Friday, July 07, 2006

"Showdown" in Valencia

The Pope leaves tomorrow for his whirlwind trip to the V World Meeting of Families in Valencia. For our Spanish-speaking readers, the spiritual itinerary of the trip is posted under the signature of none other than the Master himself (yes, he's still there).

In tomorrow's edition of The Tablet, Robert Mickens presents the backdrop:
When the [Pontifical Council for the Family] began planning the weeklong conference nearly three years ago, it focused the 1-9 July gathering on ways families could successfully pass on Christian faith to their children. But over the last few months, a number of bishops, led by Cardinal López Trujillo with the support of the Pope, have concentrated more intensely on denouncing “same-sex and de facto unions”, “abortion and euthanasia”, and restriction on “freedom of parents to educate their children”.

In a message on 30 June to Uruguay’s new ambassador to the Vatican, Pope Benedict blamed “some means of social communications” for “denigrating and ridiculing marriage and the family”, and insisted again that marriage can only be between man and a woman. These public pronouncements, many of which have been printed daily in L’Osservatore Romano, the Vatican newspaper, have shifted the focus away from the passing on of faith through families to a forceful protest against what the hierarchs say are “the most violent attacks in history” on this “most basic unit of society”.

The issues are expected to dominate closed-door talks later [tomorrow] between the Pope and Spanish Prime Minister José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero. Mr Zapatero, 45, who is married with two daughters, last year successfully oversaw the legalisation of “gay marriage” and a simplified procedure for divorce in Spain. There were conflicting reports as to whether he would attend either of the Pope’s two public events during his 26-hour visit, a Saturday evening vigil and a Sunday morning Mass.
Keep a close eye. Summaries and photos of B16's third foreign voyage will be up as they come in.