MY EARS are still repeating, as I write, the echoes of roaring cannon and exploding bombs, of the intermittent "putt-putting" of machine guns and of continuous volleys of rifle fire, of clattering hoofs and bugle calls, of men shouting and others screaming in anguish, of screeching flocks of swallows flying back and forth in a frenzy as bullets whistle among them, of all the deafening cacophony with which, on the morning of July 19, rebellion was unleashed here in Barcelona and elsewhere on the mainland of Spain.

Here and in other loyal cities an armed anti-fascist militia of citizens are patrolling the streets afoot and in requisitioned motorcars, rifles across shoulders, pistols in hand. The streets and the highways bristle with barricades held by these same citizen soldiers whose only uniform is their firearm. Churches, monasteries and convents have been invaded and burned in hundreds upon hundreds. Priests and nuns have been scattered to the four winds and a sickening number of them have been killed, as have other fascist sympathizers. The rebels, also, are taking without pity their innumerable victims -- peasants and workers and Republicans of all shades of opinion opposed to theirs. The land is drenched in blood and the end is far from sight.

Red revolutionists -- Anarcho-Syndicalists, Socialists and various brands of Marxists -- have made common cause with the government to save Spain from fascism. It is recognized, both within and without the country, that fascism versus popular rule has become the sharply defined issue. But when the revolutionary minded proletariat shall have done with the fascists, they will still have to come to an understanding with the constitutional government. Can Republican constitutional government prosper in Spain or has a proletarian social system, long incubating, settled upon it for an indefinite stay? That is a question which to a foreign observer like myself looms fully as large as the one of fascism versus popular rule.

Overnight -- literally -- the course of Spanish history has been changed. As we watch the moves of foreign Powers we realize that perhaps the course of western history is being changed as well. Some form of communism may have invaded the west, or fascism in one guise or another may have acquired a third European front and may have succeeded in encircling France. The constitutional government meanwhile is bravely fighting with its back to the wall, hoping to save the Republic as against both fascism and communistic proletarian rule. But the odds against it are heavy. The decision may be long postponed. Or it may already have been enforced by one side or the other before these lines can appear in print. But in either case an account of the background of the struggle as it appears to a foreign observer who has been in Spain for several years may have some value.

First, how did the actual rebellion begin? On Sunday, July 12, a lieutenant of the shock police, José del Castillo, was assassinated in the streets of Madrid. It was the culmination of a long series of fascist provocations and murders, openly admitted by fascist spokesmen. They had of course been answered in kind. Similar acts of violence and retaliation had been going on ever since the elections of February 16 last restored a Left government to power. The Left victory was by an overwhelming popular majority, despite wholesale corruptions and irregularities on the part of the Right, which in such provinces as Cuenca, Granada and Orense used the armed forces of the state to prevent their opponents from voting, or simply falsified the returns, as was amply proved in the ensuing debates in the Cortes. The assassination of Lieutenant del Castillo was answered that same night by the assassination of the monarchist leader and finance minister of the Primo de Rivera dictatorship, Calvo Sotelo. The shock police invaded his home in force, placed him in a police lorry and took him away. That was the last seen of him until his body with a mortal bullet wound in the head was delivered to the porter of a Madrid cemetery. Was Sotelo the secret leader of the fascists, one of the inspirers of a chain of assassinations? In Spain such things are well-nigh impossible to prove. But the shock police, an organization set up by the Republic in its first year to defend it in an emergency, was certainly convinced that he was.

The killing of Sotelo was followed by a most violent uproar on the part of the fascists, monarchists and their allies. At his graveside monarchist leaders took solemn oath that his death should be avenged. At a meeting of the permanent commission of the Cortes two days later, there were unbridled speeches, one of the most violent being made by the Catholic Party's leader, Gil Robles, who warned the Government that "responsibility" would overtake "the highest" therein, "and will fall upon the parties which support you in the Popular Front coalition, and will strike the whole parliamentary system and spatter the very régime with mud, with misery and with blood." He quoted the words of Saint Dominic addressed to a Castilian king: "Sir, you can take my life but you can do no more. It is preferable to die gloriously rather than to live in shame." Having made his speech, Gil Robles immediately departed for France, and thence to Portugal.

