eurel     Sociological and legal data on religions in Europe and beyond
You are here : Home » Spain » Historical highlights » Historical survey » Francoism, from the return of national-Catholicism to the relaxation of (...)

Francoism, from the return of national-Catholicism to the relaxation of the last several years

The Franco period was governed by the Fundamental Laws, decreed between 1938 and 1968, including The Spaniard’s Charter, Fuero de los Españoles, promulgated on 18 July 1945, which sets out in article 6:

"The profession and practice of the Roman Catholic religion, which is that of the Spanish State, shall enjoy official protection. Nobody shall be troubled on the basis of their religious beliefs or in the private practice of their religion. No ceremonies of exterior manifestations of a non-Catholic religion are permitted."

This article was included in the Concordat of 27 August 1953 between Spain and the Holy See. The goal of the Concordat, which is clearly defined in its preamble, was, by repeating the previous agreements and completing them, to constitute the standards of reciprocal relations between the contracting parties, in accordance with the law of God, the Catholic tradition and the Spanish nation. According to the first article, "the Catholic and Apostolic Roman religion continues to be the only religion of the Spanish nation and shall enjoy the rights and prerogatives that are hers in accordance with divine law and Canon law". The text also grants the Catholic Church and its members a certain number of privileges, or confirms them, such as a special status for the members of the clergy or financial aid from the State to different ecclesiastical institutions. Lastly, it gives the head of the Spanish State the right to nominate bishops.
As of 1936, a number of legal measures had nevertheless been taken in the aims of stopping the secularising reforms of the republican period. The law of 23 September 1939 repealed divorce. The Order of 10 March 1941 confirmed the de facto obligation of religious marriage, by forcing couples who wished to avoid it to provide proof that they were not affiliated with Catholicism. Also, on a social level, several texts were promulgated between 1936 and 1943, which made religious instruction once again necessary in State schools, re-established the subsidies for denominational instruction and granted the Church the right to control the overall educational system.
In 1967, with the vote on the law regarding Religious Freedom, there was a slight shift in the previous attitude that had denied the presence of religious minorities on Spanish territory, forcing them into practising in secret and into social non-existence. Drawn up since 1964, this law corresponded to the new state of religious sentiment which was especially evident through the Vatican II Council and aimed at making decisions in accordance with Spanish legislation. The texts refer to the law of 17 May 1956 according to which Spanish legislation must draw its inspiration from the teachings of the Catholic Church. And yet, the treatment of religious freedom was one of the three domains that, in the Concordat of 1953, were treated in a manner that was not in line with the Council: indeed, its 1st article closed any possibility of legal status in Spain for all non-Catholic denominations.
The law was voted by the Cortes on 28 June and published on 1 July 1967 after having been approved by the Holy See. It introduced certain modifications but did not, nevertheless, challenge the position of Catholicism as the only socially imposed religion. Exercising the right to religious freedom, "devised in accordance with Catholic doctrine", which permitted the celebration of other public religions, had to be compatible with the denominationalism of the Spanish State as proclaimed in the Fundamental Laws. The text specified that religious beliefs were not a reason for inequality before the law, and permitted non Catholics to have a civil marriage, on the condition, however, that they could prove that they were not Catholic. Lastly, it provided for the legal recognition of non Catholic religions through the formation of declared religious associations, thus consecrating a regime duality, a standard for the Catholic Church, which continues to enjoy a preferential situation and a standard of submission to internal private law for the other religions which moreover confirms the intervention of the State in their internal statutes.
On the other hand, from a more concrete point of view, between the end of the 50s and Franco’s death, there were several developments. In this manner, despite the unfavourable cultural situation, the return to Spain of the Sephardim increased and continued. This was particularly due to the deterioration of the political situation in Islamic lands and in Latin America, which generated a number of exiles.
Furthermore, certain attempts at official recognition found an echo. The Jewish community of Madrid was recognised as a private association in 1965. Shortly after, it was also the case of the Federation of the Communities of Madrid, Barcelona, Ceuta and Mililla, which became the Sephardim Federation of Spain.
This evolution was linked to the universal Catholic Church, but also to the non proselyte nature of the Jewish communities which differs from that of the Protestant Churches. For this reason they provoked less hostility from the hierarchy of the Catholic clergy.

D 13 September 2012    AClaude Proeschel

CNRS Unistra Dres Gsrl

Follow us:
© 2002-2024 eurel - Contact