The Spanish bishops have started their autumn plenary on Monday, which will close on Friday in Santiago de Compostela, without pedophilia appearing on the official agenda. They will not, however, be able to avoid the subject. A group of at least eight prelates, according to internal sources, thinks to raise the need for the Spanish Episcopal Conference (CEE) to agree to the elaboration of an internal study to know the real scope of the abuse of minors. Its president, the Cardinal Archbishop of Barcelona, Juan José Omella, only alluded to the matter in passing, in the middle of his long opening speech. Despite our infidelities, the Holy Spirit continues to act in history and show his life-giving power. With him we are not afraid to face issues such as lack of faith and corruption within the Church that really hurt us and we ask God, the victims and society for forgiveness, while we work for their eradication and prevention, ”he said. .
There are already several European bishops’ conferences that are thoroughly investigating the abuse of minors and sexual corruption in their churches, some, such as those in France, Germany and Portugal, with great media exposure. The EEC resists any investigation, internal or external. The refusal to make ecclesiastical archives available to experts places the Spanish bishops at the bottom of transparency. Surprisingly, the Italian Catholic Church is in the same situation, despite the fact that Francis, as bishop of Rome, is part of it and has repeatedly demanded zero tolerance and investigations.
“If you really want to do something, you have to leave hands free to independent researchers to do their work, and present it in society,” say several prelates. Omella, on the other hand, dismisses the problem as a matter of faith and prestige. He said: “It is true that faith is losing its presence in environmental culture, which is also caused, we have to recognize it, by the internal inconsistencies of the Church and Christians, and, it must also be said clearly: of us, the own pastors of the Church. And for this I apologize, because with our lack of testimony and inconsistencies, due to our divisions and lack of evangelizing passion, on many occasions we contribute, not without scandal, to disaffection and lack of trust in the hierarchy, in the Church itself ”.
The bishops will finish their assembly in Santiago de Compostela, where Francisco is expected next year. They also begin to prepare the visit at the threshold of the apostles (on the threshold of the apostles), which the Vatican has scheduled for the second half of December and the first weeks of January 2022. The purpose of this visit, apart from tourist and religious connotations, has its solemnities, but also its risks . Each prelate dispatches alone with the Pope and must present the documentation requested in advance by the Roman dicasteries. Taking into account that many have expressed disagreement with Francis, the meeting with the Roman Pontiff will be delicate for them.
In case there were doubts about the communion of all “with the Successor of Peter and Head of the Apostolic College”, Omella ended her speech by stating that they walk “all together in communion with Peter and under Petro”(With Pedro and under Pedro). He added: “I want to express the feeling of deep affection of the Church in Spain, of its pastors and communities, with Pope Francis, with his person and his magisterium.”
Much of Omella’s speech focused on internal issues of her organization, especially in the synod in which the universal Church is immersed, but she also reviewed the serious problems that, in her opinion, Spain faces due to the ideologies (“suffocate, destroy, separate”), and by government policies in education, teaching of Catholic religion and morals in schools, legislation on “assisted suicide” and by various economic proposals.
“Many say that the Church must be modernized because it is lagging behind. This Synod will help overcome the image that for some continues to prevail of the Church as a society of unequals where some rule and others obey, some teach and others learn, some celebrate and others attend ”, he said about the first point. Regarding the negotiations with the Government on the educational pact, he was very disappointed, in the idea that there is an offensive against the concerted Catholic schools and against the Catholic Church itself.
The King chooses his military vicar general
As if it had wanted to spoil the 118 plenary assembly of the Episcopal Conference, the Vatican embassy revealed minutes before Cardinal Omella’s speech the appointments of new bishops, some long-awaited, among them the always controversial military vicar general, from now on general of Division with command, troop and salary of such high military rank. The official statement on the new vicar general says: “The Pope has appointed Juan Antonio Aznárez Cobo as military archbishop. He is currently auxiliary bishop of Pamplona and Tudela. The appointment is made public today, Monday, November 15 ”.
The military archbishopric had been vacant since the death by covid-19 of Juan del Río Martín, last January. Archbishop Aznárez (Éibar, Guipúzcoa, 59 years old) studied at the seminary in Pamplona and at the Pontifical Biblical Institute in Rome. He also has a degree in Hispanic Philology from the University of Zaragoza.
Negotiations between the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Nunciature to reach this appointment have been long and complicated due to the importance of the position and the expenses in salaries and personnel that they imply on the State budget. The Government ruled out several names proposed by the nuncio in Madrid, the Filipino Bernardito Auza, until the name of Aznárez was included in the list raised to the King. The appointment is said to have been made by the Pope. It is a truth that lies. On the list agreed by the Government and the Nuncio, it is the King who finally chooses. The Pope just proclaims it.
This is stated in one of the agreements (actually, concordats) signed in Rome in 1976 and 1979, with its back to the negotiation of the 1978 Constitution. The one referring to the military vicariate indicates: “The provision of the Military General Vicariate will be made through the proposal of a list of names, formed by common agreement between the Apostolic Nunciature and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and submitted to the approval of the Holy See. The King will present, within 15 days, one of them for appointment by the Roman Pontiff ”.
Those agreements have been criticized many times as unconstitutional. That of 1976 is even preconstitutional. The Agreement on Legal Affairs states: “Before proceeding with the appointment of Archbishops and Residential Bishops and Coadjutors with the right to succession, the Holy See will notify the name of the designated person to the Government in case there are specific objections of a general political nature regarding him, whose Assessment will correspond to the prudent consideration of the Holy See. It will be understood that there are no objections if the Government does not express them within fifteen days. The proceedings will be kept secret ”.
The new military vicariate, with the category and infrastructure of a diocese, has personnel similar to a ministry, such as five vicariates, corresponding to the five branches of the Armed Forces, and 13 parishes in the barracks. As an archdiocese, it also has its cathedral and a seminary, both in Madrid. Its personnel include a secretary general and several delegates, in addition to some seventy military chaplains, several on missions with Spanish troops abroad.