THE Catholic Church has secured an agreement with the Madrid regional government to offer religious education to 17 and 18-year-olds in the capital.
It is the first timethe Church has sought to extend its influence over education since the death of Franco and the deal has renewed tensions between traditionalists and modernisers. Under Franco, the church ran the schools, encouraged patriotism and duty, and backed the military regime.
The lessons will be offered to the 8,000 teenagers who undertake professional training which prepares students for specific jobs rather than university.
Adolfo Navarro, education spokesperson for the PSOE (the socialist workers' party), said: "It is very difficult to see how classes of Catholic education will help people become plumbers."
However, a spokesman for the Religious Teaching Federation said: "A plumber does not just need technical skills; they need to know how to relate to people.
Religion is an integral part of this training."