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Christians in Barcelona see a need to find “forums” in churches where the situation in Catalonia can be addressed with “wisdom” and a worldview “rooted in Scripture”.
Protests have erupted in Catalonia this week after the Spanish Supreme Court announced sentences of 9 to 13 years of prison for former Catalan government ministers who organised the non-authorised independence referendum in 2017.
Tens of thousands have joined peaceful protests in many cities, but violence erupted as radical groups clashed with the police around key infrastructures such as the Barcelona airport, motorways and Spanish government buildings.
In Madrid, while Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez called to “respect” the ruling and “start a new phase”, opposition parties demanded the deployment of more police. Meanwhile, Catalan regional President Quim Torra said he “sympathised” with the “overwhelming” protests, but called the demonstrations to be “non-violent”. A general strike has been convened for Friday, as marches from five Catalan cities organised by the grass-roots separatist movement ANC will come together in Barcelona.
FIRST REACTIONS OF CATALAN EVANGELICALS
One of the first evangelical voices to speak out this week has been the Secretary General of the Catalan Evangelical Council, a legal representative of evangelical churches in the region. Monday, the day the ruling was announced, was “a sad day, a day to cry”, Guillem Correa said in a written statement. “Many have sad hearts”.
The evangelical body based in Barcelona will “not make any political assessment”, but “what we have to say as the church of Jesus Christ to all who feel sorrow, all those who cry, is that we want to cry with your tears”, Correa said. “The word of God is clear and concise: ‘weep with those who weep’”, he added.
CHRISTIANS SHOULD HAVE OPINIONS “ROOTED IN SCRIPTURE”
“As evangelical Christians, it is important that we have a political thinking that comes from an alternative worldview, one that is different from the rest of society and that is rooted in Scripture”, says Jaume Llenas, church planter, Coordinator of the Graduate Bible Groups (GBG, in Spanish) and former Secretary General of the Spanish Evangelical Alliance.
Jesus “never fell into the traps” of those around them, but offered an “alternative vision” of the issues that were brought to him. “If we only can repeat the same arguments heard one thousand times on the one or the other side, then we are not in a position as Christians to offer something different”, believes Llenas.
‘DISCIPLESHIP TO APPLY THE GOSPEL TO ALL AREAS OF LIFE’
A “whole-life teaching and discipleship” is needed in churches to be able to have a Christian perspective on “all areas of life”, including socio-political conflicts. Llenas believes there is a need to train Christians to be “people who think with the mind of Christ” and are therefore able to “be a blessing to society” in challenging times.
As Catalonia lives days of much tension, churches should start by “not ignoring the debate” happening in Catalonia, says Llenas. “We need forums in which it is possible to speak to one another. As far as I know, in these ten years, there has only been one event in which evangelicals of all sensibilities debated for some hours in a respectful and creative way”.
CHURCHES OFTEN ONLY “TIPTOE” CATALAN DEBATE
Febe Jordà, a pedagogue and writer in Barcelona, thinks churches have had “a lack of communication” about the situation happening around them. Christians in Catalonia have often “tiptoed the subject” and limited their action to “pray for those in authority”.
“In most of our churches the love of God prevails and it is sincere and practical in the community”, but “few channels to express one’s views are offered, be they or one on another side”.
Evangelicals, says Jordà, should “ask God for more wisdom to address this current challenge”.