Política y Administración Pública
RELIGION AND POLITICS IN SPAIN
/While the Spanish Church was being prodding into loosening its political ties with the regime , it had no intention of relinquishing claims on its traditional spheres of influence, especially in education , marriage and sexual mores, which Francoism had protected .Significant markers were laid down for a future in which Church doctrine might no longer be enshrined in Spain’s legislation .Education was already on the agenda and their Assembly held on 11th off July 1970, the bishops issued a communiqué concerning a new Act .Though welcoming its emphasis on the ‘Christian concept of education’ , they regretted the priority to be given to funding places in State schools, claiming that this ran counter to the Francoism Spaniards’ Charter of 1945 , under which the government was to ‘ foster and protect ‘ private schools.
Clearly the hierarchy not only wanted to maintain its hold on education, but to continue to be paid by state coffers, thus maintaining influence in society while not serving financial dependence on the regime .The education issue, particularly the church influenced ‘parents’ right to choose‘ the kind of school they considered most appropriate for their children in the context of the ‘socio-religious reality’ of Spain, would feature again and again in their documents .All of them echoed Mgr Cantero’s demand in 1963 for State protection for the historical , sociological, and political reality of a Catholic Spain in which ‘national community’ was equated with ‘Catholic community’ .Moreover , to show that they intended to remain the moral watchdogs of the nation , despite their public acknowledgement of the autonomy of civil society , the bishops indicated in a document on ‘The Moral Life of Our People’ that they would co-operate in showing the authorities what laws ought to govern public morality.
2…/As if to underline the financial dependence of the Church on the State, the government had a short time earlier stopped subsiding some twenty seminaries –admittedly surplus in the light of the drop inn the number of seminarians- and officials spoke of a reappraisal of the problem of financing private (Church) secondary school and the clergy ‘s stipends. The Spanish Church, although wealthy in terms of real estate, gold and art treasures, would find it challenging, if not impossible in the short term, to maintain itself without state subsidies, for congregations were dwindling and anyway unaccustomed to marking an open-handed contribution to supporting their pastors. Although the Join Assembly had urged financial independence from the State , the bishops, while recognising that the normal upkeep of the Church – personal, material an d apostolic activities- ought to depend on the voluntary contributions of its membership , continued to find themselves unable to give up State subsidies.
3./In January 1973 an Episcopal document ‘The Church an the Political Community’ emerged after a difficult and protracted labour .It passed by the narrowest majorities .One of the section of this document was ‘Church and State relations’ .The bishops’ statement trod a very delicate path through the issue of what it called ‘economic help’. Declaring that State subsidies given to the Church were now considered to be a service to the people, enabling them to develop their religious dimension, the document emphasised the historical role of the Church in providing all manners of schools, hospital, old people’s homes, housing and social services .In such circumstances, it claimed, state subsidies could not be considered a privilege .In any case ,a distinction had to be made between the (modest) stipends allotted to the clergy and the larger sums allocates to the Church ‘s educational and social services, maintainance of religious monuments and the building and repairing of church buildings .The documents seemed to imply - realistically, perhaps – that, even though the Church must take its member aware that they ought to give it proper financial support , that would not be enough ; it did not propose to turn away help given by the Spanish people via the State .The burden argument in this part of the document was on ‘freedom for the Church for the sake of serving the community’, in an attempt to show that it received from the State was its due, not a grace and favour subsidy.
Deep down the bishops were aware that the Church occupied a privileged position –both legal and de facto- in society in general and in education in particular , within a regime where for others the margin of freedom was very narrow .The bad conscience arose in them by this led to constant self-justification .the section of ‘The Church and the Political community’ concerned with education was headed ‘rights of the Church ‘ and claimed that its rights in education were often confused with privilege .The first right enabled the Church , strictly for the common good, to teach any subject in conditions of equal opportunity .The corresponding duty of the State was to offer the church the necessary means to achieve its educational aim insofar as the country’s general economic situation allowed and without discrimination in favour of the State schools .The second right was that all of Spanish Catholics to receive religious instruction in State schools.
