Catholic Church in Spain and the United States Term Paper

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Catholic Church in Spain and the United States

The Catholic Church has been a very significant religious and political institution in the Europe. Its origins can be traced to a thousand years when Christianity was itself in its infancy. It was a symbol of colossal authority and was much regarded as an institution that was as similar to the installed governmental mechanism of any nation state. Its power and influence spread far and wide across border irrespective of nations, caste and civilization. The Catholic Church gained more recognition and prominence in the medieval ages of history which was better known as the dark ages of Europe. While Europe itself was passing through a phase of disturbing events, timeless conflicts and strife all across its territory, the Catholic Church consolidated its position. It began playing a very significant role in the realm of social politics.

Matters of the state and the society began to be addressed by not the government but the Catholic Church which by then had become an integral part of the national identity. During the medieval ages, Europe and a large part of the world were moving through an era of feudalism which ensured that the social lines of a nation were segregated along hierarchical lines dividing people into different groups and sub-groups. The Catholic Church established a very steadfast position in these societies often becoming a body that oversaw general administration in conjunction with the established monarchy or government. Quite often it voiced its concerns in a very vocal manner that prompted the government or the monarchy to take necessary steps from time to time. Even till this very day, the Catholic Church has maintained its powerful stand often being a socio-political entity that dictated the methodologies of the society and governance. With a great population of the religious sect, it has come to gain considerable recognition and importance.

The Spanish Connection:

Catholicism has indeed been a very significant part of Spain. The Catholic Church has for several centuries been an integral part of Spanish national identity. Several historic events such as the expulsion of Muslims and Jews, the life of inquest, deliberate and harsh opposition of Protestantism and a tremendous success in establishing the roots of Christianity across the vastness of the empire have been a part of Spanish history. In the upcoming era of secularization and urbanization, a wide range of issues affected the social position of Spain. Matters related to politics, finance, general administration, patronage rights of the State, relations with the Vatican, role of the church in provincial and nationwide political associations, religious incongruity and pluralism, role of the church in education and religion in the class room, public morality, issues with regard to divorce, marriage, abortion and so on, found prominence and were key topics that were unquestionable examples of the church's dominating influence and undivided power.

Catholic history in Spain originated in the 15th Century when the end of the 'war of reconquest' or Reconquista which brought about the unification of Spain by Catholic Kings. Almost immediately, the church and the symbol of the cross became a political and religious icon. The effect of this move was the total unification of the nation under the auspices of one single religion. Back in their backyard, Spanish kings had to counter the threat of the Moors and a huge population of Jews whom they regarded as a potential threat to the new found peace and stability in the region. Experts observe that it is for this reason that the state intervenes resolutely to ensure that the Catholic faith predominates in the Spanish society. In time, Catholicism spreads through the roots of the Spanish empire and scores of churches and chapels are established to profess the religion.

In the 17th century, the population of the Catholics numbers to a whopping two hundred thousand people. Young members of aristocratic families who had no significance to the throne and inheritance and women from those families which lacked the ability to meet the commitment of inflated dowries and grants formed part of the huge Catholic population among others. While the Catholic power has established seat in the heart of Spain, another threat was looming large. This time from Northern Europe, reformists such as Luther Lucas Cranach and Erasmus began questioning the Catholic set of guidelines and code of belief. With long struggles and times of tribulation, the Catholic ideology stays huddled together in one piece thus reigning supreme in the Spanish Empire for centuries together, thus blending itself with the national identity of the country. (Don Juan) tryst with America:

Much like Spain where the Catholic Church has reigned supreme, the United States has also been a prominent ground for the Catholic Church and its ideology. It has, much like in the Spanish stratum, been a considerable influence on the American socio-political setup often voicing its concerns on issues such as abortion, divorce, same sex marriages, and political matters and so on. It affirms and stands by firm traditional Catholic beliefs. In celebrating the seven sacraments, it adheres to the essential catholic doctrine and practice as implied in the statements of the Vatican Council. It seeks to be a platform of total and unconditional faith to those who may have in the past subjected to unfair experiences of the church. It rejects in total, artificial barriers to the reception of sacraments based on marital status, sexuality or orientation. Apart from the governmental machinery in place and an established practice of secularism and principles of freedom, the church continues to be a great source of power and ideological standards.

Issues such as abortion and divorce have been central issues of focus and debate. Extensive discussions have been the events that have taken place in the recent past. With steep controversies of the clergy involved in sexual exploitation of subjects and the issue of same sex marriages, the Catholic Church in the United States has been very much a part of the national identity. This has prompted policy influence in the governmental level and has called for better and augmented decisions from the administration. It is thus a very clear indication that the Catholic Church has a very significant and well imposed control over the say and process of the administration. In time the church has become a scion of the American society fusing well with the national and individual identity. The Old Catholic Church of the United States is an inheritor of apostolic succession from the western Latin Catholic Church, the ancient oriental churches and the eastern Byzantine orthodox churches. It is a religious denomination that split from the Roman Catholic Church in the year 1870.

Much recently, the refusal of the church to endorse the use of condoms to prevent the spread of HIV Aids has been a very controversial move that has earned grunts from various levels in the society. The policies of the church are at times regarded out of date and starkly radical often needing a more modern and out-of-the-box approach in handling different issues and arriving at better solutions for problems that are a definite plague to the society as such. It is not uncommon to note that the policies and decisions of the Catholic Church do at times attract more condemnation than the required warmth and general acceptance. This is primarily because the Church hinges upon a traditional school of thought that keeps in mind a very conservative methodology that is aimed at governing the Christian society at large. All said and done, the Catholic Church is a very significant pillar in the United States of America and its socio-political economic setup. (Old Catholic Church of the United States) & (Old Catholic Church - Wikipedia)

William Callahan was the author of the acclaimed book 'The Catholic Church in Spain, 1875 -1998.' The book is a colossal learning process of the Catholic Church in Spain since 1875 and continues the analysis of which the author began with his earlier study Church, Politics and Society in Spain, 1750-1874 (Harvard, 1984). These two works of study are a marvelous achievement and are a very complete and accurate account of two hundred and fifty years of Spanish Catholicism. In his study, William Callahan analyses the outrageously conflictive and violent history of the Spanish Church in the twentieth century. It is a very clear and comprehensive presentation of information till date about the history and functioning of the Spanish Church and its multi-dimensional role in the socio-political setup of Spain. It throws light on several bitter controversies such as the role of the Catholic Church in Spanish politics and the Civil War of 1936-1939.

His book provides a very comprehensive and detailed study of one of Spain's prominent establishments which survived a long and hard standing battle with time and the elements. A great many secular sections of the society viewed the Catholic Church of Spain to be an institution that monolithic, efficiently organized institution which was bent on the purpose of imposing a highly traditional Catholicism…[continue]

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