Saturday, February 02, 2008

Faithful Citizenship, EU Desk

"Super-Duper Tuesday" might be close at hand on this side of the Pond, but that doesn't mean the rest of the world's on a lower boil.... Far from it, actually.

Five weeks before national elections, the Spanish bishops launched a veiled shot at the governing Socialists:
The Catholic church urged Spaniards to vote for political parties that do not negotiate with violent Basque separatists ETA - a direct swipe at the policies of the ruling Socialists.

The Church also spoke out against the legalisation of gay marriage and the reduced importance of religion in the school curriculum, both reforms carried out by the Socialist government.

"Not all the parties and manifestos are equally compatible with the faith and Christian life," the Catholic Church's governing body in Spain said in a statement, without specifically naming parties, aimed at encouraging people to vote "responsibly".

The PSOE Socialist party hit back, calling the Church out of touch with Spanish society and pointing out all Spain's premiers had negotiated with ETA, including former conservative prime minister Jose Maria Aznar.

"If you shouldn't vote for parties that have talked to ETA, you shouldn't vote for anyone, because no party fulfils this requirement," the party said in a statement.

The government ended peace talks after less than a year in 2006 when ETA, which wants independence for Basque territories in Spain and France, bombed a carpark at Madrid airport, killing two people.

Spain's Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero has ruled out any chance of returning to the negotiating table with ETA if he wins general elections on March 9.

The spat further strains relations between the ruling PSOE party and the Catholic Church.

The Socialists accused the Church of campaigning for the conservative opposition after bishops slammed laws on divorce and abortion at a mass rally in December.
...meanwhile, in Poland, the new liberal government has halted a €15 million EU (US$22.2 million) grant for the media school planned by the controversial "Father-Director" of Radio Maryja, Redemptorist Fr Tadeusz Rydzyk:
The scheme had been approved among 433 others by Poland's previous conservative-nationalist government which lost power in an October snap election.

The new government headed by Prime Minister Donald Tusk's liberal Civic Platform (PO) launched a review of the projects approved by the previous administration.

Based in Torun, northern Poland, Radio Maryja regularly broadcasts programmes tinged by anti-Semitic and nationalist statements whose outspokenness have upset the Vatican.

An outspoken critic of the European Union, Rydzyk wanted nonetheless to use its funding to build a new facility to house his school which trains staff for his media empire. His plans totalling 18 million euros included an ultra-modern IT facility.

Rydzyk had termed the project an "incubator of modern technologies for the benefit of civil society."

Prior to Poland's 2004 EU entry, Radio Maryja campaigned against accession, accusing the bloc of propagating "moral relativism" with regard to euthanasia, abortion and homosexuality.
...and in Ireland, the past and present archbishops of Dublin have "clashed" over the archdiocese's release of documents to a state inquiry on clergy sex abuse:

Some 5,000 documents are at the centre of the legal dispute between Cardinal Desmond Connell and a judicial inquiry into the handling of complaints that Catholic clergy abused children.

Yesterday, Cardinal Connell initiated High Court proceedings to try to prevent documents handed over by his successor, Archbishop Diarmuid Martin, being examined by the Dublin Archdiocese Commission of Investigation.

Archbishop Martin has said he is willing to give up the exemption from legal inspection that the documents enjoy. But the Cardinal is asserting his claims that they are privileged or protected by solicitor-client confidentiality.

It is understood the documents relate to legal advice following claims of child sexual abuse, as well as insurance policies in relation to such claims.

Yesterday in the High Court Cardinal Connell's solicitor revealed that his anxious client had challenged Archbishop Martin's 'tell all' approach to the Commission of Inquiry into their diocese.

The court heard that, through their lawyers, the Cardinal had told the Archbishop of his displeasure when it was noticed that the commission had a document that Dr Connell considered exempt from inspection.

The document came to light last October while the Cardinal was giving evidence to Judge Yvonne Murphy's Commission.

Now it has emerged that Archbishop Martin has told Judge Murphy that he is willing to waive the privilege attaching to about 5,000, or one in 12, of the documents the commission ordered him to hand over.

A major plank in the Cardinal's case is that he is the person entitled to assert and maintain legal privilege over many of the documents because it was he who received the advice.

In other news from the Isle, the Irish Independent recently reported that a onetime theology student of Professor Joseph Ratzinger -- Divine Word Fr Vincent Twomey -- had been "tipped" as the next bishop of Down and Connor.

With 320,000 Catholics, the Northern see -- which includes its capital of Belfast -- is the second-largest diocese on the Emerald Isle.

In his nearly three years as Pope, Benedict XVI has not to date elevated one of his alums to the episcopacy.