(Redes Cristianas (Christian Networks) is a platform constituted by 200 grassroots Catholic groups, communities and movements in the Spanish State)
(Update of document of the same name, published in 2008 by Redes Cristianas)
Redes Cristianas is strongly committed to the independence, mutual respect and collaboration between the State and religious denominations and advocates a secular state that cancels the current covert confessionalism in favour of a Church solely inspired by the Gospel and not subject to any State interference.
Conscious that the current Church / State relationship in Spain, based on the Agreements of 1979, has been the main obstacle to separating the two and is currently generating a major discontent in many sectors, whether Catholic or otherwise, Redes Cristianas openly expresses its commitment to secularism and invites all those institutions and individuals motivated by this democratic objective to work together to actively collaborate to build a secular State.
Secularism is the progressive maturity of society towards a culture of pluralism and respect for variance, by creating areas of civic conviviality and liberty to facilitate dialogue between all kinds of religious and philosophical beliefs. The progressive development of secularism should be considered as an inherent element of democracy, to the point of declaring that without secularism there is no complete democracy. And since the only guarantor of an open public area is the State, secularism necessarily implies the total autonomy of the State from any religious teaching or philosophical cosmovision that seeks to impose itself as the sole truth. Based on this conviction:
1 We denounce the Agreements of 1979 of the Spanish State with the Holy See, resulting from the Concordat of 1953 and demand their repeal because, owing to their signature a few days prior to the ratification of Spain's current constitution, in a context of catholic confessional privilege, they are today affecting a widely secularized and religiously pluralistic society and are the cause of many of the related conflicts of social cohesion. Consequently, we demand that institutions belonging to the Catholic Church and other religious denominations subscribe to the civil legislation that regulates social life in the Spanish State.
2 We firmly propose a complete secularism that recognises the autonomy of political and civil issues with respect to religious and philosophical beliefs and progresses towards an effective and definitive separation of Church and State, recognising to all citizens equal rights and obligations, without any privilege or advantages and guaranteeing the free expression of fundamental liberties for all persons of both sexes.
To make this a reality, the current Spanish legislative framework must be urgently modified, at least in the following points: A Constitutional reform that overcomes the contradictory wording of Articles 16 and 27; a new Law on Freedom of Conscience that protects and guarantees freedom of thought and conscience without any prerogatives; and is immediately applicable with retroactive effects on the amendment in 2012 of Article 206 of the Mortgage Law, thus repealing the ability of Spanish catholic bishops to register in the name of the Church real estate that was previously unregistered.
3 We advocate a "pact for secularity " between religious denominations and the State, including a "charter of secularism" in which the ideological neutrality of the government is guaranteed. This involves, amongst other things, the elimination of any kind of religious symbols in official acts, and in places and buildings of public ownership; and any official presence of civil or military authorities in religious events. This ideological neutrality of national and local government organisms also involves the suppression of civil honours, decorations or civil appointments to statues or patrons of a religious nature, the closure of chapels in any State agency, whether schools, health centres, prisons, law courts, barracks, embassies...etc. And, consequently, the suppression of the figure of the “catholic civil service chaplains”.
4 We stand for "secularism in the School” and believe in an Education that has at its prime objectives the integral formation of the individual, learning taking into account gender differences, formation in social cohesion and Human Rights without any proselytism or indoctination. The educational system must be articulated based on principles of equality, freedom and training in critical analysis for all persons.
We recognize and value the existing religious and cultural pluralism, and, consequently, denounce the current presence of denominational Catholic religion in the educational system, since we believe that Religion must be transmitted by private means and institutions, not in State schools, that should be secularist.
5 We denounce the current financing system of the Catholic Church by the Spanish state and demand the adoption of urgent measures involving decisive progress in the process of self-funding the Catholic Church, a goal that the bishops themselves assumed by signing the Agreement on Economic Affairs in 1979. A first step, with immediate application, should be the suppression of the box entitled "Assignment to the Catholic Church" in the Spanish Income Tax Declaration for Individuals.
6 We affirm the autonomy of civil ethics from religious morality. Regardless of the moral demands that the Gospel represents for us as christians, we insist on our firm conviction that in a plural and secularized society, the moral codes that must regulate the behaviour of the citizens must be based on principles of the Common Civil Ethics, derived from fundamental values such as the affirmation of life, liberty, justice, truth, pluralism, equality and the construction of peace. These ethical imperatives require no legitimacy or correction by any religious morality that, in fact, is not shared by all the citizens. Therefore, we denounce any pressure from the Catholic hierarchy to impose their morality on universal civil ethics . In a secular society, ethics must become the construction and wealth of all people without distinction.
Likewise, we demand that religious groups , particularly the Catholic Church, revise their moral codes and undemocratic organization to overcome both the traces of clericalism still in force, and above all, multiple discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation and gender that many of its members still suffer .
7 We demand from the Media the maximum neutrality and respect for religious beliefs and the ethical and philosophical convictions of all the citizens. Consequently, we denounce the Spanish Bishops Conference for the intolerable editorial line maintained in the Media under its control, defending extremist political and morally reactionary ideological positions, in the service of the powerful members of society, and contrary to the evangelical priorities .
Similarly, we claim from the Government stronger guarantees to ensure respect for the rights of all citizens and equal treatment to prevent abuses in the exercise of Freedom of Expression.
Granted that religious transition to democracy in Spain has yet to take place, we, the christian associations assembled in Redes Cristianas, urge the current Government of the State and the hierarchies of the religious denominations, especially that of the Catholic Church, to assume responsibility and implement the spirit of the Constitution, which in Art.16 paragraph 3 is committed to a secular State by declaring that "no religious denomination will have a State characteristic".
Redes Cristianas, June 2017