From a Special Correspondent
Cardinal Enrique y Tarancon, Archbishop of Madrid, the Catholic Church's most powerful political voice in Spain, called on the Spanish Government last week to give the Spanish people more political freedom, including the right of public assembly.
lie said in one of the strongest Church interventions since General Franco won the civil war in 1939 and banned political parties, that the right to meet and associate for legitimate ends "can only bring benefits to the Church and the country."
The Cardinal did not specify what action should be taken, but he described public assembly as "a human right," and said he fully supported other Church leaders, including Cardinal Jubany Arnau of Barcelona, who have called for easing restrictions on political association.
Cardinal Turacon's statement was in a pre-Christmas message to priests and laymen of the Madrid diocese. It came at the same time it was announced that a priest was to go on trial on charges of "illegal association."
It was also announced that the Public Order Court was to try 10 of Spain's chief underground labour leaders for illicit association. In a pre-trial brief, the prosecution has asked for sentences of from 12 to 20 years.
The trial is considered in political circles as Spain's biggest political court case since a military tribunal passed death sentences — later commuted by General Franco and long prison terms on a group of Basque separatists three years ago.
The present trial arose from a secret meeting of the National Co-ordinating Committee of the Workers' Commissions, an outlawed Marxist organisation which has been blamed by the government for many of Spain's recent strike movements.