Riots in Barcelona

In midst of independence riots, Catalan abbot warns “situation can’t go on any longer”

“This situation can’t go on any longer”, a Catalan abbot has warned as riots over the jailing of Catalan independence leaders continue into their sixth day.

Driving the news

Abbot of Montserrat Josep Maria Soler spoke to SIR as anger over Monday’s sentencing of politicians responsible for the 2017 Catalan independence referendum continued to spill over into the streets.

207 police have been injured in the riots all over the region to date and 128 people have been arrested.

A mostly peaceful general strike saw over half a million people march through the streets of Barcelona Friday in a protest for the right to self-determination for Catalonia.

But the demonstration turned violent in the evening, when police were forced to use tear gas, smoke grenades, foam bullets and a water cannon against protesters setting garbage bins on fire and throwing stones, eggs and other objects at agents in full riot gear.

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Go deeper

Abbot Soler, whose words as head of the famous Montserrat monastery in the heart of Catalonia are widely respected, admitted that the situation at the moment in the region is “very complex and problematic”.

But he said the acts of violence carried out by protesters in Barcelona, Tarragona, Girona or Lleida have been caused by “minority groups”.

The violent acts “must be condemned altogether”, Soler emphasised.

“Indeed, they don’t reflect the attitude of the vast majority of Catalans, whether or not they support independence”.

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Why it matters

“This situation can’t go on any longer. Political solutions are urgently needed to tackle a substantially political problem”, Soler said.

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“The Catalan question can only start to be resolved through dialogue between all interested parties.

“This dialogue must be constructive, sincere and open.

“We must learn to listen to each other, to express our respective positions calmly, and to renounce – albeit temporarily, – our aspirations.

“Only in this way will it be possible to reach agreements and common grounds that will make it easier to overcome the current situation”, the abbot explained.

What’s next

Soler urged politicians both in Madrid and Barcelona to “work for sincere reconciliation”.

The abbot pledged the help of the Church in that work towards a political rather than judicial solution to the problem “through prayer and faithful witness to God’s mercy”.

“We also urgently need to erect bridges between the two sides and foster the restoration of widespread confidence”, Soler said.

“The Church can make a very important contribution also in this respect. In fact it’s already happening”, he added.

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