the Progressives in Spain and the Historicals in Portugal, took a much tougher stance towards the church when they were in power. By the last quarter of the century, a political consensus of sorts had emerged in both countries that gave the church breathing space. There were tensions among the parties over the so-called 'religious question', but there was no return to the radical ecclesiastical policies of the past, a change symbolised by the presence of bishops as senators in the parliaments of both countries.20
Support for Carlism in Spain and hostility towards liberalism in Portugal remained strong among priests and some bishops throughout the nineteenth century. But as early as the 1840s, the recognition dawned among more pragmatic clerics that the church needed to redefine its position in view of liberalism's political dominance and to adapt religious activities to the new realities of liberal society. 'Reason dictates that prescinding from the rights which have been swept away forever, and submerged at the bottom of the sea, we should content ourselves with saving those which, floating to the beaches, are still capable of being saved', declared Bishop Romo Gamboa in 1843.21 In 1841, a proposal to create a Catholic association of a million members 'to defend the Catholic religion ... by the means authorised by law' surfaced in the confessional press.22 This attempt to create a modern organisation enlisting the Catholic masses to work for the church within the liberal system did not prosper, although it anticipated similar efforts later in the century.
Portuguese Catholic leaders were more successful over the short term. In 1843, they created the Sociedade Catolica Promotora da Moral Evangelica to engage in campaigns of religious propaganda through a membership open to all Catholics, whatever their dynastic orpolitical loyalties, and operating within the established political order. Although the new organisation, approved by Costa Cabral and Gregory XVI, survived until 1853, it was not successful. It failed to take root over the country as a whole, while supporters of absolutism rejected it as a Trojan horse designed to integrate Catholics into the liberal system.23 Later attempts to forge unity among Catholics, the Union Catolica in Spain (1881) and Uniao Catolica Portuguesa (1882) encountered
20 In both countries by the mid-1870s a system of alternating power between the principal parties, now the Conservatives and Liberals in Spain, the Regenerators and the Progressives in Portugal, had come into being. Although constitutional and parliamentary in form, these governments were scarcely democratic. Elections were manipulated to produce the results desired by the politicians.
21 Romo Gamboa, Independencia constante de la Iglesia hispana, p. 329.
22 El Catolico (Madrid), 26 Feb. 1841.
23 Neto, OEstado, algreja, pp. 401-6.
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