American in Spain


September 21, 2007

clerical, adj

1 (of a job or person) concerned with or relating to work in an office, esp. routine documentation and administrative tasks : temps are always needed for clerical work.

I can see how this secular definition came about after my dealings with The Church. As you may recall, we were planning on visiting the local Bishop today. Last night, after several unsuccessful attempts, we finally got in contact with our helper in our church matters, Luis. He was surprised to hear that the local priest had not yet contacted us. He said he'd call the priest and see what was up. We suggested that he just give us the priest's number and we could call him and clear things up. So we did. The conversation went something like:

Priest: Hello?

Marga: Hi, this is Marga. I believe that Luis has been talking to you about our situation.

Priest [annoyed at being disturbed]: I've already got all your information. I'll call you tomorrow. [click!]

Needless to say, we were a little peeved. Our looming deadline was being rendered invisible by a huge SEP Field.

The Bishop's office hours are from 10am to 1pm on weekdays, and it's about 30 minutes away. We decided to wait until 10:30 and then start trying to call the priest. If we didn't get through by 11:00, we'd go to the Bishop's office. At the last minute, Marga got through and the priest gave her the chance to explain the situation a little bit. He said we should come by the church in Colindres at 12:45pm. This put us in the bind of whether we 1) go see the priest at 12:45 and forfeit any chance of making it to the Bishop's office before the deadline, or 2) just go see the Bishop ourselves and make sure we got everything straightened out. I was getting both nervous and fed up with all the red tape, so I was leaning towards option #2. But Marga is wiser with these matters. Both because she knows more about what the word "deadline" means in Spain and because she's better with politics, and knew that going over the priest's head when he'd made an appointment with us might not be the best move when we still need his help, she convinced me to go with option #1.

The priest was a pretty nice guy. He seemed on top of the situation. He apologized for being so busy, due to the bishop change and that he has four weddings and a funeral to do tomorrow. He filled out the paperwork that he will send first to Santander, and then to Mondragon to handle "the Banns". The guy that has to preside over Marga signing that she will get confirmed sometime in the future is only at the Bishop's office on Tuesdays and Wednesdays (so we probably wouldn't have accomplished a damn blessed thing by going there today). So we will go next Tuesday and have her sign that paper.

As for me, it turns out to be okay that I'm not Catholic. All I have to do is sign a paper saying that I'm cool with having a Catholic ceremony and respect their traditions, and that I promise to raise my children Catholic. Now there's a well thought out rule for meme survival! So when we go on Tuesday, I'll sign that document and then we're good to go. I'll try to remember not to doodle any pentagrams around my signature.

But wait! There's more! On Wednesday, we have to have another meeting with the priest where we have to bring two other people not related to us to be witnesses. Listen to how stupid this is. They can be anyone at all. They don't have to know us or anything. And then, they have to sign a paper saying that, as far as they know, we're not married. Luis told us earlier that the shopkeepers across the street are used to being asked to come over and agree that, as far as they know, two strangers they've never met aren't married. What a goofy system. They already require official government documents saying that you aren't married, and then they have this thousand-year-old witness testimony requirement that even a fool could manipulate in his favor.

So it looks like the marriage won't be called off... yet...