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Blaverism and the Catholic Church

1 - A brilliant tradition of the Valencian Church in its own language

Saint George
Appearance of Saint George at the Battle of the Puig (Horta Nord, 1237)

The restoration of the Catholic Church in the Valencian Country, hand in hand with James I's reconquest, went hand in hand with the birth of the Valencian Country as such. Let's not forget that the reconquest of the old Kingdom of València had the rank of a crusade, and that at the time we are talking about, the beginning of the 13th century, Christianity marked all aspects of human life.

Thus, the Catholic Church played an important role in the birth of the Valencian Country as we understand it. And above all, we must highlight the participation of the Catholic Church of Catalonia in the process of the creation of the Kingdom of València. Let us not forget that the first bishop of the reconquered Diocese of València, the Dominican Andreu d'Albalat, was Catalan. And in fact, well into the s. XV, all the bishops of the diocese of València were Catalan (except the Aragonese Arnau de Peralta and Jaume d'Aragó, born in València).

Ramon Gastó
Ramon Gastó, Catalan bishop of Valencia who died in 1348

Let us not forget either the monasteries, so important at that time, which in many cases had civil power, as feudal lords. Likewise, in many cases as well, the monasteries were in charge of directing and organizing the repopulation process of the Valencian Country. It so happens that the most important monasteries in our land were founded by Catalans and, at least originally, had a close relationship with Catalonia. Thus, the monastery of the Puig (Horta Nord) stands out, founded by the Catalan founder of the Mercedarian order, Saint Pedro Nolasco in 1237. And above all the monastery of Valldigna (la Safor), founded in 1298 by the abbot of the Catalan monastery of Santes Creus, friar Bononat de Vilaseca, and who was always linked to that Catalan monastery.

Monastery in Valldigna
Cistercian monastery of Santa Maria de la Valldigna (Safor, 13th century)

Here we come across the first anti-Blaverist argument: If a different language was spoken in València then, why were all these Catalan religious newcomers understood?

As for the own language, although the liturgy and the most important documents of this period were in Latin, the Valencian Church of the reconquered kingdom paid special attention to its own language, and in many cases was a leader in its defense, usage and spread.

We must remember that medieval literature in Catalan language is basically religious. And if we keep in mind that the Valencian Country starts in the 14th century and that the entire 15th century was the most important period, we dare to affirm that the best Valencian literature of this time is religious. We thus have leading figures in the own language. In the 14th century, the Franciscan Francesc Eiximenis (from Girona but who lived in Valencia for nearly thirty years, where he wrote his best works) stands out above all. The work of this Franciscan in his own language is simply monumental. His most important work, Lo Crestià, is a vast Summa Theologica project in his own language (and we remember that this type of work was the maximum expression of medieval knowledge) of which he wrote 2592 chapters.

Regiment de la Cosa Pública
Francesc Eiximenis on the cover of the 1499 edition of his work "Regiment de la Cosa Pública" (Government of the Republic)

The other most important figure of the 14th century, the Dominican Saint Vincent Ferrer (son of a father from Girona as well, and on his mother's side grandson of Catalans as well), carried out an important preaching activity, which despite being oral, has been preserved in transcriptions of his sermons (or parts of his sermons). Altogether we have nearly 300 sermons that constitute an amazing combination of popular talk and theological knowledge. This Valencian saint, in terms of love for his own language, also exercised an important preaching activity throughout the European continent, and they say that wherever he went, he always preached in his own language (the fact that he was understood everywhere was considered then a miracle).

Samples of religious literature in the own language in medieval València also cover several areas. And the number of figures that stand out is equally important: The Poor Clare Isabel de Villena, the Augustine Bernat Oliver or the Dominican Antoni Canals, together with the ones we have already mentioned, would be the glory of any literature, apart from many names and works that we leave behind for not becoming too wordy. And even laymen such as Ausiàs Marc, or authors not totally dedicated to religious literature, such as Joan Roís de Corella, have a strong religious and even theological stamp on their work.

Finally, to give an idea of the acceptance at that time of the own language by the Valencian Catholic Church, we will highlight four specific facts:

  1. The first printed work in València (and also in the Iberian Peninsula), the Trobes en lahors de la Verge Maria, is a collection of poems that praise the Immaculate Conception. It is therefore religious literature, and also made by laymen, which denotes the implication of the own language in the Catholic Valencian Church of that time.
  2. In the 14th century, the Dominican Guillem Anglés translated the Roman Canon that was used in the s. XIV to the own language.
  3. Since the 15th century, it is celebrated in Elx its famous "Mystery" in the own language, which is an Assumptionist mystery that seems to imitate what was done in the Cathedral of València.
  4. The oldest printed translation of the Bible in a Romance language was stamped in València in 1478, the Bible of the Carthusian monk Bonifaci Ferrer (brother of Saint Vincent).

2 - Later Castilianization

This brilliant tradition came to an end, as the progressive Hispanizing pressure progressed in the Valencian society during the 16th and later centuries.

As for the ecclesiastical level, let us remember that from the 16th century onwards there have been practically no Valencian bishops in the diocese of València, and they were all, either Aragonese, or above all Castilian. The Castilianizing effect of bishop Juan de Ribera, Sevillian and architect of the expulsion of the Moors in 1609, is remarkable.

Battle of Almansa
Battle of Almansa (April 25, 1707)

The pressure was heightened after the Bourbon victory over the Austrian army in the War of the Spanish Succession, the advent of the centralist Bourbon dynasty, and the subsequent centralist and uniformizing "Nueva Planta" decrees, especially during the reign of Charles III. The Castilianization promoted by the different bishops, sent by the Bourbon kings, extended to the Valencian dioceses. The People continued to speak Valencian; but preaching and catechesis is implemented in Spanish.

We can observe this perfectly in the successive editions of the Valencian Rituals, which prescribe formulas for various non-liturgical religious acts, among them the wedding or the blessing, and which thus constitute a living example of popular religiosity. The one published in 1654 is still only in Valencian. The Mayoral Archbishop's Ritual of 1746, after the New Plant Decree, is already bilingual, although Valencian retains first place. The rituals published in 1811 and 1859, the latter in force until the Spanish Civil War of 1936, are still equally bilingual. By the way, we read a very correct Valencian, which destroys many Blaverist arguments about the non-Valencianity of certain words: Nosaltres, altra, així, rebre, aquest, seure, Església, menys, tenir, Esperit, segle, vós, etc.

