Spain stands firm on gay marriage plans despite Vatican

June 22, 2004

Pope John Paul II hands over a gift to Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero during a private audience at the Vatican, 21 June 2004
Photo - AFP
MADRID — Spain stood its ground Monday amid criticism by Pope John Paul II of plans by Spain's new socialist government to allow easier abortion and permit gay marriages ahead of a meeting later between the pope and the Spanish premier.

Spanish Foreign Minister Miguel Angel Moratinos, when asked about the criticism, said the Vatican "must realise there is a new government" in Spain.

Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero is to meet the 84-year-old head of the Roman Catholic Church at the Vatican later Monday accompanied by Moratinos, who has described himself as a practising Roman Catholic.

"We are going there with the will to listen but the Vatican must realise there is a new government and that this new government has positions, of course respecting the Catholic Church, but also very firm on questions that the majority of Spanish citizens want to see changed," Moratinos said.

The pope, a strong defender of conservative family values, delivered the criticisms on Friday to the new Spanish ambassador, Jorge Dezcallar de Mazarredo, who presented his credentials at the Vatican.

"Political authorities, as guarantors of the rights of all, are obliged to defend life, particularly that of the weakest and most defenseless," the pope had told the ambassador.

He also urged the government not to give way "to those who seem to confuse marriage with other forms of union that are completely different and even opposed to marriage."

Referring to proposals to allow gays to adopt children, the pope fulminated against those "who seem to see children as simple objects of their own personal satisfaction."

Among the rights of the family, the pope said, "is that of being able to be born in a stable home, where the words father and mother can be pronounced with joy and without deception."

John Paul II also directly criticized Madrid's proposals to end obligatory religious education in public schools. He said parents had the right to expect that their children could be assured of a religious education in public as well as in private Catholic schools. – Sapa-AFP

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Pope condemns abortion, gay marriage plans in Spain [21/06/2004]



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