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Catholic World News News Feature

Spanish bishops decry legislation weakening marriage July 20, 2005

Since the Spanish parliament approved amendments to the law to allow homosexual couples to marry and adopt children, and to ease access to divorce, the Catholic bishops of Spain have continued to raise their voices in defense of the values of authentic marriage and family for the good of the nation and society in general. ?

In a recent Pastoral Letter entitled “Defending the Family,” Archbishop Fernando Sebastián Aguilar of Pamplona said that a vision and a practice of sexuality that is humanly impoverished, reduced to a search for individual pleasure, is now “sustained by our government’s legislative activity.” What is most serious, he said, is that same-sex unions are recognized as authentic marriage. This alters the very notion and understanding of “marriage," he pointed out.

The archbishop also warned against the effects of “express divorce proceedings.” He observed: “From now on Spanish law supports fleeting unions and all the painful consequences for the adults and children involved.” These laws “damage marriage and the family and therefore they damage also happiness of individuals and the wellbeing of society.”

The archbishop encouraged believers to defend the authentic concept of marriage: “we defend the family because we recognize it as a decisive good for society.” When asked what people can do to defend the family, Archbishop Fernando replied that believers should begin by respecting and appreciating their own families and rendering visible the unique value of the family “understood and lived with a firm and stable commitment of love." He also stressed the need to pray that young people may discover the value of chastity and that families may live in the spirit of Jesus Christ following the teaching of the Church.

The archbishop concluded his letter by saying “we can and we must strive to influence public opinion and politics, using the resources offered by democracy… We cannot just passively accept such a serious attack on our traditions and our way of life”

Archbishop Braulio Rodríguez Plaza of Valladolid questioned whetherthe Spanish government is aware of the negative effects of the policies it has just approved. In a pastoral letter on Marriage and Young People he said: “The institution of marriage has been robbed of its proper connotation of legal stability and reduced to a merely superficial contract which one partner can break without consulting the other only three months after its stipulation.” The archbishop said these reforms are “a step into the void which will have its effect on society."

Archbishop Braulio underscored that the new legislation is not only an attack on the Church and on canonical marriage; it is an attack the human person because in the end “it denies the anthropological and social reality of the union of man and wife in all its specificity and unique value for the common good and concretely for the personal realization of the spouses and for the procreation and education of children."

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