Skip to comments.The Catholic Church and the Spanish Civil War
Posted on 10/23/2010 6:56:56 PM PDT by tesbassa
REV. DR. RYAN TRACES ORIGINS OF THE STRUGGLE
Basques and Moors
If the people of Spain hadnt risen against such atrocities they would not have been the valiant sons of Spain that they are but despicable cowards, declared Very Rev. Dr. A. H. Ryan, Professor of Scholastic Philosophy, Queens University, Belfast, in an address on Spain in St. Marys Hall, Belfast, last night.
Over 200 people attended, among them the Bishop of Down and Connor, Most Rev. Dr. Mageean. Mr. Raymond Burke presided. Dr. Ryan said that the deplorable events in Spain since the outbreak of the civil war had produced most extraordinary reactions in many places and especially in Ireland.
The fact that the Catholic Church had suffered had produced the usual type of exultation in those bigoted circles that could not see that the Catholic Church was fighting the battle, not alone of Catholicism, but of every religion.
It had produced joy also in those antediluvian circles which interpreted Catholicity in terms of the Spanish Inquisition and walled-in nuns. Amongst Liberals it was interpreted as a war of Democracy against Fascism, while strangest of all was the attitude of Labour circles.
Whilst the English Trade Union Congress wisely recognised that Communism was its most deadly enemy at home, it did not regard it as inconsistent to send fraternal greetings to the frankly Communist regime in Spain under Largo Caballero.
Even amongst Catholics there were sometimes misgivings. They were frequently asked how it was that a nation like Spain, overwhelmingly Catholic, could produce such a number of people who could turn on the Church with such ferocity.
They were asked did it not suggest that there was something wrong with the Church in Spain. Others, better informed, were disquieted when they saw the apparent alliance between Fascism and the Catholic Church in European countries, including Spain, and asked was there any truth in the charge that the Catholic Church was going hand in hand with Fascism against the liberties of the people.
The natural answer, but not the most effective in the long run, was to point to the series of atrocities that had been committed Church burnings, the desecrations of the dead, the sacrileges, and say: What is to be done with the perpetrators of these deeds except to exterminate them?
They were too close to the actual events to examine these things properly, and it was only by a survey of the recent history of Spain that they could put the civil war in its proper perspective.
After giving a brief survey of recent political events in Spain, Dr. Ryan said that though the Left Wing forces controlled the Cortes they had not the largest party.
Democrats everywhere thought that the Premiership would have been given to the leader of the largest party, Senor Gil Robles, of the Catholic Centre Party, with a democratic policy, but he was ousted by the extremists.
In the elections in February last, owing to divisions among the parties on the Right, the Popular Front received a majority of seats, but not of votes. For the 263 seats won by the Left coalition, 4,600,000 votes were cast while with 5,000,000 votes the Centre and Right parties only secured 210 seats. The extreme Left Wing only secured 23 per cent of the votes, so no mandate was given by the people of Spain for the subsequent policy.
It was revealed in an interview with the Prime Minister of Spain that a priest was forced to say Mass on the edge of a trench and at the words Ite Missa Est, he was shot down and his body fell into the pit.
Proceeding, Dr. Ryan said that the insurgents in Spain were not engaged in a wanton revolt against Democratic government.
It was not a revolt of Conservatism against Liberalism because many leaders who spent their lives in exile under the Monarchy were fighting with the insurgents. It was not a revolt of the Monarchy against Democratic government, because many of the leaders were Republicans.
It was a revolt of the decent liberty-loving people of Spain who dared to suggest that priests and nuns had the same right of life as dogs against the barbarism imported from Russia.
It was regrettable that Moorish troops had to be called in to fight Communism but it must be remembered that the Moors were part of the regular army and compared to Communist terrorists, Moors were gentlemen.
The Moors fought against barricades, not monasteries.
They fought against soldiers, not nuns.
How was it, they were asked, that such ferocity could be stirred up in an overwhelming Catholic country?
The answer to that was that those who talked of Spain being a Catholic country in anything like the sense of the Irish Free State were completely ignorant of Spanish history.
From the days of Napoleon the church has been harassed under the influence of Continental Liberalism, the religious orders had been expelled many times from the eighteenth century till recent times. The attacks on the Church were no new things, any more than they were in Italy, Germany or Ireland.
Replying to questions, Dr. Ryan said that if the Insurgents won General Franco had stated that a system of Government something similar to that of Portugal, semi-Fascist, and, in spite of much criticism, an extremely suitable system, would be set up in Spain.
Asked if there were Catholics fighting for the Government forces in Spain, Dr. Ryan said there were in the provinces of Catalonia, where the Communists, always eager to fish in troubled waters, had under the guise of supporting Catalan aspirations for independence, secured support, as they had used the Basques, but he added if General Franco at the moment had the courage or foresight to promise the people of Catalonia some measure of independence, their support of the Communists would cease in the twinkling of an eye.
I have thought for nearly twenty years that the social divisions and the alliances within the United States bear a remarkable parallel to those of Spain just prior to the SCW. We don’t want to go there, but it is a real possibility.
It is unfortunate that almost all of the English language literature for this period is decidedly partisan leftist.
“against the barbarism imported from Russia.”
With some help from traitorous American Marxists like the Abraham Lincoln Brigade.
I have read Combat Over Spain by Jose de Larios. He presents more truth about the origins of the war in about 12 pages than in any twelve volumes at a typical public library.
Homage to Catalonia by George Orwell is essential reading for the period too. Very fascinating, as Orwell was a dedicated, Trotskyite leftist who barely escaped with his life from his more Stalinist “comrades”.
