Acton Institute Powerblog

The socialist threat to Catholic schools in Spain

The Spanish government is currently run by the center-Right People’s Party, led by Mariano Rajoy. However, should Spain’s socialist parties return to power, they have announced their intention to remove Catholic education from the curriculum and replace it with a secular curriculum that teaches fidelity to the government.

In place of voluntary religious education, the socialists of Spain would impose secular and progressive “Education for Citizenship and Human Rights” (EfC). In this way, socialism could use government funding to bring about a change in the nation’s moral character.

The change could take place despite the fact that the Spanish constitution guarantees parents’ rights over their children’s education and religious upbringing.

After a brief exile, Pedro Sánchez has reclaimed leadership of Spain’s Socialist Workers’ Party (PSOE). In 2015, he promised to eliminate all Catholic catechetical instruction from both public and private schools. He has again announced his commitment to the European doctrine of “laicism,” a secularist agenda dedicated to erasing Christianity from the public square.

Spain must consolidate its status as a secular state,” Sánchez’s personal platform states. “No confessional religion should be part of curriculum [during] school hours.”

Ángel Manuel García Carmona discusses the way the Spanish socialists in PSOE and Podemos could halt the influence of Christian principles in Spain in his new essay for Religion & Liberty Transatlantic. He traces Sánchez’s history of anti-Catholicism, something he sees as an implicit part of socialist ideology:

In October 2015, two months before the election, he promised to remove the subject of the Catholic religion from school curricula, repeal Spanish national agreements with the Holy See, and erase the Spanish Constitution’s pledge to maintain “appropriate cooperative relations” with the Catholic Church. In a meeting organized by Spanish newspaper El Mundo the following May, Sánchez called for “more control by the State” over education.

Perhaps most clearly, the document containing the campaign promises he made while he was running for General Secretary of PSOE – Sí es sí. Por una nueva socialdemocracia (in English, “Yes is Yes. For a new social democracy”) – contains a section titled “A laical society.” It pledges to remove the Catholic religion from public schools’ curricula, remove religious symbols from state buildings and schools, and secularize national ceremonies like state funerals.

However, religious instruction is optional in Spanish schools; the socialists would make the controversial “Education for Citizenship and Human Rights” compulsory nationwide. EfC has stirred public opposition for two reasons. Some say it is not the government’s place to teach such issues as gender, sexuality, and other private moral concerns. Others oppose the content of EfC’s teaching on these issues, which clash with traditional Catholic beliefs.

Sánchez would make these viewpoints, which contradict the teachings many students receive at home from their parents, mandatory even in Catholic schools. Spanish Cardinal Antonio Cañizares warned in 2007 that EfC would lead Spain “downhill towards a totalitarian regime.” He added that, by comparison, the relationship between Christianity and Islam would be less troublesome than living under an activist government seeking to use the power of the State to impose secularism on the nation.

Religious organizations, which are always short on resources, are especially tempted to accept public funding “for the greater good.” But is it possible for a religious group to receive taxpayer funding without accepting government regulations that could vitiate everything it stands for? It is tempting to look to the government to nourish resource-starved religious programs. However, believers may be wiser to refuse such funding sources, as Jesus refused nourishment and power during His 40 days in the wilderness.

Instead, Christians may be better served by working for a limited government with less power over education and society as a whole. A smaller state requires less taxation. The reduced tax burden frees up resources for Roman Catholics – or members of any other religion – to finance their own schools, ministries, and apostolates to the poor. These flourishing ministries will be free to maintain their integrity without fear that a change in government could bring about a change in social morality – a change they will be legally required to instill in their own children.

You can read his full article here.

(Photo credit: Public domain.)

Rev. Ben Johnson

Rev. Ben Johnson (@therightswriter) is an Eastern Orthodox priest and served as Executive Editor of the Acton Institute (2016-2021), editing Religion & Liberty, the Powerblog, and its transatlantic website. He has extensively researched the Alt-Right. Previously, he worked for LifeSiteNews and FrontPageMag.com, where he wrote three books including Party of Defeat (with David Horowitz, 2008). His work has appeared at DailyWire.com, National Review, The American Spectator, The Guardian, Daily Caller, National Catholic Register, Spectator USA, FEE Online, RealClear Policy, The Blaze, The Stream, American Greatness, Aleteia, Providence Magazine, Charisma, Jewish World Review, Human Events, Intellectual Takeout, CatholicVote.org, Issues & Insights, The Conservative, Rare.us, and The American Orthodox Institute. His personal websites are therightswriter.com and RevBenJohnson.com. His views are his own.