They have already been a spate of Episcopal documents on this issue, and the hierarchy ‘s argument continued to be that the existence of Church schools and religious instruction were the wish and the inalienable right of Spanish society which knew itself to be Catholic: religion on the school curriculum was the only viable way of reaching all children .The bishops were still here harking back to a never-never land of unanimity in the faith, and so to a church rightfully supported by the secular authorities .They based their arguments on the premise that the Spanish society had always been and still remained Christian, and specifically, Catholic.
4…../Right teaching –whether view from Rome or Madrid- was part of evangelisation, which was the raison the etre of the Church ‘s existence .The Church had to know how to deliver its orthodox message to a clientele that was increasingly disinclined to listen .The omens were not good. The social an d economic changes related in the fifties and sixties to the breakdown of the agrarian and artisanal structure of Spanish society were accentuated in the 1970s.By then, the Church’s traditional interpretation of the world and life , the goals and behavioural norms it sought to impose on its membership, had been widely rejected or ignored and it seemed unable to find the answer .Even the ‘loyal position’ who remained inside the church continued their criticism of institutionalised authority of all kinds, and this was accompanied by a crisis in the religious orders, a drop in vocations to priesthood , the haemorrhage of men leaving the priesthood ,tension between generations and devaluation of some of Church’s sacraments, especially penance .The situation was unprecedented, a plurality of views inside the Church – some of them heterodox – being freely expressed by individuals or groups, priests and lay people and certain organs of the Catholic press.
5.../ By the time of first post-Franco election, education powerfully concentrated the Church ‘s mind .According to an opinion poll carried out by the General Sociology Office of the Episcopate, 93 per cent of parents wanted their children to receive a religious education .CONCAPA Catholics Parents Federation, under its leader, Carmen Alvear, fought for ‘Catholic rights’ in season and out of season. And in its stance sometimes proved to be ‘more Papist than the Pope’. For the bishops at the XXVI Plenary Assembly of June 1977 there was no such thing as ‘neutral education’ ; the State had no right to fix the educational model without reference to society and the rights of parents (as indicated by the Church).in a pastoral letter to the diocese of Zaragoza, Mgr Elias Yanes, chairman of Episcopal Education Commission, insisted on the rights of parents in education and protested that an attack on the ‘historical identity of our people’ would be perpetrated if there were to be schools where children of Catholic parents could not hear Christ spoken of in a religious sense .On the other hand , the bishops of Pamplona –Tudela , San Sebastian and Vitoria, without denying the legitimacy of a church presence in state schools, considered that the essential places for religious education were the Church’s own institutions, like parishes and Christian communities.
6…./There were three major Church –related issues debated in the constitution :the establishment of a State religion , education and marriage .This had been extensively discussed by the bishops .They were concerned about what they saw as excessive State intrusion in education, which they feared might become a State monopoly threatening the very existence of church schools (which perpetuated the church’s dependence o the State but which the bishops used all manner of arguments to maintain).UCD an AP proposed continuing such subsidies while the PSOE, which favoured a single, secular, State school system, pressed for an end to them . The PCE, which had kept a low profile throughout the discussion of the constitutional matters which affected the Church, sided with UCD and AP .Behind-doors agreements between UCD and the PSOE , and the application of the guillotine in Congress, avoided a broader debate and confrontation by leaving everything to the future and to whatever government might be in power.
