Jaime Mayor OrejaRead more : "Nowadays, anyone who defends firm principles is labeled a fundamentalist".

Jaime Mayor Oreja, former Minister of the Interior of Spain and current President of the Foundation Values and Societywill be the opening speaker at the X St. Josemaría Symposiumwhich will be held in Jaén on November 19-20. Freedom and commitment is the theme of this symposium and also at the heart of this conversation with the President of the European Federation One Of Us.

Maria José Atienza-November 17, 2021-Reading time: 7 minutes
Jaime Mayor Oreja during the interview.

Committed to political activity since the age of 24, Jaime Mayor Oreja has had a front row seat to the evolution of Spanish politics and society over the last 40 years.

An outspoken Catholic, his defense of Christian principles has led him, at times, "to loneliness", as he himself points out. With an in-depth knowledge of European socio-political life, Jaime Mayor Oreja has granted an interview to Omnes in which he defends the recovery of the Christian voice in today's political, cultural and social life.

We have to go out of the institutions to join together with others who defend the same ideas. This is a battle of David against Goliath and that is how we have to face it.

Jaime Mayor Oreja. Former Minister of the Interior

Do you think it is possible to return to a socio-political unity that prioritizes the common good over ideological positions? How to start this process? 

The first thing we have to do is to accept the diagnosis of our illness. Moral relativism, that is, the lack of references, is a dominant fashion that is winning by a landslide. Not by 2-0 but by 7-0. This is so. In Spain, therefore, we have to remember the Christian foundations of our society and fight a cultural battle. Present an alternative to this dominant fashion.

What has happened is that there has been a cultural incompatibility of the fundamentals: the truth, the nature and dignity of the person, of its main institutions, marriage, what freedom means, the idea of Spain, the idea of the Crown... All these fundamentals are today being undermined by the dominant relativism and it is necessary to be present. 

-Where are the Christian politicians in our society? Do they exist?

They are not very present. People too easily embrace resignation and a feeling of defeat and think that little or nothing can be done. Each one closes in his institution... But, when it is necessary to give a cultural battle of this dimension, it is necessary to do it from the sum, from the synergies and that is what is lacking.

Of course there are Catholic intellectuals, thinkers and politicians but, in the end, there is not enough critical mass to add up. 

We have to go out of the institutions to join together with others who defend the same ideas. This is a battle of David against Goliath and that is how we have to face it. We have to sow, to plant the seed of a true cultural alternative. If there is no alternative, the sign of the government in office will matter nothing. An alternative is something more than a change of party: it is an alternative in fundamental ideas and this is the great challenge in Spain and Europe. 

-Now that you mention Europe, have you lost the spirit that gave you life, the spirit that moved Schuman, Adenauer...?

Europe has lost its soul. Europe was born without a body but with a soul, because it was born post tragedy and one usually has a soul in tragedies. Europe has become a body, with many institutions and a lot of budget, but it has lost its soul. 

Between World War I and World War II, the germ of the European idea was already there, but it did not come to fruition. It took a second tragedy to make it a reality. 

To recover the soul in Europe now is the time for sowing, not harvesting. Europe has fundamentally lost its faith. Secularization has been brutal and it is evident that this is "the cause" among causes. We are facing a crisis of values, of conscience, of principles, of foundations, a crisis of truth. When we delve deeper into all this, it becomes evident that this crisis we are suffering is a crisis of faith. We have stopped believing and we have disregarded a dimension that cannot be disregarded: the religious dimension of a society. It is not that we are all Catholics and Christians in the faith. What is not possible is that there is an unhealthy obsession to destroy all the institutions and all the social doctrine born of Christianity and the Social Doctrine of the Church, to eliminate all the references that Christianity has brought us on life, marriage, the person... This obsession makes us lose our soul.

We are facing a crisis of values, of conscience, of principles, of foundations, a crisis of truth. When we delve deeper into all this, it becomes evident that this crisis we are suffering is a crisis of faith.

Jaime Mayor Oreja. Former Minister of the Interior

-Are you hopeful that he will recover?

I am a Christian, and we Christians have to lose everything except hope. When I am branded as a pessimist, I always make the same joke: I tell them that we Spaniards are lucky to have two different verbs to differentiate between hope and hope. be and the be. I am an optimist who is pessimistic. But I am an optimist. 

Jaime Mayor Oreja during the interview with Omnes.

In the years of lead of the Basque Country I defended the political and social isolation of ETA's environment. We were able to put it into practice, for a short time, thirty years later. Now I defend the Christian foundations of Europe, so I am an optimist. An optimist who sees reality and who knows that we are worried, pessimistic, in the face of that same reality, because otherwise I would be a fool. But we have to be optimistic, we have to believe that we will get out of this situation. Knowing that we are losing 7-0 and with an advance of relativism and the destruction of permanent references. 

So, are we talking about a long-term battle?

You never know if it is medium or long term. Historical cycles are full of surprises. We are at the end of a stage, that's for sure. My generation was at the beginning of a stage: the postwar period, the end of World War II and a little before the Spanish Civil War. Now we are at the end of a period, and decadence is what characterizes the end of eras. So it's very unpredictable, what's going to happen, is there going to be some kind of trauma? We don't know. It can be predicted at the beginning of a period; at the end of a historical stage, prediction is impossible. 

