01 October 2021, The Tablet

Spanish politician criticises Pope Francis

Spanish politician criticises Pope Francis

Isabel Diaz Ayuso, president of the Community of Madrid, has rebuked Pope Francis.

A Spanish politician has rebuked Pope Francis for apologising for the role of the Catholic Church in the conquest and subsequent colonisation of Mexico 500 years ago.

Isabel Díaz Ayuso, who heads Madrid’s regional government and belongs to Spain’s conservative and right-of-centre “People’s Party” (Partido Popular), said that it surprised her that “a Catholic who speaks Spanish speaks about our legacy like that”.

She went on to defend the impact of Spanish colonialism in Latin America, saying it brought  “the Spanish language – and through missions – Catholicism and, therefore, civilisation and freedom to the American continent.”

In a message directed to Monseñor Rogelio Cabrera López, president of the Mexican Bishops Conference  to mark 200 years of the country’s independence, the Argentine Pope said that looking back requires “a process of purifying memory, that is recognising the very painful errors committed in the past”.

The Pope added that he, and his predecessors, had asked on several occasions for forgiveness for “the social and personal sins” committed by the Church, which has been criticised for the participation in the persecution of indigenous people and the theft and exploitation of indigenous land.

It is not the first time that Díaz Ayuso who is tipped as a potential future leader of Partido Popular, and who was has the external backing of the far-right Vox Party as regional leader – has made clear her views on Spanish colonialism and the legacy of the Church and the monarchy.

Earlier this week she  criticised  the Mexican president Andrés Manuel López Obrador, who in 2019 asked that the Pope and Spain’s King Filipe VI atone for their colonial legacies, of promoting what she sees as a “dangerous trend of communism via indigenism” which she described as “an attack on Spain”.

Speaking at the Organisation of American States in 2019, following the decision to change the name of celebrations from “Colombus festival” to “festival of indigenous people”, which she critiqued saying that Spain had brought “university”, “civilisation” and “western values”, that she said continue today in liberal democracies.

Spain continues to contend with its historical legacy  – with the role of Franco and his so described “National Catholicism” heavily debated in recent years, as well as Hispanic identity and the history of colonialism.




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