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The Civil War and the Catholic Church

     Historians base their studies on documents, preferably written, although oral ones are given some validity. The problem wish this methodology is that it ignores the things which are not written or spoken. This is true of the Civil War, which is in the back of everyone´s mind. Let sleeping dogs lie. The problem is with the dog which did not bark.
     Strange canine whinings are heard in odd places, in this case the Vatican. In an impressive ceremony, Pope John Paul II canonized ten Spanish priests who had been killed by Republicans during the Civil War. Vice Prime Minister Francisco Alvarez Cascos headed impressive Spanish delegations. Any fair person will admit that most of the priests killed by the Republicans were innocent victims, but this provides some justification for the uprising against the republic.
     Conspicuously absent was a delegation from Asturias, where at least one of the new saints had been killed by coal miners. The killing aroused memories of the uprising by the miners in 1934, which was bloodily suppressed by Franco, thus endangering the existence the republic, as I vividly remember since I was in Madrid at the time.
     Asturias is sacred in Spain, since there is the Shrine of Covadonga, the only part of Spain the Moors did not conquer. The Reconquest began from there. To suppress the miners, Franco brought in Moorish troops, and the repression was bloody. One of the most effective Republican posters was one showing Moorish troops squatting in Covadonga. The caption ran "The Moors in Covadonga!" Still today the coal miners are resentful, and the beatification of their victim reminded Spaniards of that terrible episode.
     Strangely, the two European countries historically most Catholic, namely Spain and Italy, have strong anti-clerical traditions. Odd episodes, such as the recent indictment of the Cardinal of Naples on charges of corruption bring out. See also the posting on the Spanish missionaries.

Ronald Hilton - 11/21/99