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Quelques tentatives de libéralisation, une évolution limitée

Until 1931 and during the establishment of the 2nd Republic, the religion-society and Church-State relations changed very little, including during the 19th century, contrary to the majority of western countries. According to Guy Hermet’s particularly pertinent analysis, this century was "a historical dismissal. It was … the stage of an enactment or a flawed essay, where the letter shows through but not the spirit or conditions of the changes that are taking place everywhere else in Europe." This was particularly true for religious liberty.
On the constitutional level, an effort was made : the Constitution of 1869 was the first to establish the freedom of religions, but its history was short-lived. Furthermore, it did not take away Catholicism’s status as State religion. It did, however, give Protestantism the opportunity to re-establish itself on the Peninsula, although in a limited way, but this time on a long-term basis. This is called the 2nd Reformation.
On a social level, people’s attitudes changed slowly. At the end of the 19th and 20th century, however, there are reports of several efforts made toward the Sephardim, descendants of expelled Jews. Although several movements had seen the light of day in the past, they had failed, impeded by the political situation and opinions of the general population.
During the rise in anti-Semitic threats in Eastern Europe, several key figures spoke out to demand that the Sephardim have their citizenship restored or that they return to their territory.
In intellectual circles, others also raised their voices, like Ángel Pulido, a liberal senator that left his mark on generations to follow. He had different foundations for his arguments, including economic riches in view of Spain’s decline, intermediaries with foreign countries and the country’s political grandeur.
Finally, the last significant aspect of this time period was when Spanish nationality was granted by Primo de Rivera to the few thousand Jews of Thessalonica and Alexandria, following the treaties with Turkey.
His policy should be underlined as it is representative of Spain’s attitude in this domain until the mid 1950s. That is, they favoured the restoration of Spanish nationality but opposed the arrival of individuals when possible.
Yet, despite these reservations, there was some immigration at the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th centuries. While Spain was still divided over the concept of religious freedom, several religious communities, like that of Seville, began to emerge.

See : L’instauration de la liberté religieuse en Espagne en 1869 (In French).

D 13 septembre 2012    AClaude Proeschel

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