News from Europe

Spain criminalises public prayer

Spanish authorities have banned public prayer, including the recitation of the rosary for the homeland. The decision is in response to mass protests by the population expressing opposition to the amnesty of Catalan separatists.


States, by introducing legislation criminalising silent prayer, are violating the right to freedom of thought and conscience, which is a fundamental human right. Until now, there has been a widespread belief that the internal sphere of freedom of conscience and religion is absolute and remains unfettered. The legal system cannot under any circumstances restrict the freedom to hold, change or not to hold one’s own worldview in religious matters.

A few weeks ago, Spain was gripped by protests against the government due to its deal with Catalan separatists. The opposition of Spaniards was sparked by the plans of the Pedro Sanchez government, which took office thanks to the support of Catalan separatists. After winning a vote of confidence, the head of Catalonia’s autonomous government, Carles Puigdemont, who heads the separatist Together for Catalonia (Junts) party, called on Sanchez to immediately announce amnesty legislation for the secessionists.

He threatened that if the new regulation was delayed, the party would vote for the resignation of the Sanchez government. As part of their peaceful resistance, a number of Catholics decided to organise a prayer demonstration in front of one of Madrid’s churches. Soon more people joined the prayers. The event, which was broadcast worldwide, attracted international attention. This, in turn, aroused the concern of the Spanish authorities, who sent the police against the Catholics praying the rosary.

Threats and harassment by the police did not extinguish the spirit of resistance among Catholics and the incidental gathering turned into regular prayer meetings. The position of the authorities remained firm to the extent that a ban on public prayer was imposed. Despite the ban, Catholics continue to meet for prayer. Last week, the first fines were issued by the police. The reason given was that the organisers had “missed the deadline” to apply for a prayer permit.

Participants in prayer meetings, even before the ban, faced police brutality: they were repeatedly detained, beaten with batons by the police and threatened with fines. During the trial, the Catholics will be represented by the organisation Christian Lawyers. The association stressed that “the fundamental rights to religious freedom, to publicly profess one’s faith, as well as the right of assembly have been violated”.






Leave a reply