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Catalan government wants archbishop and abbot to mediate talks with Spain

Cardinal Juan Jose Omella of Barcelona speaks with Spain's King Felipe VI (Getty Images)

The Catalan government has suggested that the Archbishop of Barcelona and the Abbot of Montserrat should act as mediators between the region and Spanish authorities, as the region’s political crisis deepens.

Catalan government broadcaster CCMA reports that regional authorities want Cardinal Juan José Omella and Abbot Josep Maria Soler to act as their representatives in talks with the Spanish government.

The request comes after Catalan vice-president Oriol Junqueras met with Cardinal Omella to discuss how the Church and other international bodies cold help mediate the tense political situation.

Catalonia held an independence referendum on Sunday, despite the vote being declared illegal by the Spain’s supreme court. Violent clashes broke out as Spanish police tried to shut down polling stations and confiscate ballot papers, however just over 40 per cent of the region’s population managed to vote.

Cardinal Omella described the violence as “deplorable” and called for “dialogue and prayer”, adding that authorities must find a “peaceful and democratic solution”.

The Spanish government has so far ruled out negotiations with Catalan leaders, declaring that the vote has no legitimacy. Catalan president Carles Puigdemont has threatened to declare independence “within days”.