Four days after this speech was pronounced the garrisons in Spanish Morocco under General Francisco Franco rebelled. The next day saw the uprising on the mainland.


The present uprising is the climax of a revolutionary process which has been under way ever since the proclamation of the Spanish Republic on April 14, 1931. Three distinct periods may be noted:

(1) The "first biennium" -- the period of pure republicanism; of the adoption of the constitution; of the granting of autonomy to Catalonia (an action which many said meant the dismemberment of Spain); of the curbing of the excessive powers and pretensions of the army; of the separation of church and state; of a series of revolutionary attempts against the Government by the Anarcho-Syndicalists; of trials and errors and tardy rectifications. The first biennium ended in the elections of November 1933, which turned out the Azaña régime and gave power to the Right, acting in combination with the Radical Party bloc.

(2) The "black biennium," the reactionary period which followed and which lasted until the elections of February 1936. This was the period of waste, of marking time, of corruption, of the undermining of the constitution, of the wrecking of Catalan autonomy, of the glorification of the army, of the suspension or disregard of the religious laws and the replacing of the clergy on the payroll. Finally, it was the period of the Catalan and the Asturias revolutions and of the wholesale and cruel repressions that followed.

(3) The brief period after the recent elections which brought back to power the "pure" Republicans led by Don Manuel Azaña, in agreement with the Socialists and Communists, though not with their participation in the cabinet.[i] These groups together constituted the Popular Front, with a minimum social program accepted by all. This period saw the rehabilitation of the constitution; the abrogation of illegal laws and decrees, the restoration of Catalan autonomy; the liberation of political and social prisoners; the enactment of laws and decrees giving employment to workers and increasing their pay; and the settling of the peasants upon the land in large numbers. It also saw the development of a fatal circle of violence and retaliations, and finally the loosing of civil war.

The rebellion against the Republic is the work of three main forces united in a well-understood pact, sealed by the fact of mutual and interrelated interests. The forces in question are the privileged and propertied classes, the army and the church.

The privileged and propertied classes have kept the people in misery. That is a fact. The tale of its how and why has been told so frequently that to tell it again now would be mere wearisome repetition. The position of the army, and in even greater degree the position of the church, are not so well known. Indeed, with respect to the church many persons inquire in amazement how it can be that in a Catholic country a Catholic people can turn against the church with as much vehement fury as was ever recorded of Protestants in the old days of church persecutions. The army and the church, therefore, deserve more extensive examination, particularly as regards the positions they took up vis-à-vis the Republic.

But first it may be well to view somewhat more in extenso certain aspects of the second of the three revolutionary periods already mentioned, the period in which Gil Robles was the moving figure, not only because it is closely linked with the present attitude of the army and the church, but because the manœuvres of that time paved the way for that which has now come. The rebellion is the great cry of frustration of all those reactionary elements which had hoped to profit by what was in preparation during the "black biennium" of relaxation and retrogression.


José Maria Gil Robles, a professor of law at Salamanca and also a journalist of the staff of the Madrid Catholic paper, El Debate, came into prominence a year or two after the advent of the Republic by his organization of a Catholic party, "Acción Popular," to defend the interests of the church. This party later became the principal unit of the CEDA (Spanish Confederation of Autonomous Right Parties). Gil Robles was a monarchist who later, for reasons soon to be seen, finally declared himself to be a republican and became minister of war under Lerroux in 1935. The following extract from an interview given by him a few months ago to the Diario Español of Buenos Aires, and published also in La Vanguardia of Barcelona on June 2, may serve to throw light on his peculiar mentality:

For us Democracy is a transitory means of influencing the politics of the country. We act as posibilistas, which in the last analysis is the way everybody acts. When we find ourselves confronted by a reality we seek to procure two things: to derive the greatest benefit from it, and to transform it to our ideology. The present Spanish political system is very far from constituting, let us not say an ideal of perfection, but not even the possibility of efficacious action in the country. What I do is to find a supporting base on whatever offers itself to me in order to transform it and, if necessary, to destroy it. I do not refer to such an insignificant and transitory thing as the form of the government, but to the problem of the fundamental change of the country.

