ABebout – Blog 9

During the beginning of the Spanish Civil War, there was an outbreak of extreme violence and horror in Spain called the Red Terror. Throughout this time period, there was intense religious persecution by the leftist groups in Spain. Over 6,800 members of Catholic clergy were murdered. This statistic included 13 bishops, 4,172 diocesan priests and seminarists, 2,364 monks and friars, and 283 nuns. Most of these anti-clerical assaults stemmed from the Republican government implementing secular laws. For example, they were enforcing secularized education and prohibit religious education in school. Thus, a wave of anti-clericalism grew popular, and many of the Republican supporters set cathedrals on fire and ended up murdering thousands and thousands of religious Catholic leaders. Murder was not the only pain that these religious individuals experienced; they also experienced mockery, insults, beatings, cutting, skinning, and other forms of torture.

The article emphasizes that this horror in Spain’s history has not only been forgotten by the world, but also by Spain itself. At the time, Spain had “justified the killings as the outraged reactions of mobs against insurgent priests and clerics” (Cueva 358).  It could be that these justifications assuaged Spain’s guilt and helped them forget the horrors of the Red Terror era or that this incident was forgotten because of Spain’s embarrassment of the incident. From my study abroad experience in Barcelona, I realized that many Spaniards, especially Catalonians, who were tortured under Francisco Franco’s rule, had forgotten the massacre of the Catholic clergy. It was only the elder generation, such as my host family, who vividly remembered these killings.

I completely agree with this article in the fact that these murders of religious leaders seem to be completely erased from history. This article details the brutality of some of these tortures, and the horror of it all cannot even be fully comprehended. Because of this horrific period in Spain’s history, I feel that there should be more awareness and education about it so that history will not repeat itself. That is one of the reasons why the Holocaust is discussed in every classroom – so that history will not repeat itself. The faith and bravery of these Catholic clergy should be remembered for years to come.

Article:

Religious Persecution, Anticlerical Tradition and Revolution: On Atrocities against the Clergy during the Spanish Civil War
Julio de la Cueva
Journal of Contemporary History , Vol. 33, No. 3 (Jul., 1998), pp. 355-369
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