The bishops as a body left the faithful free to make up their own minds on the subsequent referendum to approve the Constitution .There were some reservations about Article 32.2 on marriage which referred to ‘dissolution’ and also Articles on education, because, although the Church was permitted to fund schools, there was no guarantee that the State would fund them .Despite general Episcopal acceptance of the Constitution, nine of the bishops attacked it and wrote hostile pastoral letters to the people of their dioceses .Cardinal Gonzalez Martin of Toledo, having denounced the constitution- because it would set up an agnostic state , omitted any reference to God, did not sufficiently safeguard the moral values of the family and failed to put an absolute ban on abortion – then left his flock ‘ free’ to vote according to conscience .Similar repudiation came from Mgr Guerra Campos of Cuenca .The ultra-right Fuerza Nueva deputy Blas Pinar called the other bishops traitors who had done nothing when God was torn out of the Constitution .The President of the integrist Hermandad Sacerdotal said that anyone voting in favour of the constitution committed a grave sin, and the similarly right-wing lay group San Antonio Maria Claret declared that such people were automatically excommunicated.
On 6 December 1978 the Constitution was ratified by national referendum and, at the end of the month Suarez announced a general election for March 1979.Cracks in the UCD coalition soon became apparent , with the sector critico feeling outraged by the concessions on divorce and education made behind the scenes to the PSOE .It was then that church moved toward a more openly active role inn politics .
7…/In 1979 the Spanish government and the Holy See signed some Partial Agreements which replaced the 1953 concordat .The main areas covered by the new accords were : (1) legal status of the church including the right to exercise its apostolic mission, and the recognition of canonical marriage; (2) the right of parents to choose the moral and religious education of their children , the inclusion of (optional) instruction at all level of education in conditions comparable to those of the other core subjects, and the right to State subsidies;(3) religious ministry to the Armed Forces and the military service of priests and members of the religious orders;(4) a State undertaking to collaborate with the Church in appropriate financing, including certain tax exemptions, with a ‘religion tax’ on personal income to replace the annual State grant within three years, while the church undertook to achieve self-financing in the long term.
The new accord did not suit John Paul II .The Pope was said to be displeased by these apparent concessions .Spanish hierarchy did not obliged the government to give clear recognition of the jurisdiction of ecclesiastical courts, of the indissolubility of canonical marriage and of freedom for the Church in education .The Vatican did not understand how in country which , like Poland, was a bastion of Catholicism, the Church was unable to maintain a more assertive position.
The PSOE (all the indication were that church would soon have to be negotiating with a socialist government) was to some extend favourably disposed towards the accords , since some of its earlier criticisms had been met satisfactorily as, for example, in an amendment concerning the church and the media. But the PSOE vote against the education accord on the grounds that children in church schools might not be able to opt out of a religion classes , and that some powers would be wrongfully delegated from State to church.
Encouraged by Rome, the bishops of the conservative sector of the Spanish church hardened their attitudes during 1980 and 1981.their support went to the largely like-minded sector critico of UCD , which appeared to be on the verge of forming a right wing splinter group with an openly Christian Democrat label, and heir concerns centred on church ‘s role in a forthcoming Schools statute(Estatutos de Centros Docentes ), a new law on university autonomy ( Ley de Autonomia Universitaria) and the future of divorce law .The Estatuto de Centros Docentes was a more satisfactory proposition than the precious (1970) Education Act: it clearly encouraged private education and parent’s rights and gave proprietors control over the ethos of their schools .for the same reasons it met with strong opposition from the left .After much parliamentary debate and some persuasive talk by Adolfo Suarez with dissidents in his own coalition, it was passed, thanks to support from AP and other smaller parties .the left would have its chance when PSOE came to power in 1982.Linked to the School Statute was the university autonomy law, which included a proposal that individuals or institutions should be permitted to found Universities .As far as the church was concerned , it would be free to establish its own universities in addition to those already existing –Comillas, Deusto, Navarre and Salamanca –
One important bill was on the stocks in 1980.It passed into law in July, concerned about religious liberty (Ley Organica de Libertad Religiosa), guaranteeing the right of all citizens to religious freedom and worship .At first UCD had pressed for a specific mention of the Catholic church in article 7 of the Law but later withdrew its proposal, since this was already written into the 1978 constitution .From the PCE it was said that it was a law that came late, since before Parliament had had the opportunity to debate it , the agreements with the Holy Se had been signed ,and the Estatuto de Centros Docentes , whose provisions were contrary to the principle of religious freedom, had been approved.