Lastly, we will highlight two factors that underpin the present Castilianization of the Valencian Church. In the first place, in the Valencian Country, unlike Catalonia or the Balearic Islands, the Church was not actively involved in the Renaixença (movement for national recovery that took place in the Catalan Countries during the XIX century and the beginning of the XX century), or at least it did not contribute prominent figures, such as Torras i Bages or Verdaguer in Catalania; or Antoni M. Alcover or Costa i Llobera in the Balearic Islands.

Secondly, the Francoist Castilianizing pressure that followed was also felt in this area, in this sense, yes, in a similar way to Catalonia or the Balearic Islands.

3 - Second Vatican Council

It is known by anyone the profound renewal of ecclesial life that the Second Vatican Council entailed. It would be too long to explain now, and this is not the place. We are interested in highlighting an important and essential aspect. And as a result of this council, liturgy stopped being done in Latin and began to be done in the different languages of the world. In a broader way, we can say that after this council the Catholic Church assumed the different languages and cultures of the world as its own patrimony, as its own dimension of Catholicity and the universality of the Church. And by assuming them as its own, it assumed its defense. Correlatively, the defense of the different national groups existing in the world was assumed, all on equal terms, and without any prevailing over the other. This way, then, the defense of national minorities was assumed.

We find, however, certain precedents in the papacies of Pius XII and John XXIII:

Pius XII

1939 Christmas radio message "In particular, a point that should demand attention, if we want a better ordering of Europe, refers to the true needs and just demands of nations and peoples, as well as of ethnic minorities" (A.A.S. XXXII, 11).

1941 Christmas radio message "In the field of a new order founded on moral principles there is no place for the open or covert oppression of the cultural and linguistic peculiarities of national minorities, for the hindrance or reduction of their own economic capacity, for the limitation or abolition of their natural fertility" (A.A.S. XXXIV, 16, 17).

1955 Christmas radio message "National life is, by itself, the operating set of all those values of civilization that are proper and characteristic of a certain group, of whose spiritual unity they constitute the link. [...] National life did not become the principle of dissolution of the community of peoples, but when it began to be used as a means of political ends; that is, when the dominating and centralist State made nationality the base of its expansion force."


Pacem in Terris encyclical. 1963

95. "It is quite clear that any attempt to check the vitality and growth of these ethnic minorities is a flagrant violation of justice; even more if such perverse efforts are aimed at their very extinction."

96: "Indeed, the best interests of justice are served by those public authorities who do all they can to improve the human conditions of the members of these minority groups, especially in what concerns their language, culture, ancient traditions, and their economic activity and enterprise."

We will now focus on what two important documents of the Second Vatican Council say (which ended with Paul VI already being Pope), to see to what extent such a defense was assumed.

Lumen Gentium constitution "Since the kingdom of Christ is not of this world (Cf. Jn. 18:36) the Church or people of God in establishing that kingdom takes nothing away from the temporal welfare of any people. On the contrary it fosters and takes to itself, insofar as they are good, the ability, riches and customs in which the genius of each people expresses itself. Taking them to itself it purifies, strengthens, elevates and ennobles them. The Church in this is mindful that she must bring together the nations for that king to whom they were given as an inheritance, (Cf. Ps. 2:8) and to whose city they bring gifts and offerings. (Cf. Ps. 71 (72):10; Is. 60:4-7; Rev. 21:24) This characteristic of universality which adorns the people of God is a gift from the Lord Himself. By reason of it, the Catholic Church strives constantly and with due effect to bring all humanity and all its possessions back to its source In Christ, with Him as its head and united in His Spirit."

Gaudium et Spes constitution

54: "We can speak of a new age of human history. (Cf. John XXIII, encyclical letter Mater et Magistra: AAS 53 (1961), p. 417) New ways are open, therefore, for the perfection and the further extension of culture. These ways have been prepared by the enormous growth of natural, human and social sciences, by technical progress, and advances in developing and organizing means whereby men can communicate with one another. Hence the culture of today possesses particular features: sciences which are called exact greatly develop critical judgment; the more recent psychological studies more profoundly explain human activity; historical studies make it much easier to see things in their mutable and evolutionary aspects, customs and usages are becoming more and more uniform; industrialization, urbanization, and other causes which promote community living create a mass-culture from which are born new ways of thinking, acting and making use of leisure. The increase of commerce between the various nations and human groups opens more widely to all the treasures of different civilizations and thus little by little, it develops a more universal form of human culture, which better promotes and expresses the unity of the human race to the degree that it preserves the particular aspects of the different civilizations."

59: "As for public authority, it is not its function to determine the character of the civilization, but rather to establish the conditions and to use the means which are capable of fostering the life of culture among all even within the minorities of a nation. (Cf. Luke 2:14)"

Now we will focus on what Paul VI himself and his successor John Paul II have said in different places:

Paul VI

Populorum Progressio encyclical "Every country, rich or poor, has a cultural tradition handed down from past generations. This tradition includes institutions required by life in the world, and higher manifestations— artistic, intellectual and religious—of the life of the spirit. When the latter embody truly human values, it would be a great mistake to sacrifice them for the sake of the former. Any group of people who would consent to let this happen, would be giving up the better portion of their heritage; in order to live, they would be giving up their reason for living. Christ's question is directed to nations also: "What does it profit a man, if he gain the whole world but suffer the loss of his own soul? (Mt 16. 26)"

Message on the occasion of the 25th anniversary of UNESCO (November 5, 1971) "UNESCO has thus the vocation of working for the complete development of man, who is responsible for his destiny before his brothers and before history, and is called to solve the numerous antinomies with which he is confronted: multiplied cultural exchanges and preserved ancestral wisdom, expansion of a new culture and living faithfulness to the heritage of traditions, harmonization of the old classical culture and the new scientific and technical culture, multiplication of specialized disciplines and synthesis of knowledge, development of the inventive genius and flourishing of contemplation, symbiosis between the masses and the elites, legitimate autonomy of culture and respect for religious values. These fundamental questions (cf. Gaudium et Spes, n. 56) can be solved only by a common desire to respect and welcome the values that are the honour of cultures brought forth by mankind, in their very diversity: "Between civilizations, as between persons, sincere dialogue indeed creates brotherhood" (Populorum Progressio, n. 73)."

