Church in Spain

Government in Spanish region of Catalonia publishes “secular liturgical ritual” for baptism, marriage, and funerals

.- The government in the Spanish region of Catalonia has published a new manual consisting of pagan formulas to substitute for the traditional Christian rites of baptism, marriage, and burial.

The “Civil Ceremonial Manual” is designed for those who, “under exclusively secular parameters, wish to find formulas to live what we know as the rites of passage with fullness, solemnity, and spirituality.”

According to the Spanish daily “La Razon,” the author of the manual, Joan Surroca i Sens, claims the publication of the book is justified because “during 2004, for the first time in Catalonia, the number of civil marriages surpassed the number of Catholic marriages” and because “the concept of God has been strongly questioned from all points of view.”

The ritual says there is “no need to imitate churches, because we have solemn civil buildings of all eras available that will satisfy even the most demanding among us and will provide the ideal qualities for celebrating the ceremonies,” Surroca stated.

A “welcoming” ceremony that mimics baptism consists of readings, suggested exhortations by the ceremony leader, and even space for the participation of “godparents.”  The readings are taken from authors ranging from Pablo Neruda to Charlie Chaplin, and from the Universal Declaration on the Rights of the Child to Anthony de Mello.

The manual even suggests musical accompaniment for the rites, with songs from classical composers as well as some from Abba, Cat Stevens, Louis Armstrong, and The Beatles.

In its section on marriage, the manual claims the Catholic Church has been “very combative” in response to new laws on civil unions in Spain, but that the Church’s position is of little importance because “the Church is wise and experienced in adapting to the times.”

The manual also addresses end-of-life issues, offering a plug for suicide.  “Our respect must also be given to the person who, after calm reflection, decides to put an end to his or her life.  Those who show such an individual support if necessary should not be penalized, as long as they act within the confines of the law.”

The civil “Farewell Ceremony” should consist of “a loving and fraternal embrace,” the author states.  Later, during the burial, “poems can be read” or friends and family members can talk about “their relationships with the deceased loved one, his or her more human or even humorous side as well, which helps to relieve the tension.”

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