Spanish bishops in Madrid on Tuesday urged the country's Catholic lawmakers to oppose same-sex marriages, which the new Socialist government plans to legalize next year. The policy-setting body of the Spanish Bishops Conference, which represents the country's dominant religion, also said it opposes in vitro fertilization. The group has already denounced stem cell research and government plans to ease restrictions on abortions. "We have an obligation to remind people that something so obvious and natural as matrimony cannot be contracted except by people of different sexes: a woman and a man," the executive committee of the bishops conference said in a statement.
Late last month Spain's parliament approved a nonbinding resolution recommending that the Socialist government permit gay marriages. Justice minister Juan Fernando Lopez Aguilar said that may happen by early next year. The Socialist government of Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, who
came to power in an election in March, also intends to downgrade Catholic religious instruction from public schools. Referring to both the issue of in vitro fertilization and same-sex marriages, the bishops' statement read, "The well-being of children demands, of course, that they not be ordered in laboratories or adopted by couples of the same sex.... We think that the legal recognition of homosexual couples--and even more, their establishment as a marriage--would constitute an error and an injustice with very negative consequences for the common good and future of society." Catholic members of parliament "have the moral obligation to express clearly and publicly their disagreement and vote against the projected law," the communiqué continued.