by Anita Carey
December 27, 2017
Spanish Supreme Court tosses disruptors' appeal that they didn't know Mass was underway
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MADRID (ChurchMilitant.com) - A group of abortion activists in Spain will face a stiff penalty for a willful and planned disruption of Mass: prison time.
Five abortion activists were convicted of violating religious freedom laws after a 2014 incident where they stormed a Catholic church in Palma de Mallorca. Tuesday's ruling by the Spanish Supreme Court dismissed their appeal that they did not know any religious act was underway.
The Supreme Court agreed with the earlier court, ruling that the abortion activists' claims were "not credible," and they "knew that Mass was being held."
"Even for the unbelieving in our society, for the profane, the celebration of Masses as a religious act is a perfectly known and recognizable fact," the court noted.
This latest court ruling stated that the intent of the group was "to prevent, interrupt or disturb in a manner clearly perceptible to all, the religious act that they knew was celebrated at that time in that church."
On Sunday, February 12, 2014, a group of 10–15 young people affiliated with Antipatriarcals Mallorca entered the Church of St. Miquel in Palma de Mallorca shouting pro-abortion slogans, like "free and gratuitous abortion" and "get your Rosaries off our ovaries." Parishioners rallied and pushed back the protestors to the exit. The disruption lasted for approximately 10 minutes, and Mass resumed.
The diocese of Mallorca reacted by denouncing the act and filing a complaint against the protestors. The diocese issued a statement noting that "the religious feelings of those present were wounded, creating a situation of great concern."
They are especially vindictive and knowledgeable about the actions of the Catholic Church with which they obviously do not agree.
The court agreed with the diocese, noting that although the accused were young, "they are especially vindictive and knowledgeable about the actions of the Catholic Church with which they obviously do not agree."
Court documents show that there were between 200–300 faithful in the church that day, and, "[it] made little sense to enter the [church] at times when it was empty or with few people who also did not attend a religious ceremony."
Five of the six abortion activists were convicted in 2016, while one was acquitted. The court was clear in its ruling that the activists "cannot violate religious freedom," adding that "the authentic democratic exercise of respect for freedom is shown when the lawful expression of opinions, beliefs or ideas contrary to those that one has or professes is respected."
While the Spanish Supreme Court acknowledged that they had a legitimate right to protest, the legitimacy was removed when it was "organized in such a way that it would be so noticeable by third parties."
"Thus, they not only knew that their behavior affected the celebration of the religious act or ceremony in that way but especially wanted to do so. It is this interruption or disturbance, executed in this way, that deprives it of legitimacy," the court ruled.
The Supreme Court upheld the ruling and sentences of the lower court, and each of the five abortion activists will face one year of prison time. In Spain, prison sentences of less than two years are usually substituted for community service.