In February, the Leuven University Press released “The Intimate. Polity and the Catholic Church: Laws about Life, Death and the Family in So-called Catholic Countries,” edited by Karel Dobbelaere (University of Antwerp) and Alfonso Pérez-Agote (Universidad Complutense). The publisher’s description follows:
For centuries the Catholic Church was able to impose her ethical rules in matters related to the intimate, that is, questions concerning life (from its beginning until its end) and the family, in the so-called Catholic countries in Western Europe. When the polity started to introduce legislation that was in opposition to the Catholic ethic, the ecclesiastical authorities and part of the population reacted. The media reported massive manifestations in France against same-sex marriages and in Spain against the de-penalization of abortion. In Italy the Episcopal conference entered the political field in opposition to the relaxation of several restrictive legal rules concerning medically assisted procreation and exhorted the voters to abstain from voting so that the referendum did not obtain the necessary quorum. In Portugal, to the contrary, the Church made a “pact” with the prime minister so that the law on same-sex marriages did not include the possibility of adoption. And in Belgium the Episcopal conference limited its actions to clearly expressing with religious, legal, and anthropological arguments its opposition to such laws, which all other Episcopal conferences did also.
In this book, the authors analyse the full spectrum of the issue, including the emergence of such laws; the political discussions; the standpoints defended in the media by professionals, ethicists, and politicians; the votes in the parliaments; the political interventions of the Episcopal conferences; and the attitude of professionals. As a result the reader understands what was at stake and the differences in actions of the various Episcopal conferences. The authors also analyse the pro and con evaluations among the civil population of such actions by the Church. Finally, in a comparative synthesis, they discuss the public positions taken by Pope Francis to evaluate if a change in Church policy might be possible in the near future.
Research by GERICR (Groupe européen de recherche interdisciplinaire sur le changement religieux), a European interdisciplinary research group studying religious changes coordinated by Alfonso Pérez-Agote.