Synod of the bishops of Rome. 1971 "While we again affirm the right of people to keep their own identity". "Our action is to be directed above all at those people and nations which because of various forms of oppression and because of the present character of our society are silent, indeed voiceless, victims of injustice."

John Paul II

Speech at UNESCO (June 2, 1980) "The nation exists "by" and "for" culture, and thus it is the great educator of men so that they can "be more" in the community. (...) I am the son of a nation that has lived through the greatest experiences in history, that has been sentenced to death by its neighbors on several occasions, but that has survived and has continued to be itself. It has preserved its identity and, despite having been divided and occupied by foreigners, it has preserved its national sovereignty, not because it relied on the resources of physical force, but by relying exclusively on its culture. (...) I tell you: watch over, with all the means at your disposal, for this fundamental sovereignty that each nation possesses by virtue of its own culture. (...) Do not allow this fundamental sovereignty to become prey to any political or economic interest. Do not allow it to be a victim of totalitarianism, imperialism or hegemony, for which man only counts as an object of domination and not as a subject of his own human existence. (...) Aren't there, on the map of Europe and the world, nations that have a marvelous historical sovereignty stemming from their culture, and yet are deprived of their full sovereignty? (...) This sovereignty (...) must remain the fundamental criterion in the way of dealing with this important problem for mankind today, which is the problem of the means of social communication (...) they cannot be means of domination over others. (...) They must take into account the culture of the nation and its history."

Address to the Bishops of Zaire and others of Africa meeting in Kinshasa on May 3, 1980. "The end of this ministry is always evangelization. It is the same for all countries (...) In this regard, I have been able to observe the zeal, courage and cohesion that you have been able to show, to enlighten and guide your Christian people, when circumstances have demanded it. Because the test occasions have really not been lacking for you. (...) One of the aspects of this evangelization is the inculturation of the Gospel, the Africanization of the Church. Many of you have confided in me that you have this very much in your heart, and it is fair. This is part of the indispensable efforts to incarnate the message of Christ. The Gospel, certainly, is not identified with cultures and transcends them all. But the Kingdom that the Gospel announces is lived by men deeply linked to a culture; the construction of the Kingdom cannot ignore incorporating elements of human cultures (cf. Evangelii nuntiandi, 20) (...) Desire to be both fully Christian and fully African."

Answers to the questions that the young Japanese would address the Pope at Tokyo on February 24, 1981.

"Now then, you ask me, first of all, why I have now spoken in Japanese. I have done so, and intend to continue to do so in some circumstances, to show my respect for your culture which, like the culture of each nation, is expressed among other things (even more, above all) in the language. The language is a form that we give to our thoughts, it is like a dress in which we put these thoughts. The language contains some particular features of the identity of a people and of a nation. And, in a certain sense, the heart of this nation beats in it, because in the language, in the own language, is expressed what the human soul lives by in the community of a family, of the nation, of history.

I think of these problems in this way, basing myself on the experiences connected with my native language and with the life of my nation. (Here I can also add that before discovering in myself the priestly vocation, I began to study the philology and literature of my country, which made me deepen my relations with the subject that you have presented).

Finally, one more thing: Christ, when leaving his Apostles, when he finished his earthly activity, said to them: "Go... and teach all nations..." (Mt 28, 19). In order to do so, it is necessary to know the language of the nation to which we are addressing."

Slavorum Apostoli encyclical (June 2, 1985)

"19: The catholicity of the Church is manifested in the active joint responsibility and generous cooperation of all for the sake of the common good. The Church everywhere effects her universality by accepting, uniting and exalting in the way that is properly hers, with motherly care, every real human value. At the same time, she strives in every climate and every historical situation to win for God each and every human person, in order to unite them with one another and with him in his truth and his love.

All individuals, all nations, cultures and civilizations have their own part to play and their own place in God's mysterious plan and in the universal history of salvation."

Finally, it should be noted that all the documents that we have adduced can fully be considered documents of the magisterium (official doctrine) of the Catholic Church.

4 - Attempts to introduce the own language in the church in the pre-transition and transition

Given this state of affairs and the official Catholic doctrine in this regard, in the Valencian Country, as in the rest of the Catholic world, the process of adapting liturgical and ecclesiastical texts to the own language also began.

The first precedent is a Valencian Euchologion, a libretto to follow the mass made in Valencian by mosén Vicent Sorribes, back in the 1950s, when the Basque Salesian Marcelino Olaechea was the bishop of València, who prefaced the work.

Thus, already in 1970, the Valentino-Tarraconense Provincial Commission, following the new ordering of the Missal promulgated by Paul VI on April 3, 1969, made the Ordinary of the Mass in the Catalan language, with adaptations for the use of the Dioceses of València, Sogorb-Castelló and Oriola-Alacant, authorized by the respective bishops.

Subsequently, the then Archbishop of València, José María García Lahiguera, created on May 14, 1973 an Interdiocesan Commission for texts in the vernacular. The following people were part of this Commission:

  • Miquel Adlert i Nogueroles
  • Lluís Alcón Edo
  • Josep Almiñana Vallés
  • Miquel Anglada
  • Joan Antoni Belenguer Cerdá
  • Xavier Casp i Verger
  • Francesc Ferrer i Pastor
  • Avel.lí Flors i Bonet
  • Pere Llabrés
  • Francesc de Borja Moll
  • Josep Planells
  • Pere Riutort i Mestre
  • Ramón Rodríguez Culebras
  • Federico Sala
  • Manuel Sanchis Guarner
  • Vicent Sorribes i Gramage
  • Enric Valor i Vives
  • Mariano Villán Gómez
Sanchis Guarner
Manuel Sanchis Guarner

The Majorcan priest established in the Valencian Country Pere Riutort i Mestre (appointed by decree of the Archbishop of València on October 18, 1973) was elected as president. The work of this Commission culminated in the publication at the end of 1975 of the Llibre del Poble de Déu (Book of the People of God), a beautiful and very complete compilation of liturgical texts adapted to the Valencian variants. It must be said that for the publication and edition of this book, the aforementioned Pere Riutort had to sell some land that he had in Mallorca in order to pay for it. The approval of this book was surrounded by controversy from practically its beginnings, coinciding with the appearance of Blaverism in Valencian society, as we will analyze in later sections.

