Tens of thousands attend Madrid mass in defence of family
Tens of thousands of people attended an open-air Roman Catholic mass in central Madrid on Friday in defence of the traditional family.
The Archbishop of Madrid, Antonio Maria Rouco Varela, railed against abortion and stressed that marriage should be between a man and a woman in his homily to the crowd gathered at the Plaza Colon.
"The number of children which our societies, which have Christian roots, have prevented from being born during the past three decades is just chilling," he said.
Before the start of the service, he read a message from Pope Benedict XVI to the faithful. In it, the head of the Roman Catholic Church urged families to "be guided by the Church".
Spain's previous Socialist government introduced a series of liberal social reforms including same-sex marriage, fast-track divorce and easier access to abortion, that have angered the Catholic Church.
Some of the faithful who attended Friday's mass said they hope the new conservative government of Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy which took office last week would adopt policies that are more in favour of the traditional family.
"I am confident that this government will defend the family more. We must defend this institution," said Carlona Otero, a 66-year-old retired secretary who attended the mass with her husband and three grandchildren.
Rajoy's Popular Party won a November 20 general election in a landslide, putting an end to nearly eight years of Socialist rule.
During the mass prayers were said for "married couples who must live apart for employment reasons" and "for grandparents and the elderly, to make sure they never lack affection from their families".
The crowd included couples pushing babies in strollers, grandparents surrounded by their grandchildren and groups of high school students.
Flags from Brazil, France, Italy, Portugal and Mexico were among those on display.
Three giant screens were set up to allow people to watch the proceedings from the large white stage topped by a huge cross set up in Plaza Colon.
© 2011 AFP