Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Open Letter in Reply to Spanish Hierarchy’s Recent Views of War

October 4, 1937
New York Times
The text of the open letter issued by 150 Protestant clergymen and educators and laymen on the recent pastoral letter of the Spanish hierarchy follows:

The pastoral letter issued by the prelates of the Catholic Church in Spain stirs our anxieties. The Spanish hierarchy’s attempt to justify a military rebellion against a legally elected government is alarming, as is its display of open hostility toward popular government, freedom of worship and separation of church and State—principles that we, as Americans, deeply cherish.

Its apparent unwillingness to recognize the social and economic evils that have sickened Spain for generations is disquieting to those who feel that there can be no stability in the peninsula until these evils are eliminated; that resort again to force, repression and dictatorship can only be futile. IN this respect the Spanish hierarchy will not admit what leading Catholics here and abroad have long discussed and deplored.

It is noteworthy that this pastoral letter was issued to answer criticism abroad of the Spanish hierarchy’s position, criticism voiced not by the secular but by the Catholic press.

We are amazed to find the pastoral letter 1) approving of resort to violence and military insurrection as a means of settling political controversies; 20 rejecting not merely the present Popular Front Government of Spain but the republic itself and the Constitution of 1931 on which it was founded; 3) stigmatizing any form of parliamentary government, presumably even if under a constitutional monarchy, as “irresponsible autocracy”; and 4) condemning in principle the democratic institutions, the freedom of worship and the separation of church and State established by the Constitution of 1931. It is hard to believe that this pastoral letter was written in the twentieth century . . .

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