Spain's bigger problem
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In the news this morning it was reported that unemployment in Spain was at record levels in the last quarter of 2011. Over 5 1/4 million Spaniards were unemployed, an increase of nearly 300,000 from the previous quarter. This is an unemployment rate of 22.8%, more than double the European Union average. And 49% of those in the labour market under 25 are unemployed.
Why is this issue, important though it may be, being discussed here?
Well, at the end of 2011, Cardinal Archbishop Antonio Rouco Varela, chairman of the Spanish Bishops Conference in a public address said that abortion and euthanasia were bigger problems than unemployment and the economy.
I don't have any statistics for euthanasia in Spain, but it is fair to assume that the numbers are negligeable.
As to abortion: In 2010 the Spanish government liberalized the rules to bring Spain into line with the rest of Europe. Before the change, reported Spanish abortions were running around 120,000 a year - less 1 for every 4 live births. And after liberalization, the numbers dropped slightly. Yes - they went down.
Is abortion in Spain a bigger problem than unemployment. Particularly, when the unemployment problem is skewed towards the young - those most likely to find themselves with an unwanted pregnancy to deal with and who do not have the financial capability to start a family.
A few days before Cardinal Rouco made his speech, the Bishop of Córdoba, Demetrio Fernández, said in his Boxing day address that there was a conspiracy by the United Nations to promote homosexuality. According to the Bishop:
"The Minister for Family of the Papal Government, Cardinal Antonelli, told me a few days ago in Zaragoza that UNESCO has a program for the next 20 years to make half the world population homosexual."
You can't make this stuff up. But the Catholic Church does.
Still in Spain, we have the Bishop of Tenerife, Bernardo Álvarez Afonso who in 2007 made the astonishing statement about sexual relations between priests and children:
"There are adolescents of thirteen years of age who are minors and are totally in agreement and furthermore desire it. Even if you take care they provoke you."
Blame the victims! Subsequently he has railed against the diabolical agenda aimed at damaging the image of the church by highlighting child sex abuse cases. It's apparently everybody's fault except those who committed the abuse and those who covered up for them.
This Bishop was appointed to his current office in 2005 by Pope Benedict XVI, and in spite of his public comments minimizing child abuse, remains in office.
Is it possible that Spain's larger problem, bigger than abortion, bigger than unemployment, may be the Catholic Church?