Spain – the gay issue
Posted by Fr Mark on August 19, 2009
While the opposition of Spain’s Roman Catholic bishops to the law permitting same-sex marriage was not surprising (they were, after all, told by the Vatican that they had to oppose it), what was more interesting, as mentioned in this report, was the survey which showed that 75% of Spaniards (including, therefore, the majority of Spanish Roman Catholics) did not agree with the hierarchy’s stand. This raises the question of whether it is possible to say “the Roman Catholic Church in Spain is opposed to gay marriage” when most of its members are clearly not?
From The Guardian, 17.06.05:
Spain’s senior bishops are to lead a mass demonstration of Catholics in Madrid tomorrow against a law introducing gay marriage and adoption by gay couples.
Cardinals and archbishops will be joined by up to half a million Catholics and members of the conservative opposition People’s party in a growing political confrontation with the Socialist government of José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero.
Cardinal Antonio María Rouco Varela, the archbishop of Madrid, announced that he, three bishops from his diocese and two more from neighbouring dioceses, would join the march. “If it is the state itself that establishes a law which ignores the essence of marriage, then the damage it causes to the true family, to children and society as a whole will be incalculable,” he said.
More than 200 buses and half a dozen aircraft have been hired to ferry demonstrators to the Spanish capital from around the country. “We Christians should speak now. We must go out on to the street,” said Cardinal Ricard María Carles, archbishop of Barcelona.
The church has already urged those who perform civil ceremonies at town halls to refuse to marry gay couples when the law comes into effect later this year.
The secretary general of the opposition People’s party, Angel Acebes, backed the march although members of the People’s party’s gay section have threatened to leave the party if the leader, Mariano Rajoy, appears at it .
Spain is only the third country in Europe, after the Netherlands and Belgium, to approve gay marriages.
Beatriz Gimeno, president of the Spanish Federation of Gays and Lesbians, accused the church of wanting to turn the clock back three decades to the time of General Franco.
“This represents a return to the streets of the church, the extreme right and of National Catholicism,” she said, referring to the official doctrine of the ultra-Catholic Franco regime.
About 82% of Spaniards say they are Roman Catholics, though only 48% consider themselves to be practising Catholics, according to a recent poll.
Three quarters of Spaniards believe, however, that the church hierarchy is out of touch with social reality, according to the same poll.
Although Spain is formally a secular state, the church is still part-funded by tax and controls much of the teaching of religion at state schools.