The diocesan community of Gipuzkoa has no peace. Religious, laity and priests of this province have been waiting for their maximum representative for a decade, José Ignacio Munilla, (San Sebastián, 1961; 58 years) the bishop who replaced Monsignor Uriarte in December 2009 and that on January 9, 2010 offered the first Mass, abandon “religious fundamentalism” and return the gaze to his own community.
On December 14 more than a thousand people denounced in the basilica of Arantzazu, the nerve center of the Marian faith, the ten years “of suffering and hope” the mandate of a prelate whom they accuse of burying a model that gave priority to the community over ostentation, and of establishing a dogmatic one that puts the interests of the Church before those who suffer. Suffering for this model and hope that things change. Sources of these groups ensure that their respectful protest will not cease, until they achieve a “diocese united in the Gospel.” The Bishopric of Gipuzkoa responds that the balances “are made through the internal channels. The Bishop does not grant interviews.”
The progressive Gipuzkoan clergy, closely linked to theology that proclaims a less dogmatic church and an open community, and one of the most serious of taking the role of the laity in the modern church – in 2009 there were a dozen diocesan offices – It feels orphaned. The Bishop agreed to the charge even though 77% of the priests of Guipúzcoa, and 11 of its 15 arciprestes – priests with decision-making power over several parishes – they publicly showed their disagreement with the appointment in 2009. In a letter they then proclaimed: “In no way is he the right person to serve as bishop and pastor of our diocese.” Ten years later they are increasingly convinced that they were right in their diagnosis.
In these years the Bishop has made a series of decisions and has shown a public face that has changed the direction of the Gipuzkoan church. In 2011, he removed the Gipuzkoan seminarians from the orbit of the Vitoria Seminary on which they depended, and took them to Pamplona, ”much more orthodox and closed,” they criticize. It also reduced the arciprestazgos from fifteen to six. A cut that fundamentally affected the signatory arciprestes of the critical writing and that has diminished the debate between different. In this time it has imported to Gipuzkoa around 50 priests –which critics described in 2014 as “ultras” and sectarians “– Of the 150 totals in the province and it is making very questioned decisions on the sale of land and buildings. Heritage that instead of dedicating to the most needy makes the Bishopric a tourist agent.
The former pastor of Zumarraga before Bishop of San Sebastián maneuvered at the beginning of the year without the community, to sell a plot in which a homeless shelter, the Aterpe, is located, managed by volunteers from Diocesan Caritas . Some of the people in the center had created problems in the neighborhood. But in addition, now a year ago, he announced that he was going to create 26 tourist apartments in one of his residences and that the building, on Zabaleta Street, 5, that of the Bishopric, was going to become an aparthotel.
The pastor of Alza, in San Sebastián, Javier Hernáez, one of the few who overcomes the fear of giving a name and surname to the discrepancy, after 40 years of teaching in the neighborhood, has concentrated several times with other priests and faithful Against those decisions. “A shepherd who doesn’t take care of his sheep, even the black ones, is not a shepherd.” In his opinion, Munilla is establishing a system that has little to do with the Gospel and has gone from debate and confrontation of ideas as a way forward, to “submission and silence.” He has also disagreed with other Basque bishops regarding the disarmament of ETA, although in the end, in April 2018, all the bishops together with the archbishop of Navarra and the prelate of Bayonne, apologized for the “complicities and omissions” with the ETA terrarism and incidentally the approach of the ETA prisoners.
Munilla has also braided those and other decisions with controversial statements. On homosexuals he said that they are guided by “intrinsically disorderly” acts and, therefore, “need the healing of wounds from childhood and adolescence”, and on feminists and abortion he proclaimed: “Abortion is a goal that the demon has put radical feminism at the expense of women’s dignity” In his catechism, gay marriage is inconceivable and who masturbates sins, because it inflicts violence on the body.
His critics believe that discretion is a virtue that Munilla does not treasure either. However, they respect their decisions with respect. When he prevented last day 14, in the Mass of Arantzazu, that instead of the sermon, six critical testimonies were read with his management, he heeded. The silence prevailed. These testimonies ended up distributing on paper for each faithful to read during the Eucharist, at a time that the officiating pastor opened for reflection and prayer.
More than a thousand people from all corners of Gipuzkoa learned that day that Munilla has closed some parish and moved to priests and critical catechists “to impose a church say” preconciliar. ” In one of the testimonies its author summarized that Munilla is establishing a new clericalism of authoritarian, “conservative and fundamentalist” character that has ended up “breaking down the diocesan communion” and deteriorating existing relationships. “
Munilla responded two days later with a letter in which he refused to be accused of speculating on church property. “We have doubled the budget for passersby,” he said. On the eve of this Christmas Eve he celebrated an act of charity. He organized the Dinner of the Poor. He offered to the needy, among other things, garlic soup and a sugar-free polvorón.
The extraordinary figure of St. Stephen’s Church in Oiartzun rises above the fog. The new pastor rises above the faithful. “It is a metaphor, of course,” explains a member of that community who has sought, angry and hurt, another parish. The altar is now on top of the fifteen stairs that separate the faithful from the altarpiece. The two priests who preceded him kept the altar at the height of the community. The bishopric has appointed archpriest of Oarsoaldea, which includes, among others, the parishes of Renteria and Oiartzun, Rafael Olaizola, ordained priest in December 2017 after being a councilor of the PP for thirteen years in Zarautz. The raising of the altar is only an image, but in the opinion of the pastor of Alza, it is very graphic of what is happening throughout the diocese. “Now under the mandate of Munilla the Virgin is bought a robe, and the Virgin is not cold, the cold is suffered by people,” he laments.