This December 9 marks 117 years of the law that proclaimed in France the separation between Churches and State, and 91 since the approval of the Constitution of the Second Spanish Republic, the only unquestionably secular in the history of our country. Both events are the reason why on December 9 of each year we commemorate the International Day of Secularism and Freedom of Conscience.

Over the past few years, there have been significant advances in the right to freedom of conscience in many countries with a democratic tradition. However, there are still many serious violations of this right in many other places, as well as the widespread absence of real secularism as a necessary condition, among others, for freedom of conscience to be effective. Two rights that are part of the same currency.

Thus, in the first place, we show our rejection of the maintenance of Concordats and Agreements of the States with the religious confessions since they are the instruments that perpetuate the ecclesial privileges, maintaining that symbiosis between the throne and the altar that was considered overcome since the advent of the Enlightenment. The Vatican has approximately 200 agreements in force with numerous countries, By guaranteeing through them an inexhaustible source of public funds for their own needs as well as a doctrinal invasion in teaching which poses an enormous obstacle to freedom of conscience and the rights of the child. We in our country once again demand the denunciation and repeal of the 1979 Agreements with the Holy See, as well as those of 1992 with minority denominations. There is a parliamentary majority enough for this so the PSOE-UP coalition government together with the progressive parties should not look the other way. Because it is time to reconsider the role of the Catholic Church in Spain, a subject that has been pending since the Transition.

Because not only is there no will in that sense but we denounce actions and political proposals that go just the opposite way as it happens with the recent decree of the Presidency of the Generalitat Valenciana by which you want to bring to that level an autonomous sort of Local “concordat”, as transposition of the existing state level adapted in matters with regional competence. A forward-looking, populist getaway in an electoral year, which once again highlights the role that certain politicians of all colors, some more and others less, give to religion and ecclesial power, as a political and social legitimization of its government action rather than establishing it in a civil ethic and a respect for the democratic value of the secular state.

Secondly, we draw attention to the unstoppable advance of ultra-religious fundamentalist pressure groups in conjunction with the rise of ultra-right forces. This drift, with its growing international political influence, has been particularly visible in processes

The European Parliament has also adopted legislation in Latin America and in some European governments, such as those of Poland, Hungary and Italy, which are gradually and perfectly attuned to endangering civil and social rights. Increasingly widespread clerical conscience clauses are also hindering, if not preventing, access to rights in a number of countries, mainly in the field of sexual and reproductive rights.

In turn, privatizing policies and government cuts everywhere, leaving aside state responsibility, means that the provision of public services and social assistance are captured by these forces, disguised or otherwise, generating the breeding ground to increase its influence and capillarity in the most disadvantaged social strata. The market of charity and proselytism linked to this interference is present everywhere, including in our country, without there being a real will of the political forces and the Administration to guarantee an effective defense of the public in the general interest, nonprivate.

In Spain, congratulating ourselves on indubitable advances, already in democracy, for the recognition of rights such as, among others, the voluntary termination of pregnancy or euthanasia, there is still a gap in not having a comprehensive Freedom of Conscience Act covering any choice of conscience, not just those of a religious nature. In this regard, Secular Europe has prepared and published an articulated proposal for this Law that responds to point 5.5 of the Government Agreement in this regard, currently not complied with.

Just as point 5.11 of the above-mentioned Government Agreement, which had committed itself to articulating a solution to the monumental scandal of the immatriculation of property by the Catholic Church, is being flagrantly disregarded, recovering for the public domain those that it cannot prove that they belong to it. Instead, the Government is continuing with its “registration amnesty” in favour of the ecclesiastical hierarchy, which represents an immeasurable plunder of Spain’s historical heritage.

Finally, we denounce the insufficient ecclesiastical will, if not the brake on the part of the clergy, to investigate and clarify responsibility for the systematic and widespread situation of sexual abuse of minors, both at Spanish and international level, with few exceptions, such as the attitude of transparency and collaboration of the French Church in this regard, which should serve as an example for the Spanish Catholic hierarchy, which is still engaged in concealing data and cases that prevent the necessary reparation of the damage caused to its victims.

Europe Laica is pleased to be a reference for secularism in Spain and with international recognition. Our presence as a founding member of the European Secularist Network, in order to make coordinated progress on these rights at European level, is further proof of this. Along the same lines, and as a member of the International Association of Free Thought-IAFT, we will participate next April in an International Conference in Paris to articulate joint measures to seek the end of the Concordats in force.

On the International Day of Secularism and Freedom of Conscience, we urge us to continue fighting for the emancipatory ideals of the secularity of the State, as a universal principle of functioning and the basis of freedom of conscience, advance and gain prominence in our country and everywhere.

Autom Transl from Spanish Reverso