Tuesday, April 15, 2014

"open hostility toward popular government, freedom of worship and separation of church and State"

In September 1937 the Spanish bishops issued a pastoral letter justifying Franco’s insurgency. They described the “Spanish Communist Revolution” as anti-Spanish and anti-Christian. Appealing to the just war doctrine of Thomas Aquinas, they argued: “. . . Spain had no other alternative but this: either to perish in the definite assault of destructive communism . . . or to attempt . . . to save the fundamental principles of her social life and of her national characteristics.”

American Protestants were not persuaded. On October 4, 1937, the New York Times published an “open letter” signed by 150 prominent Protestant clergy and laymen rebutting the Spanish prelates’ justification for war. The Protestants accused the Spanish bishops of “open hostility toward popular government, freedom of worship and separation of church and State—principles that we, as Americans, deeply cherish . . .”


A response to the Protestants’ “open letter” signed by 175 Catholic clergy and laymen, appeared in the Times on October 14. “The publication of [the Protestants’] letter has not only misrepresented the facts and the issues of Spain,” the Catholics asserted, “but it has also tended to create a species of religious war in the United States . . . Do American Protestants accept and endorse a governmental regime that has carried on a ruthless persecution of the Christian religion since February 1936? Does American Protestantism endorse a regime that is composed predominantly of radical Socialists, Communists, Syndicalists and Anarchists? Does American Protestantism championed a regime that has consistently violated in theory and in practice the fundamental principles of liberty and democracy guaranteed by the Constitution of the United States?”

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