From MICHAEL WILSON in Rome
The Holy See moved quickly this week to smooth over the explosive situation which had devel
oped between Bishop Antonio Anoveros of Bilbao and the Spanish Government, and to try to ensure that there would be no rupture between Spain and the Vatican.
Although no solution to the crisis over Bishop Anoveros's Pastoral Letter urging greater Basque autonomy had been announced by the Vatican, it was unofficially reported on Wednesday that Spanish Government tempers were cooling. After four days of intense diplomatic activity it appeared that a solution had been sketched which might prove satisfactory to both the Spanish Government and the Bilbao bishop — and therefore satisfy the Holy See, at least temporarily.
This solution would call for a soft-pedalling of the directives reportedly given to parish priests by Bishop Anoveros: that neither he nor his VicarGeneral had given "orders" for the letter to be read but had "advised" priests to use their own discretion.
According to reports reaching the Vatican, but not confirmed officially, Bishop Anoveros had put out such a document and the police guard around his house had been already withdrawn. The Bilbao explosion developed so swiftly at the end of last week that the Papal Nuncio, Arehbisop Luigi Dadaglio, flew back to Rome on Saturday to report to the Pope. Pope Paul, who had been prevented from beginning his scheduled spiritual retreat because of influenza, personally received Archbishop Dadaglio twice to discuss the intricacies of the situation.
Archbisop Agostino Casaroli, Secretary of the Holy Sec's Council for Public Affairs (the "Foreign Office-), had begun his retreat but was forced to interrupt it.
It was Archbishop Casaroli who directed much of the intensive discussions within the Apostolic Palace and over the telephone with the Bishop of Bilbao. In addition, there were
frequent talks with the Spanish Embassy to the Holy See in Rome.
Archbishop Casaroli, who had visited Spain in January when returning from the United States, has been for several months in the forefront of negotiations affecting the future revision of the Concordat with Spain.
Archbishop Dadaglio was quoted on his return to Madrid as saying: "God will help us see that there will be no rupture.
Pope Paul is suffering from a slight attack of influenza.and has been ordered to take a few days rest, it was announced by the Vatican Press spokesman, Professor Frederico Alessandrini.
The 76 year-old pontiff had begun a Lenten Spiritual Retreat at 6.30 last Saturday evening but when symptoms of the influenza developed the Papal physician prescribed "a few days' rest."
The Pope's plans for a Lenten retreat had been disrupted already on Monday by the crisis which had arisen with the Spanish Government over the Bilbao bishop's Pastoral Letter which had precipitated the hasty return of the Papal Nuncio to Madrid.
Pope Paul is reported to have developed influenza symptoms on Sunday and other Curia prelates present at the Lenten retreat ritual in the Matilda Chapel in the Apostolic Palace noted that he was absent from them both on Monday and Tuesday.
Pope Paul suffered an attack of influenza with fever in December 1970. It was sufficiently serious to keep him from his traditional weekly audience.
Again, in October 1971, the Pope was reported to have had a cold, and was prevented from attending a meeting of the Synod of Bishops, then in progress in the Vatican.
Because of his projected spiritual retreat the Pope has cancelled this week's audience. His next normal public appearance would be at his study window on Sunday.