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SPAIN and Catholicism



Christopher Jones comments on the posting concerning the decline of the Catholic Church in Spain: "With the title, "It used to be spoken as Catholic Spain, No more," The Economist has shown just how slanted and really our of touch the leftist press can be. I can assure all WAISers that the vast majority of Spain takes Catholicism very seriously indeed and the Semana Santa is the highpoint of the calender. All over, processions carry images, idols etc. in veneration of Christ. These processions are organized by cofradías who have recently been opened to female membership -- the response has been overwhelming and participation in the ceremonies has never been larger than it is today. Any statistics to the contrary probably reflect the increasing urbanization of Spanish life, as young people seek employment in the cities.

But any one who knows Spain and Spaniards has at one time or another been confronted by their contradictory or ambiguous nature (which stems from a belief that they know everything better) a liberal dose of cruelty, and in particular their attitude to official Churchdom. Although Spain's patron saint is Santiago el Matamoros, (St James the Moor killer) who hacked off 10,000 Moslem heads, most urban Spaniards were against the war in Iraq. President Manuel Azaña's proclamation that Spain was no longer Catholic could have been easily followed by "Gracías a Díos."

RH: The Economist is not leftist, and I believe its article is accurate. In central Mexico City, people lamented the decline in Holy Week ceremonies, but in the poor district where the ceremony is staged in the most theatrical way, it had lost none of its color. A computer student was selected as Jesus. He had to endure the traditional beatings. Likewise, outside the big cities, the ceremonies preserved their drama. In a village in El Salvador there is a donkey whose only job is to carry Christ on Palm Sunday. The rest of the year it just wanders about the village streets, beloved by all. In the Philippines, the most bloody celebrations of Good Friday, including crucifixions and flagellations, continue in the town of San Fernando, north of Manila. Old Spain survives in the most distant rural centers. We have talked a lot about the symbolism of the donkey. Traditionally in Spain priests rode mules, half-way between the peasant's donkey and the knightly horse. Military leaders rode a white horse. A bestiary of the social hierarchy.

Ronald Hilton - 4/19/03


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