Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Church-State Tensions In Spain

Today's Washington Post carries an article about the growing tensions in Spain between the government of Socialist Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero and the Catholic Church. Zapatero blocked mandatory religious classes in public schools, and announced that his government would relax abortion laws, ease restrictions on divorce, legalize gay marriage and permit gay couples to adopt children. In response, the archbishop of Madrid called the Spanish capital "a hotbed of sin."

Government spokesman Fernando Moraleda said, "This is a government that is deeply secular and reform-oriented," and it must adapt Spain to its position as a modern member of the European Union. Church supporters say Zapatero's government is anti-clerical and out of touch with Spanish society, which is more than 80 percent Catholic. Government moves aim at changing the constitutional balance between church and state that was created under Spain's 1978 Constitution, adopted after the death of the longtime dictator Gen. Francisco Franco. Clashes between the Spanish left and the church helped propel Franco to power during the 1936-39 Spanish Civil War.