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Separation of Church and State Proclaimed in Spain: Equality of Rights for All Creeds and Religions

The Republican Government, which has been proclaimed in Spain, has informed the Papal Nuncio in Madrid, it is stated today, that in accordance with the declarations of principle published on the proclamation of the Republic, the Republican Government will establish freedom of conscience and equality of rights for all creeds and religions in Spain, and that in consequence the Catholic Church will henceforth lose its privileged position as an integral part of the State. All Roman Catholic priests in the country will be required to accept the principle of separation between Church and State and to swear loyalty to the Republic.

The Roman Catholic has hitherto been the National Church of Spain, to which the whole population adhered, except a small number of Protestants, Jews, Rationalists, etc. Liberty of worship has been, however, permitted to all religious bodies. The relations between Church and State till now have been regulated by the Concordat of May 6th., 1851.

So far as the position of the Jews in Spain is concerned, the Duke of Alba and Berwick, former Foreign Minister of Spain, explained in a J.T.A. interview last July that their position is exactly the same as that of any other inhabitants of the country, according to whether they are Spanish citizens or foreign nationals. Jews can acquire citizenship in Spain in the same way as other people, he said, and Jews have every right open to a citizen, including that of becoming members of Parliament and helping to frame the laws of the country.

Concerning the 1492 edict of expulsion of the Jews from Spain, the Duke of Alba explained that under the Constitution of 1876 Spain automatically repealed every law which existed before 1800, and consequently the edict of expulsion of the Jews no longer existed.

Joseph Jacobs states, however, in the “Jewish Encyclopaedia” that when Spain became a Republic in 1858, the edict of expulsion was repealed by General Prim through the influence of H. Guedalla of London and Jews were allowed to tread Spanish soil.

The first legally-recognised synagogue in Spain since the expulsion of 1492 was opened in Madrid as recently as last December, the congregation consisting of 30 families who had organised themselves with the consent of the Government, and a Government official was present at the opening ceremony and signed the statutes of the congregation.

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