Spain: Roman Catholic Church and Spain Essay

Submitted By trinifoss
Words: 2537
Pages: 11

Bordered by both the Atlantic Ocean and Mediterranean Sea, and surrounded by various roaming mountain ranges, Spain is a country that’s beauty extends from not only the sights that can be found, but also the rich culture embedded into every person, building, and tradition. Spain is globally known for its long history, unique culture, strong economy and high living standards. However, to locals, the life they live is simply the one their ancestors put in place for them long ago. This is a country that believes strongly in keeping everything the way it was when it first began. Whether relating to religion, social standings, or even fashion and art, the nation as a whole regresses from change. From Spain’s capital city of Madrid, to small farm communities such as Marinaleda, a common thread can be found throughout every aspect of each individual Spaniards life – tradition.
Christianity entered Spain in the first century C.E. and has since then dominated influence over Spain’s culture and every day life of its citizens. From the mid-1400s to 1967 the Roman Catholic Church dominated religious life in Spain and no other religious groups were allowed to practice openly. This time period included the expulsion of Jews and Muslims, followed by the condemnation, persecution, and expulsion of the Protestants after 1521. This crusade later went on to prove that Catholicism would always be an essential component of the identity of Spain. Even after the 1967 Law of Religious Freedom, today’s population of 40,077,100 still consists of 82.1% Roman Catholic citizens. Even the Spaniards, who do not consider them selves to be Catholic, still live in an environment that’s history and culture is based around a very Christian faith. From the landscape that is filled with shrines and churches to the secular festival working around a religious calendar, there is no escaping the profound impact the Catholic Church has from century to century. The majority of the national holidays celebrated here are oriented around this religion, including Holy Thursday, Good Friday, All Saints Day, the Assumption of the Virgin Mary, and the Immaculate Conception. In addition, the more common holidays of Easter and Christmas are also celebrated. These holidays are celebrated much more elaborately than they would be in any other country, proving just how important and influential the religion has been on Spain’s modern culture. The holidays usually include festivals which include church functions with a solemn mass, music, and a sermon, as well as parades and extravagant family dinners. One more unusual tradition that is preformed in Spain is that of the flagellants who march in a Holy Week procession and beat themselves on the back with a short whip. This is done in order to “share the suffering” of Jesus who endured beatings by the Roman Soldiers on the way to his crucifixion (Holland). This tradition alone shows that Christianity is not just a religion to the common Spaniard, it is a way of life that they commit themselves to, and therefore, has an influence over their everyday life. In addition to the way that the Catholic religion has swayed citizen’s traditions and values, it has also always held power over the government.
Although Spain no longer has an official religion, the Catholic Church continues to exert power in certain areas of the government, as well as receive benefits not provided to other religious affiliations, just as they have since the Renaissance in the 1500s. During the Renaissance, members of the church were able to benefit from certain rights and privileges in addition to wealth and status (Renaissance…). The Church was also involved in all government decisions until 1975 when the tradition of support between church and state weakened after the death of Franco and a new constitution was established, forbidding a state religion. This new constitution did take away some of the power the Church had over national