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Pope denounces Madrid"s liberal sex reforms


   By Robin Gedye, Foreign Affairs Writer
(Filed: 22/06/2004)


The Pope denounced Spain"s new liberal agenda yesterday, demanding that the Madrid government respect the religious and cultural traditions of the country"s Roman Catholic heritage.

He delivered the dressing-down in an audience at the Vatican with Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, the new socialist prime minister.


The pope gestures as he talks with Mr Zapatero at the Vatican
Mr Zapatero, who has pledged to legalise same-sex marriages, relax abortion laws and institute fast track divorce, was told it was the duty of Spain to "conserve moral and cultural values, as well as its Christian roots".

In their 15-minute private meeting, the Pope also said he hoped that the Spanish government would "give due attention to ethical values that are so rooted in the religious and cultural tradition of the population".

The new Spanish leader gave no sign of backing down on his package of radical reforms.

Mr Zapatero, who had travelled to Rome specifically to see the Pope, said afterwards the talks had been "cordial" and an "open relationship" would be maintained.

"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," said Miguel Angel Moratinos, the Spanish foreign minister.

"Of course, we respect the Catholic Church but we are also very firm on questions that the majority of Spaniards want to see changed."

Vatican sources said the Pope made clear his displeasure with Mr Zapatero"s intention to turn Spain into the first predominantly Roman Catholic country to relax laws on same-sex marriages, divorce and abortion.

Both Mr Zapatero and Mr Moratinos made clear that they would not follow the previous conservative administration"s policy on adhering to the Vatican"s codes on sex and marriage.

Mr Zapatero"s reforms include developing embryonic stem cell research and freezing an education bill that favoured Catholic religious teaching in schools.

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Posted by : Phoenix , Date : 2004-06-22 , Time : 20:09:28 , From IP : l226ppp001.ksc.net.t

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