Less than a month before elections in Catalonia, a Spanish cardinal has said that Catholics everywhere are violating Church teaching if they support pro-independence movements.

“In democratically constituted nations, there can be no moral legitimacy for unilateral secession,” Cardinal Antonio Cañizares Llovera of Valencia wrote in an article for the Madrid-based daily La Razon.

“When certain nations are linked by historical, cultural and political ties to other nations within the same state, it cannot be said that these nations necessarily enjoy a right to political sovereignty. Nations, considered in isolation, do not enjoy an absolute right to decide.”

The elections in the Catalonia region on December 21 will replace the Catalan parliament. In late October, the parliament voted to unilaterally declare independence from Spain. The Spanish prime minister then invoked an article of Spain’s constitution and dissolved Catalonia’s government.

Cardinal Cañizares said the Catholic Church recognised the right of people to change the political order “without violence, by democratic methods”. But he argued that it was “morally unacceptable” for nations to “claim independence unilaterally by their own will”. He said nationalist demands could only be justified “with reference to the common good of the entire affected population”.

“When the will to independence becomes an absolute principle of political action and is imposed at all costs and by any means, it is comparable to an idolatry that gravely undermines the moral order,” he said.

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