To the Bishopric of Bilbao

My grandmother used to tell us that when she arrived in the neighbourhood with her mother and her two brothers, there were only two buildings on Lersundi Street: the nuns’ school and the six-storey house where four generations of our family lived, including their own. And everything else was fields.

Perhaps it was because of this abundance of land that the school always had a playground. (Not anymore -> link in Spanish)

My grandmother went to that school of nuns until she was nine years old, when her mother took her out to ‘put her to serve’, according to the mother superior “you are taking her out in her best moment”. But there were four mouths to feed, and putting the eldest daughter to work was only a minuscule diminution to the despair of a widowed mother of three. It would be the 1910s.

In 1934 my grandmother was widowed. She returned to live with her mother, and her own daughter, my mother, also went to school, this time next door, Cervantes. Probably the nuns at that point no longer offered free education, as when my grandmother had gone, when they had one entrance for rich girls and then another one for girls like my grandmother.

In the 1970s and 1980s my cousins, sisters and I went to that same nun school. It was the only luxury that my mother allowed herself in the life I knew her: a religious education for her daughters.

Religious education began in that school but then continued in the parish: First Communion, Confirmation. Christian values. Option for the poor, commitment, service to the community. Social justice. Key words that eventually translated into volunteer services, fair trade, activism.

In the course of all this, training and education, on topics such as capitalism, gentrification, or, in almost liturgical words, Structural Sin.

Today, grassroots Christians unite with our neighbors in demands to the Bishopric of Bilbao, which according to the evidence, has decided to form part of that Structural Sin, facilitating the disappearance of the space that from my childhood, and probably before, was the only possible space for games from Albia to Doña Casilda. For the benefit of a private health administration company. I can think of few economic activities more anti-Christian than the administration of health in the hands of the market. Perhaps the construction of armament. Or the adoption industry in the hands of pedophiles.

As a time to deny belonging to an institution of which one has been a part since before birth, it would perhaps have been more appropriate to choose the moment when we began to learn about the aberrations that occurred in orphanages and boarding schools, or the goings-on of the hierarchies in the stock markets, rather than the construction of a mastodon building in a playground, which ultimately only affects the population of that particular neighborhood.

But it’s my playground.

It is the only space where, for reasons of distance, I could play almost daily during the months of school.

And today it could still be the only space where local people can take their children, in several blocks around, if a building is not built in that space.

But it seems that the plans of the Bishopric include not only destroying my and my grandmother’s school, but also constructing a building that occupies the whole lot, eliminating that playground.

I am not going to stop being Catholic because of this, much less Christian. As a nun of the above mentioned school said, once baptized, we are exactly as Catholic as the pope.

And after all, even after an excommunication, no one can take away the Christian label if you want to continue using it.

But one can choose, for one’s own Christian principles or at least for the sake of solidarity, to stop giving donations to an institution that puts the profits of speculation before the welfare of its neighbors.

It can be expected that, now that the Diocesan Church of Vizcaya is expected to make a substantial profit from Operation Barraincúa, the Christian people in the area will not consider it such a priority to tick a certain box at the time of filing their income tax returns.

For human and Christian principles.

Translated with the help of