5 - The connections between Blaverism and Church in the transition

Abril Martorell
Fernando Abril Martorell

But as can be deduced if we look at the dates, all this coincided with the birth and emergence of Blaverism in Valencian society. In this sense, the Madrid centralist forces that promoted it realized the importance of having the Church under control for their purposes. This in the first place, because the Church is (and at that time even more so) very important as an institution in the Valencian Country, with a very high rate of religious practice. Secondly, because the Church and religious values can give spiritual strength and moral authority to any social movement, even more so if it is nationalist. We must bear in mind that most of the European nationalist movements have or have had behind them the support of the ecclesiastical institution: Scotland, Flanders, the Basque Country, Catalonia, Mallorca, Ireland, Quebec, etc. In the case of some nations that today have a State but have suffered long years of foreign occupation, such as Poland or Greece, we can say that it was the Church (Catholic in Poland and Orthodox in Greece) the institution that kept the flame and the national spirit during the long years of occupation. This is also in line with the doctrine of the magisterium of the Catholic Church that we have just explained, according to which the Church must always support ethnic minorities, and watch over their rights, thus following the Christian tradition of defending the weak against the oppressor.

In Madrid they noticed all this as we say. And nobody better than the main instigator of Blaverism in the transition: Fernando Abril Martorell. He himself was also a man who can be described as a practicing Catholic. And that is why he himself could not allow "his" institution to have the slightest trace of the Catalanism that he hated so much. And correlatively, he could not allow the Valencian Church to assume in a certain way the revindication of its own language and culture, since this would enormously favor the development of a proper nationalism, as it has happened in the European examples that we have mentioned.

Ferrando Badía
Juan Ferrando Badía"

If we also keep in mind that in the Valencian Country then, and still today, the people of the Church tend to be very right-wing, and the Valencian right-wing in the transition opted for anti-Catalanism, we can also deduce that a large part of the Blaverist actors of the transition were rather linked to the Catholic church: Juan Ferrando Badía, Emilio Attard, Casp and Adlert themselves (who, it must be said, have an important production of religious literature), Baltasar Bueno, etc. And even the clearest antecedent of Blaverism, Josep Maria Bayarri, apart from being a sculptor of religious works, lived his faith from the most rampant sanctimoniousness. More recently, the two main actors of Blaverism in recent times were still two people closely linked to the Catholic Church. On the one hand, Juan García Sentandreu, who has a brother, whose name is José, belongs to the ultra-Catholic group of the "Legionaires of Christ". On the other hand, his main recognized sponsor, Juan Lladró, who is said to belong to Opus Dei.

Added to all this is the outstanding participation of many ecclesiastic and religious people in the birth and spread of Blaverism. As we will see below, the first of all was one of the members of this Interdiocesan Commission for liturgical texts: Josep Alminyana Vallés. But the number of priests or religious people who at one time or another have participated in Blaverism is large: the Jesuit Joan Costa i Català, the Franciscan Benjamín Agulló, the Salesian Josep Boronat, Vicent Castell Maiques, the former canon of the cathedral of València Josep Climent, the former professor of Canon Law Antonio Molina Meliá, etc. (all already deceased). It is true that others have left this movement and later accepted the unity of the language, such as the former dean of the València Cathedral Ramon Arnau (also deceased).

Lladró and Giner
Juan Lladró and Fernando Giner

If all these ecclesiastics did this out of conviction or opportunism given how the transition was presented in the Valencian Country, it is something that remains in their consciences. In any case, and that is what we want to highlight, Blaverism in the Valencian Country in the transition (i.e. in its birth), was something in which many ecclesiastics and many people linked to the Church took part.

6 - The Blaverist pressure to avoid the introduction of the own language in the Valencian Church

As in all conflicts, and even more so when speaking of ecclesiastical issues, the origin must be found in human misery. In this case, it seems that the origin of everything would be in something as earthly as envy, which seems that it is what was felt by one of the members of this aforementioned Interdiocesan Commission, Josep Alminyana, towards its president, the Mallorcan Pere Riutort. It also seems that this ecclesiastic received the negative influence of Xavier Casp and Miquel Adlert, who, when appointed members of the Commission, had not yet opted for linguistic secessionism, but who gradually evolved towards it over the years, culminating in 1977, as we know.

The problems began even before the defection of this priest. Thus, at the end of 1975, some letters to the director appeared in the newspaper "Las Provincias" attacking the Llibre del Poble de Déu. These letters can thus be considered the first signs of anti-Catalanism in the transition in the Valencian Country.

Later, it was the aforementioned Josep Alminyana who began a campaign on his own, with the help of Jaume Sancho (canon of the cathedral of Valencia), sending letters to the parishes, in which he signed as "President of the Diocesan Commission of Sacred Litugy" , and where he disqualified the Llibre del Poble de Déu in every possible way, basically, of course, accusing it of being Catalanized. All of this, of course, was done behind the Interdiocesan Commission and the main defendant, Pere Riutort. The commotion was enormous, and at first, the bishop of Valencia temporized between the two opposing sides and did not take a clear position. It should also be said that the then Civil Governor of València, Enrique Oltra Moltó, President of the València Provincial Council, Ignacio Carrau, and Mayor of València, Miguel Ramón Izquierdo intimidated them in various ways to do so. All of them were of Francoist affiliation and all of them (especially Ignacio Carrau) actively participated in the birth and consolidation of Blaverism. In fact, Miguel Ramón Izquierdo was one of the founders of the Blaverist Unió Valenciana party, and for many years a leading figure in that party. All of them were also people of those that we have named, very right-wing and at the same time could be defined very much as Church men. And so Ignacio Carrau (already dead) ended up being a prominent member of the "Brotherhood of the Holy Chalice" of the València Cathedral.

