The Socialist government has already pedged to confront the Church ideologically and fiscally and to transform Spain into a fully secular society by scrapping the Church’s “privileged position in society”.
The newspaper El Mundo reported yesterday that the government has now drawn up a timetable to break the bonds, removing any lingering hopes that it might reach an accommodation.
The government plans to put an end to the arrangement whereby Spaniards can offer a percentage of their taxes to the Church. This arrangement contributes ÂŁ54 million a year to Church funds.
Further enraging conservatives, the government has drawn up plans to finance the teaching of Islam in state-run schools and to give funds to mosques on the grounds that it will create greater understanding of the country’s one million Muslims.
Although Spain has been a Catholic country since the expulsion of the Moors in 1492 is has also long had a tradition of anti-clericalism that flared violently during the civil war. The old saying was that “a Spaniard is always behind a priest, either with a candle or a stake.”