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Forgotten pastors: ‘A progressive government cannot let this to remain unsolved’

The public image of Spain is damaged by the lack of response to the discrimination of pastors without a pension, explains the secretary general of the Spanish Evangelical Alliance.

Daniel Hofkamp , Evangelical Focus

Protestante Digital · 03 MAY 2024 · 15:30 CET

Xesús Manuel Suárez, in a public speech in February 2024 / PD archive.,
Xesús Manuel Suárez, in a public speech in February 2024 / PD archive.

It has been almost four years since the UN Human Rights Council examined Spain in the Universal Periodic Review, a mechanism established by the United Nations to analyse the Human Rights performance of all 193 member states.

The World Evangelical Alliance (WEA), at the request of the Spanish Evangelical Alliance (AEE), presented the situation of retired pastors without pensions, who during Franco's regime were unable to pay contributions due to the lack of recognition of their work by the state.

On 16 July 2020, the Spanish representative, Cristóbal González-Aller Jurado, admitted the problem and said that Spain was preparing “a normative is being prepared for the pastors who were not able to pay contributions for their pensions”.

However, the issue has remained stuck since then, as the government has not yet taken the necessary steps for the situation to be definitively resolved.


The “inexplicable” delay

In an interview with Spanish news website, Protestante Digital, the secretary general of the AEE, Manuel Suárez, reviewed the situation and explained how this issue represents an inexplicable democratic failure in a country that claims to have a consolidated democracy.

“The Franco regime did not allow pastors to pay contributions. A democratic, progressive government cannot allow the transition in this area to remain incomplete. This is a scourge that drags democracy down and must be resolved now”, pointed out Suárez.

The Spanish Evangelical Alliance has also taken the issue to Europe, through the European Evangelical Alliance.

“Political pressure in international bodies is effective because all countries are sensitive to the public image they are giving. And in this case, the public image that the Spanish administration is giving is bad. Our job is to make them see it”, underlined the AEE secretary general.


Why do they not respond?

The AEE has supported the Federation of Evangelical Religious Entities of Spain (FEREDE) in its mediation with the administration, seeking to resolve this issue as soon as possible.

“The defence of rights and freedoms is part of the Alliance's DNA. As Protestants, we have always been at the forefront of the defence of freedoms and against all types of discrimination”, added Suárez.

The lack of initiative of so many different governments, given that it has been on the table for over 20 years, “is not easy to understand”, said Suárez.

But he stresses that “the current government cannot go around saying it defends minority groups without addressing this demand”.

The AEE secretary general also invited evangelicals to reflect on the need to “have more political influence, more public presence”.

“We have to take a step forward, losing our fear of indiscretion and political correctness. If we cannot make ourselves respected, it is difficult to be respected. Perhaps it is necessary to take a few more steps”, concluded Suárez.

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