Is Anyone Manipulating Spaniards Against Their Pope?
Whenever one thinks about Spain, the first thing that comes to mind is the steadfast commitment of the Spanish nation to the Christian faith and to the Roman Catholic pope in Rome. Since the days of Isabella of Castile and Fernando of Aragon Vatican could count on the Spanish kings to defend the pope’s claim as ruler of Western Christianity, challenged on various occasions by greedy or lustful princes all over Western Europe.
It was the Spanish kings that spread the word of God as the Roman Catholic Church teaches it to the entire New World after Cristopher Columbus set foot on the new continent.
In the name of the pope and “true religion,” Spanish conquistadores exterminated entire nations in the South American continent. Even the famous Maya calendar was discovered after the people that made it were killed at the order of Vatican.
It was a Spanish king, Charles Quintus, that first heard and prosecuted Martin Luther, the famous reformer who fought against the indulgences and the abuses of the clergy and created a secular Christian religion that clings to the word of the Bible, and rejects any other form of authority in the Church.
It was from Spain that came the man who founded the feared Inquisition, with the sole intention of fighting against heresy and maintaining the purity of faith, the purity taught by the Roman Catholic Church that is.
Inquisition is probably one of the darkest chapters in the life of Western European Middle Ages and modern age, and the Inquisition in Spain was the most diligent of them all.
Soon after the European revolutions in the middle of the 19th century, pope’s claim to be the spiritual ruler of Western Europe collapsed under the new ideologies inspired by the French revolution in 1789, which had a very anti-clergy tendency.
One by one, the pope in Rome lost all the territories including the territory of Italy, where the Papal States were lost to the revolutionary Italy in the second half of the 19th century.
Ever since, Vatican, which is also a state like any other in the world, has concluded a series of agreements with the newly created European states, called “concordats,” by which Vatican made sure that the Roman Catholics in those countries were respected their right to profess religion and to keep the church patrimony.
The first Concordat with Spain was concluded in 1851, between Vatican and Queen Isabella II, by which the Church retained its privileges. The concordat was abolished by the second republic in 1931.
Vatican concluded a second Concordat in 1951, during the regime of Franco, and its signing meant a serious move toward exiting the isolation the regime was subjected to by the international community.
Vatican obtained some privileges by this concordat, the most important of them being the exemption from government taxation, the state funding and other privileges. In exchange, Vatican offered the regime the patronato real, that is a privilege the kings had in Spain to appoint clerical figures, which shows the closeness of the ties between the two sides.
The relation between the state and the clergy in Spain remained as described by this concordat, and no conflicts emerged in all this period. At least not the size of the sexual scandals in Ireland, or in the United States.
That is why the visit to Madrid of the pope in Rome, Benedict XVI, should have been seen as a homecoming for the bishop of Rome who is visiting his faithful in the kingdom of the kings Vatican could always count on.
He was received like a head of the state by the king of Spain, Don Juan II, and his wife Sofia, and by the Spanish authorities, who were honored to meet him on their territory.
He was also well received by the young Roman Catholic people, who think that the pope’s presence at the World Youth Day is giving them hope in a time of trouble.
But there were some clashes between the police and protestors who were against the visit of the pope to their country. Thousands were said to have participated in a protest in Madrid on Wednesday night, under the slogan “Nothing of the money I pay should go to the pope.”
When the people protested in England it was understandable. England is a Protestant country and its ties with Vatican have been cut off since the days of Henry VIII, when the pope took the side of the Spanish king against the English one, which prompted the English monarchy to break off with Vatican.
Besides, in the United Kingdom the pope had to offer some excuses to the people whose families had to suffer because of the sexual scandals in which priests of the Roman Catholic Church were involved.
The pope was received somewhat coldly in England last year, but the question was not necessarily about how much money the visit was worth. And there were no riots in England because of the pope.
