Spanish Bishops Give New Meaning To The "Bully" Pulpit genre: Gaylingual & Hip-Gnosis & Uncivil Unions
In an effort to reassert their relevance, Catholic Bishops in Spain are rallying their shrinking congregations to oppose the country's sitting government and it's leader, Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero. The Bishops hope to influence the March 9th election and remove the secular government that brought the legalization of gay marriage and more expedient divorce proceedings.
In Spain, the Catholic Church has a long history of participating in the blurring of the lines between church and state. For much of the Franco era, the church and the state had a mutually beneficial relationship that restored the Church to privileged status and provided it with state funding. Despite having apologized to the Spanish people for their duplicity with the dictatorship, it appears the Church has once again decided to inject itself into the Spanish political process.
While the Spanish clergy has released moral-guidance notes in most elections since Spain became a democracy in 1978, it has never before so pointedly targeted a candidate.
In December, the first church-organized protest in 30 years drew 1 million supporters in Madrid; Pope Benedict XVI spoke via video link. The capital's archbishop accused the premier of taking a "step backward for human rights.''
"I can't accept that they say laws made in this legislature are undermining democracy or are a reversal for human rights,'' Zapatero, who will have lunch with the Vatican's emissary in Madrid next week, said today in a radio interview. The church's attitude "has to change.''
Zapatero's Socialists led Rajoy's People's Party by 44.6 percent to 38.2 percent in a Jan. 21-31 poll by the newspaper Publico, and it isn't a given that Rajoy will benefit from the church's efforts against the government. While 78 percent of Spain's 45 million people identify themselves as Catholics, regular church attendance fell to as low as 27 percent last year from 36 percent a decade ago, according to polling by the Center for Sociological Research.
The church "isn't doing the PP any favors,'' said Francisco Llera, professor of political science at the University of the Basque Country in Leioa, northern Spain. "It may undermine the party's support among moderate, liberal and non-religious voters.''
In my opinion, the Catholic Church suffers from the ailment that so often afflicts those who crave authority and lack the ability to employ persuasion ...when they sense their power may be diminishing, they become even more dogmatic and authoritarian. While that approach may have worked in an ill-informed and under educated world, it seems fully lacking in this day and age. Unfortunately, like with so many other hierarchical institutions, their ability to adapt to change is negligible.
When that reality is coupled with the Church's checkered past...that being their long history of erring on the side of those powerful zealots who assured their existence at the expense of their adherence to their espoused values...one shouldn't be surprised by their declining influence and the growing perception that they remain a boisterous, though increasingly irrelevant monolith. Their expanding malevolence in the midst of a changing world simply hastens their demise.