From Catholic Conclave
The controversial priest from Madrid, Enrique de Castro, has died at the age of 80.
Enrique de Castro was born in Madrid in 1943. The son of an Aviation officer who fought in the Nationalist ranks during the Civil War and who, years later, was promoted to lieutenant general, Enrique studied at the Colegio del Pilar in Madrid and graduated in Theology at the University of Comillas.
In 1972 he was ordained a priest and chose Vallecas as his destination. There he collaborated with social and workers' movements and, at the beginning of the 1980s, when Vallecas was hit by delinquency and heroin, he was directly involved in the care of thousands of young people with drug and justice problems.
His ideas against the Catholic Church and the Vatican brought him into many problems with the ecclesiastical hierarchy, from which he generally emerged unscathed. He published the books 'Dios es ateo', 'Hay que colgarlos?' and 'La fe y la estafa', all published by Editorial Popular.
As soon as news of his death became public, leading figures on the Spanish left sent messages of condolence for his passing. The former vice-president of the government, Pablo Iglesias, wrote the following: I met Enrique de Castro in civil disobedience actions. As he was never dressed as a priest, he was beaten just the same. I didn't believe in the priesthood but, if saints existed, Enrique would be one of them. May the earth be kind to you, comrade".
Life full of controversy
This priest rose to fame participating in the RTVE programme 'La Clave' to talk about Opus Dei. De Castro became known as 'the neighbourhood priest' and in the 70's and 80's he clashed head-on with the prelature, which he defined as having a "legalistic and superficial spirituality". His animosity and belligerence against any conservative movement was total.
In an interview in 2013, he declared that "instead of taking communion with wafers, the mothers of the kids we worked with would make bread and bring it to us. Other times, instead of bread, they would make a sponge cake, or doughnuts. That's what we used for the liturgy. There are certain themes that the official Church does not accept. That's when the visible conflict arose and that's when they told us they were closing the parish, in 2006".
(Cathcon: Closure was only prevented by rabble-rousing from the extreme left).
Moreover, in the same interview, he defended that "the priesthood has to disappear. Let's use the word 'priest' or 'presbyter'. Let's use whatever it is, but let it not have a sacred connotation, of someone different and separated from the rest of human beings".
In 2016, in conversation with a journalist, he affirmed that "I came to smoke while giving Mass, yes, it was in the 1980s, one day, shortly after starting mass in the parish of Entrevías. We had placed the altar table in the middle of the church and the pews in a circle; I was already saying mass dressed in civilian clothes, without habits and all that. We were in the middle of a participatory homily, meaning that it wasn't just the priest who spoke, but anyone who wanted to speak, and four young lads came in and sat down and lit up some cigarettes. A woman who was next to me signalled to me, warning me that these kids were smoking. I don't know why I did it, but I reached into my packet of cigarettes, took out a cigarette and lit it. After a while almost everybody started smoking, of course. The Mass continued and at the end, without making a sound, those kids left. I think I did the best thing because if I told them that it was not allowed to smoke in Mass they would have gone aThe controversial priest from Madrid, Enrique de Castro, has died at the age of 80.way upset, or what do I know, but the fact is that from that day onwards people smoked in my masses. And not only cigarettes, but also joints, which were rolled one after the other during the celebration. Nothing happened, I think it was a way of normalising something that should never have been condemned, so what happened happened happened".
In a recent interview last summer, this controversial priest claimed that God is an atheist. "There are many different gods under the same meaning, that's why I always write it with a small letter. God, the God of Jesus, does not believe in any of the religions we have invented. That is why he is an atheist", defended this priest.