Spanish Catholics slam Bishops' opposition to minimum subsistence income

“Betrayal of the gospel”: Spanish Catholics slam Bishops’ opposition to minimum subsistence income

Spanish Catholics have slammed their Bishops’ opposition to government plans for a minimum subsistence income, condemning the prelates’ stance as a “true betrayal of the gospel”.

– Bishops’ spokesman: Minimum income “not a desirable long-term horizon for the common good”

Spanish Episcopal Conference (CEE) secretary and spokesman Luis Argüello said April 20 that, although he was in favour of a basic income for society’s most vulnerable members for the duration of the coronavirus pandemic, “thinking about the permanence of large groups of citizens living in a subsidised way, I think that would not be a desirable long-term horizon for the common good”.

That was in response to Spanish government plans to roll out a permanent safety net for all families with a monthly income of less than 450 euros with a minimum living wage of a yet to be determined amount.

– “Hypocrisy” for opposing living wage but accepting government funding

The Spanish Bishops’ opposition to the guaranteed minimum income system is largely political hostility to a left-wing government, and it was precisely for that political meddling that the Base Christian Communities (CCP) of Andalusia pulled the Spanish Bishops up on in an April 22 statement,

The CCP clapped back at Argüello with the reality of “lowly and precarious workers” in Spain, and cited Spanish Caritas numbers reporting that 8.5 million Spaniards are in a situation of social exclusion: some 18.4% of the population.

The CCP also recalled, for the benefit of the bishop, that even Spanish Caritas came out in early April in favour of a permanent minimum subsistence income accompanied by “a supplement that facilitates incorporation into the labour market”.

The CCP also blasted the Spanish Bishops for their “hypocrisy” in opposing a subsidised minimum living wage at the same time they accept millions of euros in taxpayer funding.

The Spanish Church receives 0.7% of the returns of citizens who tick the Church box at tax time: a gravy train that was worth some 284 million euros in 2019 alone.

– “Head-on clash” with the option for the poor

Summing up the political meddling and the hypocrisy, the CCP affirmed that “all these attitudes of the CEE clash head-on with the option for the poor that Jesus preached”.

“We think that it is only fair that society, the State, must provide whoever can’t get a job – because there are none – with the minimum means of subsistence”, the CCP argued.

The base Christian communities concluded saying that Pope Francis’ commitment to disenfranchised and precarious workers means “not only offering them a minimum subsistence income… but a Universal and Unconditional Basic Income, now during [the coronavirus] quarantine and later stable and permanent, as an inalienable right to life”.

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Cameron Doody

Director and editor at Novena
PhD in ancient Jewish/Christian history and philosophy. Lecturer in ethics at Loyola University Maryland, Alcalá de Henares (Spain) campus. Religion journalist with 4 years experience.
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