Spain is going through a very serious economic crisis right now, but to place the blame on the pope in Rome is all the more reason one must ask the question: Is someone manipulating the Spaniards against their pope?
It doesn’t make any sense. The visit of the pope, better put the meeting of the pope with the Christian youths in Madrid is supposed to be a very positive news for Spain, whose image could be projected all over the world and in the hearts of the people who attend.
Besides, it has been accounted that the visit of the pope is an immense tourist opportunity. The people who come to Spain consume, thus they leave money to their Spanish hosts.
The most skeptical say that the visit of the pope will at most produce the same amount of money it consumes. So, what is the problem? Why were the Spanish youths protesting against the visit of their supreme spiritual leader accusing him of taking the food out of their mouth?
Is it because they are manipulated by someone, be that the brutal propaganda on every media or some more targeted manipulation, or is the pope really too costly to afford? Is it possible that the pope of Rome may have lost support in Spain or is it just a bunch of people who are not even referential for the rest of the Spanish nation?
Is it not a little strange that the pope has become more welcomed in Orthodox countries like Romania, or Greece, or maybe even Russia, than he is in the traditionally Roman Catholic countries?
The reality of the matter is that it is not the pope who brought Spain into the economic disaster in which it finds itself right now. Like in all countries that suffer from economic crisis, it is rather the domestic corruption and incompetence, or an economy built on international support from the rest of the European Union that is to blame.
Spain was considered a “miracle,” and economic miracle that is, but when the crisis began affecting the countries that supported Spain, its economic shortcomings began to show.
So how is pope’s not coming to Spain going to spare Spaniards from the imminent economic bailout?
It is true that an Eastern Orthodox or a Protestant could argue that it was not according to the teaching of the church that a bishop of the church place too much of financial stress on the flock he is leading, even though the Apostle Paul demands that “he who serves the altar share in what is offered at the altar” (1 Corinthians 9:13)
But if one is to get theological about it, to say that no money of yours should go to the pope is just as immoral and against the Scripture’s word, if one is a Catholic faithful, as the luxury the papacy has accustomed its faithful to through the centuries.
Apart from accusing the pope of spending their money, an accusation never brought against different “stars” that waste tons of money, private money it is true, with their concertos and disgraceful displays, the young Spanish people demanded the separation between Church and the state.
It is definitely the problem of the Spanish state to determine how close it wishes to be intertwined with the Church, as it is the right of the Church to determine if a close relation with the state is beneficial, provided that all the faults of the state could be transferred on the Church’s reputation, that is expected to be blameless.
But the question stands: Who was instigating the young Spaniards to demand the separation between state and church? Could this be a topic in Spain, when young people congregate and spend their spare time in clubs and on the beaches? Do they speak about the pros and cons of the relation between state and the church? Or is someone putting ideas into their minds? And if so, who is it? Or is it that the Spaniards are unhappy with that provision of the Concordat that exempts the clergy from taxes? But if that is the case, shouldn’t this situation be fixed with the local authorities?
That the gay community blames the pope for the fact that the Bible condemns their way of life deserves no further discussion.
No one is implying that Spaniards are stupid and need someone to manipulate them in order to receive the pope the way they did in Madrid. It only comes a little unnatural for a country that has intricately linked its entire existence to the one of the see on which Benedict XVI sits to have people who would fight with the police because the pope is coming.
It is as if by any chance Dalai Lama had a possibility to go to Tibet, and in stead of being treated by Tibetans with the reverence he is expected to be treated with the Tibetan would chase him away, telling him to leave so that the Chinese don’t get angry with them and stop giving them money.
And finally, if no one is manipulating the people, should this be a serious wake up call for the Vatican that a new wave of Protestantism is coming onto it, and that it is quickly losing its grasp on strongholds no one ever thought would act against him this brutally?
Bottom line is that some of the Spanish people oppose the visit of another head of state to their country. Would they oppose a visit of Barack Obama, which must be at least as costly as the pope’s?11