01 March 2006

“”How is it possible that Spain, such a Catholic country, is experiencing this?'” John Ward Anderson of¬†The Washington Post Foreign Service¬†delivers a fascinating report on the growing Spanish schism between the new, socialist and culturally progressive government, and the strong historical influence of the Catholic Church on the country. The government, which in recent years has adopted a liberal agenda of legalizing gay marriage, relaxing abortion laws, and ending religious instruction in public schools, has drawn fire from local bishops and the Vatican, who condemn Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero for “attacking” the Catholic Church by fostering social changes that run counter to church doctrine. Zapatero and his government reply that the church has too-long enjoyed privileged status and financial state support — in the amount of $3.9 billion in state funding per year — and that it needs to accept the desires of the public to modernize. But the divide, Anderson writes, has far deeper roots than culture-war issues and state sponsorship of religion, ones that date back to the pre-Franco era of the Spanish Civil War — the last time that Spain experienced social and political divisions this severe…