Becoming Church of the minority
Spaniards who were angry over the visit of Pope Benedict XVI to Spain for the 26th World Youth Day harassed the Filipino delegates. The latter wondered: “Why are there anti-Catholics in the land that brought Catholicism to us?” Part of the answer is as follows:
The Spanish Constitution of 1978 made it legal to be a non-Catholic or a non-believer. It made it possible to criticize and radically reject the magisterium or teaching authority of the Church. It gave the mass media the freedom to assail Catholic beliefs and norms.
Today, those who were secularized in their growing years (that is, in the 1960s) do not espouse the Catholic faith, and so the grandmothers and granddaughters live in two different worlds, religiously speaking. A great majority of the Spanish youth have never heard of God at home.
In one survey, young Spaniards placed priests and the religious second to the last in importance, among 13 professionals.
In another survey, university students placed the Catholic Church at the bottom of the list of 20 Spanish public institutions—(1) NGOs, (6) Parliament, (10) Crown, (11) the Judiciary, (13) Senate, (19) political parties, (20) Catholic Church.
The center stage which the religious institution used to occupy now belongs to the economy. The Church has been pushed to the corner, where it nurses an inferiority complex. Bishops complain: “The world does not listen to the hierarchy anymore.” Some people retort: “Does the hierarchy listen to the world?”
In its pastoral plan for 1994-1997, the Spanish Bishops’ Conference acknowledged that Spain is “a post-christian and neo-pagan society.” Catholic Spain, “a reservoir of spirituality of the West” for a long time, has become overnight “a mission country, which must be christianized anew.” That “overnight” means from the Second Vatican Council (1963-1965) to 1990.
The author of my source concludes: There are strong reasons to believe that the Catholic Church in Spain will have the same future as what Pope Benedict XVI once predicted about the universal Church, namely that, it would someday become a Church of the minority and would not find itself within the spaces of the big organizations and would be contented to occupy a modest space. (Source: Isaias Diez del Rio OSA, “El catolicismo en España” in the journal Religion y Cultura, vol. 51 , 591-642. Loyola School of Theology Library, Ateneo de Manila University)
—FR. EDILBERTO V. SANTOS,
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