Cassià Maria Just
He was born on 22 August 1926 in Barcelona. At the age of nine, he joined the Escolania de Montserrat to study music. He became a member of the Order of Saint Benedict as a novice of Santa Maria de Montserrat on 6 August 1943. On 27 August 1950 he was ordained a priest. His music studies, focused on the organ, continued in Rome and Paris until 1956. His studies allowed him to compose several polyphonic pieces. From 1957 to 1964 he was the master of novices of Montserrat.
Abbot of Montserrat
In 1964 he was elected prior of Montserrat abbey. He became abbot in 1966, to replace Aureli Maria Escarré, who had had to go on exile during Francisco Franco's dictatorship because of some public statements against the regime. He continued the path his predecessor had begun. Just gave Montserrat his open-minded and peaceful style, which made him take in believers and non-believers and people from all ideologies in the abbey. During this time, Cassià kept solid ties with Pope Paul VI. His management of the abbey is notable because it took place during an era of changes in Spain and in Catholicism, it was a few years after the Second Vatican Council and the last years of Franco's dictatorship and the Spanish transition to democracy.
After ending his job as abbot he was involved in several humanitarian causes. In 1989 he formed a foundation against unemployment and to help disabled people. In 1994, he created a foundation with his name to help people with risk of being excluded from society to find a job.
Late in December 2007, he suffered a stroke which required him to be admitted to hospital Sant Joan de Déu de Manresa. On 9 March he suffered another stroke, recovering from which would have been almost impossible. Cassià died on 12 March 2008 in the infirmary of the monastery.
Reactions to death and funeral
More than 1,500 persons attended Cassià's funeral. Amongst them were the last three presidents of the Generalitat, Jordi Pujol, Pasqual Maragall and José Montilla; Marius Rubiralta, the vice-chancellor of the University of Barcelona; the former archbishop of Girona, Jaume Camprodon and Josep Caminal, the former director of the Gran Teatre del Liceu.
Political and religious views
The abbot was always a defender of human rights. and showed support for left-wing politics as well as Catalan nationalism. He opposed the Francoist regime. This made him be known as the "abad rojo" (red abbot).
He was a strong critic of some official positions of the Church. For him most part of the leaders of the Church were locked in ideas from the past which had to change. He believed the sexual morals of the Roman Catholic Church were outdated, and showed a favourable position towards the use of contraceptives. Cassià Maria also asked the Church to review its positions on homosexuality, euthanasia, and abortion.
- "Fallece el abad emérito de Montserrat, Cassià Maria Just". Lavanguardia.es (in Spanish). 2008-03-12. Archived from the original on 2008-06-20. Retrieved 2008-03-14.
- "Más de 500 personas acuden a la capilla ardiente de Cassià Maria Just, abad emérito de Montserrat". elPeriódico.com (in Spanish). 2008-03-12. Retrieved 2008-03-14.[dead link]
- "Cassià Maria Just Riba: datos biográficos en la hora de su muerte". Ecclesia Digital (in Spanish). 2008-03-12. Retrieved 2008-03-13.
- "Montserrat acomiada Cassià Maria Just en un funeral multitudinari i emotiu". 3cat24.cat (in Catalan). 2008-03-14. Retrieved 2008-03-14.
- "Muere Cassià Maria Just, el abad de Montserrat adelantado a su tiempo". elPeriódico.com (in Spanish). Retrieved 2008-03-13.[dead link]
- "Muere el ex abad de Montserrat Cassià Maria Just". diariodenavarra.es (in Spanish). 2008-03-12. Retrieved 2008-03-14.
- "Mor Cassià Maria Just, abat emèrit de Montserrat entre 1966 i 1989". 3cat24.cat (in Catalan). 2008-03-13. Retrieved 2008-03-14.