Government denies change in Church-state relationship
The government on Friday played down any possibility of changes to state-Church relations.18 February 2008
MADRID - The government on Friday played down any possibility of changes to state-Church relations, following speculation fuelled by Thursday's meeting between Prime Minister José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero and the Vatican's emissary in Madrid, Monsignor Manuel Monteiro.
"There was no talk about any changes to the government's policies toward the Church," said Deputy Prime Minister María Teresa Fernández de la Vega after the Friday cabinet meeting. De la Vega referred to bilateral relations between Spain and the Vatican as "good."
However, said De la Vega, both leaders talked about "what happened recently" and Zapatero asked for "mutual respect."
The deputy prime minister was referring to recent statements made by Spanish bishops that seemed to suggest that good Catholics should not vote for the Socialist Party - or in their words, for parties that defend same-sex marriage or uphold abortion. The government reacted by threatening to "make changes" to state-Church relations.
At the heart of the matter is the 1979 agreement signed between Spain and the Holy See granting the Catholic Church special legal and economic privileges, which no government has dared modify, even though Spain is officially a non-denominational state with no official religion.
[Copyright EL PAÍS 2008]
Subject: Spanish news