Term Paper: Catholic Church in Spain

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[. . .] On the flip side however, rising attitudes of liberalism, republicanism, socialism, anarchism, and intellectual pluralism ensured a direct and stiff challenge to the once accepted view of the clergy that Spain was always a catholic nation and would be one always.

The author has divided the book into twenty-four chapters. There is an introduction that surveys the Church from 1808 to 1873, followed by which there is a critical examination of the Church and politics from the year 1874 which signals the restoration of the Bourbon monarchy until the year 1930 which brought about the fall of the Primo de Rivera dictatorship. There is also a brief description and analysis of a host of topics that comprise the religious organization, clerical demography, the size, positioning and behavior of both the secular clergy and the spiritual groups and the nature and variety of religious practices among different classes and provinces in Spain. A great deal of focus is also thrust upon the Church during the Second Republic, the Civil War, the Franco dictatorship and the post-Franco era.

The author stresses that the Church was never the colossal organization that its critics have often understood. Religious orders and the secular clergy fashioned two dissimilar groups within the secular clergy. According to William Callahan, the secular hierarchy often lacked an effective national organization to communicate a single point-of-view on major concerns that troubled the society and the Church. A wide-ranging amount of recurring issues affected the Church from time to time. This included among other issues secularization, urbanization and social change to the European hemisphere.

Added to the hoard of matters that needed governmental and public scrutiny, the Spanish state moved into democracy after the year 1975 bringing about a change in the social setup. William J. Callahan is an authority in the subject of Catholicism that has reigned supreme in the Spanish society for centuries. He has clearly identified the issues that have troubled the foundation and existence of the Church over a long period of time. His work 'The Catholic Church in Spain, 1875 -1998' is a very lucid and all-inclusive painting of the various stages and phases that the Catholic Church has undergone from time to time. (The Catholic Church in Spain by Mark A. Burkholder) & (The Catholic Church in Spain, 1875-1998)

Power of the Church and its influence in the American and Spanish segment:

There have been several key issues that have been tumultuously debated by the Catholic Church from time to time often generating a gross amount of controversy and mudslinging. Nevertheless, the voice of the church has had a deep and very profound impact on both the governmental machinery and the social masses. Subjects such as Abortion, marriage and divorce, same sex marriages, religion, education, censorship and so on have clearly defined the role and influence of the Church in both the Spanish and American societies. Such issues have been very controversial and contentious and the policy of the Catholic Church indeed has had a very lasting impact that has snowballed more controversy and gathered widespread discontent within various sections of the society.

Although this has placed the Catholic Church on the forefront of policy decision making, the move has given it an ominously archaic reputation that is often regarded as incompatible with the modern day school of thought and action. Both the American and the Spanish societies have traditionally been imbibed with the values and teachings of Christianity for a very long time. Although there are significant differences in their social setup and economic arrangement, the influence of the church has indeed been a great swing in consideration of policy decision making. Although the United States of America has been a democracy right since its conceptualization and eventual formation way back in 1776, Spain has for centuries witnessed aristocratic rule in the midst of bitter conflicts and painful battles to sustain the idea of Christianity.

Spain gained the idea of democracy as late as 1975 which is about two centuries from the time since the United States was proclaimed a democratic and federal nation. The Catholic Church has an officially self recognized policy that speaks out against abortion. This policy has brought not just suffering but even death to scores of women. The anti-abortion movement espoused by the Church is driven by the well-known 'Right-to-Life' movement. Though the Bible does not make any mention of abortion or any policy against the practice, the clergy indicate that the phrase "Thou Shall Not Kill," applies equally to abortion. This view is by no means recent. It has traced its origins to the very beginning of Christianity itself. It is a clear reflection of the biblical view listed in Barnabas 19:5; "You shall not kill the fetus either by abortion or the newborn." Critics accuse the Church and the clergy of holding women hostage due to this supposedly 'inscrutable' policy that is purely antiquated and grossly ominous.

While the view of the reformists is based upon a more modern and realistic thinking, the clergy and the Church have from time to time spoken out against the practice of abortion in a harsh and unequivocal tone that has had a resounding effect in the community circles not just in Spain and the United States of America but also across the globe. The medieval era saw a great deal of punishments meted out to violators by way of excommunication, death or both. In the early days, anyone guilty of abortion was regarded as a serious offender and had to bear the brunt of the law, the society and the Church itself.

Clerics of the era had serious reservations about the practice although the whole issue was debated from time to time with a number of matured and well-thought considerations. Even though the society has witnessed marked transformations at various levels and during various stages of time, abortion was never really regarded as an accepted practice and was a punishable offence that could not be thought of in many or rather all social strata. It was a practice that guaranteed certain death or exclusion from social ranks. Thus the whole issue was forever shrouded with scorn and a bitter feeling of disgust. (Rejection of Pascal's wager: The Catholic Church and Abortion).

Among other issues there has been a deeply divided opinion with regards to education, marriage and divorce, religion as a whole and censorship. With regards to education, the church has forever maintained that it should and has been carrying out the process of education and tutoring as a very basic and important function. The mention of this fact can be traced back to Church writings as early as the second century. In the present day, the Church in the United States is educating a whopping 11 million men and women in its vast and expansive network of schools, colleges and universities. The Church and its infrastructure has generously contributed to the shaping of education and related policies and principles thereby providing a concrete mechanism in place as a solid and unperturbed source of faith and values across communities and religions.

Over 83% of graduates of Catholic high schools move on to post-secondary education. Catholic schools have a lower dropout rate than a good number of public schools put together or even other private schools owing to its quality of education and emphasis on general discipline. Schools and other educational institutions run by the church have been known to be of an exceptional standard often generating impeccable products and results that are truly an example to the society as a whole. (National Catholic Education Association)

The church has not only had a significant impact on the matters such as abortion and education. It has played a significant part in determining foreign policies of nation states, the United States of America included. Religion and foreign policy have had a share of integration although being subjects widely apart from each other having almost no discernible relationship. In the United States, churches, synagogues and other religious organizations have long played their part in cultivating civil society and influencing its population. It is common understanding and perception that religion plays a prominent role in domestic politics and policy making.

What is not understood is the role played by the Catholic Church in influencing foreign policy and relations. The Catholic Church is a body of significant social standing capable of issuing diktats from time to time. This is a clear exhibition of the unconditional and firm power infrastructure of the Catholic Church within and outside nation states. Even as the United States has made a very unambiguous and discernible disconnection of religion and public policy as groundwork of its political scheme, the distinctive religious orientation of the American people implies that religious beliefs manipulate much of the political learning in the American social layout.

The Catholic influence on the foreign policy of the United States of America has come… [END OF PREVIEW]

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