In an utterly unsurprising move, the Vatican has beatified 498 Roman Catholics who died ‘as martyrs’ in the Spanish Civil War. These men and women died at the hands of leftist (mostly anarchist) fighters during that terrible conflict. The Catholic Church has been criticised for not recognising victims from the other side in the war: but why would they? After all, the Catholic Church in Spain openly supported Francisco Franco’s mutiny: that’s the main reason Catholic officials were attacked. Before you apologists-for-fascism start foaming at the mouth, I’m not trying to justify the fact that monks, nuns and priests were killed. I will, however, point out that plenty of Catholic officials were agents of the fascists, and that when the Church (or its officials) took sides in the war, it had to expect casualties.
The timing of this beatification is also somewhat mysterious (read: very well planned). It coincides with the introduction of a new law here which will change the way the crimes of the Civil War and dictatorship are officially remembered. Apparently, part of the new law demands that churches remove Franco-era memorials. Don’t forget: however many died at the hands of the disparate Republican forces, there’s no question that the fascists killed far more innocents, both during and after the Civil War. The Church was also arguably the greatest victor of the Civil War: it was handed total control of education and morality in Spain for decades.
That the Vatican should indulge some of its more right-wing supporters in a move clearly aimed at dividing opinion in Spain, should surprise no one. This is, after all, the same organisation which is led by a former Hitler-youth member, an organisation which persists in claiming that European countries are intentionally spreading HIV-aids via wicked condoms in African countries. It seems a shame that such an antiquated and morally dubious body should hold sway over so many people around the world. In fact, over the last century it is very likely that Christianity has been responsible for more death and unhappiness than Islam. The sooner we rid ourselves of the lot of them, the better.