The majority Socialist party in Spain’s Congress joined the opposition Popular Party in rejecting a law proposed by the United Left Party that would have prohibited the displaying of religious symbols during inaugural ceremonies for public officials.
The Socialist Party (PSOE) explained its vote against the law by saying measures against the cultural presence of the Catholic Church in Spain should be carried out “unhurriedly” and at a “slow pace.”
The United Left proposed prohibiting the use of crucifixes, the Bible and other Catholic symbols during official ceremonies, inaugurations and other official acts. Other lawmakers demanded the government renounce its accords with the Holy See, arguing they reflect “the outdated privilege and preeminence of Catholicism, which are the fruit of previous eras.”
Gaspar Llamazares, general coordinator of the United Left, noted the “paradox” that in a government as “modern” as that of Socialist leader President Jose Luis Zapatero, the Spanish president would take his oath of office in front of a crucifix.
Socialist Party spokesmen responded by pointing out that the Catholic symbols of some official ceremonies “are a vestige of the past adopted out of protocol by the Royal House, but there is no need for a law to eradicate them.”
The secretary general of the Socialist Party, Ramon Jauregui, said, “During the oath of office for ministers, having a crucifix there is going too far, but we won’t do anything to forbid it,” he said. “We need to move ahead in non-sectarianism but without creating unnecessary tensions,” Jauregui added. He noted that crucifixes have been removed from many schools voluntarily without the need for new laws.