June 3, 2013

MADRID – Spain's bishops have urged Catholics to be more proactive in passing on the faith to children.

Raising children "has always been a difficult but rewarding task. It demands common efforts by all those engaged in passing on the faith, to adapt and apply it in each diocese, parish, school and family," the country's bishops said in pastoral guidelines issued May 20.

"The culture of our time has acquired important values, humanizing many aspects of personal, communal and social life, but we are also witnessing a crisis in transmitting these values with their specifically religious elements."

They said Spain's current education system fueled an "educational emergency" by failing to provide "training in moral and ethical values," or encourage "endeavour, memory, dedication and a sense of life."

To preserve the faith, Catholics should "join forces, share experiences and people, and prioritize spending resources," they added.

"Given today's cultural circumstances, where everything changes at dizzying speed, believers are harassed and tested in their faith by many issues."

"Despite Church efforts over recent decades to uphold the right and duty of parents and pupils to obtain a Catholic religious education and to prepare teachers with appropriate programs, religious teaching has faced legislative and administrative difficulties, indifference, undervaluation and contempt."

About 82 per cent of Spain's 40 million inhabitants are Catholic, although only one in five attends Mass regularly, according to 2011 data.

From 2004 to 2011, Church leaders clashed repeatedly with the Socialist government over its secularizing reforms.

Those reforms included restricting religious education, introducing same-sex marriage, and relaxing divorce and abortion laws in the country.


Although the current government has pledged greater support for Church activities, it also announced a wave of spending cuts and tax rises in its 2013 budget.

Spain had witnessed a "radical change of mind about the value of what was received by inheritance and tradition.

"We are aware the future is at stake for the transmission and realization of faith," the bishops said.

Letter to the Editor – 11/25/13