Saturday, 14 January 2017

Declining Church Weddings in Spain

Church weddings hit historic low in Spain - Olive Press News Spain

Spain has to be one of my favourite countries and not just for the sun, sand and sangria.

But one thing that used to put me off was the overt religiosity. If you don't like public displays of piety don't go there in Holy Week (Semana Santa) - the week leading up to Easter. Whole town centres will be closed and antiquities made inaccessible because one church or another is having one of those bizarre processions where dozens of men in costumes carry immensely heavy tableaux depicting Jesus and Mary. In front of them will be a band playing a funereal dirge with more enthusiasm than skill and following it will be lines of people, children and adults, dressed in colourful costumes, some looking for all the world like colourful KKK gowns including pointy hoods with eye-holes.

But if you DO want to see these displays of Medieval Catholicism, go soon because the way things are going for the Catholic Church in Spain these things will soon be a thing of the past. Once mighty Catholicism is being deserted in droves in increasingly secular Spain. To most young Spaniards, religion is an irrelevance, as can be seen from the tumbling religious marriage figures.

As published three days ago in Olive Press:

Only 22.2% of 68,560 couples tied the knot at the country’s Catholic altars in the first half of 2016.

That is a huge fall from the same period in the year 2000, when 75% had a Catholic ceremony.

Barcelona province had the lowest number of Christian ceremonies in mainland Spain, at only 10.5%.

Semana Santa procession
The reasons for this steep decline are the same as are being seen throughout increasingly secular Europe, both in the West and the new EU countries in the East. As sociologist Alfonso Pérez-Agote explains, there are three main reasons:
  1. The economic crisis, which has left 34.4% of under 30s unemployed.
  2. A change in cultural views, which means marriage is not seen as important.
  3. Growing secularisation.

Of course 2 and 3 above are two aspects of the same thing and the fact that lack of money is playing a part is also indicative of the low importance now being given to marriage in general and religious marriage in particular. Spain has been a grindingly poor country at least throughout the 19th and most of the 20th centuries and yet religious marriage was almost universal. Now it's below 1 in 4.

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