Vatican plays down row with Madrid over secularism
27 January 2005, VATICAN CITY- The Vatican played down its row with Madrid's left-wing government over Pope John Paul II's recent attack on what he saw as increasing secularism and moral laxity in Spain.
27 January 2005
VATICAN CITY- The Vatican played down its row with Madrid's left-wing government over Pope John Paul II's recent attack on what he saw as increasing secularism and moral laxity in Spain.
"We note with satisfaction the Spanish government's wish to maintain a fruitful understanding with the Church through a permanent dialogue inspired by mutual respect," said Vatican spokesman Joaquin Navarro-Valls.
But Navarro-Valls suggested Madrid itself was over-reacting, saying "an attentive reading" of the pope's criticism by the Spanish authorities would better illustrate the Church's position.
The move came after Spanish prime minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero hit back at the Pope over his criticism of the Socialist government.
Speaking in Buenos Aires, Zapatero rejected Pope Juan Paul II's attack against the Spanish government.
"Never before has Spain enjoyed the amount of religious, ideological and political freedoms that it has now," Zapatero said in a press conference in the Argentine capital, on the third day of a tour of South America.
Earlier, the Spanish foreign ministry summoned the Vatican's nuncio on to express "surprise" over recent severe criticism by the Pope over what he saw as increasing secularism and moral laxity in Spain.
Monsignor Manuel Monteiro de Castro, the Vatican's envoy to Madrid, was received by a deputy secretary of state, Luis Calvo Merino, who said the pope's remarks earlier this week had been surprising.
The pontiff called on Spanish Catholics on Monday to defend the Christian way of life, which he said was under attack in Spain in a climate of increasing secularism and moral laxity.
A Spanish government statement said Merino had expressed surprise that the pontiff had chosen "explicitly" to denounce "supposed secularism which will lead to the restriction of religious freedoms and promote a disrespect and
even ignorance of religion," in the pope's words.
On Tuesday, Spanish Defence Minister Jose Bono reacted by insisting that it was not up to the government to preach Christianity to the electorate.
"One cannot keep on criticising the government for its lay nature. It is not up to the government to preach Christianity," Bono told Spanish television.
[Copyright EFE with Expatica]
Subject: Spanish news