[JURIST] The lower house of the Spanish Parliament [official website, in English] has approved a bill to legalize same-sex marriages, a measure sponsored by Spain's ruling Socialist Party. The bill, passed Thursday, now moves to the Senate [official website, in English], where the Socialists have strong support. Adoption of the bill reflects significant changes in Spain, where 80 percent of the population considers themselves Catholic, although half of that number do not follow Church teachings. The Vatican immediately denounced the bill as "iniquitous" and urged Catholics to resist it, even at the risk of losing their jobs; incoming pope Benedict XVI [official website] issued a stern letter against homosexual unions [text] in 2003 while head of the Vatican's watchdog Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith as then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger. The Spanish Bishops Conference [official website in Spanish] has also issued a statement condemning the bill [pre-passage press release in Spanish]. AP has more. BBC News has more.