Historical manipulation
Historical manipulation in the cathedral of València

The attacks on the Llibre del Poble de Déu and its main creator and supporter, Pere Riutort, continued by all means, with brave and determined responses from Pere Riutort, and also from the association "La Paraula Cristiana", a determined defender of the introduction of the vernacular language in the Valencian Catholic Church.

As the attacks carried out by this ultimately pro-Spanish side, enemy of the introduction of the own language in the Valencian Catholic Church, did not succeed, since they did not withdraw the official character of the Llibre del Poble de Déu, they changed tactics . And so, coinciding with the "official" appearance of linguistic secessionism, they also made some liturgical texts with Blaverist spelling, all in 1978. They thus made an Ordinary of the mass in the Valencian language, for priests, and its corresponding Libretto for the faithful; and some Christian prayers in the Valencian language. The edition of all of them was paid for by the València Provincial Council presided over by Ignacio Carrau, of whom we have already spoken. Following the linguistic disorder that characterized the Blaverist movement (and that still lasts), within the same year of 1978 they changed these texts up to 4 times! Especially delirious were their 4 different versions of the Lord's Prayer, the maximum prayer of the Catholic world and of which only one version for each language is usually accepted by the ecclesiastical authorities.

The problem is that the Archbishop of València was compliant with these texts, and thus, although they never had official approval, there was a tacit permissiveness. However, for the purposes of canon law, they did not take away the official status of the Llibre del Poble de Déu, approved by the Interdiocesan Commission and ultimately by the Holy See.

The attacks of the Blaverists to the introduction of the own language in the Valencian Church also continued along other paths. Thus, especially in the city of València, they carried out a sacrilogue act, such as interrupting the few Eucharists in the own language that were held in the city of València, insulting and even reaching violence. We have a contemporary testimony of the facts, this circular from the association "La Paraula Cristiana" on February 9, 1979, which is priceless:

"L’Associació Religiosa LA PARAULA CRISTIANA es veu en la necessitat de fer coneixedor al Poble Valencià el seu pensament sobre els esdeveniments succeïts en l’Església de la Companyia de Jesús de la ciutat de València els diumenges 21, 28 de gener i 4 de febrer de 1979. Pel qual motiu volem fer públic el que segueix.

La llengua vernacla del País Valencià és la mateixa que la de Catalunya i les Illes Balears, amb unes petites divergències dialectals. Aquesta veritat indiscutible en el camp de la Filologia ha fet que des de la reforma litúrgica del Vaticà II, es consideràs que els textos litúrgics en llengua vernacla, eren els mateixos per al País Valencià, les Illes Balears i Catalunya.

Grups minoritaris, que solen anar units a determinades formacions polítiques, han promogut campanyes d’una manera demagògica contra la recuperació cultural i idiomàtica de la nostra Pàtria Valenciana, fins a base de promoure confusió pel que respecta a la identitat de la llengua. Entre els diferents camps de l’actuació d’aquests grups es compta el de crear ortografies especials per a pura confusió. També s’ha arribat a base de les ortografies esmentades, fins i tot, a la confecció de textos litúrgics estranys i diferents dels textos oficials aprovats pre la Santa Seu i els Bisbes.

És conegut de tothom que al front de la confecció d’aquests textos no autoritzats estan alguns sacerdots que treballen en la Cúria Diocesana de l’Arxidiòcesi de València i que aquests textos NO han estat desautoritzats públicament per l’Arquebisbe de València Dr. Miguel Roca Cabanellas.

Fins ara aquests grups han llançat al públic l’Ordinari de la Missa per als sacerdots, novembre 1978, i el corresponent llibret per als fidels des del maig del mateix any.

Presumíem que aquests grups minoritaris introduïrien a les esglésies a base d’aquests textos dissidents l’animositat i esperit de discussió que ja feia temps estaven promovent en altres espais de la vida ciutadana, i açò, desgraciadament, ha succeït per primera vegada en l’església de la Companyia de Jesús de la ciutat de València, plaça de la Companyia. Els esdeveniments foren així.

Quan s’estava celebrant la Missa normal a base dels textos litúrgics aprovats –cosa que ja es feia des de més de 7 anys- el diumenge 21 de gener de 1979, irromperen unes 15 persones amb les seues protestes durant l’homilia que s’hagué de suspendre, cridant que es parlava “català” i no valencià. El mateix moment de la consagració no va ser respectat pre aquest grup reduït i els crits no cediren fins al final, amb el gran disgust dels fidels que els hagueren de recriminar contínuament la seua actuació i naturalment amb un deteriorament de l’esperit de caritat i dignitat de l’acte litúrgic quasi indescriptible. La base de la seua actuació es recolzava en que volien que s’usassen els textos litúrgics dissidents anteriorment al.ludits els quals els avalotadors mostraven a les mans.

El diumenge següent dia 28 es tornà a repetir l’assalt a la mateixa església dels jesuïtes i aquesta vegada amb més virulència i amb més nombre de provocadors. Els celebrants foren insultats d’una manera grollera i brutal. Se’ls va oir insults com aquests: “bandidos”, criminals, traïdors que celebreu la missa de Judes, venuts a l’or català, a la banca catalana, canalles, renegats, “beatos”, fills de...etc., etc. Tot dit amb gran aldarull. Durant la consagració s’arribà a oir en boca d’una dona: “ojalá es convertira en una serp i vos ofegara...”. La conducta i la correcció dels ministres de l’altar va ser exemplar en tot moment i ni tan sols respongueren als insults i ultratges. Com les coses prenien un caire molt violent s’hagué de cridar a la policia, que es va presentar al temple però digué que no podia fer res. Els fidels molt impressionats, fins al punt que a alguns hòmens i dones els caigueren les llàgrimes, demostraren una dignitat i una caritat verdaderament exemplar. Gràcies a això no va acabar tot en batalla campal. Finalitzada l’Eucaristia la xusma ixqué del temple amb gran aldarull, romanien al carrer mentre insultaven als fidels que eixien de l’església i que els havien recriminat la seua acció violenta i cerril. Entre els provocadors hi havia qui ostentava la insígnia del GAV.

