

Somos Iglesia (We are the Church), one of the Christian Network's groups that disagreed with the bishops' position, said the Church should address issues such as work and family life, the difficulties of finding decent housing, and domestic violence.

"It seems that this issue of family has only been centred on abortion, divorce and homosexual marriage," said Raquel Mallavibarrena Martínez de Castro, spokeswoman for Somos Iglesia.

[Copyright El Pais / JUAN G. BEDOYA 2008]

Subject: Spanish news

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