Spain is on the path to de-Christianization. Sociological data indicates this – in 25 years Catholics have gone from being more than 73% of the population to 44% in 2023, according to a study by the multinational market research company Ipsos – and the Association of Propagandists already admits it. Catholics (ACdP), which assures that the loss of beliefs in Spanish society is leading to a demoralized world where “it is logical that all those ethical, moral and religious foundations fade.” This has been one of the key points of the manifesto that ends the 25th Congress of Catholics and Public Life organized by the ACdP and the San Pablo-CEU University Foundation to address the situation of Spanish Catholicism.
With the name of Living, sharing, announcing. Evangelize and after three days of presentations, the Catholic propagandists announce with a taste of defeat that Spain is no longer Catholic and they exhort with hope the laity to take charge of the evangelization of society. “It is our duty to unmask and generate a social reaction to the increasingly evident incorporation of political and ideological options in educational regulations and in the school environment, not socially agreed upon or chosen by parents or schools,” the writing points out.
Among the causes, the propagandists highlight the “attack against the freedom of teaching” of the current educational system, which “involves an uncritical interference with students and an indoctrination that violates the principle of neutrality of public powers.” For the speaker Juan Arana, professor of Philosophy at the University of Seville, there is a crisis of faith and vocations, which has led religion and Spanish Christians to an “increasingly marginal” situation.
The solution, Arana stressed during his presentation, is that the laity must assume their responsibility, as believers and evangelizers, in public life that until now had been left in the hands of the clerics. Given the difficult comeback of the Catholics, the manifesto envisions a challenge and an opportunity for its renewal. “It is time to share, to move forward with these initiatives that give us a clear spirit of community,” said the president of the ACdP, Alfonso Bullón de Mendoza, also director of the newspaper El Debate.
Despite the reality of the data of Spanish secularization, this year’s event has broken the record of registrations: more than 1,400, according to organization sources, both in person and online. 40% more than last year. The uninterrupted celebration of these days, even during the pandemic, allows the perception that Catholics have of their role in public life and in institutions to be measured over time. At least, that of the traditionalist sector of the Church. The ACdP is known for its ultra-conservative stance. Last year it launched a campaign against abortion rights in 33 Spanish cities and installed posters on bus and metro stop shelters encouraging Catholics to pray in front of abortion clinics.
Proof of his closeness to the most closed side of the Church have been the constant allusions during the presentations to the late Pope Benedict XVI and an almost absolute silence about Pope Francis and his openness policies. An example: on the day of the opening of the congress, the ultra-conservative Cardinal Antonio María Rouco Valera, archbishop emeritus of Madrid, attacked the trans law during his speech: “What are children being taught now? Man, they’re not taught to be atheists. But they are told that ‘being a man’ is their thing.” Three days later, Francis published a document in which he approved the baptism of trans people and also that they can be baptized.
The conservative constant has always marked the congresses of Catholic propagandists, but this year it has opened up towards a group in which it places its hope: the new Catholic youth, apparently more open and who uses other channels to spread their Christian identity, such as social networks. More than 400 young people attended at the Sanchinarro center in Madrid. Among the speakers, the presence of Carlota Valenzuela stood out, a young woman who in January 2022 decided to make a pilgrimage from Finisterre (A Coruña) to Jerusalem (Israel) and told everything about her through an Instagram account. For her it was a call from God.
A congress marked by the political agenda
The atmosphere of the congress has been soaked by the Spanish political situation. Days before the day of presentations began, the director of the congress, the historian Rafael Sánchez Saus, warned, in reference to the amnesty law, during a lunch with journalists that “a Catholic should be very concerned about the rift that is developing.” opening in Spain.” The former Minister of the Interior of the PP and member of the Catholic association Jaime Mayor Oreja continued along this same line of discourse on Friday and stated that Spain is going through a “very difficult” situation as a result of the investiture of Pedro Sánchez as President of the Government. “We are in free fall. It means that he has a suicidal vocation. Who is the Government of Spain today? We Spanish Catholics have to know that this is a transition and we have to be more present than ever,” said the founder and president of the pro-life association NEOS.
During the inauguration of the congress, Cardinal Rouco also made political comments and once again attacked legislation in favor of euthanasia, the interruption of abortion, and even against equal marriage, opposed, as Christian morality understands, to “the condition of marriage and family.” And he asked Spanish and European politicians not to interfere in these issues. “Don’t get involved in this. Leave society. Do not impose, through legislation, an entire vision of man and life.”
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