Un membre de la nostra Associació es posà en contacte amb el Vicari General de l’Arxidiòcesi, D. Vicent Ferrando, a qui li féu conèixer els fets exposats; sembla que no està al seu abast posar remei al problema. El Sr. Arquebisbe, per la seua part, sembla que dubta de la veracitat dels documents emanats del seu antecessor i els altres bisbes valencians en els quals declararen com a oficials per a tot el Regne de València els textos elaborats per les comissions anomenades pels mateixos bisbes, Textos que a més, tenen la coresponent aprovació de la Santa Seu.

Així les coses i davant les contínues amenaces de bombes i escrits difamatoris anònims, naturalment, per tal d’evitar greus mals i irreparables, els superiors de la Residència de la Companyia de Jesús, amb gran dolor, hagueren de prendre la decisió de suspendre la missa.

El diumenge 4 de febrer, el següent al de l’esmentada supressió, els fidels que, com de costum, acudiren a l’Eucaristia es trobaren amb la desagradable sorpresa de veure les portes de l’església tancades i al carrer els avalotadors, aquell diumenge encara més nombrosos, disposats a protagonitzar un altre acte sacríleg. Un dels provocadors en assabentar-se que havia estat suspesa la missa, cridà amb gran gatzara: “Hem guanyat, ja no hi ha missa catalana. Ara a atres iglesies. Hui ha segut un dia de victòria, també el València ha empatat en Barcelona”. També foren insultats alguns fidels que esperaven en la plaça: “traïdors, renegats, etc.”.

Fa uns mesos grups semblants actuaren ja en l’església de Santa Caterina de la ciutat: la missa en valencià es va suspendre. En la ciutat de València es diuen unes 800 misses en castellà, de les quals no protesten aquests “valencianistas”; ara es veu que volen fer impossible la celebració de les 10 misses en llengua vernàcula que se celebren a la Ciutat. Davant d’aquest fet, contrari a la doctrina de l’Església i als principis de la vigent Constitució d’Espanya, l’Arquebisbe de València s’ha inhibit.

Voldríem els catòlics valencians trobar en el pastor diocesà unes paraules lúcides i clares, fonamentades en la Doctrina de l’Església i no subordinades als vaivens polítics, en allò que es refereix a la indefugible “encarnació” de l’Església Catòlica en el context històric, cultural, lingüístic del poble Valencià.

Sentim que una vegada més ha vençut la violència, la incultura i el terror contra la ciència, la racionalitat i el sentit més elemental dels Drets Humans. Un autèntic delicte contra la llibertat d’expressió, i els postulats mínims del cristianisme.

València 9 de febrer de 1979.


"The Religious Association LA PARAULA CRISTIANA feels the need to make known to the people of Valencia its opinion on the events that took place in the Church of the Society of Jesus in the city of Valencia on three consecutive Sunday: January 21, 28 and February 4, 1979. For this reason we want to make public the following statement.

The vernacular language of the Valencian Country is the same as that of Catalonia and the Balearic Islands, with some small dialectal differences. This indisputable truth in the field of Philology has made that since the liturgical reform of Vatican II, it was considered that the liturgical texts in vernacular language, were the same for the Valencian Country, the Balearic Islands and Catalonia.
Minority groups, which are usually linked to certain political formations, have promoted campaigns in a demagogic way against the cultural and idiomatic recovery of our Valencian homeland, even by promoting confusion regarding the identity of the language. Among the different fields of action of these groups, it is envisaged the creation of special orthographies for pure confusion. Also it has been reached on the basis of the mentioned orthographies the creation of strange liturgical texts that are different from the official texts approved by the Holy See and the Bishops.
It is well known that some priests working in the Diocesan Curia of the Archdiocese of Valencia are in charge of the preparation of these unauthorized texts and that these texts have NOT been publicly disavowed by the Archbishop of Valencia, Dr. Miguel Roca Cabanellas.
So far these groups have released to the public the Ordinary of the Mass for priests, November 1978, and the corresponding booklet for the faithful since May of the same year.
We presumed that these minority groups would introduce in the churches on the basis of these dissident texts the animosity and spirit of discussion that they had already been promoting for some time in other areas of civic life, and this, unfortunately, has happened for the first time in the church of the Society of Jesus in the city of Valencia. The events were like this.
When the normal Mass was being celebrated according to the approved liturgical texts -which had already been done for more than 7 years- on Sunday, January 21, 1979, about 15 people burst into the church with their protests during the homily, which had to be suspended, shouting that the priest was speaking "Catalan" and not Valencian. The very moment of the consecration was not respected by this reduced group and the shouting did not stop until the end, which created a great displeasure of the faithful who had to continually reproach them for their actions and naturally with an almost indescribable deterioration of the spirit of charity and dignity of the liturgical act. The basis of their action was based on the fact that they wanted the previously mentioned dissident liturgical texts to be used, which the rioters showed in their hands.
The following Sunday, the 28th, the assault on the same church of the Jesuits was repeated and this time with more virulence and with a greater number of provocateurs. The celebrants were insulted in a rude and brutal manner. They were heard saying insults such as: "bandits", criminals, traitors who celebrate the Judas mass, sold to the Catalan gold, to the Catalan banks, scoundrels, renegades, "blessed", sons of...etc., etc., etc. All said with great uproar. During the consecration it was heard in the mouth of a woman: "I wish it would turn into a snake and drown you...". The conduct and correctness of the altar ministers was exemplary at all times and they did not even respond to the insults and outrages. As things took a very violent turn it was necessary to call the police, who showed up at the temple but said they could do nothing. The faithful were very impressed, to the point that some men and women were moved to tears, they showed a truly exemplary dignity and charity. Thanks to this, the whole matter did not end in an open battle. After the Eucharist, the mob left the church in a great uproar, remaining in the street where they insulted the faithful who were leaving the church and who had reproached them for their violent and reckless action. Among the provocateurs there were people who wore the GAV insignia.
A member of our Association contacted the Vicar General of the Archdiocese, Mr. Vicent Ferrando, and made him aware of the exposed facts; it seems that it is not within his reach to give a solution to this problem. The Archbishop, for his part, seems to doubt the veracity of the documents issued by his predecessor and the other Valencian bishops in which they declared as official for the whole Kingdom of Valencia the texts elaborated by the commission named by the same bishops. Moreover, these texts have the corresponding approval of the Holy See.
In view of the continuous bomb threats and anonymous defamatory writings, naturally, in order to avoid serious and irreparable damage, the superiors of the Residence of the Society of Jesus, with great sorrow, had to take the decision to suspend this Mass in vernacular language.
On Sunday, February 4, the Sunday after the above-mentioned suppression, the faithful who, as usual, went to the Eucharist were unpleasantly surprised to see the doors of the church closed and the rioters, even more numerous that Sunday, on the street, ready to carry out another sacrilegious act. One of the provocateurs, upon learning that the mass had been suspended, shouted with great joy: "We have won, there is no more Catalan mass. Now we will go to other churches. Today has been a day of victory, Valencia C.F. has also tied in Barcelona". Some of the faithful waiting at the square were also insulted: "traitors, renegades, etc.".
A few months ago similar groups acted already in the church of Santa Caterina in the city center of Valencia: the mass in Valencian was suspended. In the city of Valencia about 800 masses are celebrated every day in Spanish, of which these "valencianists" do not protest; now it seems that they want to make impossible the celebration of the 10 masses in vernacular language that are celebrated in the City. Regarding this fact, contrary to the doctrine of the Church and to the principles of the current Constitution of Spain, the Archbishop of Valencia has inhibited himself.
The Valencian Catholics would like to find in the diocesan pastor some lucid and clear words, based on the Doctrine of the Church and not subordinated to the political ups and downs, with regard to the unavoidable "incarnation" of the Catholic Church in the historical, cultural, linguistic context of the Valencian people.
We feel that once again, violence, ignorance and terror have won against science, rationality and the most elementary sense of Human Rights. An authentic crime against the freedom of expression, and the minimum postulates of Christianity.
València February 9, 1979.

