In Memoriam

Today we commemorate the thousands who fell under the sword and bullets of the Spanish Civil War. The Republican extremists slaughtered 13 bishops, over 6000 priests, and 4000 more religious, with the number of lay faithful as yet unnumbered. So many see this conflict in terms of political absolutes, fascism vs. democracy, that the element of religious persecution remains entirely neglected. Catholics should understand, as so few do, that this was the most intense, most ferocious persecution since the Roman Emperor Diocletian. Enemies of the Church, driven by a nearly indisputable demonic rage, razed hundreds of churches to the ground, mutilated statues, and subjected those they did not kill to unspeakable atrocities. While Franco's Nationalist army did not stay free from crimes and murders, their deeds strayed out of bounds in typical wartime actions. It should not be forgotten that it was the Republican tolerance of violence against the church and her faithful that precipitated the military uprising in the first place. Those who suffered martyrdom in that contest have not received due attention, partly due to the unwillingness of most media to accept that these events did indeed transpire. Even C. S. Lewis expressed doubt that the stories coming over the water about the intense persecution were true (this rankled Tolkien). Much of the crimes perpetrated by the Republican government and army remain shadowed in obscurity because it was (and is) so popular to be on the side of the elected government. It is a pity these same people do not recall that Hilter was also elected. May the beatified martyrs of the Spanish Civil War pray for us and this troubled world, that injustice everywhere may be fought, despite inconvenience or discomfort.