WITH Church and State authorities in Spain clashing over three key issues, the Vatican Secretariat of State is becoming
pessimistic about the chances of revising the concordat it made with Spain in 1953.
In recent months, ChurchState relations have deteriorated sharply following differences over the State's right to nominate new Bishops, the use of local languages such as Catalan in the liturgy and the rights of workers.
The situation makes it more difficult than ever for Mgr. Antonio Riberi, the Vatican's nuncia in Spain, to convince General Franco to surrender his right to nominate new Bishops. According to Church authorities, this is an obvious corollary from the Vatican Council's new teaching on Church-State relations.
Spain, however, does not want to be the first to yield its long-standing privileges, In representations to the Holy See, Ministers have argued that if General Franco were
to give up his right to veto the appointment of Bishops likely to oppose the regime, then the Holy See in return ought to advise all Catholics in Spain to support the regime.
AUTONOMY CALL Mgr. Riberi's prospects of success in this and other areas of discord have been dimmed by the recent outbursts in the industrial Catalan cities of Barcelona and Valencia, where demonstrators have been calling for regional autonomy, In Valencia, several priests and laymen have been campaigning for use of their regional language, Valencian, a variant of Catalan, in the liturgy. But Archbishop Olacchqa has refused, claiming that the request had a political character shown by secretly distributed tracts which point out that he comes from outside the province and was nominated by General Franco.
In Barcelona, Catholics have been protesting against the nomination of Archbishop Gonzalez Martin as coadjutor with the right of succession.
The city's walls have been daubed "We want Catalan Bishops". On February 27 a group of Catalan intellectuals wrote to the Archbishop asking him to renounce his nomination.
As this letter had no effect, 25 priests of the Barcelona Archdiocese wrote another on March 7, telling him that his nomination had been a profound disappointment.
Because it had been approved by Genera! Franca, they said, it seemed to indicate that Vatican II had had no effect and that the Church had once more sold itself to the comfortable system of privileges.
This feeling, they added, was especially prevalent among the working classes. And they felt the Church would benefit if the Archbishop would denounce the system of Government nominatiing Bishops.
They were still waiting for a reply, when on March 11 the police broke into the Capuchin friary and Sarria, near Barcelona, and drove out the 500 university students who had met there to set up a free students' union to replace the one controlled by the Government. The police arrested 29.
The Falange journal Arriba then attacked the Capuchins for having given hospitality and protection to rebel students who staged an illegal political meeting against the regime.
In the following days hundreds of Barcelona university students, sometimes headed by young priests, demonstrated in the streets and in the Pompeja church where they sang songs exalting democracy, liberty and Catalonia.
To the Spanish Government this means a threat of regional separatism, and it is abetted, they feel, by the Vatican Council's liturgical decree approving local languages.
Other conciliar provisions, such as the right to form independent unions and strike, the recommendations on ChurchState relations, and the whole
anti-authoritarian conciliar spirit are equally unwelcome to the regime.