Spain's PM Tells Church to Get Out of Election

Zapatero meets with Vatican rep over campaign to oust him
By Jason Farago,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 14, 2008 11:53 AM CST
Spain's Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero gives his speech at a pre-electoral party rally in Madrid, Sunday, Feb. 10, 2008. Spain goes to the polls next March 9. (AP Photo/Daniel Ochoa de Olza)   (Associated Press)
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(Newser) – Spanish PM José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero is meeting today with a Vatican representative to protest the Catholic Church's call for voters to oust his Socialist party in the March 9 general election. Zapatero was infuriated by bishops' publication of "moral guidance," calling on parishioners to vote out the government and effectively endorsing the conservative opposition, the Times of London reports.

Zapatero's government has moved to legalize gay marriage, relax laws on divorce, and end compulsory religious education in schools—all of which have drawn the Church's ire. Bishops also castigated Zapatero for negotiating with Basque separatists after supporting an earlier conservative effort. The government responded that the bishops want a return to Franco's fascist era—which the Church strongly supported.