Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Holy War

The Catholic Church in Spain has declared war on the government. What could the evil infidels running the country have done to warrant such a strong reaction? Perhaps they have decided to stop collecting money for the Church via the taxation system, or to stop subsidising religious schools with public money? Much to the disappointment of those of us who believe in a genuine separation of Church and state it is neither of these. Instead they have introduced a new citizenship course into the education curriculum. It doesn’t sound like such a terrible thing to do, all very worthy, but hardly the sort of thing to provoke such a strong reaction. However, under the guise of turning young Spaniards into responsible citizens it turns out that the course is going to be filled with dangerous ideas about….wait for it…tolerance, democracy and equality of treatment! It should be no surprise therefore that Spain’s bishops have taken up arms against such ideas, all of which are very foreign to them.

Most ironic of all is the way in which they protest about the new course, claiming that it is an attack on freedom of choice in education. Ironic because this comes from an institution not exactly noted for their promotion of choice when they were given the chance to be involved in deciding how to educate the country’s youth. It's not too difficult to see that their real problem is that they are now firmly removed from the control over moral indoctrination that they would love to have. Gone are the days when they could freely impose their firm spiritual beliefs on impressionable young children - when commandments like the following provided a sound moral platform for all:

Thou shalt not kill unless you are a powerful person and remember to express mild regret afterwards.

Thou shalt not pay compensation to the victims of child abuse by members of the clergy until compelled to do so.

It's definitely a higher kind of morality that they represent. This after all is the institution which still mourns dead fascists on the walls of hundreds, if not thousands, of churches around the country. The same Church that is proceeding with the latest beatification process for 498 "martyrs" of the Spanish Civil War without even considering for a moment whether the Church might not bear some responsibility for its own role in that conflict. The transition following Franco’s death did not reach all areas of life in the country, and the ecclesiastical hierarchy in Spain provides us with regular reminders of that.

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