LISBON (Aug. 1)
New legislation, formalizing the religious freedoms granted to non-Catholics in Portugal, was passed unanimously here by the Portuguese Parliament. The new law changes little in practice, as Portugal granted de facto religious freedom to Jews and Protestants as long ago as 1910. Before this date the only recognized religion in Portugal was the Roman Catholic. Parliament passed the legislation very swiftly. Usually, the Portuguese Parliamentary Assembly discusses at length all legislation introduced. Observers say the swift passage of the legislation means that the legislators considered the law as a minor matter.
Dr. Seqera, President of the Lisbon synagogue and General Secretary of the Portuguese Jewish Community told JTA, “We have been enjoying all freedoms a community may be granted for a long time now. Therefore this piece of legislation has romantic, but not practical value.” He added. “Now the Catholic religion has become but one of many.” The new legislation does not legalize divorce. In 1940 Portugal signed a concordat with the Vatican prohibiting divorce on its territory. Jews may divorce before a rabbinical court but this divorce, while binding in communal matters, is not recognized by the state.