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SPAIN: Persecution of Catholics during the Civil War.


In Catholic Spain the visitor was surprised by the vehemence of anticlericalism among many men. It was undoubtedly prevalent in northern Europe during the wars of religion. Brutal anticlericalism was a factor in the Spanish Civil War. Robert Royal, a Catholic who has had a noteworthy academic career, is now president of the Washington-based Faith and Reason Institute. His well-received The Catholic Martyrs of the Twentieth Century (Crossroad, 2000, pp x, 430) devotes a chapter to the subject. He regrets that American and European intellectuals uncritical approval of the republic and stresses (as I do) the complexity of the situation. In the first part of the Civil War, priests were bound and placed in bullrings with wild bulls. Afterwards, like dead bulls after a bullfight, their ears were cut off. I had not heard this story, but I am willing to believe it. Certainly Royal is right to call attention to the persecution of Christians and other believers, who have not received the publicity of the Jewish Holocaust victims.

A major conference on this Holocaust has just been held. While no one denied it (not even David Irving does), there was a confrontation in which non-Jews accused the Jews of  creating a Holocaust industry. This is indicative of the growing demand for an even-handed account of these persecutions, and of the resentment of modern Germans that they are suffering the consequences of events before their time. It is reminiscent of the resentment of the young Germans who supported Hitler.

Ronald Hilton - 7/19/00


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