Page 1, 15th March 1974

15th March 1974
Page 1
Page 1, 15th March 1974 — BILBAO BISHOP WINS FIGHT TO STAY

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Locations: Madrid, Bilbao, the Holy See


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Our VatiCan Correspondent The sudden crisis in Church-State relations two weeks ago over the pastoral letter by Bishop Antonio Anoveros of Bilbao urging greater freedoms for Basques seems to have calmed down almost as quickly as it arose.

Bishop Anoveros and his secretary, who had been attending ti special meeting Of the Spanish Episcopal Conference discussing this , matter. returned by car to Bilbao yesterday. No police car followed him and there were no guards outside his villa.

This indicated that the Franco Government's former house arrest measure had been lifted.

1he change-about in the

Spanish ' government's earlier determination to press charges against the bishop is being attributed by Vatican sources directly to General Franco himself.

"We believe it was General Franco who told his Prime Minister to agree to meet the Episcopal Conference half-way in resolving the crisis," said a vailean source.

In Madrid, Bishop Elias Vanes, spokesman for the Permanent Commission of the Spanish Episcopate, was reported as saying that the Spanish bishops now "consider the matter as resolved."

In the Vatican. however. while there is temporary relief over the patching-up of ChurchState relations and the end of the immediate clash between the Basque bishop and the government. it is realised that this is merely a stop-gap.

For several years there has been growing friction between the Franco regime and the Church, and antagonism in the Vatican to same of the controls which the regime have placed On Church affairs, especially on the nomination of bishops.

The need to revive the Concordat with Spain was realised several years ago and talks between the Holy See and Madrid have been pursued steadily.

As yet. however. there is "no meeting of the minds" over a DOA Concordat. although owing largel+, to this recent crisis, the negotiations are likely to be stepped up in the near future.

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