That elderly German priest has been back for another of his occasional holidays in Spain. Despite getting a luxury all expenses paid trip to Santiago de Compostela and Barcelona, it seems he has been a bit critical about the Spanish. Not religious enough apparently, but we already knew that. Benedicto sees things as being a bit more serious, going so far as to compare the situation now in Spain with that which existed in the 1930's before the Civil War. You have to say he has a point, the way in which the Catholic hierarchy in Spain consistently sides politically with the right is very reminiscent of those days, although I have the feeling that's not quite what he meant.
Instead he warned his listeners about the agressive laicity that seems to be rampant in modern Spain. Take, for example, the Spanish state which is so anti-church that the national tax agency collects most of that institution's income directly from taxpayers so that the priests don't have to pass the plate around. Then of course there is the massive influx of public money into schools run by the church. In addition all of us get to pay the salaries of religious education teachers. Some estimates put the figure at around €6,000 million worth of fanatical anticlerical funding of the church and related institutions. We have to suppose, given the complaints by his infallible holiness, that it's not enough and that Vatican S.L. is hungry for more. Judging by the disappointing attendance at this weekend's events, what might be needed is a bit of extra money to persuade people to turn up and cheer next time he comes. It will be Madrid in 2011.