For practical purposes, although not on paper, the Episcopal Conference has had the Catholic State funeral for the victims of COVID-19 that it demanded from the Government. Between the Royal Family, the vice president Carmen Calvo or the high command of the region and the Madrid City Council, there was no lack of institutional representation this Monday in the Almudena cathedral.
The presence of the Kings and Calvo, to a large extent, ‘boycotts’ the great act-tribute that will be held in the Plaza de Armas – a few meters from the Madrid basilica – on July 16. Both ceremonies will be presided over by Felipe VI, although there is a feeling in the Executive that the bishops wanted to take the lead when announcing their own Eucharist last Friday.
They did so amid criticism of the president for supporting strictly secular events and of TVE for not carrying out the coverage at the state level that Telemadrid and TRECEtv, the chain of bishops, would do. In the end, public television has rectified and broadcast the entire ceremony, while the guest list has had more than 30 political personalities. A triumph for the Episcopal Conference, which, however, has not been applauded by the dozens of relatives of victims of the coronavirus who have been left out of mass.
“They have done it to win the sympathy of the people, but that way they don’t earn anything. It should be a mass for the deceased and for the families,” says María Antonia, 82, with eyes full of tears. She lost her husband to the coronavirus and when she heard that a tribute to the victims was being prepared on the radio, she set out from Villaverde Alto. “Surely none of those who are in there have died,” replies the former seamstress.
Meanwhile, political representatives such as Begoña Villacís and Edmundo Bal, both from Ciudadanos, parade through the secondary door. “There is no right, they tell us that we cannot pass and we are family members,” a woman rebukes the vice mayor of Madrid. “Sorry, it was not an act of the City Council, I am going to go see what can be done,” she replies, but the minutes pass and the security personnel continue to deny entry to anyone who is not on the list. “No one knows how to sign up, it seems a state secret,” gossip the countrymen.
“It is the first time I have heard that you have to enter a church with an invitation,” Carmen complains. “I was even at the funeral of Adolfo Suárez (standing up, yes) And they are not going to let me go when I have lost my brother?” She continues indignantly. Another woman criticizes that television reporters interview all public figures but do not echo what is happening outside the basilica. “I am also from the union, but I do not share this way of doing journalism that only gives voice to those who wear medals,” he says. Her mother died in a Madrid residence, along with almost a hundred colleagues: “I was unable to see her for two months until the virus took her away,” she says ruefully.
“They have announced the hype and the mass and they have forgotten the most important thing: saying that it was private. With that they show that it was only to pose in front of the cameras,” continues María Antonia, walking around asking if anyone knows how to enter . Thus he arrives at Paco, who has created his own pandemic altar with newspaper clippings. A black book full of covers, news and messages with a pen that reminds you of every event or catastrophe that you have experienced in your almost 90 years. “I have the death of Franco, 11-M and many more that I keep in the loft,” he explains surrounded by cameras.
Around him, the curious are crowding, but not to see his paper tribute, but the arrival of the Royal Family, whom several enthusiasts receive with a “Long live the King! Long live Spain!”. “I don’t know why they applaud them, if we are out because of them,” says Fernando. “It is not his fault, it is from the Episcopal Conference,” responds another angry stroller. Tempers flare even more when a woman starts insulting from the opposite sidewalk all those who cheer for kings and politicians. “Hypocrites,” she yells as they try to silence her with whistles and other insults. Five minutes left for mass.
The resigned, take out the mobile. Martín, his wife, daughter and mother-in-law wanted to enter La Almudena to say goodbye to his best friend for 30 years. “Look around, nobody knew that you could not enter, otherwise we would not be here at 40 degrees,” he criticizes. He has managed to tune into the channel 24 hours, which he offers in his hands for anyone who wants to see Mass from his small screen. With this excuse, Mara approaches, who unintentionally starts crying: “My nephew, a 47-year-old doctor, has left two little orphan girls.” He says that, during the first month in the ICU, “they told him that it was not serious and that he was going to leave. There is no right.”