Atrocities Not Denied
Church Never Dominant In Spain
The perplexities raised on page l have been expressed in a somewhat different form by a reader of the Catholic Herald who is a member of the executive of the Reading Labour Party.
The Labour Reading
After reminding us that the Labour Party has emphatically rejected affiliation with Commur ism, the writer continues: "(a) Unpalatable as the fact may be, it' is vicontrovertible that the Catholics in ' Spain, during their many years of dornin nee, had acquiesced in and pro
::2 tected social order that was disgraceful in its ppression of the poor. After the savage' suppression of the last rebellion, and the return of the Catholics to power, there was a golden opportunity for them to carry out reforms on the lines of Papal encyci`ccds. They did nothing. These ?Worms had to wait until the Popular Front Government came into power before they were brought in.
" (b) To accept in principle the right of an army to rebel against the Government to whom it has sworn allegiance, is to sidr with anarchism. To deny the right firf any Government faced with such a reva)lt to purchase arms is a violation surely[ of a basic principle of law and order.
"(c) So far as atrocities are concerned, it must be remembered that war is an atrocity in itself, and that General Franco started this one. " I .lee no particular reason why one shouldbelieve one side more than another in thi respect. Censorship is imposed by both sides, and one has in mind the lurid tales of rape, baby-murder, etc., that were used to inflame the passions of our young Men in 1914, tales which afterwards proved in many instances to be pure fiction."
In view of the general confusion, not to say ignorance, about the Spanish conflict, these points must be answered in some detail.
(a) The Catholics in Spain have not enjoyed any years of dominance within the last century.
Though Spain has generally beea known ae,,e..Catholic country, .it .has, in effect scarcely been • more Catholic than, France.. For a hundred years Spain has been governed by secularist governments, whether liberal or reactionary. A hundred years ago the State took over the Church's property, undertook education, social service, etc. 1 Throughout this period there has been a conflict between Church and State, in that the State was governed,' largely by inactive Catholics whose outlook in public matters was liberal in the philosophic sense.
, Education In e itcation, for example, about half the sc °oh were State schools, in which the rtnsiest religious education was given, [while in all secondary schools the public, examinations had to be taken in accordance with State scheines divorced from Catholic tradition. It is notorious that [lie education given in religious schooli, whether primary or secondary, was sitperior to the education given in the State schools. The real fault with Spanis t education lay in the nonexistel .e of a compulsory school-attendance ge. so that children were taken from 4lzool at so early an age as to make education in most cases purely superficial. This was the fault of State, not Churc, .
uccessful " Catholics"
It is ell-known that in every country, however apparently Catholic, a large number of Catholics, especially those who succeed n life, lost touch with the Church. It was such, for the most part, who governed Spain. To accuse the Church itself of being responsible for their mis-govern
ment is illogical. See Pastorals of Cardinal Guisasola and Archbishop Coma.
Catholic Party Never in Power
When the Catholic party, C.E.D,A., came to power, it did so in collaboration with other `*entre " and " radical " parties. Neither I C.E.D.A. nor other Catholic parties eVer had a working majority in the Cortes. '
To blame them, therefore, for failure to carry out their programme would be like blaming the Labour Party in England for failing to carry out Labour ideals in 1924.
There was, therefore, no " golden opportunity for Catholics," while the " reforms" of the Popular Front were of a nature so revolutionary as to make it clear that they were systematically inspired from extreme Socialist influences with the intention of upsetting public order to make the Communist revolution possible. (See evidence of Mgr. Hinsley elsewhere in Catholic Herald this week).
France and Anarchy (b) Because of the above there was no effective Government when the rebellion broke out, since public order was not maintained, life and property were not secured from attacks by force, the army and . pt:Ldice were interfered with in the intereqs of party and not State, and finally tlir continuity of the elected Government hot. intended by the real leaders.
The rebellion has in effect put an end
to anarchy in the part of the country in which it has succeeded.
Atrocities Gloried in by Reds (c) War is not necessarily an atrocity. (See article on Church and Peace on page 5). The atrocities committed by the Reds in Spain have not been denied by the Reds themselves.
For example, the Spanish Embassy in London, in replying to the Report on Atrocities, issued by Burgos, did not deny the atrocities, but held the Nationalists to be responsible for them because they had started the war—quite a different argument.
Moreover, in the French paper, " Vu," Communist writers, so far from denying any of the reported atrocities, have gloried in them.
In a number, published in late September. these French Communists, lately returned from Spain. describe the burning of churches and convents, the killing of priests and nuns and the exhumation of hones. This conduct is there explained as the will of the Spanish people, attacking " the visible symbol of secular oppression," but never denied.
Democracy and Spain
The writer of the above letter further States: "/ have no sympathies with the aims of General Franco. If successful he plans to destroy the trade unions, abolish democracy, and restore to Spain ' its traditional' characteristics (i.e., landed aristocracy and the rich on the one hand and peonage and oppression on the other). There is no doubt whatever that he plans a Fascist state, in which all free expression of working class or dissident opinions will be ruthlessly crushed as they were in Catholic Italy and Catholic Austria.'
Franco has definitely denied that he plans to restore " landed aristocracy, peonage and oppression." On the contrary he has stated that the new Spain will not be for the rich, but " the middle and humble classes." Whether these promises will be carried out, no one can tell, but until the future begins to prove itself, it is manifestly unfair to state of him the exact opposite of what he himself states.
The Actual Issue
An English Catholic,has•-a perfect right to wish for the traditions of English.clereepcracy, Trade Unions and Labour to be applied to Spain, though, if he knows history and the Latin character, he may hesitate before pronouncing judgment, but where the actual issue is one between Communism on the one hand and a corporative State (not necessarily Fascist) administered by a Catholic dictator, fully cognizant of and sympathetic with Catholic social teaching, the immediate choice, it would seem, can only lie in one direction.
English .democracy as applied to Spain will, in any event, have to wait for many years—and it may even be that the Spanish people will prefer their own version to the English one.