According to the New York Daily News,

Vida Nueva (New Life) internet publication said the pope told Spain's new ambassador to the Vatican, Gerardo Bugallo, that the Holy See is against all self-determination moves that are outside decolonization processes.

(I have to say that although this is circulating in the news I don't know if there is an official statement from the Vatican).

In Spain though, some 400 priests openly support Catalonian independence.

I'm confused as to what business the Catholic Church would have in supporting or opposing an independence movement, unless it is related to its doctrine or the Bible.

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    I believe your question is on-topic and may very well be answerable according to the way you've framed it, but it seems to overlook the fact that the Vatican is not only (the headquarters of) a religious institution, but is also a nation state with (political) diplomatic relations with other nation states such as Spain. Oct 5, 2017 at 20:11
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    As a Catholic, I have a similar question -- how is this the Pope's business to comment upon in that way -- beyond the historical facts that a variety of popes have put their fingers into European politics to a lesser or greater extent over the years. Is your question about theology, Catholic doctrine, scripture, or papal authority ... or a mix of all? When you ask "what religious basis" I am left somewhat at a loss, since religious basis is a vague term. Oct 5, 2017 at 20:32
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    Is the actual quotation available?
    – bradimus
    Oct 5, 2017 at 21:00
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    This in fact is a complex question to answer due to the fact that the Vatican's Secretariat of State (dicastery of the Roman Curia) is divided into two sections: the Section for General Affairs and the Section for Relations with States. As the supreme leader of both a country (Holy See) and a world religion (Catholic). The Vatican does not have to have a doctrinal justification with the Catalina issue. This is a political question and would be dwelt within the Section for Relations with States. As for the 400 hundred priests supporting its' independence: They're Spanish are they not?
    – Ken Graham
    Oct 5, 2017 at 23:58
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    @bradimus As was I, but I think that moral coward delegated it to a minion. Oct 6, 2017 at 3:15

1 Answer 1


the Holy See is against all self-determination moves that are outside decolonization processes.

The Catholic reason for this is fairly simple. The people don't have a right to overthrow or revolt against legitimate rulers. The reason that decolonization processes are good is that they take away a nation's unjust claim to another sovereign peoples. IE, the colonized land was gained via unjust military action. Those are illegitimate rulers.

The syllabus of errors, a papal encyclical listing statements to be condemned, contains this statement:

  1. It is lawful to refuse obedience to legitimate princes, and even to rebel against them.

That is, the above statement is condemned by the Catholic Church as false.

  • There can be moves towards self-determination that are legal and not about decolonization. For example, if Scotland were to vote for independence from the UK, I doubt the Catholic church would be opposed to that. Aug 28, 2019 at 16:23
  • Decolonization might not be the most exact terminology (although I believe I pulled this from the Catholic Encyclopedia on New Advent), but it's easy to see how Scotland's dependence upon the UK could be reasonably considered an unjust rule by the UK.
    – jaredad7
    Aug 28, 2019 at 16:39
  • Given that it originates from when the King of Scotland was invited to take the throne of England, that's a bit of a stretch. And the same logic could be applied to Catalonia very easily. So is the interpretation that "unjust" rulers are "colonization" and so self-determination is allowed, and "just" ones are not and so rebellion is not allowed? Aug 28, 2019 at 16:46
  • As I said, colonization may not be the right terminology here. However, the important distinction is between rebelling against legitimate vs illegitimate rulers.
    – jaredad7
    Aug 28, 2019 at 16:49
  • A "move to self-determination" isn't necessarily a rebellion. If the Catalonians followed the rule of law, held a referendum, and then negotiated with the Spanish to achieve independence, would that be opposed by the Catholic Church? Aug 28, 2019 at 16:57

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