Fri, 07 Jul 2006

Jo no t'espere

Not at all!

The Pope is visiting València next weekend. According to Rita Barberá Noya, the mayor of the city during the last 16 years (I mildly remember her predecessor), “All Valencians will welcome him warmly”. Well, not exactly all.

The Pope's visit was decided by the previous one a few years ago, and Ratzinger, shortly after being “elected” his successor, announced he would still visit València for the World Meeting of the Family.

In principle, I would have no problems with him come visit the city, even if I have no sympathy at all towards his figure or the role of the Catholic church either in Spain or other places of the world. For example, I think the last two popes are direct responsables for the AIDS drama in many countries of the African continent. It is unacceptable and quite unethical that still today, after decades of fight against this deadly plage, the Vatican keep saying “no” to the usage of condoms.

As I said, I would have no problems with his visit, if it was a normal visit. But no, this is the València, and the government likes to show that they can do things in a grand way. Not so long ago, Ratzinger visited Poland, and from what I've read, the authorities there didn't organise anything grotesque like what's going on here, in the sense that people living in the areas affected could more or less keep on with their lives, and the visit didn't cost much of their tax money.

València won't work like this. Anyone who has visited us will probably know what I mean: the Ciutat de les Arts i les Ciències, Terra Mítica, the America's Cup harbour... are examples of pharaonic projects, all funded with public money that are real black holes of budgets that never end up growing.

The Pope will stay in València around 24 hours, and will give a series of sermons and speeches. For the ocassion, the Valencian local government has gone all the way to make his visit the most spectacular event of the decade. Although the government won't disclose it officially, the press talks about a cost of 30 or 40 million Euros, paid by all of us, including atheists, agnostics or muslims.

Spain is not a catholic state, officially. Sadly, it is in practice. According to Vatican sources, 94% of Spaniards are catholic. The number goes down to 76.1% according to CIS, but the reality is that just a small fraction of these people are practising catholics. The Spanish church uses these figures to get funds from the state. I am included in that 76% just because I was baptised soon after I was born. There are people trying to apostatise, but it seems in most cases their efforts are futile, as the documentation sent to the eclesiastic authorities is either ignored or sent back with a hilarious excuse such as “your baptism is a historic event and cannot be changed”.

Parts of València have been closed to transit for two months. This is because the authorities found that the optimal place to build his giant altar with a special microclimate was on top of the bridge of Mont Olivet, one of the arteries of south València if you want to leave the city. The neighbours of the area now popularly called "ground zero" have been subject to all kind of annoyances: the access to their houses is restricted, they've had to give lists of people living in each place, and they are now not allowed to use the upper terraces of their buildings (they are taken by snippers).

The local police has designed a plan to restrict any kind of transit that affects basically half of the city, even my area which is like 6 kilometres away from the event.

For months, our authorities have used this great opportunity to make religion and the greatness of our pope something normal and quotidian. I haven't seen such a big interference of my life by the church before, not even with the Aznar government, or when I was a small child and the dictatorship had just ended. They are also using the event to promote the achivements of the right-wing local government (via speeches and the propaganda that is distributed in the backpacks given to volunteers) and to bash the socialist central government (which recently approved gay marriage, a new education law that weakens the weight of religion study in public schools, etc.).

I could go on and on, but this rant would get even more boring. I, like many others, think that all of this is not acceptable. As we tend to not shut up when things like these happen, a civic movement appeared two months ago, with a main goal of letting people know that we are not waiting for him, contrary to what the mayor says. The Jo no t'espere campaign has managed to make opposition to this pompous week by placing banners on balconies. Of course, I have my own, and I've also distributed a few more among my friends, one of them being placed a mere 70 metres away from the pope's altar.

No, jo tampoc t'espere

Of course, the amount of Vatican flags outnumbers us greatly, in a ratio of at least 1:100, but anyway. There are so many Vatican flags that this looks more like St. Peter's Square. Others have taken the opportunity to exhibit Spanish flags all over the place, something that probably had not happened in València since the most obscure years of Franquism. Oh well, this is València.

One piece of good news: due the chaos starting in just two hours, we're allowed to leave offices early today, so we can actually get back home. As soon as I get home and have lunch, I'll flee away to the mountains, like a maqui until the madness is over. The 1.5 million pilgrims can have my holy city. Have a nice time, Ratzinger!

Unfortunatly this is Spain... The same with my city, Madrid, now they'll try to get Olimpic again,,, I think we've more important problems to solve before to be Olimpics...
Resiste! ;)

Posted by Atomo Sato at Fri Jul 7 12:19:40 2006

What about the thousands of provisional toilets installed all around the place??
It seems thath those piligrims suffer from a little diarrhea :-P.
All this makes me sik. Once more, I'm feeling ashamed of being valencian. And that's quite sad.


Posted by miquelsi at Fri Jul 7 12:21:14 2006

I live in Roma, so I really understand the situation that is living Valencia now!! :D
Sometimes the Pope leave Roma for our luck!!hihi!!

