“It has been a very inspiring conversation. I have been able to verify how the same values of dialogue, solidarity and helping those who have more difficulties inspire us”. It is the summary made by the Minister of the Presidency, Félix Bolaños, of his meeting of about 50 minutes with Pope Francis. On the table have been the matters of interest in relations between the State and the Catholic Church, which are confined to the three commissions that were set in motion with the arrival of the Socialists in Moncloa: one for the registration of assets, another for issues prosecutors and a third on Obra Pía. Bolaños has given practically no details of his conversation on these matters, beyond assuring that they continue to advance, and on the sexual abuse committed within the Church, he has limited himself to saying that the Pope has transmitted his “concern” to him. that it generates “It is very important that the Church collaborate with that commission,” said Bolaños, who has not clarified, however, if it is the message that he has transferred to the pope or if it is the message that he leaves to the bishops in the press conference that he offered after the audience at the Spanish embassy before the Holy See, which is now represented by former minister Isabel Celáa.
“This is a matter of concern to His Holiness. We have exchanged some opinion in relation to how important it is to protect the victims and that all the decisions that are adopted are measures to protect the people who were victims of crimes”, explained Bolaños before recalling that in Spain it has begun “ a way of working so that the facts can be clarified”. “The Church must be aware of the importance of clarifying the facts,” said the minister responsible for the Government’s relationship with religious orders at a time when the Episcopal Conference refuses to collaborate with the investigation that is being launched by the Ombudsman, Ángel Gabilondo.
“We have talked about the relationship with the Episcopal Conference, about the working groups that are working well, that are making progress. We have not gone into too much detail and we have valued the agreements that we have reached and that we intend to reach in the future,” Bolaños said, referring to the three commissions that he reactivated in September to analyze “the situation of the assets registered by the Church Catholic, the tributary regime and the Pious Work of Rome”. Of all of them, the only one that has borne fruit so far is that of the registrations incorrectly carried out by the bishops, but for now there is no trace of the Government’s intention that they pay IBI for buildings not dedicated to worship, despite the fact that Francisco I has been favorable.
“There will be points of divergence but the important thing is to dialogue, to exchange criteria”, said the minister, who has assured that “dialogue is a hallmark” of the Government and that the pope “has been pleased that the path of dialogue is continuous”. They have spoken, as he has said, of “general politics”, but he has denied that issues such as abortion or euthanasia have been part of the conversation.
Bolaños wanted to make clear the Government’s harmony with Francisco I, who received Pedro Sánchez in October 2020 and the second vice president, Yolanda Díaz, in December 2021. He exchanged a “cordial” greeting with former vice president Carmen Calvo in 2019, a year after the then head of the Presidency traveled to the Vatican to meet with the Secretary of State, Pietro Parolin, with whom she discussed, among other issues, the exhumation of Franco from the Valley of the Fallen at a time when the Spanish Church He did not make the road easy. The audience with Bolaños was requested by Ambassador Isabel Celaá as soon as she arrived at the Holy See and she was informed of the acceptance a month ago.
The socialist minister has tried to settle any controversy over the pontiff’s state of health: “I have seen him fit to continue with his pontificate.” “Pope Francis has told me that he was recovering [ha dicho sobre el problema de rodilla que le impide ponerse en pie, como se aprecia en la fotografía que ilustra esta información]. I see him with a strength and an ability to continue with his pontificate beyond any doubt. He is very committed to the work he is doing and to the reform process to bring the church closer to the citizenry.”
Bolaños, about the pope: “He is a good man”
And it is that, in addition to highlighting that the Government and the pope share the “same values”, Bolaños has insisted that “he is a figure that transcends the Catholic Church, of borders” and has praised the role he is carrying out and that arouses suspicion in the most conservative circles: “His papacy is bringing the Church closer to the people and, above all, what has impressed me the most is that he is a good man and when the world is governed by good people, it is better for everyone” . The socialist minister has thus made clear his affinity towards Francisco I, whom he wishes to continue in the post for many more years, as he has said that he has transferred to him upon receiving the medal of his ninth pontificate, one of the gifts he has received, in addition of some encyclicals.
Bolaños, for his part, has given him an illuminated copy of an excerpt from the Cantigas de Santa María, whose reproduction has been made by students of the National Heritage Artistic Bookbinding Workshop School. He has also given him saffron from Villafranca de los Caballeros (where he has roots and has taken the opportunity to say that it is the “best in the world”), two bottles of olive oil from two cooperatives in Jaén and bananas grown on the island of La Palm.