THE Catholic bishops of Spain's troubled Basque region have issued an outspoken attack on the terrorist violence of the separatist organisation ETA, and in the process have prompted a political row in the province.
In a pastoral letter read out in all churches in this most Catholic region of Spain at the weekend, the bishops reiterated previous condemnations of "the recourse to violence". and stated that "the strategy employed by ETA" deserves a "clear moral condemnation".
They went on to r nu: of-hand, E IA views about the "occupation" of the Basque country by Spanish police and about the "sell-out" which underpins the area's selfgoverning institutions.
After a detailed examination of the rise of ETA to prominence, the bishops dismissed the organisation's political analysis as "full of simplifications and errors as to the reality of the Basque
country". It is "ethically acceptable" to seek independence by political means, the bishops noted, but unacceptable to pursue that goal through force.
The autonomous organisations granted to the region by t he central government should be respected and used, the bishops emphasised, as a counterbalance to the "totalitarian" approach of ETA which denies the legitimacy of such institutions.
The bishops document was at 'nee enthusiastically welcomed by the moderate PNV Basque nationalist party and by the conservati‘e Basque Alianza Popular of Senor Jaime Mayor Oreja.
Response was somewhat less warm amongst the region's socialists who claimed that the bishops were restating the views of the PNV. The socialists also objected to criticisms of the socialist central government in the bishops' text.