Andorra, The Catholic Church in
ANDORRA, THE CATHOLIC CHURCH IN
A landlocked region, the Principality of Andorra is located in the east Pyrenees of Europe, and is bordered on the north and east by France, and on the south and west by Spain. A mountainous region, with peaks rising 6,000 feet above narrow valley regions, Andorra has a temperate climate, although snow slides and avalanches are common in the winter months. Natural resources include mineral water, timber, iron ore and lead, while agricultural products consist of rye, wheat, barley, oats and sheep.
Made a co-principality following a dispute over the region between Spain and France during the 13th century, Andorra adopted a democratic constitution in 1993. Under the constitutional heads of state—co-princes are the president of France and the Bishop of Urgel in Spain—true governmental power lies in a General Council of 28 members. The region's population, of predominately Spanish ancestry, is supplemented by numerous immigrants, attracted by Andorra's thriving tourismbased economy and the country's lack of an income tax. Actual citizens of Andorra comprise only 20 percent of the total population.
History. Part of the Roman Empire and of the Visigothic kingdom, Andorra, like the rest of the Pyrenees, was little affected by the Arab invasion. With the creation of the Spanish March it came under Carolingians as part of the country of Urgell. Bishops of Urgell from the ninth century gained feudal lands and rights in Andorra, where they established, with the consent of the counts of Urgell, an ecclesiastical domain based around the town of La Seau d'Urgell. From the 11th century it was a fief of the Caboet family, which transmitted it by marriages to the Castellbó and then to the Foix family (1208). Henry of Navarre, Count of Foix and Viscount of Bearn, brought his rights to the crown of France when he became king in 1589. The indivisible co-dominion over Andorra exercised by the French president and the Spanish bishop of Urgell was based on the agreement (Pareatges ) of Bishop Pedro de Urg of Urgell and Count Roger Bernard III of Foix (1278, 1288) after a long and bitter dispute.
Its isolated location high in the Pyrenees allowed Andorra to keep its political constitution and traditional institutions from the Middle Ages, notwithstanding economic progress resulting from immigration and tourism during the 20th century. Its laws and customs were codified in the Manual Digest (1748) of A. Fiter Rosell and the Politar (1763) of A. Puig.
There are pre-Romanesque (9th–11th century) and Romanesque (11th–12th century) churches of archaeological interest; most of the murals have disappeared or are in museums and private collections. Our Lady of Meritxell, proclaimed principal patroness of Andorra in 1873, has a shrine with a 12th-century Romanesque image, probably the oldest from the Pyrenees.
Into the 21st Century. By the year 2000, there were 19 priests tending to the nation's Catholics, 13 diocesan and six religious. In addition, 13 Holy Family sisters tend to students at the two Catholic schools—one Spanish-, one French-language—in Andorra. Upon reaching university level, students have the option of going to Spain or France for higher studies. Andorra had no higher school of religious studies or charitable and social work apart from parochial institutions. Religious education in the Catholic faith was also available through public schools as an after-school elective option, with those teachers being paid by the government. Andorra established diplomatic relations with the Holy See in 1995.
The more than 50 scattered churches and chapels testified to the strong religious tradition in the region. Under the constitution, Catholicism remained the official religion, and a special relationship with the state was endorsed, although the Church did not receive direct state subsidies. An increase in the activity of religious sects in the late 20th century prompted a system of registration that was endorsed by Catholic leaders. The Church remained cordial with other religious groups, with the church at La Massana lending its sanctuary to the small Anglican community of English-speaking immigrants on a monthly basis. In 2001, Andorra was the focus of a United Nations effort to adopt a pro-abortion policy throughout Europe. Andorran law supports the rights of the unborn and abortion was treated as a criminal act. Concerns were also raised by U.N. representatives regarding the availability of sex education in the country's private schools.
Bibliography: c. baudon de mony, Relations politiques des comtes de Foix aves la Catalogne jusq'au commencement du XIVe siècle, 2 v. (Paris 1896). j. a. brutails, La Coutume d'Andorre (Paris 1904). f. pallerola y gabriel, El Principado de Andorra y su constitución políticia (Lérida 1912). p. pujol, "L'acta de consagració i dotació de la catedral d'Urgell," Estudis romàncis, 2 (1917) 1–28. f. valls taberner, Privilegis i ordinacions de les valls pirinenques, v. 3, Vall d'Andorra (Barcelona 1920). j. m. vidal, Instituciones políticas y sociales de Andorra (Madrid 1949). j. m. font i rius, "Els origens del co-senyoriu andorrà," Pirineos, 11 (1955) 77–108. j. m. guilera, Una història d'Andorra (Barcelona 1960). j. capeille, Dictionnaire d'histoire et de géographie ecclésiastiques, ed. a. baudrillart et al. (Paris 1912) 2: 1585–87. Bilan du Monde, 2:70.