The Passionate War by Peter Wyden is left of center, but not insanely so, and does candidly present a lot of the chicanery flourishing between the Kremlin and Madrid, and puts in proper context the relative amounts of ‘foreign assistance’ from Moscow and Paris on one hand, and Rome and Berlin on the other. It was interesting to read of the transfer of virtually all of Spain’s gold bullion from the treasury into Soviet vessels. Quite Wagnerian. Ironic that some of Moctezuma’s gold may now be in the hands of Soros.
The “Abraham Lincoln Brigade” was a very small part of the foreign involvement in the Spanish Civil War. Most of the Brigade members were European leftist.
In addition to the International Brigade, the Soviet Union sent arms and “volunteers”, pilots and ground troops.
Mexico provided $2,000,000 plus 20,000 rifles and 8 pieces of artillery. The Mexicans also provided ground troops. (Although the exact number is difficult to find and historically the combat effectiveness of Mexican troops has been... well...)
It’s available online here:
Got any reading recommendations for us, either in English or Spanish? I’d be chipping away at the Spanish with a dictionary close at hand, but I could fight my way through. I’m still looking for a good French work on the war in the Vendee, too.
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I will check out The Last Crusade.
Orwell is a great read for a number of reasons. Besides the gritty, personal view of the SCW from the Republican trenches, Homage to Catalonia IS WHERE he was enlightened about what the collectivist left is truly and bloodily about. Probably 1984 and certainly Animal Farm would never have been written without Orwell’s experiences recounted in Homage to Catalonia. This was the point at which his non-conformist, left but anti-communist views were crystallized.
Was Franco really that bad of a person? Did he kill millions like Mao, Stalin or Pol Pot, all communists?
Did he seek to wipe out the jewish relgion like Hitler?
He hated communists. HE may have sent help to Hitler, but it was the “Blue Divison” that was made up of soliders that Franco saw as extreme. And those troops fought Russian and didnt really like the German much either. They once held a parade and marched with inflated condoms tied to their bayonets.
The real reason that the left hated Franco was that he fought against leftists. If he towed the Stalin line, he would be a heron in their eyes.
“The Abraham Lincoln Brigade was a very small part of the foreign involvement in the Spanish Civil War.”
Yes, I know, but as they were American leftists, their treachery especially should not be forgotten by us.
“Was Franco really that bad of a person?”
Well, I don’t know if he was good or bad as a person, but he hated Commies, that’s for sure. The enemy of my enemy is my friend, and all that :)
I have always found it interesting OTOH that even Franco's hostile biographers have to include the good he did. Look for accounts of his speech in dedicating Spain's Valley of the Dead cemetery which holds the remains of those who died on all sides of the Spanish Civil War, for his steadfast refusal to engage in even discussions of politics (also a Spanish military tradition of refraining) before the Spanish Civil War and for his decision to call from his post in the Canary Islands his friend who was the commander of the garrison at Spanish Morocco to launch the Civil War upon learning of the rape and murder by communist army units ofa large convent of nuns. First he said a rosary and then he made the phone call. Also seek out the story of the defense of the Alcazar fortress and the sacrificial death of a noble son of a Franco general.
Communists everywhere hated Francisco Franco and Chiang Kai-Shek more than they hated anyone else. Each was a genuine hero.
My favorite historian in English of modern Spain is Stanley Payne. He is not left-wing and analyzes the situation more objectively than just about anybody else. Below is a list of some of his books that are relevant to this topic:
A History of Spain and Portugal, 1973
Spanish Catholicism: An Historical Overview, 1984
The Franco Regime 1936-1975, 1988
Spain’s First Democracy: The Second Republic, 1931-1936, 1993
Fascism in Spain 1923-1977, 2000
The Spanish Civil War, the Soviet Union, and Communism 1931-1939, 2004
The Collapse of the Spanish Republic, 1933-1936, 2006
Franco and Hitler: Spain, Germany, and World War II, 2008
In Spanish, Pio Moa is a good writer on modern Spanish history, as is Cesar Vidal. I don’t think the work of either one of them has been translated into English, unfortunately, and their books might be hard to get in the US. You could check Amazon or its Spanish on-line equivalent, La Casa del Libro.
Another interesting book is La Gran Persecucion - Espana, 1931-1939, by Vicente Carcel Orti. Again, it’s only in Spanish, and is quite bloodcurdling. The extent of the left’s attack on the Church (not only the heirarchy and priests and religious, but even lay Catholics who were active in their parishes or in church organizations) has NEVER been discussed in the US.
I knew Franco HAD to be a good guy because the Left hated him so much. They still do (See the movie Pan’s Labyrinth). However history shows a very different view of this so-called Fascist in the books “Spain, the Jews, and Franco” by Chaim Avni and The Mezuzah in the Madonna’s Foot: Marranos and Other Secret Jews: A Woman Discovers Her Hidden Identity by Trudi Alexy.
What ever happened to all that Aztec gold that was sent to the USSR for safekeeping? It seems to have disappered in Russia when Franco took over spain.
My really big recommendation, though is The Cypresses Believe in God by José Maria Gironella, which I am just now reading for a second time.
It covers 1931-1936, covering the chaos (there's that word again) of the pre-war period as it caught up one family in Gerona, a provincial capital in Catalonia. It really illuminates the complexities of the human conflict, and gives --- it seems to me --- a sympathetic and balanced glimpse of all the bewildering multiplicity of factions, anacharist, Catholic, communist, royalist, traditionalist, socialist, liberal, Catalan-nationalist, and more.
Published by Ignatius Press, 800+ pages (and it's just the first of a trilogy!) , can be gotten, used, for under $10 from Amazon.
I think it's tremendous, and really want to read the 2nd and 3rd installments.
Leaves you shaking your head over tormented Spain--- and the tormented human race.