Spanish Parliament Approves Law Permitting Open Worship by Jews, Protestants

For the first time in modern Spanish history, Spanish Jews, Protestants and Moslems were legally free today to worship publicly, mark their places of worship and announce religious services.

The right to open worship for non-Catholic religious groups was approved overwhelmingly by the Cortes, the Spanish Parliament, in passing the Law of the Exercise of the Civil Right to Religious Freedom. Approval ended the religious discrimination which has been in effect since Ferdinand and Isabella proclaimed Catholicism as Spain’s only religion 475 years ago.

Nine deputies voted against the measure despite assurances from Minister of Justice Antonio Maria de Oriol to the Cortes in presenting the bill that it did not affect the Catholic Church or “presuppose the destruction of Catholic unity” in Spain. The remainder of the 150 to 200 deputies believed present voted for it. Affirmative votes are not usually recorded in plenary Cortes sessions. The beneficiaries are 35,000 Protestants, 6,000 Jews and a few Moslems.

Protestant and Jewish leaders remained concerned about two elements of the new law. One involves “limitations” on freedom of non-Catholic religion and the other is the omission from an earlier draft of a clause permitting non-Catholic charitable educational and other associations.

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