Bishops order Catholics to resist law on gay marriage

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The Independent Online

Spanish Roman Catholic bishops have told all Catholics to resist applying a law that will allow same-sex couples to marry.

Spanish Roman Catholic bishops have told all Catholics to resist applying a law that will allow same-sex couples to marry.

The Spanish parliament gave initial approval to the law last month, a high-profile measure in the Socialist government's liberal social agenda that has infuriated the Church. The law, which still needs Senate approval, is expected to come into force within months.

"Catholics, like all people of upright moral character, cannot be indecisive or complacent in the face of this law, but must oppose it in a clear and incisive way," the Spanish Bishops' Conference said in a statement. The bishops said the law "subverts the most basic moral principles underlying the social order".

They said Catholics should refuse to apply the law on grounds of conscience, echoing comments from the head of the Vatican's Pontifical Council for the Family who has urged mayors not to celebrate same-sex marriages.

Several Spanish mayors from the conservative opposition have already said they will refuse to perform the ceremonies.

The Deputy Prime Minister, Maria Teresa Fernandez de la Vega, responded to the bishops that it was not up to them to make decisions affecting civil marriages.

"This measure improves rights and harms no one, absolutely no one, while it does benefit many people," she told reporters.

Ms Fernandez de la Vega reiterated that all public officials had to respect the law, but signalled that the government did not wish to engage in legal battles with rebel mayors. "In practice," she said, "this is not going to be a problem ... If one official does not wish to celebrate a gay marriage, I can assure you there will always be another official who will."

The latest broadside from the bishops dashed hopes that relations between the government and the Church would improve after the Bishops' Conference elected a new, less conservative president in March.

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