Spanish cardinal Antonio Cañizares

Grassroots Christians hit out at Spanish cardinal, Catholic lobbies blocking new left-wing Government

Grassroots Christians have hit out at a Spanish cardinal and Catholic lobbies trying to block a left-wing Government already in advanced coalition talks.

Driving the news

Cardinal Archbishop of Valencia Antonio Cañizares warned late November that a pre-agreement for government between the centre-left Spanish Socialist Worker’s Party (PSOE) and the left-wing Podemos party is a “serious emergency” that “leaves us in great fear”.

With the pre-agreement, Cañizares said, “cultural change is established or engendered, one way of thinking is imposed, with a vision of man intended to be spread to everyone, the approval of euthanasia, the extension of new rights, gender ideology, radical feminism, bringing up historical memories that foment hatred and aversion”.

The cardinal further warned that a PSOE-Podemos coalition Government would lead to “a deepening and immersion into a very deep crisis above all cultural, but also a political and institutional, a democratic, social, religious crisis about what constitutes Spain in its reality and its very own identity”.

Go deeper

Cañizares’ attempted sabotage of the left-wing Government – desired by a majority of Spaniards at the November 10 general elections, where PSOE and Podemos took a total of 155 seats in the 350-seat Parliament, compared to the right-wing bloc’s 140 – has not been the only Catholic attempt to torpedo democratic change.

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Spain’s Catholic Family Forum and Catholic schools confederation have also been attempting to drum up fear over the PSOE-Podemos pre-agreement.

They’ve both accused the acting PSOE Government of having an “attitude of totalitarian regimes” and of breaking the “social consensus” over PSOE’s projected reforms to family life and religious education.

Why it matters

But the Popular Christian Communities (CCP) of Cañizares’ Valencia diocese have hit back at this Catholic meddling in the post-election negotiations.

Unlike the cardinal, the Family Forum and the Catholic schools confederation, the CCP said “we salute the [PSOE-Podemos] ‘pre-agreement’ as a small step towards a more just society”.

“We understand that political negotiation is necessary to defend the common good of all citizens, and we will push in the direction we consider most Evangelical according to the Cause of Jesus”, the CCP said.

That “Cause of Jesus”, the CCP continued, is the advance of human rights and dignity that the very groups Cardinal Cañizares warned against – socialism, feminism, the LGBTI rights movement, secularism, ecologism and pacifism – have also contributed to, along with the Church.

It is not “the abandonment and forgetfulness of God” that has caused a “serious crisis” in Spain, as the cardinal warned, the CCP said.

Rather, as evidenced by the “massive abandonment of religious practice” in the country, ordinary Spaniards have been “scandalised” by the “abuses of clericalism” and the political and fiscal privileges of a Church in which “it is hard to recognize the face of Jesus”, the CCP deplored.

“From our being-Church we won’t scoff at walking side by side with laypeople or with atheist, agnostic, feminist or left-wing groups, with whom we feel in tune with the same causes of humanity which we believe are also the Cause of Jesus of Nazareth”, the CCP said.

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“The sacred above all is in the human, and also in the religious as it frees humanity”, the grassroots Christians reminded their fellow Catholics sceptical of the PSOE-Podemos pre-agreement, before concluding: “Human Rights are the new Commandments”.

For the record

Days after the controversies with Cañizares, the Catholic Family Forum, the Catholic schools confederation and the CCP of Valencia, Spanish Bishops’ spokesman Bishop Luis Argüello was forced to come out to admit that the Spanish episcopate would accept “any” new government “that was constituted legally”.

“In principle, the reception of a government that is legally constituted, following the results of the elections, the Church would welcome that government, whichever it was”, Argüello said, acknowledging though at the same time that the Spanish Bishops have not to date established an “institutional relationship” with the left-wing Podemos party.

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