Pope's right-hand man stresses Catholic values in "secular" Spain
Feb 5, 2009, 12:13 GMT
Madrid - Vatican Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone on Thursday indirectly criticized Spain's liberal social reforms such as homosexual marriage, downgrading religious education in schools and plans to liberalize abortion.
Cardinal Bertone stressed the right to life and the importance of the heterosexual family in a lecture he gave at the headquarters of the Spanish Bishops' Conference after meeting Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, King Juan Carlos, the deputy prime minister and the foreign minister on Wednesday.
The government said Bertone's visit launched a 'more constructive' era in the relations between Spain and the Vatican, which have been strained over the government's liberal policies.
In his lecture, however, Bertone indirectly criticized the Spanish government's plans for a more liberal abortion law, saying human dignity implied a respect for life 'from its conception to its natural decline.'
Family life was based on 'the marriage of a man and a woman,' Bertone said in the country where thousands of gay couples have wed since the Zapatero government legalized same-sex marriage in 2005.
The cardinal also stressed the right of parents to choose the kind of education they wished for their children.
Just before his visit, Spain's Supreme Court rejected a request from Catholic parents to allow their children to boycott new citizens' education classes, which they saw as representing secular or socialist values.