Catalan independence movements violate church teaching, says Spanish cardinal

Catholics who stand behind movements calling for the independence of Catalonia from Spain are violating the teachings of the Church, a Spanish cardinal said weeks ahead of the Dec. 21 elections on the issue.

(REUTERS / Juan Medina)People wave Esteladas (Catalan separatist flags) during celebrations in Sant Jaume square in Barcelona. October 30, 2017.

In a commentary published by Spanish daily La Razon on Nov. 29, Cardinal Antonio Canizares Llovera of Valencia said that although the Catholic Church acknowledged the people's right to use democracy to change the political order, claiming "independence unilaterally" goes against its teachings.

"In democratically constituted nations, there can be no moral legitimacy for unilateral secession," Cardinal Canizares said.

He added: "When certain nations are linked by historical, cultural and political ties to other nations within the same state, it cannot be said that these nations necessarily enjoy a right to political sovereignty. Nations, considered in isolation, do not enjoy an absolute right to decide."

In addition, the Spanish cardinal compared the Catalan independence movement to an "idolatry that gravely undermines the moral order."

The Catalan Parliament unilaterally declared its independence from Spain last October after a vote, which prompted the Spanish prime minister to dissolve Catalonia's government. This month's regional election intends to fill all the spots in the dissolved Parliament.

Meanwhile, eight detained former Catalan cabinet members appeared before the Spanish supreme court to ask for their release from jail ahead of the elections. They also pledged lawful behavior and reportedly turned their backs on the Catalan independence movement, The Guardian detailed.

The eight former officials were imprisoned on Nov. 2 over charges of sedition, rebellion, and misappropriation of funds in connection with the Catalan independence declaration. Judge Pablo Llarena asked them a number of questions and said the decision on their request would be revealed on Dec. 4.

The imprisonment of the Catalan separatist leaders has stirred outrage among pro-independence supporters. The region's deposed president, Carles Puigdemont, and other former ministers have since fled to Belgium after the independence declaration and are waiting for their possible extradition to Spain.