Though ignored by most journalists in Europe and America, there are a few sources which carried news about this dramatic and very significant event. The one printed below, for instance, comes from the Gulf Times of Qatar.
Hundreds of thousands of people rallied in central Madrid yesterday on behalf of “the Christian family”, in the first such demonstration organised by the city’s archbishopric. Families pushing strollers, clerics and other believers packed the city’s Plaza de Colon by midmorning, where a parade of speakers defended “Christian family values”. That included Pope Benedict XVI, who briefly addressed the crowd in Spanish from the Vatican during his traditional Sunday Angelus blessing. His image carried on a giant screen erected at the square, Benedict greeted the Spaniards and said it was “worth it to work for the family and for the human being”.
Since coming to power in 2004 – and replacing the staunchly pro-Christian Popular Party – the Socialist government of Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero has enacted a series of measures that have displeased conservative Catholics. Among them: legalising gay marriage and making it easier for Spaniards to divorce. But facing elections in March and opposition from the Church, Zapatero said on Friday that he would not modify the country’s abortion laws as he had earlier promised.
While arguing he had not organised a political demonstration against Zapatero’s government, Madrid’s archbishop, Antonio Maria Rouco Varela, warned of the dangers of a fragmenting family. “In a society where the number of divorces has exploded to almost exceed the number of marriages ... a particularly serious situation has been created that forces us to make a public pronouncement,” he told Spain’s ABC daily in an interview published yesterday.
But the centre-left El Pais newspaper suggested the archbishop’s stance reflected only the views of the “theocons” in the Church, not the country’s entire Roman Catholic community. “The most conservative sectors of the Church have isolated the more moderate ones to increase their power during the Socialist legislature,” the newspaper wrote.