church and state

church and state
   While the early years of Francoism were marked by a renewal of the centuries-old symbiosis of throne and altar in Spain, the twilight of the regime witnessed increasing tension between them, especially regarding human rights issues. The Roman Catholic church, once the legitimizer of dictatorship, prepared to legitimize democracy. However, in the post-Franco period, a church used to enjoying a monopoly position as guardian of Spain's morals did not find democratic pluralism an easy bedfellow, particularly while the Socialist PSOE was in power.
   Under the double pressure of the modernizing influence of the Second Vatican Council (1962–5) and of its own more progressive grassroots movements, the Spanish church started to distance itself from the Franco regime. By the 1970s, church-state relations were stretched to the limit, as evidenced by the "Añoveros affair" and by deadlock in the overhaul of the 1953 Concordat between Spain and the Holy See. Although the hierarchy did not make a complete break with Francoism, its political credentials were respectable enough when the transition from dictatorship to democracy came about, thanks largely to the strong leadership of the Cardinal Archbishop of Madrid, Vicente Enrique y Tarancón, who was also President of the Bishops" Conference (CEE) at the time.
   The church entered into a positive if critical engagement with democracy, professing independence but reserving the right to issue moral judgements. Once the foundations of formal democracy had been laid in the country, this meant in practice that it would tend to favour parties whose political programmes were broadly in line with, or at least were not opposed to Catholic doctrine, though Tarancón refused to endorse any political party, even one with a Christian Democrat label. Increasing prominence was given in the hierarchy's statements to their stance on education, divorce, abortion and anti- Marxism, which worked in favour of the political centre and to the detriment of left-wing parties. Church influence was seen behind the success in 1977 and again—more blatantly—in 1979 of the Union of the Democratic Centre (UCD), headed by Adolfo Suárez.
   The fundamental issue in these first post-Franco years of church-state relations concerned the future role and influence of the church in Spanish society. In the constitution of 1978, Roman Catholicism ceased to be the official religion of the state, though subtle wording discriminated in its favour. The constitution also unveiled a broad spectrum of political and social options for Spaniards, including divorce and abortion (see also abortion law), both anathema to Catholic doctrine. With the advent of a new Pope, John Paul II, in 1978, the Spanish Bishops" Conference moved progressively to the right of the "extreme centre" position which, backed by Paul VI and the Nuncio, Monsignor Dadaglio, had characterized Tarancón's mandate. UCD's divorce law (1981) was fought to the bitter end by the church, along with the Popular Alliance, its champion in the Spanish parliament. Meanwhile King Juan Carlos I had renounced (1976) the right of the Head of State to be involved in the appointment of bishops and the 1953 Concordat was replaced by Partial Accords (1979), covering, inter alia, the church's legal status, church finances, state subsidies for church schools, the rights of parents to choose the religious education of their children, and inclusion in all state school curricula of (optional) religious instruction in conditions comparable to those governing other core subjects. Despite conflict over divorce, church-state relations during the UCD period of government had run relatively smoothly. With the accession to power of the PSOE in late 1982, they soon came under greater strain. 1983 was described as the "year of the three wars of religion", with the passage of a law decriminalizing abortion in three circumstances, the publication of a church catechism condemning abortion as being as evil as terrorism and war, and the introduction of proposed new legislation on education (approved in 1984 as the LODE), which granted generous subsidies to church schools but with strings attached. In 1990, another education law, the LOGSE, prolonged the church-state education saga by challenging the position of religious instruction in schools as a core subject. Especially during the CEE Presidency of Monsignor Suquía from 1984 to 1993, friction between church and the PSOE government was never far below the surface, primarily regarding education, liberalization of the abortion law, and an alleged anti-clerical and anti-religious bias in the media, matched by PSOE complaints of anti-government propaganda emanating from COPE, the church radio station. The PSOE were also sensitive to church criticisms of corruption scandals in their midst and references to attempts to "dechristianize" Spanish society. In 1993 Suquía was succeeded by Monsignor Elias Yanes, a CEE President more in the "dialogue" mould of Cardinal Tarancón. From the structural point of view, relations between the Department of Religious Affairs at the Ministry of Justice and church representatives operate at three levels: ministers/bishops, a joint technico-political commission, and working parties set up to examine specific questions.
   See also: National Catholicism; religion
   Further reading
   - Brassloff, A. (1998) Region and Politics in Spainthe Spanish Church in Transition (1962-1996), London: Macmillan (gives a comprehensive account of church-state relations).
   - Heywood, P. (1995) The Government and Politics of Spain, London: Macmillan (pp. 68–74 give a useful brief summary of the evolving constitutional situation of the church).
   - Hooper, J. (1995) The New Spaniards, Harmondsworth: Penguin (chapter 9 offers a readable and reliable overview of the issue).

Encyclopedia of contemporary Spanish culture. 2013.

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