AROME newspaper report that the Spanish government was urging the Spanish Cardinals not to vote for Cardinal Montini in the Conclave has been sharply repudiated by the Spanish Primate, Cardinal Pla y Deniel.
The Primate told newsmen this week that "there is not the slightest truth in such a statement", which he described as ridiculous, and absolutely contrary to the principles of the Church and the State of Spain. In a written statement, he added: "The Spanish Government respects the independence of the Church in the election of the Roman Pontiff, and has made no attempt, either direct or indirect. to interfere in a matter of such great importance to the Church."
Our special correspondent writes:
In fact, any Cardinal acting for a secular power in a Conclave is automatically excommunicated. This was established in a decree of Pope St. Pius X. after a Conclave in which the Austrian Emperor had tried to block the election of Cardinal Rampolla. The decree abolished the right of certain Catholic rulers to a veto in Papal elections.
The Church in Spain has long been taking an independent stand in public affairs. Certain Bishops supported the strikers last year. The Catholic Action weekly Eerlesia has, without objection, criticised certain aspects of the regime and called for more democratic structures.
Conversely. the Spanish Government has insisted on its Protestant Emancipation programme in spite of the more conservative wing of the Spanish Hierarchy. There is no Church-State feud; but neither is there any State interference in Church affairs.