, Volume 67, Issue 4, pp 283–294 | Cite as

Church–state relations in Spain: Variations on a National-Catholic theme?

  • Cathelijne de Busser


Contrary to the absence of a uniform Spanish identity (a phenomenon that is often referred to as Spain being a ‘nation of nations’), Spain’s confessional map is remarkably homogeneous. From the beginning of its existence as a political conglomeration, Spain has been a mono-confessional Catholic territory. Even at present, Catholicism is an intrinsic feature of Spanish society and – though officially a secular state – of state policy. A closer look at Spain’s religious situation and its corresponding pattern of church–state relations reveals, however, some recent cracks in the century’s old bond between Spain and Catholicism. Particularly secularization and religious pluralism challenge Spain’s mono-confessional Catholic nature, a development that fits well into Spain’s post-Francoist focus on Europe and European (secular) values. This paper discusses Spanish church–state relations from the beginning of its political existence until present times. Special attention will be paid to more recent societal developments and their impact on religious Spain and church–state relations.


Spain Catholicism National-Catholicism Franco Mono-confessionalism Secularization Religious pluralism 


  1. Álvarez Junco, J. (2002). The formation of Spanish identity and its adaptation to the age of Nations. History and Memory: Studies in Representations of the Past, 14, 13–36.Google Scholar
  2. Anderson, B. (1991). Imagined communities: Reflections on the origin and spread of Nationalism. London/New York: Verso.Google Scholar
  3. Anderson, J. (2003). Catholicism and democratic consolidation in Spain and Poland. West-European politics, 26, 137–155.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Bloss, L. (2003). European Law of Religion – Organizational and institutional analysis of national systems and their implications for the future European Integration process. New York: New York University School of Law.Google Scholar
  5. Casanova, J. (2001). Presidential address: Religion, the new millennium, and globalization. Sociology of Religion, 62, 415–442.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. CIRES (1990). Survey April 1996: Supranational identification. Madrid: Centro de Investigaciones sobre la Realidad Social.Google Scholar
  7. CIS (2002). Religión y sociedad (datos de opinión). Boletín 29.Google Scholar
  8. CIS (2003). Religión y creencia (datos de opinión). Boletín 32.Google Scholar
  9. CIS (2004) La opinión en los barómetros de 2004: Inmigración. Boletín 36.Google Scholar
  10. Davie, G. (2000). Religion in modern Europe. A memory mutates. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  11. Enyedi, Z. (2003). Conclusion: Emerging issues in the study of church-state relations. West-European politics, 26, 218–232.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. FEREDE. Scholar
  13. Fundación la Caixa (2004) Anuario Social de España.Google Scholar
  14. Gay y Blasco, P. (2002). Gypsie/Roma diasporas. A comparative perspective. Social Anthropology, 10, 173–188.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Gómez Movellán, A. (1999). La Iglesia católica y otras religions en la España de hoy: un ensayo político. Madrid: Ediciones Vosa.Google Scholar
  16. Heubel, E. J. (1977). Church and state in Spain: Transition toward independence and liberty. The Western Political Quarterly, 30(1), 125–139.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Hooper, J. (1987). The Spaniards: A portrait of the New Spain. Middlesex: Penguin.Google Scholar
  18. Ibán, I. C. (1995). Staat und Kirche in Spanien. In G. Robbers (Ed.), Staat und Kirche in der Europäischen Union (pp. 99–126). Baden-Baden: Nomos.Google Scholar
  19. ISSP (2000). International social survey program: Religion II, 1998. Köln: Zentralarchiv für Empirische Sozialforschung.Google Scholar
  20. Kedourie, E. (1993). Nationalism. Oxford/Cambridge: Blackwell.Google Scholar
  21. Laboa, J. M. (1999). Los hechos fundamentales ocurridos en la vida de la iglesia española en los últimos treinta años (1966–1998). In O. G. de Cardedal (Ed.), La Iglesia en España: 1950–2000 (pp. 115–147). Madrid: Lourdes Otaegui.Google Scholar
  22. Madeley, J. T. S. (2003). A framework for the comparative analysis of church-state relations in Europe. West European Politics, 26, 23–50.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. OECD (2003). Trends in international migration.Google Scholar
  24. Olivera, A., & de Busser C. (2005). Spain: Challenging centuries of Roman Catholic dominance. In H. Knippenberg (Ed.), The changing religious landscape of Europe (pp. 75–87). Amsterdam: Het Spinhuis.Google Scholar
  25. Ollero, A. (2005). España: ¿un estado laico? La libertad religiosa en perspectiva constitucional. Madrid: Civitas.Google Scholar
  26. Pérez Vilariño, J., & Sequeiros Tizón, J. L. (1998). The demographic transition of the Catholic priesthood and the end of clericalism in Spain – The Roman Catholic Priesthood. Sociology of Religion, 59, 25–36.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Presas Barrosa, C. (1998) El clero católico en el derecho español: Dotación, asignación, tributaria, ¿autofinanciación? Santiago de Compostela: Universidade de Santiago de Compostela.Google Scholar
  28. Tamayo, J. J. (2003). Adiós al la cristianidad: la iglesia católica española en la democracia. Barcelona: Ediciones B.Google Scholar
  29. Whitehead, A. (1996). Spain, European regions and city states. In C. Mar-Molinero & A. Smith (Eds.), Nationalism and the nation in the Iberian Peninsula:Competing and conflicting identities (pp. 255–272). Oxford/Washington: Berg/Whitehead.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science + Business Media B.V. 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of Amsterdam, AMIDST (Amsterdam Institute for Metropolitan and International Development Studies)AmsterdamThe Netherlands

Personalised recommendations