|El Greco's Christ Carrying the Cross, ca. 1580s|
This is not to say that Spain is not a "Catholic country." For starters, there are cathedrals and basilicas _everywhere_, and they form a central part of the iconic imagery of Spanish tourism (not to mention the Hemingway paradigm). Much of the cultural heritage of the country is religious in nature, from famous paintings by El Greco or Velázquez to the Sagrada Familia Cathedral by one very religious Gaudí. When Hemingway visited here in the 1920s and 1930s, perhaps he had cause for believing it to be a _very_ Catholic culture. Having recently seen photos of early 20th-century Spain, in all the photos of different Spanish towns and cities, the only ancient buildings that were well-maintained were cathedrals. So I can see why Hemingway would characterize the country as devoutly Catholic… then.
|Gaudí's La Sagrada Familia Cathedral in Barcelona|
In this respect, asking if Spain is Catholic is like asking if the U.S. is Christian. Saying yes doesn't do justice to the very significant non-Christian part of its society, but saying no ignores the clearly Christian component to its history and politics. Much of what to outsiders would seem like deeply rooted Catholic tendencies to locals is probably better understood as unconscious vestiges or lingering habits of an earlier Catholic culture. Like the widespread (almost ubiquitous) use of biblical names like "María" and "José," or unconscious routine language like "adiós" (meaning "goodbye," but literally "to God") and saying "Jesús" when someone sneezes (just like we say "bless you").
The bottom line is that you should not assume the next Spaniard you meet is Catholic. Chances are that, especially if they're young, they are not.
|A famous recurring sketch from the British TV comedy series Monty Python.|