Top Vatican, Spanish officials discuss Mideast, relations, papal trip
Published: February 17, 2006
VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Pope Benedict XVI's planned trip to Spain in July, church-state tensions in the country and peace in the Middle East were on the agenda when Spanish Foreign Minister Miguel Angel Moratinos met Cardinal Angelo Sodano, Vatican secretary of state. Spanish newspapers reported that Moratinos had asked for an audience with Pope Benedict, but was told Feb. 9 that the pope normally meets only with heads of state or heads of government. The Vatican statement about Moratinos' Feb. 17 meeting with Cardinal Sodano did not mention the request for a papal audience, but described the meeting with the Vatican's top diplomat as "cordial." The Spanish and Vatican representatives, it said, spoke about bilateral relations and "other problems relating to the life of the church in Spain in the current situation." The Vatican statement did not list the problems. However, church leaders have been vocal in criticizing the Socialist government of Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero for promoting the recognition of same-sex marriages and the abolition of religious education in public schools, cutting government funding of some Catholic Church programs and streamlining the procedures for granting divorces.
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