The Catalan Bishops have sounded the alarm on factory closures taking place in Spain due to COVID-19, at the same time they urged workers, business and politics to a new economic contract for the post-pandemic recovery.

– “The Church cannot remain insensitive to the pain”

The Tarragonian Episcopal Conference, made up of the ten bishops of the Spanish region of Catalonia, published a statement June 9 deploring the closure of Nissan factories in the Zona Franca industrial area of Barcelona, which they denounced will result in the loss of over 3,000 direct jobs and more than 20,000 indirect ones.

“In the face of the suffering caused by this crisis, the Church cannot remain insensitive to the pain suffered by society, individuals and families as a result of economic and social circumstances”, the Catalan Bishops affirmed in their statement, which they described as “a message to look to the future with hope”.

– “An effort must be made to keep the factories where they are”

As an excuse for the Nissan factory closures, president of Nissan Europe Gianluca de Ficchy told Spain’s La Vanguardia newspaper June 8 that the plants had become “unsustainable” after having dropped down to just 20% of their production capacity.

But the Catalan Bishops rejected that argument, and insisted that “an effort must… be made by all to keep the factories where they are and to look for new opportunities so that they can be consolidated and supported”.

In the meantime – and conscious “of the complexity of the problem” the Catalan regional and Spanish national governments are continuing to try to solve – the prelates expressed their “solidarity” with the thousands of affected workers and their families.

“We support all actions which… are undertaken in order to seek just solutions within the framework of the common good”, the Bishops said, urging the newly-redundant Nissan employees to ensure their protests are peaceful and respectful of stakeholders’ rights.

– The need for an economic “paradigm shift”

The Catalan Bishops also explained in their statement Tuesday that “the Church’s Social Doctrine upholds an economy at the service of the human person. An economy that guarantees people decent work, with a decent salary that allows access to decent housing and the ability to provide for the family”.

From that starting point, the prelates called workers, industry and government to a commitment to “dialogue, understanding and collaboration” in the context not only of the Nissan factory closures but of those of aluminium manufacturer Alcoa in Galicia as well, where some 600 jobs are at risk.

“We bishops call for a hope based on people’s creative capacity”, the Catalan prelates clamoured.

They added that “the whole of society must look to the future with confidence, must encourage creativity and must fight resolutely to create the right conditions for investment and the development of new industrial initiatives” which are both respectful of the environment and generate new quality jobs.

“We bishops also call for a paradigm shift so that the whole of society can actively participate in the development and implementation of future projects based on a more powerful industrial sector and leadership”, the prelates continued, insisting on the need to work for both “decent jobs and opportunities” for young people and for a “economic and social revival” in the wake of COVID-19.

“We urge all Catholics and people of good will… to collaborate in deeper and more creative reflection and to put all resources at the disposal of society to build a more just and equitable economy”, the Catalan Bishops finalised their statement.

They concluded by saying that “the Gospel of Jesus inspires us to bring about a radical transformation of life, with its message of justice, hope and brotherhood”.

More stories on Novena on the Spanish Church:

Catalan Catholic Workers deplore “merciless capitalism” behind car factory closures, loss of 4,000 jobs

Spanish bishop takes down minimum living income sceptics, insists measure necessary to combat poverty


PhD in ancient Jewish/Christian history and philosophy. University ethics lecturer with 4 years' experience in religion journalism.