September 26, 2017
He was always like a small thin reed, but with iron health and steel nerves. Today, at 89 years old, Dom Pedro Casaldáliga (Balsereny, 1928), the poet-bishop of the marginalized, remains a reed but doubled over by Parkinson's. From his wheelchair, he administers his silences and husbands his words which, from time to time, continue to flow like prophetic darts -- laconic and right on. He doesn't want Catalan independence, he asks young people to move on to action, and he asserts that Francis is "a blessing from God".
Padre Angel (L) and Dom Pedro Casaldaliga (R)
in the chapel in Sao Felix do Araguaia, Brazil
Don Pedro, do you like to receive visits?
As a Catalonian and Catalonia International Prize winner, what do you think of the [independence] process?
We'll see what happens with independence. I would prefer that it not be. There are wise people who are going to approach the matter differently. It's not a natural process. It makes no sense.
Did you know Tarancón [Cardinal Vicente Enrique y Tarancón]?
Yes, when I was a seminarian in Barbastro and he was bishop in Solsona. He was a worthy figure with the vocation of intermediary during that difficult time in Spain.
Where do your hope and strength come from, despite everything?
Relying on somebody.
Who is that somebody?
It could only be Him.
What nourishes your hope?
The Resurrection of Christ.
If you could change just one thing in the world, what would it be?
That everyone who has power would stand in the right place: life.
And what would you change in the Catholic Church?
Put power in the people's hands. Otherwise, it becomes a problem. In the Church, the crucial thing is giving one's life for others and a gospel devotion to the Beatitudes.
Did you have problems with the hierarchy?
Yes, I did.
What did you do and what should be done in those cases?
Continue to stand firm on the side of the poor and always bear witness.
Would you order the churches to be open 24 hours?
Yes, so the people might come in, sleep, eat, and pray, if they want.
Some advice for young people.
That they remain rebels with hope, despite the despair. And always on the side of the poor and excluded. We've been talking about consciousness raising for years. That time is over. It's time to act and respond to specific calls.
What do you say to Father Ángel [García Rodríguez] who came to see you from Madrid?
That he keep on being a prophet and looking out for peace, which is lived out and is a process.
What do you think of Pope Francis?
A blessing from God.
Are you, like him, a blessing from God?
We're all blessings from God, if we are listening and if we are committed to interchange and dialogue. Because the problem is how to live daily life in the midst of this violent world.
Do you regret anything?
Not having enough attitude of dialogue.
What are you most proud of?
The many people who still accompany me on the journey and having given my life to the excluded, the marginalized, the little ones.
Your favorite saints?
Saint Francis of Assisi (when I went to Rome, I wanted to go to Assisi to see Father Arrupe, but I couldn't).
Antonio Machado, Saint John of the Cross (his "Spiritual Canticle" comes first), Espriu, Neruda and Maragall.
Thank you very much, Dom Pedro.
You're welcome. We have talked. Now it's about doing.