Flexing Political Muscle
From the rocky heights of the Pyrenees to the fertile plains of Poland, the Vatican has been flexing its political muscle. In Italy, Spain and Poland, the Roman Catholic Church has supported demonstrations to stop laws from being passed that contradict Catholic dogma.
These demonstrations are more than coincidences—they are a means for the Catholic Church to exert authority in Europe’s political realm.
After a 20-year hiatus in Spanish politics, the Catholic Church condemned an approval by the lower house of parliament of a bill that would legalize homosexual marriage and the adoption of children by homosexual couples. Parliament approved the law June 30 in spite of the fact that many of Spain’s citizens—90 percent of whom claim adherence to Catholicism—hoped it would fail. Led by 20 bishops, including the archbishop of Madrid, hundreds of thousands protested June 18 and 19—the third march in three weeks. Government figures say 166,000 protested; march organizers claimed a participation close to 2 million.
Spain’s demonstration came at the same time that a march in Warsaw, Poland, took place to protest a homosexual parade that occurred the previous week. “We are the home of Pope John Paul ii. There is no place for abnormality here,” said a representative for the nationalist Polish Family League, an organization that provided most of the 800 protestors for the event (Deutsche Welle, June 19).
No doubt these demonstrations have been encouraged by the victory the Catholic Church recently scored in Italy. The Vatican, along with conservative politicians, called on voters to abstain from a referendum on June 16 to change Italy’s strict fertility laws. The boycott, endorsed by Pope Benedict xvi, was a success, causing voter turnout to fall well below the 50 percent needed to legalize the referendum.
A newly elected and ambitious pope has made it clear he intends to lead Europe back to its “Christian” roots. By uniting with conservative politicians, a church-state alliance will soon form, and once again the pope will have sway over secular governments. Backing protests is just a beginning.
Continue to watch the church involve itself more in the political affairs of Europe as it seeks to return Catholic dominance to the Continent.