Spain: reconciliation in the Basque Country

The permanent ceasefire proclaimed on March 22 by ETA, the Basque terrorist separatist movement, could at last mark the end to the decades-long conflict in Northern Spain. In an article published in the webpage of Centro Ellacuria, a social centre of the Loyola Province devoted to social analysis and the promotion of active citizenship, Pedro Luis Arias Ergueta analyzes the role that Christian communities could play at this very delicate juncture of the ?Basque conflict?. The author, Professor at the University of the Basque Country, believes that both institutions and citizens have a great responsibility in ensuring a successful reconciliation process, and that Christian communities are part and parcel of this process which is based on three main elements: the recognition of the victims? right to truth, justice and reparation; the outright rejection of violence as a political means, and the promotion of democratic and participative governance. The Church has an important role in clearly denouncing the use of violence. This requires us, as individuals and as a community, to ?evangelize our identities?, which means standing fast by our main and most important identity, that which binds us to the project of Jesus, and not letting our identities turn into idolatries. Furthermore, given the important role played by Church-based educational institutions in the Basque country, non-violence should form an integral element of the formation programmes offered by these institutions. The Church?s contribution is important also inasmuch as it helps to build a society of reconciliation by showing new forms of living together and a new political culture based on proximity with the victims and their suffering, and a forgiveness that does not eliminate the need for justice and compensation. Such a culture is inspired by a deep spirituality of ?risk and excess?.