This statement made by Gil Robles after his departure from power throws a searching light on his procedure while in power. The Republic was a reality and he accepted it as "a supporting base" to be transformed and destroyed, as the record of his speeches and his proceedings while in power all too plainly demonstrate. No republican or liberal Spaniard ever had the least doubt of that -- and no partisan of Gil Robles. Fishermen tell that the cuttlefish is the sea's greatest hunter of lobsters. When the lobster sees one coming it becomes paralyzed for fear and drops its claws. The cuttlefish then wraps itself around the lobster and in a short time there is no meat left in it, only the empty shell. Within sight of all, Gil Robles and his followers who had "accepted" the Republic were rapidly leaving it with no republican meat in it -- only the empty shell.

In 1933 the Pope issued the Encyclical Dilectissima Nobis, which, while deploring "the provocations and vexations of the enemies of the church," also stated: "All know that the Catholic Church, being in no manner bound to one form of government more than to another, provided always that the rights of God and of the Christian conscience are safeguarded, finds no difficulty in accommodating itself to the various civil institutions, be they monarchic or be they republican." Taking this as its cue, the Catholic organ El Debate, on December 15, 1933, published an editorial which was meant to be a message to devout Catholics and which concluded by saying that Spanish Catholics, in view of the words of the Pope, need not necessarily find difficulty in reconciling themselves to Republican institutions. This editorial further sponsored "political action of the Right," which it defined as "political action of Catholics and as Catholics." This norm, "political action of Catholics and as Catholics," was henceforth to be the dominant note of "Acción Popular" and its allies. Indeed, Gil Robles, who was building up his party on fascist lines, with himself as the "supreme chief" whom all should unquestioningly obey, had anticipated it, for on June 19 we find him saying at the Cine Monumental, Madrid: "I assure you that the first and sole reason for the existence of 'Acción Popular' is that it is eminently Catholic and in its whole being it ratifies the declarations of the Bishops and the papal Encyclical."

Gil Robles, in addition to his alliance with the church, entered into an alliance with the army. He glorified it repeatedly in his public speeches, as for instance at the great mass meeting at Medina del Campo, June 30, 1935:

The army is wholly at the service of Spain; it is not at the service of any party or of any political action or of any man. It is at the service of Spain, of the nation, of the collectivity. This title is its glory and it has never dreamed of departing from its course nor can any evil minded person believe that the army is capable of being traitor to the high destinies which rest in its hands.

These are words full of equivocal meaning, of the kind which in Spain fall in the category of "Jesuitism," just as the reasoning in the heretofore quoted interview is what the Spaniard calls "Jesuitical" -- whether with justice to the Jesuits I do not venture to say. In Spain "Jesuitism" is a current term meaning labyrinthine action, and I am obliged to report the existence both of the term and of what it describes. Spain being a land where one is commonly expected to read between the lines of statements of public men and of the press, the suspicion grows that the words, "nor can any evil minded person ever believe that the army is capable of being a traitor to the high destinies which rest in its hands," were actually intended as a backhanded appeal to the army to act in a propitious moment precisely as it has subsequently acted to save the undefined "high destinies" entrusted to it. However that may be, no Spaniard on either side doubted for a moment that this was a direct bid for the army's favor and support, the more so as while he was at the war ministry Gil Robles had curried the good will of the army by reinstating generals and other high officers whom the Republic had dismissed as disloyal, and by procuring for it huge budgetary appropriations.

