Tuesday, March 31, 2009

So Where Were The Bishops?

In the end South of Watford was unable to cover Sunday's demonstration in Madrid against the government's proposed abortion law reform. A demanding weekend eating tapas in a cold and wet Cordoba left no time for other things. Despite the usual exaggerated claims of massive attendance, it looks as if I wasn't the only one who didn't make it to the event. Over at the Manifestómetro they reckon that the numbers on the march didn't exceed 24,000, although the organisers claim 20 times that figure. What this suggests is that many of those who I have assumed would turn out for any demonstration on any topic if it's against the government didn't bother to put their walking shoes on this time. Maybe it was a bit cold?

It was a sign of the times that the Partido Popular didn't officially endorse the demonstration, and all of their most senior figures seemed to suddenly find themselves with pressing agenda problems that meant they were unable to attend. Even the church itself kept a certain "official" distance, whilst encouraging people to turn out. Apart from anything else, the failure to achieve a massive mobilisation serves as a demonstration of the distance that separates the leadership of the Catholic Church from many of their followers. Obviously not all Spanish catholics are ranting, foaming at the mouth, "fachas", although the percentage that are rises quite steeply the further up the church hierarchy you go.

Another indicator has been the mixed reaction to attempts to use the traditional Easter processions as a platform to protest against the abortion law. Many people who are quite happy to dress up like members of the Klan and march endlessly around their home town are not willing to see the event used to promote the more extreme aspects of religious dogma. It's clear that a lot of those who participate in these processions do not see them as being the property of the Church, despite the obvious religious background. Indeed, were participation to be confined to the faithful the only result would be a huge reduction in the numbers taking part. Not a bad thing in my view, the knowledge that these processions form an important part of the holiday is now enough on its own to make me avoid a place as an Easter travel destination.

We saw the true face of the opposition to citizenship education last week when the director of a school in Logroño forced pupils to watch a crude propagandistic presentation on the abortion issue. Apparently it didn't fall far short of accusing Zapatero of personally executing babies. The option of conscientious objection was not made available to any parents who didn't want their children subjected to extremist political propaganda as part of their school curriculum.


Troy said...

Did seem a bit odd that none of the Men in Black were there egging on the (oddly chosen) red protesters. Equally strange as you mention was the conspicuous absence of the PP. They wouldn't want to seem like fundamentalist freaks just before the European Elections now, would they?

Wasn't it just the other day that I read an interview with their new darling up in the Basque country who proudly stated that she "would never use a condom." A statement that rates up with with Papa Rat's recent zinger that I've been going on about on my blog recently.

But I may differ with you on one thing there. While it is true that many who do like the annual Klan dress up are vaguely religious, what about the people like the ones up in Jerte here in Extremadura, the ones that actually tie themselves to crosses with rough ropes and walk on glass?

Extreme dogma or Extreme sport?

or simple extremely...

David said...

I suppose it's extreme... bigotry cum narrow-mindedness at play, a legacy of Spain's militant Counter-reformation coupled with its century-long "splendid isolation" as an Iran-like theocracy. Hence all those geezers in Klan garb, a nightmarish vision indeed!

Graeme said...

Well I've met people in Spain who show no signs of being religious at all, but still go back to their home towns to take part in the parades. The Jerte thing seems a bit extreme, it must be all that time they spend waiting for the cherry trees to flower.