Back to Index

SPAIN and Catholicism

I grew up in Winchester, where Philip II of Spain, "the Devil of the South", married "bloody Mary", an event about which I once published a piece. When I first went to Catholic Spain in 1931, I was struck by the fact that educated people had mostly left the Church, and that anti-clericalism was rampant among them. Prime Minister Azaņa made the notorious remark that "Spain has ceased to be Catholic". Not quite. The Pujol family in Barcelona, where I was a guest, was devoutly Catholic and I remember them with affection. However, things have got worse for the Church since its alliance with Franco. The Economist (12/4/03) has an article headlined "It used to be spoken of as Catholic Spain. No more". Still, a chart shows it is still third in the percentage of church goers, after Ireland and Italy. Then come Greece, Belgium, Netherlands, Britain, Germany, France, Sweden, and Denmark. Educated people tend to have relations with France and Britain, less so the devout. It would be interesting to compare the figures for church-goers with those of Mosque-goers in Arab countries. Presumably they too, over the years have shown a decline and will continue to do so, but it will be a long time before the falling off becomes as marked as in Europe.

Ronald Hilton - 4/17/03