Late vocation, with career and employment before becoming a priest at 33, Luis Javier Argüello García (Meneses de Campos, Palencia, 1953), new secretary general and spokesman of the Episcopal Conference, He has a degree in Law and taught on the Spanish Constitution at the University of Valladolid. It is a fact worth underlining, because the Spanish episcopate, almost in its entirety, is still swollen by hierarchies locked up from very young, around the age of nine, in somber and severe seminars, more inclined to the Council of Trent than to modernity. Argüello arrived at the seminary in Valladolid, well-learned. This explains that as soon as he was ordained a priest, in September 1986, the then head of the archdiocese, José Delicado, put him in positions of great responsibility, among others that of formator in the diocesan seminary (1986-1997), and later of rector; episcopal vicar of the city, and member of the diocesan council.
When it was learned three years ago that Cardinal Blázquez was looking for an auxiliary bishop and that, at last, Pope Francis was going to grant him, few doubted who would be chosen. By then, the new spokesman touched all the clubs of the archdiocese: vicar general, moderator of the diocesan Curia, member of the college of consultants, member of the Permanent Commission of the Presbyteral Council, member of the Council of Economic Affairs and of the Episcopal Council …
But who is going to be the voice and face of the Episcopal Conference in the next five years, and will cook, from his own hand or delegating, every document that leaves the institution to society, instead, follows the profile of the vast majority of ecclesiastics, have the rank they have. That is to say, he was born in deep Spain, he is the son of farmers, he studied in a modest rural school and, if he made a career, it was because he was "the most advantaged of the class and the most studious". These are the words of the mayor of Meneses de Campos, Alberto Blanco.
In conversation with EL PAÍS, the mayor, who is for the PP and listened to this midday on the radio the first press conference of his neighbor, there was no joy. He is the owner of the only industry in Meneses de Campos, a chicken farm that employs seven people, and knows the history of the Argüello family. I ask him if, perhaps, the bishop spokesman is the only famous personage that his people have given. No way. De Meneses de Campos have left Leopoldo Calvo Sotelo, President of the Government from 1981 to 1982, and Pablo Casado himself. It is explained. Leopoldo Calvo was born in Madrid, but his paternal grandfather, Pedro Calvo Camina, was from Meneses, and the paternal grandfather of Casado was also terranes from Meneses, where the leader of the PP usually comes with some frequency. Nothing less than Lope de Vega dedicates to Meneses one of his countless and very funny and ingenious comedies, the titled one The Tellos de Meneses.
When Bishop Argüello was born, Meneses de Campo, from the province of Palencia but 35 kilometers from Valladolid, had twice as many inhabitants as now (it was close to 1,000 at the end of the 19th century). In winter they barely reach half a hundred on a surface of the municipality of 28.21 kilometers and a density of 4.15 registered inhabitants: that's 117 neighbors. In the eighties of the last century there were 150 and there were 33 boys studying at the university. The consequence of the depopulation is that Meneses no longer has school and the landscape of brown earth and gray sky in autumn, and leaden in winter, does not offer too many opportunities. The Argüello family still lives there, but their farm is run by an outside employee because the father is 95 years old and the three brothers of the new spokesman, a woman and two men, have gone to the capital.
Childhood in the Land of Fields serves to underline and understand the austere and simple character of the new secretary general of the episcopate. His superior in the archdiocese has the same profile, born from the Ávila moorlands, also depopulated, also the son of farmers who have had to sweat to move the family forward.
And now the episcopal profile. He told Argüello this morning how he met Joaquín Ruiz-Giménez when he was no longer Minister of Education with Franco and moved in internal opposition to the dictator. One day they were going to travel by plane from Barcelona the flight was suspended and they had hours to understand, to the point that the former minister convinced him to "start up" Justice and Peace in Valladolid. Said and done. From that experience, those who know the trajectory of that modest and restless organization and read their bulletins, we must deduce that the new spokesman is open to the new ecclesial times and in line with Pope Francis.
Smell of sheep Listen to the faithful from ear to ear. Open to the world. Do not be alarmed when you hear the figures of the secularization of societies, especially the Spanish. Be merciful Put yourself in the place of the victims. Here are some of the reflections, with textual words to those of the Argentine Pope, of the new spokesperson. It is not an exaggeration to suppose, therefore, that his election, very comfortable (he got 45 votes, compared to 29 from Fernández Sangrador, from the archdiocese of Oviedo, and five from the house official, López Segovia), is interpreted as a signal of what may happen in the complete renewal of offices of the Episcopal Conference, next spring. Now the Conservatives are majority, grouped around the archbishop of Oviedo, the Franciscan Sanz Montes, in the orbit of Cardinal Antonio María Rouco Varela.
In any case, at this point of the pontificate of Francisco, the internal struggle is not so much for control of the positions of the EEC, but for attracting the Pope to agree to make an official trip to Spain. Not achieving it seems humiliating to Spanish Catholics, accustomed to the frequent visits of their predecessors, the Polish John Paul II and the German Benedict XVI. To do this, the bishops must take on the reforms that have made their way into other local churches in areas such as the understanding of homosexuals or lesbians, which many bishops treat here as sick or depraved, divorced and remarried, at mass. of the Council, et cetera. Otherwise, Francisco, who enjoyed visiting Spain when he was cardinal archbishop of Buenos Aires, will not schedule that official trip.