How Spain's Church Still Pushes Fascist Agenda.
Here. Thanks to Vicenç Navarro.
At the end of Franco’s dictatorship and the beginning of the democratic period, an amnesty was granted to the assassins who had killed, tortured, and robbed the democratic forces in Spain. Moreover, a “pact of silence” was agreed upon, a complete silence about the past, including the horrendous crimes of the Franco regime--a pact to forget what had happened in Spain. No other country in Europe has been as silent about its past as has Spain. The deaths of tens of thousands of anti-fascists remain unrecognized; 30,000 people simply disappeared, no one knowing where they were buried or discarded.
But that pact of silence was one-sided. The right wing has continued to pay homage to General Franco and his fascist forces. In many Spanish towns (except, again, in Catalonia and the Basque countries) there are still fascist monuments. Even left-wing municipal and regional governments are afraid to destroy them. And across Spain, there are frequent celebrations honoring the assassins. Recently, the PP opposed a declaration by the European Parliament condemning the Spanish dictatorship, as did some ultra-rightists in Poland’s government.
One of the major celebrators of the Franco regime is the Church, which unabashedly remains a strong supporter. The Spanish Church, supported by the Vatican, is the main adversary of the current socialist government under Zapatero, even calling for insurrection and asking Catholics to disobey Spanish laws passed by Parliament, such as the legalization of gay marriage and the adoption of children by homosexual couples, introduction of “fast track divorce,” abolition of compulsory religious education in public schools, and authorization of stem cell research. All these laws have driven the Church to renew its crusade against the socialist government. The Church has also joined with top military figures in calling for maintaining “Spanish unity.” And the Church and the Army opposed Zapatero’s negotiations with ETA, the Basque separatist group. The recent visit by Pope Benedict XVI to Valencia to attend the International Conference of the Family was planned by the Spanish Catholic hierarchy as an open act of provocation and defiance toward the Spanish government. The regional government of Valencia, controlled by the PP, organized a lavish and very expensive reception for the Pope, in contrast to its lack of attention to maintaining the city’s subway, responsible for the crash that killed 44 persons (most of them working class) one week before the Pope’s visit.
Religious fundamentalism is isolating the Church in Spain. According to a recent poll, 80% of young people in Spain distrust the Church, even more than they distrust NATO or the business community. The proportion of youngsters who define themselves as Catholics has declined from 77% ten years ago to 49% today. Meanwhile, the Spanish Church, Opus Dei, and the Legionnaires of Christ (whose founder was a child abuser) are funding a statue of the Pope in Madrid--which is being created, incidentally, by the same sculptor--Juan de Avalos--who made the fascist monument, the Valley of the Fallen, outside Madrid.
Spain’s socialist government committed itself, in its electoral program, to correct this silence, to recognize and pay homage to the victims of fascism, and to eliminate the laws that still refer to the freedom fighters, fighting against Franco’s forces, as criminals. But the socialist government has not yet done this, and it seems to be postponing such actions, failing to keep its promises. So, the deafening silence on those terrible crimes remains. As indicated by Judge Juan Guzman (who brought General Pinochet to trial) and Judge Hugo Cañon (the Argentinean judge who brought military authorities to court) at a recent conference in Barcelona, the silence in Spain on the horrors of the Franco state is an insult to democratic forces throughout the world; it is a scandal that needs to be denounced. None of the Spanish media, incidentally, reported on the judges’ declarations. Meanwhile, Spain’s Judge Garzon, acclaimed worldwide for trying to get Pinochet extradited from Great Britain to stand trial in a Spanish court, remains silent about the amnesty that allows assassins to go free in Spain. Throughout Spain, and outside Spain, the deafening silence continues.