Page 2, 20th September 1968

20th September 1968
Page 2
Page 2, 20th September 1968 — CHURCH UNDER ATTACK IN BASQUE COUNTRY
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People: Cano, Cadiz, Franco
Locations: Madrid, Bilbao

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CHURCH UNDER ATTACK IN BASQUE COUNTRY

FROM A SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT

TENSION between Church and State remains high in the Basque area of northern Spain although Gen. Franco has now lifted the emergency measures which empowered police to make arrests and search homes without warrants and to hold suspects indefinitely.

A pastoral letter by Bishop Balerdi of San Sebastian, criticising harsh Government measures against Basque nationalists, said that arrests of priests and searches of rectories and other residences were "violations" of the existing concordat between Spain and the Holy See. This lays down that civil arrests or trials of priests cannot take place unless their bishops have given their permission.

Bishop Balerdi's letter was strongly criticised in the official Spanish Press and by Gen. Cano, military governor of Madrid, who called it "inadmissible" and demanded "timely measures" to curb the Basque clergy.

The Provincial Council of the Falange dominated National Movement, the only official political party in Spain, denounced "subversive activities" by militant Basque priests.

The attack came as Gen. Franco began his traditional stay in the Government's "summer capital" of San Sebastian.

The Falange Party has attacked the Opus Dei Madrid newspaper, Nuevo Diario for omitting details of a reception for Gen. Franco in San Sebastian.

Nuevo Diario carried the same Spanish agency reports of the reception as all Madrid newspapers but left out a paragraph which described effusive crowds cheering the chief of

State. In a country where a misplaced innuendo can get an editor fined, the omission could hardly have been other than deliberate.

Another Opus Dei newspaper, the Eveninger Madrid, has been closed for nearly four months under Spanish Press laws. It published several articles considered hostile to the Government.

In, Cadiz, Bishop Anoveros threw his support behind a decision of an episcopal committee endorsing the rights of workers to found free unions and even to declare non-political strikes. His comments are considered a challenge to the Government, which allows only officially-approved unions and permits strikes only in a narrowly defined context.

All 12 clerical members of a commission recently established to study the stormy ChurchState relations in Bilbao have resigned in frustration.




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