Spain’s “forgotten pastors”

A public television report shows the situation of pastors who have not been able to get their pensions because their work during the Franco regime was not recognised.

Evangelical Focus

Protestante Digital, Buenas Noticias TV · 18 MARCH 2024 · 18:15 CET

Esteban Lozano interviews Marcos Vidal, for the program on the situation of retired pastors without pensions / BNTV,
Esteban Lozano interviews Marcos Vidal, for the program on the situation of retired pastors without pensions / BNTV

The program of the evangelical churches on Spanish public television (TVE), Buenas Noticias TV (good news, BNTV), broadcast this Sunday a report on retired pastors who have not yet received a pension.

The evangelical community in Spain has been denouncing this discrimination for decades.

The director of BNTV, Esteban Lozano, interviewed David Manzanas and Marcos Vidal, who recalled the experience of their fathers, also evangelical pastors. Both were prevented by the Francisco Franco dictatorship from receiving social security contributions and, unlike Catholic priests and other groups, they have still not seen their right to a pension recognised.

“Consecrated people, people who have given their lives to the pastoral ministry, to helping people, and who have not been able to receive anything from the state. They left us... It is very unfair, they have been active in helping people and they have never been recognised”, said Vidal during the interview.

Manzanas lamented that “a state that should look after all its citizens abandoned us” .

Spain’s “forgotten pastors”


A long and winding road

The tv report explains the situation of those pastors for whom no government in the over 45 years of Spanish democracy has been able, or has wanted, to do justice.

All this despite the insistent demands made by the Federation of Evangelical Religious Entities of Spain (FEREDE), as well as by the affected families and churches themselves. And despite the fact that since 2012 Spain has a condemnatory sentence from the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) in Strasbourg for religious discrimination in this specific area.

David Manzanas, of the Spanish Evangelical Church (IEE), is the son of Pastor Francisco Manzanas, who won the aforementioned ECHR ruling in 2012.

The 92-year-old father of Vidal of the Salem Evangelical Church, Manuel Vidal, was one of those pastors without pension rights who has survived on the charity of his church, through donations and the help of his children.

Spain’s “forgotten pastors”


Religious discrimination

The executive secretary of FEREDE, lawyer Carolina Bueno, explained that “there are precedents in which the Spanish state has already provided a solution similar to the one we are asking for, such as that of the Ikastola teachers”, the Basque language teachers in the Basque Country who were not allowed to pay contributions under Franco's regime.

“The state recognised their right to a pension and also created a budget line to cover the capital cost of their contributions. This is what we are also asking for”, she adds.

“We talk a lot about the rule of law and the Constitution here in Spain” points out Manzanas, “but in the end we do not comply with the Constitution, and rights are not for everyone”.

“Our parents worked in the church full time out of vocation, knowing that they had no right to a pension, but that does not mean that that is not an injustice and that while other groups have been compensated, pastors continue to be the forgotten ones”, says Vidal.

Like their parents, Marcos and David are also affected by this situation, albeit partially, as they both worked for several years before 1999, when evangelical pastors were finally allowed to pay contributions. This prevents them from being able to access their retirement pension in due time and with 100% of their salary.

Spain’s “forgotten pastors”


Waiting for the government

The current government has the issue denounced by evangelical Christians on the table. The question is whether the solution will come soon, before the potential beneficiaries, most of whom are now very old, can see their rights recognised and satisfied.

Along with financial reparation, FEREDE is also asking for moral reparation for the discrimination suffered by evangelical pastors, as ruled by the ECHR. “We ask for reparation to be made to the victims of this injustice”, concludes Carolina Bueno.

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