Miguel Roca Cabanellas
Miguel Roca Cabanellas, archbishop of València (1978-92)

As this circular implies, already in 1978 archbishop José María García Lahiguera left the archbishopric, when he reached the mandatory retirement age according to Canon Law, and was replaced by the Majorcan raised in Madrid since he was three years old Miguel Roca Cabanellas. As it can also be deduced from the circular, the position of this new archbishop was one of total ambiguity and lack of will to resolve this conflict. Some have even said that, given the initial violence of the Blaverist movement, this man became frightened, and so he once said in a low voice to a Valencian priest: "The thing is that if I accepted the Llibre del Poble de Déu, these people would hit me." Without any doubt, if the martyrs of the early years of Christianity had thought this way, they would not have existed, and Christianity would not have developed. As it is also evident that this position could only favor precisely the detractors of the aforementioned Llibre del Poble de Déu, those that Mons. Roca was afraid that they would hit him.

Unfortunately, this attitude is nowadays very normal among the Valencian clergy. And while it is condemnable in principle, it is also true that not everyone is required to be a martyr.

A similar attitude was held by the Spanish Episcopal Conference. Perhaps for this reason, perhaps because as we said at the beginning, it was strongly convenient for the state forces that the Catholic Church would not get involved in claiming the language, culture and nation of the Valencians, they say that the then president, the also Valencian Vicent Enrique y Tarancón, stated verbatim: "The so-called Catalanists are right, but it is convenient to agree with the others".

Vicente Enrique y Tarancón
Adolfo Suárez y Vicente Enrique y Tarancón

They say that even the Roman ecclesiastical hierarchy encountered serious problems in making the Valencian clerics comply with their obligation to introduce their own language, so much was the fear they had and so much were they mediated by the Spanish statist forces, starting with the Spanish Episcopal Conference. They say that the late Australian cardinal James Knox said that the Valencian case was the most problematic in the entire Catholic world in terms of the introduction of the own language within the Church.

7 - Final result: the worrying current Castilianization of the Valencian Church

Roca Cabanellas, then, took a very ambiguous and cowardly attitude. The liturgical texts made in Blaverist orthography continued to be recognized, and the official position, which still persists with nuances, was that "since there are two positions, the Church cannot take sides with either of them." Brave way to be a coward.

A good example of this is canon 752 of the Synod Constitutions of 1987, where in the section on "The Church and Culture" (Chapter III, Book IV), we read this: "...Christian service to the society in which we live demands that the Church maintains an active and delicate respect for legitimate opinions on cultural identity, on linguistic heritage, and this synod wishes that none of its expressions were understood as a supporter of any of these opinions. Even more, it asks everyone for an effort and approximation and understanding for the benefit of the language and culture of the Valencians...".

María Consuelo Reyna
María Consuelo Reyna

Likewise, meanwhile, the Blaverists from their newspaper "Las Provincias" (beginning with its director at the time, María Consuelo Reyna Doménech, and her unethical style of doing journalism) continued to attack all attempts that were made to introduce the vernacular language into the Catholic Church and all the ecclesiastics or seculars linked to the Catholic Church that they considered "Catalanists", in their aggressive and dishonest style. Which, of course, further intimidated those responsible for the Valencian archdiocese.

In the 1990s, we can even say that things got worse in the whole of the Valencian dioceses, with the accession to the archbishopric of València of Agustín García Gasco from Toledo, and to the diocese of Castelló of Joan Antoni Reig Pla from Cocentaina.

