Last Saturday five women chained themselves to a side altar in a church in Barcelona and unfurled a banner that called for “no steps backwards with abortion”. As I heard the story on the car radio, instead of sympathising with the pro-abortion protest I found myself thinking, ‘what a ridiculous waste of time’. All they had managed to do was to distract the congregation’s attention from Mass and steal the limelight from the happy couple whose wedding ceremony followed.
The group would have been much better off trying to make sure that the degree of influence the Roman Catholic church has on the Spanish Government is minimal.
OK, so the activists briefly managed to draw attention to the issue, but protesting about the Catholic Church’s attitude towards abortion is like asking a leopard to change its entire skin, let alone its spots. The Church is not likely to change its mind about abortion, homosexuality, contraception, women priests or anything that really affects today’s society (although it does seem to worry about more pressing issues such as the existence of limbo or how much money people have to make to be officially a sinner). But then why should it change? The Vatican lays down the law but it is up to each individual to decide whether to take any notice or not. And the more Rome sticks to its antiquated and often nonsensical ideas, the more credit it loses with society in general.
Even so this country remains predominantly Roman Catholic, although many use its services for no more than baptisms, first communions, weddings and funerals, but I think that in the majority of cases when a woman is faced with the decision of whether or not to have an abortion, for whatever reason, the local priest is hardly the first person she looks to for advice.
The Roman Catholic Church and Spain’s Ecclesiastical hierarchy must not assume they have a special (God-given?) right to influence the Government more than any other religion, group or association. José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero announced before the March elections that in the next term of office he would revise the abortion law. Spain’s bishops gave the impression that the Socialists had decided to take away all the limits and conditions and they included the issue of abortion in their own campaign in favour of the right wing PP. They failed to sway the majority, however Catholic the voting public may claim to be, which all goes to show that when it comes to electing a new Government people go with their political tendencies, instinct and common sense rather than what their Church leaders are telling them.
So back to the five women in Barcelona, who wore false noses to symbolise their feeing like the victims of a witch hunt, and shouted out slogans such as “Take your rosaries off our ovaries” and “My body is not your temple”: they are wasting their breath shouting at the Church and should concentrate on the real lawmakers. They blamed the Church for criminalising women who had abortions but fortunately in today’s Spain the decisions about what is criminal or not are made elsewhere.
Filed under: General by Rachel Haynes