Spanish PM defends social reforms after papal criticism

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Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero defended Sunday his liberal social reforms which have angered the Vatican, a week after he skipped a mass celebrated by Pope Benedict XVI in Barcelona.

During his homily at the city's iconic Sagraga Familia church on November 7, the 83-year-old pope railed against same-sex marriage and divorce, saying families are built on the "indissoluble love of a man and a woman".

Zapatero, whose Socialist government has allowed gay marriage, eased access to abortion and sped up divorces, had never been scheduled to attend the service.

The prime minister was on a surprise visit to Afghanistan when the pope arrived in Santiago de Compostela in northwestern Spain on November 6.

He met with Benedict for about 10 minutes at Barcelona airport just before the pope departed for Rome at the end of his visit.

The leader of Spain's main opposition Popular Party, Mariano Rajoy, said Saturday that Zapatero had "not been up to the task" of prime minister with his absence from the papal mass in Barcelona.

"What does Rajoy want, that we put in place the laws that the pope wants? No, we will enact the laws that parliament and the citizens of this country want, for everyone and with equality," Zapatero said.

"They have not realised that it is up to each person to decide on morality," he added during a Socialist rally in the town of Viladecans near Barcelona.

Zapatero also skipped an open-air mass celebrated by Benedict in the Mediterranean port of Valencia in July 2006 during his first to Spain as pontiff.

The pope is scheduled to visit Spain again next year in what has been seen as a sign that Benedict sees the once once staunchly Roman Catholic country as a battleground for the future of the faith in Europe.

© 2010 AFP

3 Comments To This Article

  • Katie Murphy posted:

    on 15th November 2010, 05:55:39 - Reply

    I missed a few other items one item - I am retired and have time to talk all over the world on the internet. In europe - home base of Catholicism, only about 15% of catholics go to church regularly. And I'm told - it isnt satire - that most of those 15% are widows looking for husbands. I've even proud that in the DC area I recommneded that a widow go not to her catholic church, God forbid, but to the Episcopal church. this was in 2009. Last month I attended her wedding in that Episcopal church.

    I think the Europeans and others are trying to tell us something. Especially since there is no impeachment mechanism for the Pope and his ultraconservative Cardinals who have stray so far from Jesus that Jesus must be having nightmares.
  • katie Murphy posted:

    on 15th November 2010, 05:47:32 - Reply

    The German pope who UNexcommunicated a bishop williamson in 2009. Williamson is a holocaust denier.

    the catholic church which has yet to excommunicate the worst murderer in history - a catholic named Hitler.

    Who leveraged the churches 1000 year hatred of the Jews to get elected in 1933, and 55 million died for the church whose smokescreen is protecting life.

    The spanish people haven't forgotten the spanish civil war - when the church supported the fascist in the 1936-1939 war.

    The hiding of endless molestation of children in almsot every country where the church operates. Has the church even excommunicated one of those creeps - NO

    The Pope who told Africans to not use condoms - in a continent with 23 million Aids cases and endless deaths. Next will he tell us to totally ignore doctors and just pray as a solution to medical insurance costs, maybe to give the money to the church to defned their priests.

    the churchl who still keep their women as 2nd class separate and unequal citizens within the church hierarchy.

    The church which helps driive thousands of gay kids to suicide every year, and an annual 9/11 repeat. Hitler murdered 55 million with out once pulling the trigger - his words did the murdering. Same with the kids and the church, who out of the other side of their mouth call gays intrinsically disordered etc etc. A church where some love is hated and their hate is called love.

    Any surprise that every last w european country except italy and greece have marriage for same sex couples, or an equivalent. And latin america - once solidly catholic, now has its catholic good people granting marriage or the equivalent to our gay friends in Argentina, Mexico, columbia, equador, uruguay, Columbia (common law) and msot of Brazil. With about 3 other nations there poised to do the same.

    And about 15 other nations.

    Go and be strong Spain. Lead the way. And to the good catholic people who believe in the churches message, but not deeds of social justice in many cases. Change the church - cut ofr the money and look what willhapen when their piggy bank is empty.

    All part of Jesus "love thy neighbor as thyself. Which the church seems to have forgotten, while the rest of the christian world remembers
  • FlexSF posted:

    on 14th November 2010, 19:19:03 - Reply

    Zapatero is absolutely correct. "They have not realised that it is up to each person to decide on morality," This international common sense is wholly lacking in AmeriKa. I'm disgusted with AmeriKan religious zealots telling everyone how to live their lives. These religious bigots are pathetic, and dead wrong!