Spanish Catholics Express Frustration With Religion in Public Schools

New Course Offered on Islam and Catholic Course Non-Credit

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MADRID, Spain, NOV. 11, 2004 ( The National Catholic Confederation of Parents of Families and Students (CONCAPA) criticized the government’s decision to impart Islamic religion classes in public schools next year.

The organization considers that the right to religious freedom «is recognized to Muslims but hindered in the case of Catholics.»

The Islamic religion classes will begin next year, at least in areas where there is a large presence of Muslim faithful, such as Barcelona, Madrid and some capitals of Andalucia and Levante.

The announcement was made by Mercedes Rico Godoy, general director of Religious Affairs, during a visit to Melilla, a city that, together with Ceuta, has already been imparting this religion course for the past four years.

Catholic associations of parents of students say they do not understand why the government of Jose Zapatero has reduced a similar class on the Catholic religion to a non-credit course, and yet upgraded the class in Islam.

In a statement issued by Veritas, the confederation states that the government «should remember the majority, 80% of whom register their children in the Catholic religion class.»

Moreover, the confederation was «surprised» to learn that «the content of the messages of Islam is not controlled, but without going into its possible anti-Constitutionality, it is enough to see how treatment of the person might vary according to gender.»

«The generosity in meeting the needs of parents and children who profess Islam is not matched with a consequent enthusiasm for insisting on reciprocity for Catholics living in their countries,» the statement added.

The Spanish Federation for Religion in Education (FERE) described as «irrational» the executive’s attempt «to push aside the Catholic religion of the majority while facilitating the teaching of the Islamic religion of the minority.»

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