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Spain being 'taken back to Moorish times'

Spain's Cardinal Antonio María Rouco yesterday denounced the new socialist government, saying its policies are taking the country back to medieval times, when Muslim invaders swept across the Straits of Gibraltar.

His comments came after the government's decision to cancel the reintroduction of compulsory religious classes and to find ways of financing other faiths, including Islam, with public money.

"Some people wish to place us in the year 711," Cardinal Rouco said. "It seems as if we are meant to wipe ourselves out of history."

According to The Guardian , the Church is "coming to terms with a sudden and dramatic dwindling of its power following the socialists' victory", in March, over the conservative, pro-Catholic People's party of the former prime minister José María Aznar. Mr Aznar's government had planned to make religion a compulsory exam subject.

But the socialists have already announced that the law reintroducing compulsory religion lessons, a feature of the Franco dictatorship, will be scrapped.

Cardinal Rouco also expressed concern that, as Spain begins to debate rewriting its 1978 constitution, references to the Catholic church, with which the state is obliged to "maintain relations of cooperation", could be diluted.

The Catholic church maintaines the right to appoint and sack religious teachers in state schools in an accord with the Vatican in 1979. There is now pressure on the socialist government to change the accord and take away a right under which, in recent years, teachers have been sacked for having too colourful a social life or for marrying divorcees.

"It would be wrong to question, limit or scrap it [the accord]," said Cardinal Rouco.

Spain being 'taken back to Moorish times' (The Guardian 7/7/04)

Leading Catholic Bishop in Spain Speaks Out Despite Threat of Losing Public Funding (LifeSite 6/7/04)
French prelate foresees new persecution in Europe (Catholic World News 6/7/04)
UK plans laws against religious hatred (ABC 7/7/04)

8 Jul 2004