The archbishop of Barcelona, very close to Pope Francis, has been elected by absolute majority and secret vote
All pools indicated that he would be the next president of the Spanish Episcopal Conference to replace Ricardo Blázquez and this morning has been confirmed. Cardinal Juan José Omella, archbishop of Barcelona and a man very close to Pope Francis, was elected on Tuesday the new head of the Spanish Church.
According to sources from this institution, Omella, 73, has been elected by absolute majority and by secret ballot among the 64 bishops, archbishops and cardinals who could qualify for the position, which he will hold for the next four years. Gone are names like Ginés García Beltrán; Bishop of Getafe, Jesús Sanz, archbishop of Oviedo; or Mario Iceta, bishop of Bilbao. These three prelates also obtained support in the first poll held after the Plenary Assembly yesterday afternoon, but Omella has finally won the most votes in the final vote.
Created by Cardinal in 2017 by Pope Francis, Juan José Omella arrived at the headquarters of Barcelona in 2015 after passing through the dioceses of Barbastro, Logroño and Zaragoza. Francisco’s trusted man in Spain, in 2014, was appointed in Rome as a member of the Bishops’ Cognation. Omella studied at the seminary in Zaragoza and was ordained a priest in 1970. His missionary vocation took him to Zaire, where he spent a year.
As the new president of the Episcopal Conference you will have to face several challenges. Internally, the reforms of Pope Francis must land on the Spanish church, which has been reluctant to some. Externally, a complicated legislature awaits you because the government of Pedro Sánchez has a political agenda that in some issues clashes with Catholic postulates: issues such as euthanasia, the new educational law that puts concerted education in check, tax reform which cancels the exemption of the payment of the IbI to the Church or the resignification of the Valley of the Fallen, will be issues with which the new president of the Episcopal Conference must deal. Omella will do it with its hallmarks, which are the same as Francisco’s: dialogue and negotiation.