The Permanent Commission of the Spanish Episcopal Conference (SEC) presented the draft of the General Decree on the Protection of Minors, which the Bishops requested from the Holy See in April 2019, to be able to legislate on the whole territory of the Conference, becoming the world’s first Episcopal Conference to request the Document from the Vatican.
Monsignor Fernando Arguello, Secretary-General of the Episcopal Conference, made it known this morning, September 26, 2019, during a press conference at the end of the Permanent Commission’s works, which took place on September 24 and 26.
Approval in the Plenary Assembly
The Spanish Bishops communicated last April, that they requested the Holy See for a “special mandate to promulgate a General Decree for the entire Church in Spain, on the processes regarding the sexual abuses on minors.” Now the Spanish Bishops have presented the draft in the Permanent Commission; they hope to approve it this coming November during the Plenary Assembly that the Episcopal Conference will hold that month.
Monsignor Fernando Arguello gave details of the draft during a press conference. “We have received from the Holy See the indication that in this normative, or in this General Decree, we are disposed to include the so-called vademecum that the Holy See will publish, we hope, in the coming weeks.”
So the Vatican requested the SEC to incorporate it to the work it has been doing, “to be able to comply with what the Pope himself has requested us in the Instruction, which he has given for the whole Church, called You Are the Light of the World.” In it, he gives a deadline to all the Episcopal Conferences, as well as Ecclesiastical Provinces, to implement the guidelines regarding this matter,” said Monsignor Arguello.
Although from the point of view of the procedures, the General Decree has not been “formally approved” by the Holy See, “it’s already useful because the reflection that is done in the exchanges we do in this Permanent Commission, the material worked on, has already been given to the Lord Bishops, as it was offered in our previous meetings and this, undoubtedly, has already served as orientation, as criteria,” explained Monsignor Arguello.
The Secretary-General added that it’s “true that it’s not something normative, but it is directional for the action of different realities of the Church in Spain.”
Exhumation of Franco
After the judgment of the Spanish Supreme Court on September 26, 2019, with which it endorsed Franco’s exhumation from the Valley of the Fallen, Monsignor Arguello said that the SEC respects “the decision of the Spanish Authorities” and, therefore, they are not opposed “to the exhumation of General Franco.”
Moreover, the Court rejected the family’s intention to bury him in the crypt of the Cathedral of Almudena, where they own a sepulcher, and it is yet to be seen where the mortal remains of the deceased leader will be buried.
The Pope’s Trip to Spain
In the press conference, Monsignor Arguello invited not to lose the spirit of reconciliation and he referred to the attitude of the Prior of the Valley of the Fallen in regard to the possible exhumation. “The Prior said that he would listen to what his Superiors have to say to him.” The Secretary-General stressed that this matter is the competence of the Authorities and the family and that the Benedictines’ actions are the competence of the Abbot General of the Community.
Given the possibility of a papal trip to Spain, Monsignor Arguello said the Spanish Episcopal Conference has formally invited the Pope and a Spanish Bishop has invited him informally. “We trust that the Pope will be able to come,” but there is yet no official confirmation from the Vatican, he added.
Congress of the Laity
The Permanent Commission has received information on the preparations for the Congress of the Laity, People of God “Going Forth,” which will be held from February 14-16, 2020. Some 2,000 people are expected to attend, said the Monsignor.
For the time being, the dioceses are organizing meetings to work jointly on the preparative materials written by the Organizing Team. Subsequently, the conclusions will be sent to the SEC, which will be useful as working tools in the National Congress of Madrid.
Meeting of Bishops of the Mediterranean
In regard to the National Congress, Monsignor Arguello announced the appointment of five Bishops, who will represent the SEC at the Meeting of Bishops of the Mediterranean, which will take place in Bari from February 19-23, 2020, promoted by the Italian Episcopal Conference. Those that will attend are Cardinal Ricardo Blazquez, Cardinal Juan Jose Omella, Monsignor Jesus Catala, Monsignor Rafael Zornoza and Monsignor Adolfo Gonzalez.
The Permanent Commission has studied the new Organization Chart of the Spanish Episcopal Conference. An ad hoc Commission has done this work, together with the Directors of the Secretariats of the different Episcopal Commissions. After this revision by the Permanent Commission, the new Organization Chart will go to the Plenary Assembly, which will be held from November 18-22, 2019.