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Portugal Table of Contents


The Salazar Regime

Under the dictatorship of António de Oliveira Salazar (r. 1928-68), the church experienced a revival (see The New State , ch. 1). Salazar was himself deeply religious and infused with Roman Catholic precepts. Before studying law he had been a seminarian; his roommate at the University of Coimbra, Manuel Gonçalves Cerejeira, later became cardinal patriarch of Lisbon. In addition, Salazar's corporative principles and his constitution and labor statute of 1933 were infused with Roman Catholic precepts from the papal encyclicals Rerum Novarum (1891) and Quadragesimo Anno (1931).

Salazar's state was established on the principles of traditional Roman Catholicism, with an emphasis on order, discipline, and authority. Class relations were supposed to be based on harmony rather than the Marxist concept of conflict. The family, the parish, and Christianity were said to be the foundations of the state. Salazar went considerably beyond these principles, however, and established a full-fledged dictatorship. His corporative state continued about equal blends of Roman Catholic principles and Mussolini-like fascism.

In 1940 a concordat governing church-state relations was signed between Portugal and the Vatican. The church was to be "separate" from the state but to enjoy a special position. The Concordat of 1940 reversed many of the anticlerical policies undertaken during the republic, and the Roman Catholic Church was given exclusive control over religious instruction in the public schools. Only Catholic clergy could serve as chaplains in the armed forces. Divorce, which had been legalized by the republic, was again made illegal for those married in a church service. The church was given formal "juridical personality," enabling it to incorporate and hold property.

Under Salazar, church and state in Portugal maintained a comfortable and mutually reinforcing relationship. While assisting the church in many ways, however, Salazar insisted that it stay out of politics--unless it praised his regime. Dissent and criticism were forbidden; those clergy who stepped out of line--an occasional parish priest and once the bishop of Porto--were silenced or forced to leave the country.

Data as of January 1993