The Pope just finished a two-day trip to Valencia, Spain, where the thrust of his message was in favor of "traditional" marriage, against such ideas as divorce and gay marriage. The president of Spain (Luis Zapatero) belongs to a government which has recently legalized gay marriage. Zapatero himself decided not to join the Pope during Mass, for which he was booed by the Catholic audience in attendance.
Spain is a Catholic country but also a recently secular one. In many ways Spanish politics mirrors that in the US: there are two strong parties (the more nationalist Popular Party or "PP" on the right and the Socialists on the left), where the PP is the more involved with overt displays of Catholicism. We can recall during the beginning of the Iraq war that the then-President of Spain, Jos╗ Mar├a Aznar, was a strong backer of Bush’s policies and among the so-called "coalition of the willing".
One difference which should impress Americans is that the Socialists have managed to distance themselves more from overt religion; indeed the national legalization of gay marriage is one particularly heartening example. Only the future will reveal whether the spanish public is willing to go in that direction, and how far.
[b:1a647b34bb]Pope to focus on families in Spain trip[/b:1a647b34bb]
By VICTOR L. SIMPSON, Associated Press Writer
Thu Jul 6, 4:03 PM ET
VATICAN CITY - Pope Benedict XVI travels to Spain this weekend as part of his campaign to defend the traditional family, visiting a predominantly Roman Catholic country that allows gay marriage, divorce and abortion.
Hundreds of thousands of pilgrims are expected when Benedict arrives to address an international meeting on the family organized by the Vatican in the city of Valencia on Spain’s Mediterranean coast.
For months Benedict has been denouncing gay marriage and other challenges to church doctrine in Europe and elsewhere █ recently summed up by the Vatican as the "greatest threat ever" to the traditional family based on marriage between a man and a woman.
But the location of the meeting in Spain has particular significance because of the Church’s battle with the Socialist government, which took office two years ago with an agenda that included legalizing gay marriage, streamlining procedures for abortion and divorce and scrapping plans by the previous conservative government to make religion classes obligatory in schools.
Three cheers to the Zapatero government in this mess.