Skip to comments.Pope blasts Spain's 'aggressive' anti-church ways
Posted on 11/06/2010 9:33:31 AM PDT by markomalley
Pope Benedict XVI on Saturday blasted the "aggressive" anti-church sentiment he said was flourishing in Spain as he sought to rekindle the faith in a once-staunchly Roman Catholic nation that is now among Europe's most liberal.
The pope's first stop on a two-day trip that began Saturday was in the pilgrimage city of Santiago de Compostela, whose ornate cathedral is said to hold the remains of St. James the Apostle. There, Benedict prayed before James' tomb and watched, a bit awe-struck, as the cathedral's massive incense burner swung pendulum-like across the transept.
Benedict told reporters en route to Santiago that the anticlericalism seen now in Spain is reminiscent of the 1930s, when the church suffered a wave of violence and persecution as the country lurched from an unstable democracy to civil war. The reference was striking given the scale of violence back then, when the church claims 4,184 clergy were killed by the government, or Republican, side, which accused the church of backing fascist Gen. Francisco Franco.
Nowadays, the church finds itself fighting laws supported by Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero's Socialist government that have allowed gay marriage, fast-track divorce and easier abortions.
"In Spain, a strong, aggressive lay mentality, an anticlericalism and secularization has been born as we experienced in the 1930's," Benedict told reporters. "For the future of the faith, it is this meeting - not a confrontation but a meeting - between faith and lay mentality that has a central point in Spanish culture."
The pope said Spain was a particular focus of a new Vatican office to fight such trends worldwide since Spain had played such an important role in reviving Christianity in centuries past. Later in Santiago, Benedict recalled that Pope John Paul II had issued a similar message to Spain and Europe to rediscover their Christian roots when he visited Santiago in 1982.
"A Spain and Europe concerned not only with people's material needs but also with their moral and social, spiritual and religious needs, since all these are genuine requirements of our common humanity," Benedict said in a speech in Spanish.
After celebrating a Mass in Santiago's main plaza later Saturday, Benedict travels onto Barcelona, where he will dedicate the famous modernist Sagrada Familia church. The church is a monument to the traditional family - another key theme Benedict is stressing in his Spanish visit.
Up to 200,000 people packed the square and cobblestone streets of Santiago's beautiful medieval quarter and lined the route from the airport Saturday to catch a glimpse of the pope's motorcade, featuring his armored white "popemobile."
Benedict said he was coming to Spain as a pilgrim - like so many of the millions of faithful who take part in the "Camino de Santiago" pilgrimage to this western Galician city. Their numbers swell in a jubilee year, which occurs every time the feast of St. James - July 25 - falls on a Sunday, as it does this year.
Benedict blessed the crowd at the cathedral entrance by spraying holy water. He then prayed before the apostle's tomb, embraced his statue and watched as a half-dozen men tugged on a massive rope attached to pulleys to launch the swinging incense burner.
Legend holds that huge amounts of incense were used to mask the pungent odor of pilgrims who had walked for days and weeks to reach Santiago.
Benedict has long sought to visit the shrine and has often said that his life has been that of a pilgrim. The scallop shell symbol of St. James, ubiquitous around the city and on pilgrim routes that thread toward Santiago, is particularly important to Benedict: It forms a central part of his papal coat of arms.
But not everyone was excited about the pope's visit.
Riot police swinging truncheons clashed Thursday night with anti-papal protesters in Santiago. Gay groups lined the motorcade route Saturday, kissing as the popemobile drove past.
In Barcelona, a giant "kiss-in" by gays and lesbians is planned for Sunday morning, evidence of the secular lifestyle that Benedict has identified as a threat to the faith.
On Saturday, Benedict called the family the "fundamental cell of society" that forms the basis of faith and life. Church teaching holds that a family is based on the indissoluble marriage between a man and woman - not people of the same sex.
With such palpable opposition to the pope's visit, it's no surprise that Zapatero will only see Benedict as he's leaving on Sunday night. In Zapatero's place, Spain's royal family is taking care of protocol. Crown Prince Felipe greeted Benedict at Santiago's airport Saturday and welcomed him to the country.