In the presentation that we have made, we have perhaps focused too much on the diocese of València, since it is where the most serious events occurred and it is the seat of the archdiocese and where the most important decisions are made. We will now recapitulate and talk about what happened in the other two Valencian dioceses:

  1. In the diocese of Oriola-Alacant, after the negative bishopric of mons. Barrachina, who prohibited the teaching of Catalan in the Seminary, and the improvement brought about by the arrival of mons. Francisco Álvarez, a minimum of linguistic respect has been reached since the Aragonese bishop Victorio Oliver took office.
  2. In the diocese of Sogorb-Castelló, on the other hand, the bishoprics of the Catalans Josep Maria Pont i Gol and Josep Cases Deordal laid the foundations for a certain ecclesial linguistic normalization. It is also true that they encountered some reluctance of a part of the Castelló clergy.
Joan Antoni Reig Pla
Joan Antoni Reig Pla

However, the minimum base, as we say, existed. That is why the access of mons. Reig Pla to the bishopric of Castelló in 1996 was especially negative. The ultraconservative and hardly conciliatory character of this bishop was joined by a real persecution of the few things that were done in the own language in the diocese. Thus, for example, in the Castelló seminar, the presence of the own language was reduced to almost a minimum. Precisely because of all this, they say he was removed from the diocese in 2006, in which he was replaced by Casimiro López Lorente, from Soria, who, on the other hand, has an equally quite conservative background.

Worse still has been the coming of mons. Agustín García Gasco to the archdiocese of València. This man, Castilian by birth, did not show any interest in the language of València from the beginning. Moreover, if we add to this his also ultraconservative character, we have clear indications that this man would be placed at the head of the Valencian diocese by the most Spanish forces of the State to maintain the Castilianization (at least ecclesial) of València at all costs. If we add to this the fact that when he arrived to València he surrounded himself with an advisory council where there were people as Blaverist as Juan Ferrando Badía or Baltasar Bueno, whose role in the birth of Blaverism in the transition we have seen very clearly, we find more keys to all of this. And perhaps influenced by these people (and also by the Blaverist clergy, of which we have spoken, everything must be said), we can say that this man has had a certain condescension towards Blaverism. Thus, he has received in audience the top Blaverist leaders from different moments and eras, as he did with the late Vicente González Lizondo, and in November 2005 he did with Juan García Sentandreu.

As we say, this archbishop of València has received from the beginning of his bishopric demands from Valencian society of all kinds for the Valencian Church to assume its own language and introduce it into the liturgy, coinciding with the increase in linguistic normalization in the Valencian Country, especially in the rural areas, where the vernarcular Valencian language is still widely spoken. In all occasions, he has turned a deaf ear.

Agustín García Gasco
Agustín García Gasco

The most flagrant perhaps has been the last one. When the Acadèmia Valenciana de la Llengua was created, its first important task was precisely the elaboration of new liturgical texts. Precisely to overcome the obstacle put by the previous bishops, that there were "two versions". The texts were presented to mons. García Gasco, who received them with a good face at the beginning. According to canon law, and bearing in mind the condition of Archdiocese of València, the beginning of the process that must lead to the final approval of these texts depended ultimately on him. At first, all must be said, he seemed to have a good will to approve of them. In recent times, and coinciding with the revival of the "linguistic war" by the Popular Party (it has thus become a regular resource of the Valencian right to distract people when they have problems), it has backtracked, so the preponderance of Spanish language in the diocese continued overwhelmingly.

However, archbishop Agustín García Gasco was made a cardinal and this allowed him to extend his time at the head of the diocese a little longer, but obeying Canon Law, he was replaced in 2009 by Carlos Osoro from Santander. This new archbishop lacked the hostile attitude to the language of mons. García Gasco and finally took the definitive step of approving official normative liturgical texts in 2010.

Recapitulating, then, and as a final synthesis. It is true that the centralist forces are especially interested in the Valencian Church being strongly Castilianized. But it is also true that without the violent Blaverist pressure of the transition, perhaps things would have gone differently. If we relate one factor to another, we have here perhaps the clearest link in everything we have said on this website about the origin of Blaverism in Madrid and the Spanish statist forces of .

In summary, this is the sad situation of the own language (and we are not talking about the assumption of the Valencian cultural and national reality):

  1. A maximum of 5% of masses are held in Valencian throughout the Valencian Country [1].
  2. In the Cathedral of València, the most important church in the Valencian Country in all senses, all the signage is done in Spanish, and all the signs are in Spanish. Even some for tourists are in other languages (English, French, German, Italian) except Valencian. As far as we know, our language is only present on the ticket to climb to the Micalet. And obviously, of course, the Eucharists that are held are all in Spanish. Only on the day of Saint Vincent Ferrer there is a mass which is celebrated in Valencian. Posthumous miracle of the great Valencian saint, given how things are.
  3. At the València Seminar, all teaching is done in Spanish. We can say that this center (called the "San Vicente Ferrer" Faculty of Theology) is the only educational center in the city of València where everything is done in Spanish. Even the foreign schools that now proliferate so much (French, German or British schools) give the minimum classes of Valencian stipulated by the Valencian linguistic legislation. It is a sad irony that the Faculty of Theology of Valencia is dedicated to Saint Vincent Ferrer, who, as we have already said, always and everywhere in Europe preached in Valencian.
  4. The presence of the own language in numerous religious schools in the Valencian Country continues to be the minimum stipulated by Valencian linguistic legislation.
  5. The ecclesial communication organs (Sunday sheets, newspapers of the diocese [the weekly "Paraula" for example, which only has the title in Valencian]) are all in Spanish.
  6. The missionaries trained in the Archdiocese of València are carefully trained in the knowledge of the different (and in some cases difficult) languages of the places where they are going to preach. On the other hand, there is no concern for normal Valencian priests to learn the Valencian language if they do not know and/or understand it. Likewise, the Archdiocese of València generously pays for the translation of the Bible and other religious texts into languages as exotic as the Chinese language or Namib language. Nothing similar is done with respect to the own language of the Valencians.
  7. Following the dictates of the Spanish right, the Valencian clergymen and bishops tend to ask more or less implicitly when the elections come not to vote for "nationalist options". We have already seen how the documents of the magisterium of the Catholic Church speak in a very different sense, explicitly requesting the support of the Church for national minorities, and even for nations without a State.

And the list could still be much, much longer.

And all this, ultimately, thanks to Blaverism.

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