Portugal: Religion


Figure 1.--The religious history of Portugal is dominated by Roman Catholocism. This cabinet card portrait shows an unidentified Portuguese altar boy in the early-20th century. Until recently for more than a millenium and a half, only boys could be servers. This portrait is undated, but the cabinet card mount suggesrs the 1900s decade.

The primary religion in Portugal is Roman Catholic Christianity. This has been the case the Chrstianization of the Roman Empire (4th century AD). Small numbers of Jews settled in what is now Portugal presumably during the Roman era, but actual historical references only date bavk to the Muslim era. The Muslim invasion (8th cntury) meant that Islam appeared in Portugal. There was considerable tolerance and inter-marriage during the Musim era. Portugal was one of the first Christian kingdoms to develop as part of the Reconquista. There was at first an impressive degree of religious yolerance which slowly declined as the Recinquista progressed. After the fall of Granada to Spanish forces, both Jews and Muslims were expelled (1492). The Inquistion attempte to purify Portugal of Jewish and Muslim influences. The impact on Portugal was stultifying going far beyond the small Jewish and Muslim poplation. Portugal and Spain which had led the European maritime outreach (15th century) as well as the conquest and Christinization of the New World. The Inquisition, however, turned Portugal and Spain into European backwaters. The Church and momarchy worked together to create a very conservative, closed society. A church faces a government building across virtually every town and village main square, a power structure repeated in Brazil. Portugal like Spain was largely unaffected by both the Protestant Reformation (16th century) and the Enlightenment (18th century). Portugal began to change (20th century). The church and state were officially separated during the First Republic (1910-26).

History

The primary religion in Portugal is Roman Catholic Christianity. This has been the case the Chrstianization of the Roman Empire (4th century AD). Small numbers of Jews settled in what is now Portugal presumably during the Roman era, but actualn hisyorical references only dte bavk to the Muslim era. . The Muslim invasion (8th cntury) meant that Islam appeared in Portugal. There was considerable tolerance and inter-marriage during the Musim era. Portugal was one of the first Christian kingdoms to develop as part of the Reconquista. There was at first an impressive degree of religious yolerance which slowly declined as the Recinquista progressed. After the fall of Granada to Spanish forces, both Jews and Muslims were expelled (1492). The Inquistion attempte to purify Portugal of Jewish and Muslim influences. The impact on Portugal was stultifying going far beyond the small Jewish and Muslim poplation. Portugal and Spain which had led the European maritime outreach (15th century) as well as the conquest and Christinization of the New World. The Inquisition, however, turned Portugal and Spain into European backwaters. The Church and momarchy worked together to create a very conservative, closed society. A church faces a government building across virtually every town and village main square, a power structure repeated in Brazil. Portugal like Spain was largely unaffected by both the Protestant Reformation (16th century) and the Enlightenment (18th century). Portugal began to change (20th century). The church and state were officially separated during the First Republic (1910-26). The constitution of 1976 guaranteed all religions the right to practise their faith. A 2001 law on religious freedom was passed guaranteeing privileges for the minority religions that previously were reserved only for the Roman Catholic Church.

Faiths

Roman Catholcism continues to be the principal Portuguese religion. For several centuries, Islam was an important religion. Since the Reconquista and expulsion of the Jews and Muslims only a few non-Catholics have lived in Portugal or been able to practice their religion openly. This only began to change when British subjects began settling in Portugl (19th centyry) and finally with the advent of the First Republic (1910-26). Although still a small percentage of the population, other religious faiths can be openly practuced in Portugal today. Anglicans and other non-catholic Christians have the largest numbers of adherents followed by Muslims. There is also a small Jewish community as well as small groups of Buddhists and Hindus.