Posted by ester at Fri Jul 7 12:36:58 2006

Kafkaesque. Sad to see and hear that your officials are not any better than ours here in Germoney...

Posted by wjl at Fri Jul 7 12:40:23 2006

What does your anti-Catholic bigotry have to do with Planet Ubuntu?  You ought to come here to the USA, it is very fashionable to bash the Church and the Pope here.

One more thing:  get bent.

Posted by Anonymous at Fri Jul 7 13:22:04 2006

Ratzinger Z,
es rápido y veloz,
con sus enemigos no hay piedad.
Puede controlar la paz,
con su energía mortal.
A toda velocidad,
sus puños vuelan,
de su pecho un rayo fatal,
lanza sin cesarrrr.
Ratzinger Z!
Ratzinger Z!
Ratzingerrrrrrrr, Sí!!!

Posted by Jesús Corrius at Fri Jul 7 14:51:27 2006

In reply to Anonymous:
Planet Ubuntu is a window into the world, work and lives of Ubuntu developers and contributors.

It's about the people, not the project.

Posted by Colin at Fri Jul 7 14:52:36 2006

I totally Agree with you

good luck to avoid the church... 
it would be ultimately impossible and soon all no-believers (or different-believer) will be ostracized in the whole Europa.

I sometimes fear it will like this in France in only a few years but  for the moment,  it's impossible to see what happens in Valencia in french city.

Posted by michel at Fri Jul 7 16:14:24 2006

It's sad what you did and said.
Protest officially if you are not agree, but why offend people, in this teenager manner?
Would you do this if a muslim personality came to your city?
Ok, it's just my 2 cents. Thanks.

Posted by hey at Fri Jul 7 16:34:39 2006

Hey, if the pope came here and the local authorities didn't ruin our lives during three days, or threw away all of this money that is ours, I'd be very happy, as I've already said.

I seriously doubt any of this would happen if a mustlim personality came here. He would probably be ignored by this government.

Where am I offending people, by the way?

Posted by Jordi at Fri Jul 7 16:47:23 2006

I wonder how many Spaniards actually elect to have part of their renta (tax) return go to the catholic church? I guess that would give us a better idea of the church's popularity.


Posted by Grant at Fri Jul 7 17:24:47 2006

Hey Grant,

According to this recent article in, two years ago it was a 33% of the contributors.

This meant an income for the church of 128.682.326€, plus 12M more given by the state.

Posted by Jordi at Fri Jul 7 17:41:06 2006

Fine, you can protest, but please no with a "in your face" banner, shure without results, except making sad the other people that (you must live with that) loves the pope.
Better search for a formal and not offensive way of protest, i think.
Ok, today is not too bad, you can leave work early ;-)
Thanks for allowing my opinion.

Posted by hey at Fri Jul 7 17:49:08 2006

Err, "I'm not waiting for you" is by all means not offensive.

The official motto of the Town Hall's campaign is "Benedict XVI, we're waiting for you". The response to that is a non-offensive "I'm not waiting for you". There's nothing offensive here.

Offensive would have been a "DEATH TO THE POPE" banner or whatever.

Posted by Jordi at Fri Jul 7 18:43:39 2006

actually, when the pope visited poland, the government/church (they are the same nowadays there) banned the sale of alcohol for the duration of the visit.

that didn't stop the pope and his cardinals to regularly drink wine and beer to their meals.

this sums up catholicism for me.

Posted by cs at Fri Jul 7 23:06:12 2006

I will not enter the debate about pro or against church.

I would just like to make a comment about where money goes and comes back.

It is surely very usual to feel upset about the use the goverment makes of our money.

However, sometimes I think people does not realize the "return" it brings.

"the Ciutat de les Arts i les Ciències, Terra Mítica, the America's Cup harbour... are examples of pharaonic projects, all funded with public money that are real black holes of budgets that never end up growing."

Whilst I agree with your feeling, and I particularly wouldn't like some of them, it is important to note that these projects result in many jobs for people working in them. It means a way of living for many people.

At the same time, I believe this also contributes to a better knowledge and publicity of your city, which means more tourism. What dou you think about the Guggenheim in Bilbao? It was a huge effort, and fortunately it has contributed to boost Bilbao's popularity in the world.

All this money is usually not directly counted, but greatly improves the living quality of the inhabitants of a city.

Just a different point of view  :-)

Posted by Sergio at Sat Jul 8 13:39:19 2006

acaban d'esmentar a la tv3 la plataforma jonotespere.

la religió no té res a veure amb el circ que és actualment l'esglèsia catòlica.

el pastafarisme al menys no contribueix a propagar la sida

Posted by muzzol at Sat Jul 8 14:51:16 2006


Is there some particular reason why you (ironically, as I suppose) quoted "elected"?

I'm sorry to disapoint you, but other countries assigned large public funds to organize papal visits as well, even anti-religious (France, pre-1989 Poland, Turkey) or non-Catholic ones.

Posted by Armand at Sun Jul 9 16:39:17 2006