The president of the Government, the Socialist Jose Luis Zapatero reminded that Spain is a State that guarantees freedom. This was stated after the Pope denounced Spain as an anti-clerical nation.
During a journey to Santiago de Compostela, Benedicto XVI commented the dangers of an anti-clerical environment on Spain by quoting the incidents occurred during the thirties and the Spanish civil war. This statement was made because the Catholicism in the country has decreased from 80% to 73% in the last eight years.
On Sunday, the Pope condemned homosexuality and abortion, two subjects that the Church and the Spanish government are now facing.
The journal El País criticized the Pope of being undiplomatic when he compared journalists with the aggressive secularism of the Spain that burned Churches and Convents during the thirties of the past century. Several newspapers saw with contempt the allegations pronounced by the Pope. The meeting between the Socialist leader and Benedicto XVI was limited to the subject of the World Youth Day.
However the comments of the Pope stirred the Spanish Working Socialist Party (PSOE), whose spokesman, Elena Valenciano stated: “the Pope is seriously wrong… Zapatero’s government has treated the Catholic Church better than any other administration.”
Meanwhile the representative of Izquierda Unida, Gaspar Llamazares said: “The journey ended badly, despite the submission of the Government. There have been financial concessions and the abolition of the religious freedom.” According to Llamazares “The Church hasn’t asked forgiveness for supporting Franco and that’s why the Pope’s comment is unfair.”