About this time there was active an organization known as "Unión Militar Española," which for more than two years had been fomenting military revolt. Many persons knew about it. I hold one of its secret pronunciamentos in my hands. It is a violent exhortation to military men to "save Spain" from an "international plot" to "pulverize" it and "promote the ruin of religious sentiment and of the Spanish family, of capital, of labor . . ." Yet in an interview given to La Nación of Buenos Aires (reprinted in El Noticiero, Barcelona, August 28, 1935), Gil Robles said that it was "absolutely untrue that in the army there existed Juntas of Defense," that the "Unión Militar" had "scant influence in the army" and that "today the Spanish army is absolutely apart from politics and most perfectly disciplined."

Although he professed to accept the Republic, Gil Robles was constantly qualifying his words. Thus in the same interview: "The possibilities of restoring the monarchy are in direct ratio to the acts of violence which the Republic may commit."

Consider now what he said in an interview given in Lisbon to the correspondent of Paris-Soir after the outbreak of the present hostilities and published in that journal on July 31. He denounces with indignation responsibility for "the terrible events which are happening in Spain" and disclaims "all material and moral responsibility" for the rebellion. He continues: "In the present situation it seems to me that a military dictatorship might be envisaged as a transitory government. But Franco and Mola and Llano, after having driven the government from Madrid and delivered Barcelona, should form a government containing civilian technicians." One cannot help but wonder at the strange mental processes of a man who talks about "terrible events," disclaims responsibility for them, speaks in the same breath with equanimity about "driving the government from Madrid" and "delivering Barcelona," and gives counsel to forces in arms against the legally constituted government, of which forces he had not long before said that they could never be "traitors to their high destinies." What, then, were those high destinies?


The Spanish army is a vestige of feudal times, a strangely incongruous institution in this twentieth century. In the Middle Ages there existed various castes, each having its fueros or rights and privileges, the fueros of the military caste running nip and tuck with those of the church. The officer was the direct representative of the king and to a certain degree his personification. An offense against the army was therefore an offense against the king. Officers could not be criticized, much less disobeyed. They were virtually immune from the law as it applied to most citizens.

This sacred character of the Spanish army was maintained under the monarchy; and though somewhat modified under the Republic, the tradition survived. Under the monarchy, criticism of the army or unfavorable comment upon it constituted an offense which subjected any citizen, even in peace times, to long terms of imprisonment at the hands of a military court. The army was a pampered institution. Ex-King Alfonso preferred the company of military men to all others, and their influence over him, and consequently over the government, was great. In his day there was passed the law of jurisdictions which gave to the army authority, not only over offenses committed against its person, but over any criticism or comment or action which might be construed as hostile to the king, the state or the régime. Thus republican agitation was a military offense. The army became obsessed with the idea that its special mission was to be the "Savior of Spain." It controlled its own internal régime, disciplined refractory members, and intervened in political affairs by means of secret committees called Juntas. These Juntas frequently fomented conspiracies against the government itself. So pernicious were their activities that the late dictator, Primo de Rivera, abolished them. The army then formed secret committees which plotted against the dictator.

With the advent of the Republic the power of the army was considerably curbed. The press, radio speakers and public speakers in general were freed from the jurisdiction of military courts. Courts of honor were abolished. The law was laid down that the army must be amenable to civil authority. Officers out of harmony with the new régime were given the opportunity of withdrawing on retirement pay. Many accepted, but the most intransigent monarchists remained to continue their plotting, though of course showing a bland countenance to civil superiors and professing to be loyal to the established régime. Unfortunately, many liberal officers of advanced ideas, having scant sympathy with militarism, also withdrew; they considered liberal action within the army to be hopeless. Thus the army did not escape from the domination of the old diehards. Yet in material ways the army was treated well. The Republic sought to reorganize it upon more efficient lines and to equip it better, hoping gradually to win it to its side.

