New book just published: The Intimate: Polity and the Catholic Church. Laws about Life, Death and the Family in So-called Catholic Countries. KAREL DOBBELAERE & ALFONSO PÉREZ-AGOTE (eds.). KADOC Studies on Relgion, Culture and Society nr 15. Louvain: Leuven University Press: February 2015.

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.

Introduction. Karel Dobbelaere & Alfonso Pérez-Agote

Euthanasia and the Belgian Catholic World, Liliane Voyé & Karel Dobbelaere

“Mariage pour tous”: The Same-Sex Marriage Controversy in France, Céline Béraud & Philippe Portier

The Italian Catholic Church and the Artificial-Insemination Referendum, Annalisa Frisina, Franco Garelli, Enzo Pace & Roberto Scalon

Ethical Challenges of the Catholic Church in Portugal : The Case of Same-Sex-Marriage, Helena Vilaça & Maria João Oliveira

The Catholic Church Faces Ethical Challenges in Spain : The Regulation of Abortion, Alfonso Pérez-Agote, Jose Santiago & Antonio Montañés

Comparative Synthesis, Karel Dobbelaere, Alfonso Pérez-Agote & Céline Béraud