The authorities of the church of Montserrat are looking into the possibility of designating a special spot at the religious site for the ashes of cremated people to be left by relatives (read article in Catalan here, Avui). The idea would be to create a columbarium (specifically built place for leaving urns that contain the ashes from cremations) and representatives of the abbey and Patronat de la Muntanya de Montserrat are in discussion as to where the columbarium would be located. The initiative has come about due to the growing popularity of Montserrat amongst people looking for a place in Catalunya to spread the ashes of their loved ones - cremations have risen by 40 percent in the past two decades. The large number of people who go to the 'serrated mountain' with ashes is creating problems for the local authorities not least because some people choose to spread the ashes by throwing them from the mountain still contained within their urn. "It's not that there's one or two cases of this," said a Montserrat spokesperson. "Every weekend, dozens of urns are thrown off." As a result, each Monday sees a special team cleaning the most popular points for spreading ashes, such as the Cross of Sant Miquel. Another popular place for leaving the remains is in the room of votive offerings (Sala de Exvots), but this is a place that is regularly emptied by the abbey. Montserrat is regarded by many Catalans as an important spiritual and pilgrimage site, as well as significant for their national identity.
The Catalan president, José Montilla, and the Prime Minister of Spain, José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, took to the stage together yesterday to show a common front in the run-up to the Catalan elections taking place on November 28th (read article in Castilian here, El Periodico). The leader of the Catalan Socialists (PSC) and the Spanish Socialists (PSOE) have had a shaky relationship during the past four years, starting with the apparent preference of Zapatero for a Catalan government headed by the PSC's rivals Convergència i Unió (CiU) at the last Generalitat elections in 2006. Tension has also been caused by the Constitutional Court's decision regarding the appeal against the Catalan statute, as well as issues including Catalan financing and local infrastructures. Montilla took advantage of Zapatero's visit to Catalunya at the weekend to warn him that if CiU win the upcoming elections, they will provide support to the PSOE's opponents, the Partido Popular, in future Spanish general elections.
Following the recent vote in the Catalan parliament to outlaw bullfighting in the autonomous community, the autumn session will see a debate on the future of 'correbous' or bull running (read article in Castilian here, La Vanguardia). Correbous is a typical feature at festivals in the south of Catalunya, particularly in the area of the Terres de l'Ebre, where bulls run through the streets, sometimes with their horns on fire, although the animals are not put to death as happens in bullfights. The Catalan opposition party, CiU, is behind the initiative to debate the future of correbous in parliament and wants to bring in a series of 'good practices' to regulate the tradition, including security measures, fixing the places where they can take place and their duration. Most of the Catalan parties have indicated they will support the new legislation, with the only exception being Iniciativa per Catalunya Verds. Correbous take place two or three times a year in 36 different Catalan towns.
Also in the news: Messi injured in match against Atletico de Madrid, and will be out for two weeks (read article in Castilian here, La Vanguardia); Catalan scientists negatively affected by economic crisis may move abroad to continue research (read article in Castilian here, El Periodico); Large majority of Catalan drivers who've lost all their driving licence points successfully complete course to recover right to drive (read article in Catalan here, Avui).