The case of Luis de Sirval, a well-known Madrid reporter, who as correspondent for a press syndicate went to Oviedo during the "black biennium" and there was assassinated in prison by three army officers (October 27, 1934), may be chosen to give an insight into Spanish military methods and their "tie-up" with reactionary civil authorities. Sirval had been arrested for having written an article exposing army excesses. The three officers simply went to his cell, took him out into the patio and killed him, thus vindicating "the honor and good name of the army." There was such an uproar in the press that even the Right government was compelled to do something about it after it had tried in vain to hush the whole thing up. So one of the officers, a Bulgarian who had joined the foreign legion, was allowed to present himself as a scapegoat and be tried in a civil court. The trial was such a travesty on justice that it is almost impossible to believe it could have occurred in a country calling itself civilized. The public prosecutor was in effect the attorney for the defense, acting in open collusion with the president of the court. Notwithstanding irrefutable testimony of cold-blooded assassination, the court's verdict, "homicide by imprudence," virtually absolved the defendant. He was sentenced to serve six months and a day in prison, and the sentence was considered extinguished by his term of arrest on parole. The court found that the victim's offense of making revelations about the army constituted an aggravating -- presumably a justifying -- circumstance.

The plain fact is that the attempts of the Republic to curb the power of the army, to moderate its fueros, to make it strictly amenable to civil authority, constituted a blow to its pride which it could never forgive. And when the Republic's enemies flattered the army with fair words, whispered to it that it was still the anointed "Savior of Spain," it seized the opportunity of salvaging its private interests under the guise of saving the state.


When one considers the age-long position of the church in Spain, and that which has now befallen it, there comes to mind an adaptation of a famous line: "Of all sad words of tongue and pen, the saddest are these: It needn't have been." For indeed the fate of the Spanish Church in modern times need never have been if only it had followed another path. This writer some two years ago cautioned a Catholic editor for whose journal (being also a Catholic) he sometimes wrote, that Gil Robles was pursuing a course which would merely make matters worse for the church. The caution has proved well-founded. Unpleasant as is the tale of the church's alliance with the Republic's enemies, the facts must be faced; the tale must be told. To do otherwise would be insincere and cowardly.

In such countries as England and the United States, where the high calibre of the men of the church win them general respect, the question is incessantly asked: "How is it that in an almost purely Catholic country the people can turn against the church in such fashion?" Catholics and Protestants alike are perplexed to explain how an institution charged with the mission of spreading and defending the doctrine of love for one's neighbor, of the dignity and worth of individual man, of a common justice for a common humanity, and which was, moreover, in a privileged position to accomplish its task, should nevertheless have failed so miserably as only to stir up in the hearts of its children a frenzy of distrust and hate, with all the terrible practical consequences which we are now witnessing?

Popular uprisings against the church in Spain are not new. In 1835 there was a widespread burning of churches and monasteries, one of the principal grievances in that day being the church's excessive holdings of land and wealth in contrast to the misery of the people. But the church "came back," again grew great in power and wealth. Everywhere it again had churches and monasteries enormously rich.

Up to the advent of the Republic there existed a kind of union of church and state which meant that the clergy and the hierarchy were paid from the public treasury; the Bishops were the nominees of the King, that is to say, were political personages addicted to the régime; certain Bishops were members of the Senate; the church had intervention in the national schools for the purpose of teaching religion. In other words, the church was the ally of the state; but the state was regarded by the people as their oppressor. At least, illiterate and hungering masses saw it that way. Moreover, the church constituted a heavy drain upon the economic resources of the country. It was top-heavy with clergy -- sixteen to twenty of them could be seen any day at some modest funeral, each one collecting his fee. And how many times have I walked into some cathedral to find a solemn or a pontifical mass being celebrated in all liturgical pomp with the assistance of the entire cathedral chapter and in the presence of only three or four of the faithful!

The people had their chief contacts with the church for funerals, masses and dispensations. They arrived at the conclusion that the church was a negocio, a business. Some of the clergy lived scandalous lives. Too many of them were accused of attempting to dominate the households with which they had contact, of setting themselves up as bosses in the villages, and of much more. In consequence the clergy came to lose the respect of great sectors of the population -- if not, indeed, of a majority of Spanish Catholics. Hundreds of thousands were completely driven away from the church. Others, the anti-clericals, drew a sharp line between clericalism and Catholicism. Of such were the many good practising Catholics who favored the Republic and who bitterly resented the attempts of the clergy to make them oppose it.