Didn’t the Spanish “republicans” go on a violent anti-church pogrom during their civil war in the 1930’s?
It appears that he gave a gentle, carefully phrased address, offering the opportunity for the Spanish government to show similar good manners. And of course the leftist media says he “blasted” them.
They know they’re wrong.
Do Spaniards drink tea?
Yes. During the Seige of the Alcazar in Toledo, the defenders had no priests inside the Alcazar to minister to their religious needs. At the beginning of the drama, the priests in Toledo thought that holing up in the Alcazar would have been suicide. So, they stayed outside.
In the end, most of the defenders of the Alcazar survived until they were relieved but most of the priests in Toledo were executed by the Republican Reds.
It is estimated that 13,000 priests, religious (nuns and brothers) and lay leaders were killed by the leftists in the 1930s.
In the “Republican” zone, no Catholic worship was permitted and churches were desecrated and destroyed.
The leftists would go into convents and drag the nuns out and kill them and they would attack seminaries and kill all the students. They attacked individual parishes and Catholic schools and priests, and priests had to hide out and be smuggled around from family to family. Naturally, the entire family would be killed if it was found that they were hiding a priest.
They know theyre wrong.
They blast themselves on a regular basis. Consider the fact that Spain is the European nation whose population is most in decline, last I heard. Guess there won’t be any Spaniards in not too long a time.
One of my church friends is a lady from New York who married a Spaniard and lived in Spain from 1960 to 2000. Her husband was a surgeon and she was a highly-regarded classical musician. They lost everything when the Socialists took power. One of her sons still lives in Spain, only because they can’t sell their estate there and they can’t bear to abandon it.
Spain was losing population even in the mid-20th century. My friend has five children, and that was an enormous family for well-off Spaniards. She jokes that she drove the first minivan in Spain!
“Didnt the Spanish republicans go on a violent anti-church pogrom during their civil war in the 1930s?”
It started before the war (and contributed to the start of it). The burning of churches and closing of catholic schools took place in the spring of 1936; the generals revolted on mid-July of that year. Spain had over 7,000 clergy (including nuns, and 12 or 13 bishops) killed during the course of the war.
“In the Republican zone, no Catholic worship was permitted and churches were desecrated and destroyed.”
In the Basque country the Church was protected (since they fought for independence, not so much for communism); that was the reason the Vatican didn’t officially recognize the Franco government until that area was secured in 1937/early 1938: at that point no religious services were permitted in the remaining “government” territory.
The commandant of the Alcazar had 2 sons killed by the communists; one was captured in Madrid, and the other was captured in Toledo because (for some unknown reason) the commandant didn’t bring his family in with him (as many other Civil Guards and other refugees did). Perhaps he didn’t think the Alcazar would survive; they nearly didn’t. A similar seige on the northern coast (Gijon) ended much worse, with the beseiged asking a Nationalist cruiser off the coast to fire on their positions as they were overrun (after holding out for months).
I’d recommend “The Last Crusade” for anyone interested in this topic; it really details the causes and first few months of the war, and summarizes the rest.
“She jokes that she drove the first minivan in Spain!”
That’s funny. I know a couple from Spain (in their early seventies); he was one of ten, and she was one of eight. They had three children together.
Eby, Cecil D., The Siege of the Alcazar. New York: Random House, 1965.
My friend is in her late 70s, and her late husband was several years older. I don’t know if he had siblings in Spain or not; never thought to ask.
I was just reading an account of the talk Calvo Sotelo, a Spanish parliamentarian, made in mid-July, 1936, in which he reported the official figures for violence what had occurred in Spain in the previous 5 months:
The next day this same Calvo Sotelo, parliamentarian, was taken out and shot.
That was when leading officers of the Spanish military decided there was no hope in "reforming" the Lefitst government by nonviolent electoral tactics. Franco made his move.
What resulted was the hideous Spanish Civil War with huge casualties and atrocities aplenty on both sides. But it was by no means the Church that brought this on; the Church took her place among the suffering, and suffered.