Christianity

A popular saying in Portugal was once "to be Portuguese is to be Catholic". And the country was once more universally Catholic than any other country in Europe, including Poland and Spain. For centuries aftr the Reconquista, Roman Catholcism was the only religion which cold be openly practiced. This has been the case the Chrstianization of the Roman Empire (4th century AD). The Muslim invasion (8th cntury) meant that Islam appeared in Portugal. There was considerable tolerance and inter-marriage during the Musim era. Portugal was one of the first Christian kingdoms to develop as part of the Reconquista. There was at first an impressive degree of religious yolerance which slowly declined as the Recinquista progressed. After the fall of Granada to Spanish forces, both Jews and Muslims were expelled (1492). The Inquistion attempte to purify Portugal of Jewish and Muslim influences. The impact on Portugal was stultifying going far beyond the small Jewish and Muslim poplation. Portugal and Spain which had led the European maritime outreach (15th century) as well as the conquest and Christinization of the New World. The Inquisition, however, turned Portugal and Spain into European backwaters. The Church and momarchy worked together to create a very conservative, closed society. A church faces a government building across virtually every town and village main square, a power structure repeated in Brazil. Portugal like Spain was largely unaffected by both the Protestant Reformation (16th century) and the Enlightenment (18th century). After a long history of religious repression, Portugal finally began to change. The British began settling in Portugal (19th century). As a result you begin to see at least foreigners practicing other Christian denominations. This included Anglicans, the Baptists and the Presbyterians. This began the tolerance for other religions. Portugal began to nore openly change (20th century). The church and state were officially separated during the First Republic (1910-26). Today Portugal is more realigned with the general de-cristianization of Europe, but remains culturally very strongly Cathilic.

Islam

Portuguese history involves some five centuries of Muslim rule. The Iberian Peninsla was conquered by th Moors veryvearly in Islamic history (8th century). What is now Portugal was part of Andulusia which included most of the Iberian Peninsula except the far north. Notice that Portugal today includes almost all of the Iberian Peninsula, except the far north. At the time, Portugal was called Al-Garb Al-Andalus (western Andalusia). Seville and then Cordoba were the capitals of Muslim Andalusia. Lesser known Silves was the capital of the medieval Muslim Portuguese Kingdom. It should be noted that at the time, an Atlntic coast was much less important than a Mediterrnan coast. Muslim Portugal was this something of a backwater in Muslim thinking, both economically abd strtegically. The Mediterranean connected Andalusia to the rest of the Muslim world. . of Portugal. Muslim Portugal, however, prospered largely because the Muslim world atthe time was more advanced than Chistendom. The introduction of new agricultural technology was espcially important. The destruction of the existing feudal social order was also important. Under the Moors the peasntry orked harder because they were better compnsated. Niabaly the common Portuguese verb work is 'mourejar' derived from 'to work like a Moor'. (The same is true for the Spanish verb 'manejar'. The Spanish Reconquista forced the Moors south. The Moorish hold on the west was west secure than the rest of Andalusia and the Portuguse Reconquista was completed before that of Spain. The Muslim contribution to Portugal was much more than agrivulture. One Portuguese observer tells us, "They contributed to our language, our architecture and especially to our knowledge of navigation. The lateen sail and the astrolabe, introduced by the Arabs, were instrumental in launching our nation into its Age of Discovery. [Da Silva] The Moors, however, were less sucessful in comverting the peasantry to Islam, despite the long period of Muslim rule.

Judaism

Portugal has one of the longest histories of Jewish settlement in Europe. Jewish settlement may date to the 8th century BC at the time of the first diaspora. Small numbers of Jews settled in what is now Portugal presumably during the Roman era, but actual historical references only date back to the Muslim era. The status of Jews has varied widely. There have been times in which Jews prospered and were honored members of society. At other times they have suffered horific persecution and were finally banished from Portugal. Many converted to Christianity. Some continued Jewish religious practices in secret. Other lost all identity as Jews. Portugal at the time of World War II had perhaps the smallest Jewish population in Europe . The country had a Jewish population of about 380 people and 650 Jewish refugees, mostly from Central Europe. The Government granted these refugees "resident" status.

Other


Culture

The Roman Catholic influence cultural influence is still pronounced. Portuguese festivals, holidays and traditions have a strong Catholic imprint. Most Portuguese today are Roman Catholics at least culturally. As in most of Europe, there has been a general de-Christianization of society. Spme 85 percent of Portuguese identify as being Romn Catholicm although relatuvely few even irreglarly attend church. They still want to be baptised and get married in church. And many Portuguese have First Communion celebrations. Boys and now girls assist priests as altar servers during the mass.

Regional Differences

There are some regional differences. Church attendance is much more common in the north than in the south.

Sources

Da Silva, Antonio Preto. A former Portuguese tourism commissioner in Canada.







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Created: 2:5:43 AM 11/30/2017
Last updated: 5:43 AM 11/30/2017