Forty years after the signing in Rome on January 3, 1979, of the Agreements between Spain and the State of the Holy See, it is debated whether they should be reformed or suppressed. The debate focuses on the neutrality of the State before the religious fact; the financing of the Church: the review of your tax privileges; the teaching of Catholicism by teachers paid with public money; the salaries of prelates and priests in charge of the Treasury, and, in recent years, the registration of village assets and, even, private ones registered by the dioceses with the sole signature of a bishop.
A majority of parties with presence in the Cortes would like to reflect in the legislation, for the first time in the Transition, the secularization of society. It will not be done in this Legislature. The Government chaired by Pedro Sanchez asks to wait, despite maintaining that "we must seriously consider the secularity of the State." His Minister of Foreign Affairs, Josep Borrell, said it. The visit of Vice President Carmen Calvo to the Vatican, on October 29, to meet with the number two' of the Pope, Pietro Parolin, lowered the expectations of the meeting before the complicated exhumation of the remains of Franco, now in the basilica of the Valley of the Fallen.
Pastoral Plan 2016-2020
Nor are the bishops in favor of addressing a reform now. In the first place, the competence corresponds to the Vatican, from State to State, not to the Spanish Episcopal Conference (EEC). This was said yesterday to EL PAÍS a spokesperson: "The agreements came from the Constitution. It is one of the first fruits of the call that guarantees ideological, religious and religious freedom. As stated in Article 16, the agreements make visible the constitutional mandate to maintain cooperative relations with the Catholic Church. " But the EEC sees an unstoppable reform or denunciation of the Agreements. Its call Pastoral Plan for 2016-2020 recognizes "the low social value of religion" by the Spanish and, in that same line, its president, Cardinal Ricardo Blázquez, points to secularism as one of the dangers that threaten "the next future national".
Regardless of opinions, the reality is that the so-called Agreements are breached by both parties or regulate matters that are now seen as irrelevant. The first of these, for example, of July 1976, among other demands, obliges the Pope to "notify" the Government of the name of the bishops he wants to name "in case there are objections of a political nature", and demands that "the proceedings remain secret "; it is the King who appoints the military vicar with salary and degree of general of division, and prevents any ecclesiastic from being criminally sued without the authorization of his bishop (if the accused "was a bishop, the notification will be made to the Holy See"). Neither may clerics "be required by judges on persons or matters of which they have knowledge by reason of their ministry," without specifying it in the secret of confession.
The 1978 Constitution. This guarantees in article 16 "the ideological, religious and cult freedom of individuals and communities without further limitation, in its manifestations, than that necessary for the maintenance of public order protected by law", states that "no one may be forced to declare on his ideology, religion or beliefs "and, in addition, adds:" No confession will have a state character. The public authorities will take into account the religious beliefs of Spanish society and will maintain the consequent cooperative relations with the Catholic Church and other confessions. "
The 1976 Agreement. This revised or nullified part of the Concordat of 1953, which defined the Catholic Church as a "perfect society". The new agreement fixed the first limits in the relations between the Catholic Church and the incipient Spanish democracy in the hands of former President Adolfo Suárez.
The 1979 Agreements. Four documents established the relations between the Spanish State and the Holy See on a legal, educational and cultural level, religious assistance to the Armed Forces and economic matters. The economic established as the Church's purpose "to achieve by itself sufficient resources for the attention of their needs", something that 40 years later has not been fulfilled.
The main argument in 1976 to revise or annul a large part of the Francoist Concourse of 1953, which defined the Catholic Church as a "perfect society", was "the profound process of transformation that society has experienced." He also appealed to the independence of the parties, preached by the Second Vatican Council. Influential Catholic groups such as the Association of Theologians and Theologians John XXIII, the Forum Cures, Somos Iglesia, Redes Cristianas and several Popular Communities maintain that the suppression of agreements is the way for their Church to recover prestige.
The Concordat of 1953 conditioned the life and customs of Spaniards for 23 years; the current agreements are valid 40 (42 years of 1976). The changes that society has experienced are an argument of greater weight now than then.
Among the issues in conflict stand out the financing of the Church through IRPF and the teaching of Catholicism in schools. The economic agreement says that it is the Church's purpose "to achieve by itself sufficient resources for the attention of their needs", that is, self-financing. Not only is it not self-financed, but it has received since 2007, by concession from the Government of José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, 37% more money than what was agreed with the Executives of Felipe González and José María Aznar (256,66 million in 2018).
The teaching of Catholicism in schools by teachers elected by each bishop and paid by the State is attributed to article 27 of the Constitution. "The public powers guarantee the right that assists parents so that their children receive the religious and moral training that is in accordance with their own convictions," he says. On this text the bishops build their right to impose Catholic religion and morality in all schools with the same rank as, for example, mathematics.
Relations with the Vatican State have never been peaceful, not even during the dictatorship despite the fact that Franco was paraded through the bishops and called Crusade the civil war that brought him to power. "Crossed yes, but swastika", warned the historian Herbert R. Southworth in 'The myth of the crusade of Franco' (Ruedo Ibérico, 1962). He was referring to the support of Hitler and Mussolini, plus the presence of Moorish mercenaries in the coup army.
The Concordat of 1953 was signed without journalists on August 27, 1953 after twelve years of negotiation. "In the name of the Holy Trinity," the BOE began publishing it. The first 'Agreement' of revision, on July 28, 1976, cost a week of gestation. President Suarez had arrived at the post 25 days before to relieve Carlos Arias.
The first coincidence between the bishops and the new government, in power before the first elections, took place precisely in the name. There would be no Concordat. It was requested by Paul VI, an avowed anti-Francoist. The last three signed by the Vatican bore the stamp of Hitler (the Reichskonkordat, July 1933) and Mussolini (Pact of Lateran, February 1929), in addition to the agreement with Franco. You had to find a decent name. The expression Agreements was the ideal euphemism. It replaced a coarse word for the constituent process that was to begin a year later with the intention of consensus between secular parties and confessional parties (although none of those present in the future Cortes was going to be called Christian Democracy). In spite of everything, its discussion in Cortes was stormy when Fraga raised the ghost of a new crusade, which distressed Carrillo, of the PCE, resigned to yield. The Catholic Peces Barba, of the PSOE, justified himself by saying that the Socialists were "lay, but not anti-religious."