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FACTBOX-Facts about Catholicism in Spain

Source: Thomson Reuters Foundation - Wed, 17 Aug 2011 14:54 GMT
Author: Reuters
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Aug 17 (Reuters) - Aug 17 (Reuters) - Pope Benedict arrives in Spain on Thursday for a four-day visit to a traditionally Roman Catholic country that has become highly secular.

The Socialist government has legalised abortion and gay marriage, causing tensions with the Church.

Following are some facts about Catholicism in Spain.

* Of Spain's 46 million people, 71.7 percent consider themselves Catholic. Only 13 percent of those say they regularly attend church, according to a July poll by the Sociological Research Centre.

* Spain has one priest for every 1,709 Catholics, higher than the world average of one priest per 2,849, according to, a specialist French agency covering the Vatican.

* Spain has not seen Church child abuse scandals on the scale of other countries such as Ireland and Belgium, although there have been isolated cases.

* State-Church tensions in Spain have centred on the issues of gay marriage and abortion, which have been fully legalised under Socialist Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero.

* Spain legalised abortion in 1985 in cases of rape or of a threat to the health of the mother or foetus. In June 2010, the law was amended to allow women 16 years and older to abort under any circumstances until the fourteenth week of pregnancy.

* Zapatero promoted the legalisation of gay marriage, which was passed into law in 2005, making Spain the third country in the world to allow it. The law permits married gay couples to adopt children.

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