Taking on the Church; A Raft of Liberal Reforms Promoted by the Country's Ruling Socialists Is Fueling the Roman Catholic Church's Sense of Siege in Europe

Newsweek International, February 7, 2005 | Go to article overview

Taking on the Church; A Raft of Liberal Reforms Promoted by the Country's Ruling Socialists Is Fueling the Roman Catholic Church's Sense of Siege in Europe


Byline: Eric Pape and Mike Elkin (With Edward Pentin at the Vatican and Alberto Letona in Bilbao)

Pope John Paul II may be bowed, his speech slurred, his Spanish fading, but the 84-year-old pontiff still knows how to pick a fight. Last week he accused the socialist government of Spain of promoting "scorn and ignorance" toward religion. "Permissive morality," he told dozens of top Spanish clergy visiting the Vatican, will damage the "imprint of Catholic faith in Spanish culture and restrict religious liberty." A top church official offered a summation of the pope's message: "This is dynamite."

The fireworks were directed less at the hapless Spanish priests than at the administration of Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero. Since coming to power last spring, Zapatero's cabinet has pushed a slew of social reforms guaranteed to irk the Holy See: easing divorce laws, loosening limits on abortion, making religious education optional, even allowing gay marriage. And bolstered by poll numbers showing only one in five Spaniards attends church regularly, they've done so with little regard for the Vatican's opinion. Just last week, Spanish Defense Minister Jose Bono blasted the pope's criticisms as "an exaggeration and a mistake." Of the church's stance against gays, he declared, "I am not disposed to accept this doctrine by which... the kingdom of the heavens isn't made for homosexuals." Spanish Under Secretary of Foreign Affairs Luis Calvo Merino then lodged a formal complaint with the Vatican's representative to Spain, Archbishop Manuel Monteiro de Castro.

Is this the start of a new holy war in southern Europe? The Vatican certainly feels besieged; last fall officials warned of an "inquisition" taking place against religiosity in Europe. In predominantly Roman Catholic France--which allows civil unions for gays and banned crucifixes as well as headscarves in schools last year--churches have been closing for decades. The number of French who say they attend church regularly has shrunk to a mere 7.7 percent. Nearly 90 percent of Italians call themselves Catholic, but less than 30 percent say they go to Mass regularly. In Spain, only 14 percent of young Spaniards attend church--a 50 percent decline in less than four years. More than 60 percent of Spaniards say they have little or no trust in the Catholic Church, making the institution less respected than the Army or the police in a country with living memories of fascism.

Zapatero's socialists, on the other hand, are feeling emboldened. Their victory had far more to do with the center-right Popular Party's mishandling of the March 11 Madrid train bombings than with their liberal platform. Nevertheless, the convincing nature of the win gave Zapatero something of a mandate. Rather than toning down the party's social positions--many of which had been promoted with less fervor by earlier socialist administrations in the early 1990s--the new government has pushed forward on several fronts simultaneously, from divorce and abortion (both currently legal but tightly restricted) to gay rights. A law allowing same-sex marriages and adoptions by gay parents is scheduled to be passed this spring.

The target may not be the church so much as Zapatero's domestic opposition. Measures like gay marriage are supported by two out of three Spaniards. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Taking on the Church; A Raft of Liberal Reforms Promoted by the Country's Ruling Socialists Is Fueling the Roman Catholic Church's Sense of Siege in Europe
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.