The Cardinal Archbishop of Barcelona Lluis Martinez Sistach spoke yesterday in his traditional Mercè speech but his tone was far from festive as he put across a rather critical message (article in Castilian, El Periodico). Sistach stressed the closeness of the Virgin of Mercy as he spoke of the suffering of "disease, slavery, prostitution, incarceration, violence, warm injustice, denial of fundamental rights, arrest and persecution. In what many people took to be a reference to the prostitution problem reported in the press lately he said, "there are many forms of slavery that made things impossible for people" and that they (the problems) are "rooted in human egoism, and ultimately in sin". He also went on to talk of his sadness over the planned new abortion law and insisted that the unborn are "human beings" and willed that "God and God alone is the master of life." Those in attendance were President Jose Montilla, the Mayor Jordi Hereu, leaders from parties CiU, PP and the ERC. Councilors from the ICV-EUiA did not attend wishing to defend secular institutions.
People and donors who "bought" or "sponsored" one of the 4000 organ pipes at the Palau de la Mùsica in order to raise the money to restore it spoke of their anger after discovering the Felix Millet team had taken some of the money raised during the project (article in Castilian, El Periodico). Following the revelation on the Matias de Catalunya Radio Manel Fuentes that the restoration of the organ only cost €758,000 but €884,000 was raised. People were asking where the €126,000 went. The minimum donation was €50 and covered the 2,500 inner tubes and the maximum, for large businesses amounted to €10,000 and was for the larger tubes that are visible from the hall. All sponsors were given a certificate and their name was recorded in a tubular sculpture. Jesus Lopez Cobos, musical director of the Royal Theatre, which bought 10 pipes reflected, "In a country like Spain, with a weak culture of patronage this is detrimental to the arts
In a press conference given yesterday, the director general of FC Barcelona, Joan Oliver admitted that the club, without prior knowledge of the president, Joan Laporta, or any of the managers, Joan Boix, Joan Franquesa, Rafael Yuste an Jaume, had last March hired a private detective to conduct an "audit" on the safety of the four vice presidents precisely at the time that possible replacements were in the running to lead the club (article in Castilian, El Mundo). Joan Oliver tried to reduce the act by saying it was for the "protection and security" of the officials. Oliver has tried to neutralise growing claims of espionage by stressing at all times that the actions were meant to "ensure security" of the vice presidents. The CEO also ruled out his possible resignation and added "this security audit has been done with the most scrupulous respect for the law."
Also in the news: More than 82,000 people enjoy the first day of the Mercè festival (La Vanguardia) Teachers are opposed to removing the intensive school day of June but parents are in favour (El Pais) The morning after pill will be available in pharmacies without a prescription from Monday (20 minutos)