8…/Church –PSOE relations had got off to a difficult start .The first full year of the Socialists’ mandate, 1983, was sometimes referred to as the ‘ years of the three wars of religion’. It began with a bill decriminalising abortion in three circumstances: rape, malformation of the foetus and grave danger to the life of the mother. The next war was concerned a catechism of Christian doctrine for the fifth and sixth school grades , which the bishops issued without waiting for the required approval of the ministry of Education. When the government refused its authorisation, the church complained that it was a case of ‘government intolerance which wanted to control even matters which were nothing to do with them’. In the Ministry’s view, the Church has published textbooks deemed to be pedagogically unsound, bearing in mind the age of the children who would be using the catechism, since abortion, terrorism and war were condemned as equally reprehensive in moral terms .In the end a compromise was reached when the church agreed to add a separate explanatory sheet of ‘pedagogical criteria ‘ for the use of teachers.
The third war was also fought over education on the introduction of the LODE (Ley Organica de Libertad Religiosa/ Organic law for the Right to Education)which undertook to make education free even in private schools by granting a 100 per cent subsidy , but with strings attached .The Church which owned and ran some 90per cent of private schools protested .One of the main points at issue was the Catholic ethos (ideario) of church schools, which the hierarchy felt might be undetermined because its definition would be subject to ministerial authorisation, because the LODE also affirmed academic freedom, and because he disparate members of the governing body ( consejo escolar)might put constraints on the way the school was run. While filibustering antiLODE amendments , 4160 in al, were tabled by the parliamentary opposition, various pressure groups of Catholic teachers and parents particularly the Catholic Parents’ Association (CONCAPA) and the Federation of Religious in Education (FERE)organised huge rallies against the Bill but they were unable to persuade any member of the hierarchy to take part.
Some bishops , like Mgr Yanes who headed the CEE Educational Commission, were hardline in their demands; the more moderate line pursued by the majority , and by the Christian schools of Catalonia, was reflected in a statement by Cardinal Jubany of Barcelona that a bad agreement was preferable to a good lawsuit .Such a willingness to compromise was shared by the Catalan Minority Group in Parliament, which succeeded in negotiating with the socialists a few substantive amendments to the original LODE.
With the introduction of the LOGSE (Organic Law for the General Regulation of the Educational System) the education issue flared up again .The bishops claimed that the LOGSE contravened the 1979 education and Cultural Matters Agreement with the Vatican, which declared that the teaching of Catholic religion would be included at all levels and in all schools, in conditions on a par with those of other ‘core’ subjects .Such teaching was not obligatory for pupils but it had to be on offer and under UCD the alternative subject had been ethics, whereas none was envisaged in the LOGSE .The PSOE came to decree a series of different options, all of which threatened to downgrade the status of religion as a core subject .Cardinal Suquia urged Catholics to ‘fight , to demand tour fundamental rights even against the establish power’ and the hierarchy appealed successfully to the Supreme Court.
The issue would continue to smoulder, unresolved, beyond the PSOE government’s election defeat in March1996.the communist-led United Left (IU) wanted religion taken out of schools and called for a revision of the 1979 accords .Nor did all Catholics believe that the school was the appropriate place for instilling the Catholic faith. Some grass-roots Christian communities, for example, as well as representatives in Catalonia, maintained that, while school should be free to offer religious education-as a cultural subject and not as a indoctrination – the rightful place for transmitting the faith was within the community of believers.
9..//With abortion education and corruption issues providing ammunition for Church attacks on the socialists, the spasmodics skirmishes must have played a part of the Felipe Gonzalez’s refusal to receive Mgr Suquia during the last four years of his CEE presidency : clearly the Prime minister found the attitude of the church under his mandate unacceptable.