- May 2005 : The catholic hierarchy’s offensive against the legalisation of same-sex marriage
On 12 January 2005, the Spanish government presented a bill before the conference of deputies on modifying the Civil Code on marriage. This text authorises homosexual couples to get married. The government followed the path laid out by the Socialist party, which in June 2004 had already presented a similar initiative to the convention.
From that moment, the Bishops’ Conference, an upper organisation representing the hierarchy of the Catholic Church of Spain, declared its opposition to this project in a series of texts, in particular in the manifesto En favor del verdadero matrimonio (In favour of real marriage), where the Bishops’ Conference summarised its position. In it, the Conference expressed that, in its opinion, "marriage can only be entered into by two people of a different sex, a man and a woman. Two people of the same sex do not have the right to enter into marriage. As for the State, it cannot recognise this inexistent right, unless it acts arbitrarily, in a manner that oversteps its prerogatives and would do serious harm to the common good."
The Bishops’ Conference defends the idea of a fundamental right that is above the State and it denies the fact that legislative powers can introduce laws without conforming to the principles of a Higher Law, Divine Law to be specific, which in this case the Conference identifies with Natural Law.
A good part of this polemic comes from the fact that the new law grants homosexual couples the right to adopt children, which is inadmissible according to the episcopal Conference. "It hurts us to think of the damage which will be caused to children adopted by these false couples, and to all the young people who will not be granted the education provided in a true marriage. We also think of the schools and teachers who, in one way or another, will have to tell their pupils that in Spain, the marriage does not mean the union of a man and a woman." (note of the Executive comitee of the ECC).
When the time of the approval of the project came, the episcopal Conference intensified its offensive, in particular by applying pressure upon the Spanish members of Parliament, in order for them to vote against the text, asserting that "the law that is being approved would not really have the character of a law, because it contradicts both the reason and the standard ethics." Moreover, as the law is against the moral order, it is licit not to obey it. Catholics would be forced to refuse to celebrate this type of union." Catholics, like all people of true morality, cannot be unsure or weak with respect to this law, they must oppose to it in a clear and energetic manner. In fact, they will not be able to approve it by their vote, and, in its application, since there is no moral obligation, each person one will be free to assert the right to the objection of conscience.
- 25 January 2005 : Creation of the foundation "Pluralism and Coexistence" (Pluralismo y Convivencia) for the funding of minority religions
On 25 January 2005 the Spanish Ministry of Justice created the "Pluralismo y convivencia" foundation in order to "contribute to the organisation of programmes and projects of a cultural, educational nature and that foster the social integration of non Catholic religions that have signed an Agreement of Cooperation with the Spanish State or have a notorious presence in Spain" (Text from the creation decree of 8 March 2005).
The religions that signed an Agreement of Cooperation with the State are the Evangelical, Jewish and Muslim faiths. This foundation will be presided by José Maria Contreras, a professor in ecclesiastical law, and will receive three million euros in funding for the year 2005.
The funding problem for minority religions had remained unresolved since democracy had returned to Spain. The absence of resources from the State contributed to the feeling of marginalisation in relation to the Catholic Church, which receives a much of its funding from the State. Until today, minority religions only benefited from the donations of their followers. The 11 March 2004 terrorist attacks in Madrid contributed to raising public awareness about the problem and finding solutions, which had been evaded for a very long time. As studies made the connection between certain terrorists and the imams of underground mosques in Spain, the government decided that regulating the Muslim religion would be necessary. For public authorities this would involve releasing the necessary funds to hire imams that were correctly trained and recognised within the institution.