This is the latest installment from Frenchie on "The incredible adventures of Carmen and Kiko." The full version with all the installments can be found here.
In 1963/1964 the Catholic Church was going through radical changes, unseen in centuries.
What is now known as Vatican II, had been a long, drawn out fight between the different currents of philosophy of the Church. In Spain, like in most of the Spanish speaking world, the leaders of the Church were for the most part against reforms, seeing it as an unholy intrusion of Masonic and Jewish moles in the Vatican. (this whole section would merit a whole book). They had supported Franco in the civil war and its aftermath, because he was opposing such intrusions.
Carmen who was a nun, but had yet to take her vows, being a bright, highly educated (she speaks several languages, as well as latin and greek), she has a Phd in Chemistry and another degree in theology, but also was a "modern" woman, saw Vatican II as an opportunity to create a new path to what she felt was necessary changes in the Church.
Using the political acumen her family is famous for, she was able to sell her program, while continuing to develop its details.
The Franco Regime and the Spanish Catholic Church were both concerned by the festering issues of poverty in and around Madrid, that they saw (justly) as a breeding ground for political discontent. The traditional approach of the Church, which worked fairly well in rural areas, was at a loss in these slums.
Carmen was able to get the green light for their experiment in Madrid's slums. Kiko's newly converted zeal, dances and music, allowed them to make some head ways, where nobody had dared to go before, over the next three years they made progress, while Carmen was polishing the theoretical side of the movement.
Banking on this, she was shrewd in getting more support from the Archbishop of Madrid.
But she also found that local priests in the traditional parishes were seeing these new interlopers as " causing chaos and divisions within parishes" ( a formula used years later by the Bishops of Japan).
While controversy was rising, she was under pressure from her own family, who felt that her disheveled protege, and the company he kept were bad for business. (Specially at a time where they were planning a large expansion, outside their traditional zone of influence.
This is when the genial side of Carmen revealed itself at its best. Knowing the pressure and hostility were mounting, she approached the Archbishop again to back her up for a move to Rome.
Her many contacts with conservatives in Italy, Malta, South America and Canada will prove to be very valuable to pursue her goals.
Soon, she would take along Kiko in the biggest gamble of her life, a move straight to Italy. Really a stone throw away from the inner sanctum of power, the Vatican itself.