Let El Socialista (April 11, 1936) complete the record of the opposition's complaint against the church:

The monarchy did nothing but deliver itself over to the intrigues of Rome, whose tendency to exercise temporal power and privilege in the affairs of state is irrepressible. Bishops and parish priests shared political control with governors and mayors. The Papal Nuncio was accustomed to have greater influence than the Prime Minister. There existed the anachronistic situation of two systems of law incompatible with the sovereignty of a lay and indivisible state: the canonical law and the civil law. Religious indifference was deemed an offense against the fatherland and public functionaries were participants in liturgical services. The consequences of this Byzantinism were that the people reacted in equal degree against the church and the monarchy which appeared in umbilical union. Upon the fall of the monarchy there was severed this morbid juncture. The state proclaimed its absolute power in matters of law and laicism. . . . The church, however, has not resigned itself, and its latest offense is that which is represented by the CEDA. . . . We men of earth, respectful of the ecstasies of others, merely ask that the priestly caste do not stir up the rancor of its sheep against our political institutions.

The foregoing sums up the viewpoint of those who sought to bring about the separation of church and state by radical processes. The reference to the respectfulness of the average Spaniard toward religious worship appears true to this writer. It seems improbable that after the initial outburst of church burning in 1931 there would have been further violence against the church if it had had the wisdom to let well enough alone. Indeed by prudence and patience, by recourse to what it itself calls "Christian resignation," by showing a disposition to mend its ways, it might very well have gradually recaptured much lost sympathy, have procured an abatement of some of the religious laws and won a full recognition of its legitimate rights. If, for instance, the Republic had been convinced that the clergy would not use the church schools as centres of propaganda against a government which the Supreme Pontiff himself had found not incompatible with the church's interests, it seems fairly certain that in time it would again have had its schools. Unfortunately the church did not see it that way. It went hand-in-glove with a party and a leader who were known to be the Republic's archenemies. The people felt that to maintain itself in power the church stood ready to wreck the Republic. And so the church drew destruction upon its own head.

I do not mean to suggest that within the Spanish church organization there were not sincere and self-sacrificing men and women; efficient and altruistic institutions of learning and charity; priests, monks and nuns dedicated to the service of humanity. I refer particularly to the Franciscan order which was close to the people according to the testimony of many revolutionists themselves. But in actual practice the members of that order were somewhat in the position of ugly ducklings vis-à-vis the church organization. All these sincere and innocent people were the unwitting victims of "the system," of the Spanish church's imprudent procedure, of its absolutism. With it they have fallen.

Let us now examine briefly the "anti-church" measures to which the Republic had recourse. The hierarchy and the clergy were cut off from the public payroll. They were permitted to exercise their sacerdotal functions as they pleased but were forbidden to earn a livelihood as teachers. Cemeteries were laicized: religious burials required that the deceased should have given permission before his death; public religious funerals required the permission of the local authorities (but they were rarely prohibited); religious processions such as were held in the streets on great festivals likewise required permission (they were in the main disallowed, although the Seville Holy Week processions went on as usual). Local authorities sometimes harassed the church by prohibiting the ringing of church bells or putting a tax upon them.

A special law dissolved the Jesuit order and confiscated its property. Another special law, known as the religious congregations law, suppressed religious schools and limited the activities of the religious orders, placing them under strict state supervision although not suppressing them. The third of the trilogy of religious laws provided for the nationalization of church property. This law simply declared all church property, inclusive of treasures, to be the property of the nation, on the ground that it had not been acquired in the way of ordinary property and so did not fall into the same category; it was held to constitute an unearned patrimony of national wealth and therefore to be the patrimony of the people. The nationalization of church property did not mean its confiscation. All such property was left in the possession of the church, down to the last chalice and candlestick, with not the slightest restriction on its use. The only limitation was that it could not be disposed of by the church as though it were private property. Neither could it be disposed of by the state, which was specifically charged with its protection and upkeep. Furthermore, as state property it was exempt from taxation, a fact which would seem to constitute the lifting of a great burden from the church. Finally, diplomatic relations with the Holy See were not severed. The Papal Nuncio remained at Madrid, and during the first biennium there would have been a Spanish Ambassador at the Vatican (as indeed there was during the "black biennium") had not the Vatican declined to accept the appointee.