When I was young, people used to criticize a person by saying that he or she was a "sinfundamento". We have gone from sinfundamentals to fundamentalists.

Jaime Mayor Oreja. Former Minister of the Interior

-Do you consider yourself a "loose verse", as you have been called at times, or simply free?

There is freedom to do good, not to do evil. Freedom is not freedom to do whatever you want, whenever you want and however you want. I have always been a person who has sought the truth and I have not betrayed myself. I have had defects and mistakes, but I think I think quite similar to when I started to make the democratic transition in Guipúzcoa at the age of 24. 

I have seen how the dominant fashion has been changing and, obviously, when relativism takes hold you are put in a position where you look like a fundamentalist. But that is a mirage. What has advanced is a dominant fashion. Now everyone who believes in something is called a fundamentalist. And that is not being a fundamentalist. 

When I was young, people used to criticize a person by saying that he or she was a "sinfundamento". We have gone from the sinfundamento to the fundamentalists. In my life I have always defended the same things and I have anticipated processes that were taking place, such as the so-called "peace" process, which changed Spanish society from top to bottom. When you defend that diagnosis you have to know that the strength of your principles and convictions lead you to periods of loneliness. Defending the same things, I have had the greatest possible support in the polls, for example, when I was Minister of the Interior... then you experience loneliness. But I wish not to be alone. I wish that, in the certainty of the diagnosis that some of us make about this crisis, in ten years, many people accompany me. 

-Do you have to keep your beliefs to succeed in politics today?

Today politics is devalued. We are living a moment of mediocrity in the ways in which politicians behave, who are more administrators of states of opinion than references in convictions and principles. It seems that it is incompatible to coherently maintain convictions, principles and solid positions.

During the Spanish transition, the best diplomats, State lawyers, lawyers of the Spanish Parliament or the Council of State, went into politics. Today, the best are not in politics. The fault does not lie with the politicians, but with society, which often punishes principles and has allowed the public man to be so denigrated that, in the end, many have ceased to be public men.

-With this panorama, is Christian commitment to public work more difficult?

Relativism has taken over the public sphere: in society, in the media. The media are of enormous importance in our democracies, because a democracy is a regime of opinion.

If relativism takes hold of a society and its means of opinion, it is evident that the defense of Christian values and principles is greatly complicated. How can this be solved? By overcoming the reverential fear of an environment.

I always remember that, in the 1980s, in the Basque Country there were two fears: physical fear - an organization could kill you - and another "reverential fear" that, for defending the idea of Spain in the Basque Country, or for defending the State security forces, you would be branded as a bad Basque. A reverential fear of an environment, of a dominant fashion, and this fear is more difficult to combat than physical fear.

The current environment also produces this fear. Fear of being told that you are a gentleman of the 17th century, of the Middle Ages or that you are a caveman, for defending your ideas regarding the person, marriage, or what gender ideology means... Fear of being labeled, of being labeled a fundamentalist.

A Christian has to overcome that reverential fear, he cannot hide or use words to disguise what he thinks or wants to say. You have to adapt to the media and new languages of communication, but you don't have to "dress up as a lagarterana". We have to say the things we believe in, with respect, knowing that we are in a free and plural society and that not everyone has the same faith, nor do we try to impose it, but without hiding.

It is surprising to see conference titles in universities or Catholic institutions full of "nice" words avoiding the use of language of faith when the question is: why are we losing our faith, why are we losing our Christian foundations, why is secularization advancing every day, why are families becoming unstructured? 

During the Spanish transition, the best diplomats, State lawyers, lawyers of the Cortes or of the Council of State..., went into politics. Today, the best are not in politics.

Jaime Mayor OrejaFormer Minister of the Interior

-In the face of legislation such as euthanasia or abortion, do you think it is possible to rescue this society from death?

I believe that the main objective of the dominant project now is to replace one society with another. There are those who want to destroy one social order for a new, or better, social order, social disorder.

The political and social debate in the coming decades will change. To date, the debate has been between a political right (less state, more society, less taxes) versus a political left (more state, less society, more taxes).

At present, relativism has been installed both on the left and on the right. Therefore, the debate will be between relativism and fundamentals. In the face of this, we must overcome the reverential fear of being called fundamentalist for defending fundamentals. 

We have to understand the changing times and that those who defend fundamentals will be more attacked. Now, we cannot build a society on lies, on gender, abortion or euthanasia. There is no society that can resist.

Yes, they will hurt and destroy many foundations of our society, but those who defend this disorder are doomed to failure and they know it. They are not right and they have no reason

For our part, it is time to sow and overcome the distances of institutions, of groups, of so many people who think the same thing. To be able to overcome this separation and be united to fight this cultural battle.

In collaboration with
Do you want independent, truthful and relevant news?

Dear reader, Omnes reports with rigor and depth on religious news. We do a research work that allows the reader to acquire criteria on the events and stories that happen in the Catholic sphere and the Church. We have star signatures and correspondents in Rome who help us to make the background information stand out from the media noise, with ideological distance and independence.

We need you to face the new challenges of a changing media landscape and a reality that demands reflection, we need your support.

In collaboration with
More on Omnes
La Brújula Newsletter Leave us your email and receive every week the latest news curated with a catholic point of view.