Spanish and American Catholic Conflicting Views on Religious Freedom before Vatican II, 1945-1965

By: Rafael Escobedo  

American Catholics shared with their non-Catholic fellow citizens a political culture deeply rooted in the ideas of religious freedom and Church-State separation. Consequently their contribution to the spirit and wording of the Vatican declaration on religious freedom was decisive. American Catholics felt also especially concerned on this human right because they had been continuously challenged by Protestants and secularists at home, who reasonably argued that their liberal and democratic-minded approach actually did not fit well within their Church’s official teachings on the matter. They furthermore reminded that one of the few political regimes that really enforced the doctrine of Catholic State was Franco Spain, where the Protestant minority only could expect a limited toleration but not a real religious freedom. As Spanish Catholicism represented for many non-Catholic Americans the real face of Catholicism, that demanded freedom when in minority but deny it to others when in power, it came under close scrutiny by both Catholics and non-Catholics in the United States. In this paper I will analyze how Catholic, Protestant and secular media in America conveyed information about the situation of Spanish religious minorities, and how they approached the complexity of these two conflicting views.

Roman Catholicism, Spain, United States, Religious Freedom
The Politics of Religion
Paper Presentation in a Themed Session

Rafael Escobedo

Profesor Contratado Doctor (Associate Professor), Historia, Historia del Arte y Geografía, Universidad de Navarra, Spain