This is a succinct summing up of the treatment received by the church at the hands of the Spanish Republic. If some of the measures seemed unjustifiably harsh, they were not without a prospect of remedy. It may also be commented that they were not so harsh as the things that were done to the church in countries such as Mexico and Germany.

Nevertheless the church threw all the weight of its clergy, its press and its amenable followers into the political struggle. There was formed, simultaneously with "Acción Popular," a great organization of laymen, women and children, and even clergy, known as "Acción Católica." Every individual owning the name of Catholic was urged to join it. "Acción Católica" was no more than an adjunct to "Acción Popular," and when the elections of 1936 were preparing it boldly flung itself into the political campaign against the Popular Front. A single citation is enough -- the manifesto of the Archdiocesan Junta of "Acción Católica" for the Archdiocese of Tarragona, forewarning Catholics of "the dangers of the triumph of the revolution in the forthcoming elections" and enjoining upon them the "duty" of voting "the announced candidacy of order," since by so doing they would be conforming to the desire of the Pontiff recently set forth by His Eminence Cardinal Goma, Archbishop of Toledo and Primate of Spain. This manifesto added: "Abstention in these circumstances would be a desertion and a betrayal of the fatherland and a manifest disobedience to the norms which, in the present situation, have been outlined by the Holy See and the Spanish Episcopacy. Let all then vote as a single man, with a single ticket, for religion and the fatherland."

I can bear personal witness regarding good Catholics of scant Republican sympathies who, shocked by this attempt to tell them how to vote, either abstained or voted for the Republic. The manifesto was widely published in the press, and its appearance is particularly cited in two Barcelona newspapers of nonpolitical and moderate tendencies which maintain church pages for their readers, El Noticiero, February 8, and La Vanguardia, February 11 and 12.

Attempted church dictation in politics had already showed itself in the national elections of 1931, only a few months after the Republic was proclaimed. This was revealed by various pastoral letters of the Episcopacy at that time, particularly that of Cardinal Segura, the Primate, which merited his expulsion from Spain. By the time of the Catalan regional elections of November 1932 the political intervention of the church was well organized. Voters were deluged with literature (of which I retain some specimens) informing them that "their consciences did not permit" them to vote for a Left candidate. It is a commentary on the disposition of the extremists not to be provoked to further excesses that no campaign of violence against the church ensued. An occasional attack upon a church occurred, particularly during the 1934 uprising, but there was no widespread or systematic attack for five years.

Penitents of the church have been compelled to don sackcloth and ashes. They have gone to Canossa. But the Spanish church never does. It does not look into its own heart, it does not make an examination of conscience or a confession of error. Its defenders abroad, moreover, represent it as the victim of completely unreasoning persecution without practical cause. The gates of hell are simply presumed to have been opened against it.


Having taken account of the forces engaged in the struggle against the Spanish Republic, one is impelled to draw up the following indictment:

In a moment when a duly elected and constitutional government was fighting, its back to the wall, to save Spanish democracy both from the onslaughts of its enemies of the right and from the excessive demands of revolutionaries of the kind commonly called red, the privileged classes, the army and the church, to salvage their own material interests, deliberately made common cause in an attack upon the government, deliberately unloosed a reign of terror in which both sides have since had an equal share of guilt, deliberately opened the gates to the revolution of untutored and infuriated masses bent upon wiping out democratic government and establishing the supreme domination of the proletariat.

[i]Cf. the author's "Mass Movements in Spain," FOREIGN AFFAIRS, July 1936.

You are reading a free article.

Subscribe to Foreign Affairs to get unlimited access.

  • Paywall-free reading of new articles and a century of archives
  • Unlock access to iOS/Android apps to save editions for offline reading
  • Six issues a year in print, online, and audio editions
Subscribe Now