- Jan 25, 2020
Catholic clergy from Catalonia demanded the release of the region’s detained leaders and urged the Spanish government to resume “friendly negotiations and agreements.”
Ahead of regional elections in Catalonia, Spanish Cardinal Antonio Canizares Llovera of Valencia said “nations, considered in isolation, do not enjoy an absolute right to decide” if they will be independent.
Cardinal Ricardo Blazquez Perez of Valladolid, president of the Spanish bishops’ conference, expressed sadness for the Catalonian declaration of independence and reiterated support “for the constitutional order and … its restoration.” But in Catalonia, the Catholic justice and peace commission and 12 other Catholic organizations said Catalan institutions “predate and do not derive from the 1978 Spanish constitution.”
Catholic bishops across Europe largely have been making a stand in defense of continental unity, a position backed by Pope Francis. Yet in a major speech on Europe Saturday, Francis made clear he’s also no champion of the European status quo, and in fact seems to regard it as passing away. In that context, he laid out his own version of the “Benedict option” for the Church’s role.
While the Vatican hosted a major summit on Europe on Friday featuring some 350 spiritual and political leaders from across the continent, nobody seemed eager to touch the big European story of the day — Catalonia’s vote to declare independence, and Spain’s move to impose direct rule. That may reflect both the sensitivity of the issue, and the fact that the Church isn’t of one mind.
The Spanish ambassador to the Vatican, Ambassador Gerardo Bugallo, had a private meeting with Pope Francis, and afterwards a weekly Catholic magazine Vida Nueva, wrote that the pope spoke to Bugallo about the “Holy See’s position against every self-determination process that is not justified by a process of decolonization.”