The Pope’s criticism of Spanish government policies that he says spread secularism have provoked a lively rebuttal from Madrid. Defence Minister Jose Bono defended the Socialist administration’s moves to legalise gay marriage, soften rules on divorce and abortion, and allow stem cell research. Bono argues the Pope should look elsewhere to explain changes in society.
“I don’t think that he can accuse the Spanish government of being responsible for the secularisation of the country,” he said. “Maybe in the hierarchy of the Church there could be some explanation for this process of becoming distanced from faith,” he added.
The Pope has argued the spread of secularism is leading to a restriction of religious freedom, and urged the younger generation in Spain not to forget their Christian past. According to surveys one Spanish youngster in five is a practicing Catholic.