Academic journal article The Catholic Historical Review

Religion and Politics in Spain: The Spanish Church in Transition, 1962-96

Academic journal article The Catholic Historical Review

Religion and Politics in Spain: The Spanish Church in Transition, 1962-96

Article excerpt

Religion and Politics in Spain: The Spanish Church in Transition, 1962-96. By Audrey Brassloff. (New York: St. Martin's Press, Inc. 1998. Pp. xvii, 183. $65.00.)

This brief but intense book examines one of the most crucial periods in the history of the Spanish Church in its relations with the Spanish state: the transition from nearly total union to near-independence. The interplay among the different factions in both church and state provides the dramatic tension that makes this a fascinating story. The author commands a wide use of sources which include the press, diocesan bulletins, speeches, and memoirs to form an analytical narrative that flows smoothly and holds the reader's interest. There is no other work in Spanish or English that covers this period so well, with the possible exception of William Callahan's forthcoming magisterial study of the Spanish Church in the last century.

Brassloff's narrative begins in 1962 with the opening of the Second Vatican Council and its appeal for religious freedom and toleration so at variance with the Spanish Church's dominant position in the Franco regime. While the older clergy retained their memories of the persecutions of the Civil War of the 1930's and promoted the triumphalist vision of the Church, the younger clergy wanted to break away from the restraints of the 1953 concordat and were already showing their sympathy with the working-class movements. This became and remained one point of tension throughout the entire period, particularly the younger clergy's desire to reconcile the Church to a collectivist economic approach at variance with the capitalism of the older clergy and the Opus Dei technocrats.

The new pope, Paul VI, supported the progressive faction and had a number of run-ins with the Franco regime, which by this time was arresting obstreperous clergy and imprisoning them in a special prison. Most important was the Pope's support of Cardinal Enrique y Tarancon, who became the proponent of "the extreme center" in bringing the factions of the Church together. …

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