By Matthew Cullinan Hoffman

  PORTUGAL, April 2, 2008 ( – “Bishops want More Political Combat” reads one headline in the Portuguese press, and it seems to be true. 

  Increasingly alarmed and angered by the socialist regime’s attacks on human life and family, the Catholic bishops of Portugal are reportedly discussing a new policy of confrontation with the government during the plenary session of the Portuguese Episcopal Conference (CEP), whose annual meeting began two days ago.

  The socialist government, led by socialist Jose Socrates, has legalized abortion in Portugal up to the tenth week of pregnancy and has announced plans to create “no fault divorce” system. 

  According to sources within the conference, who spoke anonymously with the Portuguese publication Correio da Manhã, some bishops at the meeting are stating that “the Church has to be more active in the defense of its social status and even, when it is justified, in political combat.”

  The new willingness to fight on the part of the bishops is evident in the recent words of the spokesman for the CEP, who on the eve of the plenary session accused the government of lying in its promise to help pregnant women in order to reduce the number of abortions.

“It was a lie, trick, and deception of the Portuguese, what they said in what was only a marketing speech to capture votes,” said CEP secretary D. Carlos Azevedo. 

  The nation’s political leaders suffer from “an absence of orientation with true civilizing purposes”, preferring instead “the immediate pragmatism of solutions without a vision of the future”, he said.

“The democratic government cannot be militantly atheist and cease to recognize, respect, and satisfy the option of those citizens to whom it provide the necessary conditions to live their religion, respecting other beliefs,” said bishop Jorge Ortega, the newly reelected president of the CEP during the opening of the plenary session, and denounced the “incredible exclusion of the catholic presence from the public and political arena”.

  The plenary session will conclude tomorrow