The president of the Bishops Conference of Spain, Cardinal Antonio Maria Rouco Varela, criticized this week the presence of a “complex of religious anachronism” in certain sectors that seeks to take the Catholic Church back to the time of the Muslim invasion of the Iberian Peninsula.
The Archbishop of Madrid made his statements during a seminar entitled “The Church, society and politics in 21st century society,” which was organized by the King Juan Carlos University and was attended as well by Archbishop Antonio Cañizares of Toledo, Juan Jose Lucas, Vice President of the Senate, and Pedro Gonzalez Trevijano, Rector of the university.
During his remarks, Cardinal Rouco defended the “express presence of the Catholic Church in the Constitution,” which protects the right to religious freedom, recognizing the specific relevance of the Church as a means of assuring such a right in Spain.
“Not to recognize it would be to have one’s head in the clouds,” he said, adding that “sometimes one wonders if we are not suffering from a complex of religious anachronism, which we cannot seem to leave behind. Some people want to go back to the year 711, but this is 2004 and we must see problems with the realism of today.”
The Cardinal recalled that Spain “continues to be” a predominantly Catholic country and that “there is a limit to the right of religious freedom, which must be in harmony with the exercise of other rights.” “If a particular religious confession attacks human rights, it must be restricted.”
On the other hand, the Cardinal complained that “the State must recognize its own limits” in this area, since “if it goes beyond them, it runs the risk of ceasing to be a democratic state.” “The State is cannot impose” a certain type of conscience on its citizens, he said. “To recognize the state as secular and non-sectarian does not mean the state is above the ethics and beliefs of its citizens, but rather it should be nourished by them,” he added.
During his remarks the Archbishop of Madrid underscored the validity and legitimacy of the Church-State accords of 1979. “To question them, deny them or limit them is not wise and would not bring good,” he warned, although he recognized that “there are issues of a technical or juridical nature, such as education and subsidies, that are open to debate and have not been sufficiently considered.”