Juan Jos Omella, a negotiator between the Government and the independence movement, new president of the Episcopal Conference


Elections in the Episcopal Conference

With 74 years and responsible for the Social Pastoral Commission, Omella is the man of Pope Francis in the leadership of the Spanish Church and the personality preferred by the Government of Pedro Snchez


Cardinal Juan Jos Omella, a negotiator between the Government and independence
THE WORLD (Vdeo) // JAVIER BARBANCHO (Photo)

Stuck with a backpack, a crutch, a rosary and a relief of thevirgin Maraglass framed,Denis CorcoranHe felt at dawn at the bank at the gates of the headquarters of theSpanish Episcopal Conference. “I have come to pray for the Spanish bishops,” said this morning, this Irish linguist who has been a pilgrimage to the world for a year without a roof other than the sky. Denis didn’t know that theSpanish churchcelebrated today hissuper Tuesdaydomestic, the day of the election of the head of the national bishops.

While Denis spent the night fighting the cold with the coffees that some priests took from him, the 87 bishops set their seat in the votes for the final election in an early morning of ecclesiastical sums and subtractions. And so, shortly before 11 am, the Plenary has announced the result: the cardinal and archbishop ofBarcelona, Juan Jos Omella, elected president of the Episcopal Conference.

The Spanish bishops are thus betting on the most progressive option of all that were considered. Or, at least, the most moderate against the conservative side andLasted, embodied in figures like the prelate ofValencia,Antonio Caizares, or that ofOviedo,Jess Sanz.

In fact, Omella’s victory has been loose. Of the 87 votes, he has obtained 55. Behind, Sanz Montes has taken 29. AndCarlos Osoro(Madrid),Gins Garca Beltrn(Getafe) andMario Iceta(Bilbao), one each.

Omella tried to negotiate in the early days ofprocsbetween the independence world and the central government of Mariano Rajoy. In an interview granted toCatalunya RadioIn June 2018, I acknowledged talking to Carles Puigdemont and Mariano Rajoy during the most tense moments of the secessionist movement. “I did what I could. I talked to each other in those tense moments. Both Puigdemont and Rajoy listened to me well.”

His involvement in thetsunamiPolitical and social generated by the Catalan process is so indisputable that it reacts publicly on the same day of the Unilateral Declaration of Independence (DUI), October 27, 2017: “At this moment, as pastor of Barcelona, ​​I share the pain and suffering of People, my heart cries with them, I desire and ask the Lord to help us avoid confrontation and build a peaceful future.After two years that I have been in the dicesis of Barcelona, ​​I can say that I deeply love Barcelona and Catalua. They are wonderful people. And I love Spain too. “

“Build bridges and fraternity”

This Tuesday, with just two hours in office, journalists have asked him about his position in theprocs. “On sensitive issues, my role is to build bridges and fraternity. When there is a will to walk together, we can achieve it and when we want to face it, that in the end always produces wounds and a lot of pain and that I would not like for the Spanish people, or for the Catholic Church. ” That is his mantra: dialogue.

And that also applies to the rest of the issues that will have to deal with the Government of Pedro Snchez and for those who have promised “collaboration”: subject of Religion, euthanasia, sexual rights, new taxation for the Church, education law … “We are here to collaborate with the State, because we are at the service of the common good. We need dialogue to collaborate. They need us and we also. We all need each other. I hope and wish the Government success. And on complicated issues, pray and collaborate on as much as I can and it’s within my reach. ” Even so, he wanted to share some words of his already predecessor, monsignorRicardo Blzquez, who was sitting next to him: “We do not want privileges, but we are treated with dignity and respect, as all institutions are treated. That is desirable.”

With 74 years and responsible for theSocial Pastoral Commission, Omella is the man of Pope Francis in the dome of the Spanish Church and the personality preferred by the Government of Pedro Snchez.

The Plenary Assembly of Bishops.
The Plenary Assembly of Bishops.

And that the official reaction of the Executive has been typical: We respect the election of the president of the Episcopal Conference. We are confident that the usual good relations we have with the Church will be maintained. We must be effective in the issues that we have to address and that are pivoted in the First Vice Presidency. When the agenda allows it, there will be a meeting between the ministerCarmen Calvoand Archbishop Omella, to whom we wish all kinds of luck, said the spokeswoman,Mara Jess Montero.

Omella was named archbishop by thePope Franciscoin 2015 and cardinal two years later. From his Barcelona watchtower, he tried to mediate between the political leaders of Catalan separatism and those responsible for the central government. That fact, and his firm commitment to the more advanced theses of the Papacy of Francisco, have earned him the opposition of the sector most reluctant to change the Spanish Church. In fact, in the days before today’s election, all bishops received in their e-mail an anonymous document intended to wear out the image of Omella denouncing their alleged maneuvers to overthrow the formerBishop of Zaragoza, since hered.

Osoro, vice president

Thatdirty gameInternal has not been enough. Most prelates have opted for an Omella very close to Francisco’s social doctrine, supported by the Cardinal of Madrid,Carlos Osoro, and applauded by the Government of Snchez, who sees in the cardinal of Barcelona an ideal interlocutor to travel the thorny future of theprocs.

Precisely Osoro has been elected vice president of the Episcopal Conference, which reinforces theFranciscanismof the direction of the bishops and the spirit of dialogue with the Executive.

Both Osoro and Omella, the newdouble Oin the Spanish Church, they share not only the papal ideological blessing, but an affable and empathic character. Omella has demonstrated it in the press conference: “I enter with fear and trembling because I have never been president of the Episcopal Conference” …

And to prove it, Omella has fitted well the issues raised in its appearance before the media. For example, when answering a question about government legislation regardingHistorical Memory. “I do not want wounds reopened. Coexistence is always possible. We must go to non-confrontation, know how to forgive ourselves and move forward on a path of reconciliation and coexistence.”

Nor has it avoided a mixture that could be problematic within a month:Holy Week and coronavirus. “What more would I want us not to have it. I want to remove the alarm. How many deaths a day there are in Spain due to flu or traffic accidents? We will follow the indications ofMinistry of Healthand avoid creating alarm. “

Juan Jos Omella has finished his press conference to continue the meeting of the Plenary, which elegants the rest of the Spanish ecclesial leadership. “I am very grateful for the support received by my colleagues. And I am also grateful for the work of you, the informants, although sometimes they are a little messy.”

Outside, on the street bench, Denis continues praying.

The irland
The Irish Denis Corcoran, at the doors of the Episcopal Conference.

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