20 years committed to the secularity of Spain.
Europa Laica has completed in 2021 twenty years since its establishment in 2001. A long journey where we have shared a continued commitment to secularism in our country. During these two decades, important rights and freedoms have been achieved, although many challenges still lie ahead of us. We have celebrated this 20th anniversary with a political-festive event where we have also commemorated the International Day of Secularism and Freedom of Conscience, which is celebrated every year on December 9. We will also present the “Vinegar Award” of Europa Laica.
The party took place on Saturday, December 11, 2021 and was broadcast in full via streaming on the YouTube channel of Europa Laica.
The link to this video and a photo gallery can be found on the Europa Laica website, which also contains the following manifesto for the 20th anniversary:
The International Day of Secularism and Freedom of Conscience is celebrated every year on 9 December. This date commemorates the anniversary of the French law of 1905 on the separation of Church and State. Moreover, in Spain, on this day in 1931, the Constitution of the Second Spanish Republic was proclaimed, the only one in our history that was unequivocally secular. Also, one day later, on 10 December, but in 1948, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was proclaimed with the express recognition of the right to freedom of conscience and the equality of all people.
At the international level, secularism welcomes the fact that the cases of systematic and widespread sexual abuse of minors by the Catholic clergy are coming to public light through the denunciations of the victims and various information; especially the step forward in transparency and assumption of responsibilities taken by the French Church. In Spain, on the other hand, the Catholic hierarchy, beyond empty declarations, is entrenched in concealment and obstruction. It does not show any intent of assuming, preventing, compensating or bringing to justice what has been and continues to happen in its midst, with clear contempt for the victims.
We also welcome the growing global momentum of the struggle of the feminist movement which, not without internal debate and with some way to go, has incorporated into the political and social agenda the denunciation of male violence and the recognition of real equality of rights and freedom of conscience for women in affective-sexual and reproductive matters, free of dogmas or clerical interference.
However, we note the growing individualistic and identitarian drift in the predominant policies and culture, with a discredit of the public sphere that makes it difficult to articulate a common citizenship project in defence of the general interest.
Alongside this, we also note the growing presence of confessional fundamentalisms and extreme right-wing politicians, in perfect harmony, occupying State institutions and the judiciary, even their direct presence in governments.
Attacking civil and social rights, and capturing public and social welfare services for the benefit of the private interests of the charity and proselytising market. Or by generating hatred and exclusion on the basis of race, origin or sex, with serious cases happening in many Latin American countries, in Poland and Hungary. And not only. We also draw attention to the massive invasion of people’s privacy by the authoritarian and uncontrolled use of the digital technologies; or the serious threat to freedom of expression and information posed by existing media monopolies and the proliferation of fake news that limit the formation of a critical and free conscience.
In Spain, even with the challenges presented by this drift, we note with great satisfaction the progress made in recent years in rights related to secularism and freedom of conscience, such as divorce, equal marriage, affective-sexual equality and, with special relevance, the right to abortion and euthanasia, although there are still limitations in its practice as a public service. In spite of this, we continue to denounce the current pseudo-confessional model that emerged from the transition, which has been maintained until today, where the enormous privileges and interference of the Catholic Church in political and social matters remain intact, and where a real separation between Church and State has been pending for more than forty years, which is enough. This situation is due to the lack of real will on the part of the political forces in power, of all stripes, some more than others, and at all levels of government, to effectively enforce the non-confessional nature of the State and the defence of the public sphere, of which they should be guarantors and not simply condescending spectators.
We oppose the unacceptable financing of the Catholic Church from the public purse, the tax exemptions of all kinds that it enjoys as a tax haven, the presence of religious indoctrination in schools, also in the university environment, violating the right to freedom of conscience of minors, or the business and proselytising of state-subsidised education, mostly in the hands of the Catholic corporation.
Although we celebrate the secular protocol that was used for the first time at the inauguration of the current government, and at the State funeral for the victims of Covid-19, we denounce the proliferation of confessional symbolism that floods the institutions and the behaviour of many public officials and municipal corporations.
We also denounce the limitations on freedom of expression and information due to, among other things, the extravagant criminal offence against religious feelings that is used by retrograde organisations, protected by a judiciary with confessional overtones.
To top it all off, the monumental scandal of the thousands of properties registered by the Catholic Church, whereby it appropriated the historical and cultural heritage of the public domain. This scandal was made possible by the negligence of the public administrations in its protection, and with the “amnesty” granted by the current coalition government in an opaque complicity with the Episcopal Conference, thus failing to comply with its explicit programmatic and investiture commitment to recover these properties.
The existence of these intolerable violations, whose resolution is a requirement of simple democracy, has much to do with a culture and structures of political, economic, sociological and ideological power embedded in national Catholicism, which are the cornerstone of the current state model.
But it also has to do with the accommodation, lukewarmness and lack of political will, not without routine, of the parties and social sectors that do little, if not the opposite, to free our country once and for all from these ties and scourges that undermine rights and respect for democratic coexistence in a society that is diverse.
Europa Laica demands that we finally get out of this anomalous situation, which requires the priority denunciation and repeal of the 1979 Agreements with the Holy See, as well as those of 1992 with the minority confessions, with the legislative changes that derive from this. This is a demand on the political forces, which they cannot ignore by looking the other way.
Likewise, and of particular importance, to have a true Law on Freedom of Conscience based on eminently secular values that guarantees this right under equal conditions for any option of conscience, whether or not it is of a religious nature, without legitimising the privileges of some over others.
Together with this, to strengthen public and secular schools for a quality, inclusive and universalist education. The maintenance of the Agreements or, worse still, the attempts to whitewash them in order to continue maintaining existing confessional privileges, if not extending them to other religious confessions, are approaches that we denounce, as we do when party pronouncements and commitments are not fulfilled. Progressive governing parties cannot ignore the democratic demand to make the non-confessional nature of the State and the secularity of institutions a reality. There is a sufficient parliamentary majority of progress that would allow progress along these lines. If not now, when?
Since its constitution in March 2001, Europa Laica has been committed to freedom of conscience and secularism of the State, based on Human Rights and the values of freedom, equality and solidarity, as inherent components of a democracy.
We are pleased to have created a reference brand of secularism in Spain, with international recognition, with the objectives and initiatives taken throughout this time in denunciation and proposal, political and institutional action, social mobilization, and also in the field of secularist thought.
In these twenty years of existence, many members of Europa Laica have altruistically and selflessly given much of themselves, commitment, effort, intelligence and dedication for secularism and for the Europa Laica to be what it is today. Many thanks to all of them, those present and those who have passed away during this time. And to those others who have participated in this journey of struggle and support for the emancipatory ideals that encourage us.
On the International Day of Secularism and Freedom of Conscience, and the celebration of the 20th Anniversary of Europa Laica, we continue to call upon ourselves to continue fighting for secularism in order to improve the quality of our democracy.
We call on society, political forces and social sectors to join in this effort to meet the challenges mentioned above and others that lie ahead, while promoting values for a secular civil ethics that allow us to form people with a free conscience in a common project of citizenship and of society in freedom, equality, social justice and democracy.