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The Vatican’s “Model State” –
Franco’s Fascism in Spain

(14 June 1948)

From The Militant, Vol. 12 No. 24, 14 June 1948, p. 3.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

A vast propaganda campaign is being waged in the United States to whitewash the Roman Catholic hierarchy’s connection with the fascist movement.

Last week’s Militant article, The Roman Catholic Church and Fascism, cited chapter and verse on the alliance between Mussolini and the Vatican, which culminated in the latter’s support of Italy’s rape of Ethiopia in 1935.

On August 22, 1935, the very day the League of Nations met to consider the Italo-Ethiopian war, the Osservatore Romano, official newspaper of the Vatican State, reported that 57 bishops and 19 archbishops of Italy had wired Mussolini:

“Catholic Italy thanked Jesus Christ for the renewed greatness of the country made stronger by Mussolini’s policy.”

When Fascist troops seized Addis Ababa, Ethiopian capital, Pope Pius XI declared that Mussolini’s imperialist conquest “will initiate a true European and world-wide peace.”

State Religion

The single and unchanging objective of the Roman Catholic hierarchy is to become the only legally recognized church in the world, the official state religion everywhere. It regards governments as mere pillars of the Church, the secular “guardians of the law” as dictated and interpreted by the super-government of the Vatican and its “infallible” Pope.

To this end, the Vatican follows a devious, slippery and opportunist course, when it must. Today, its agents and functionaries in the United States pay pious lip-service to “democracy” and “Americanism.” Cardinal Spellman, in his article Communism is Un-American published in the July 1946 American Magazine, Claimed that “my sole objective ... is to help save America from the godless governing of totalitarianism.”

This utterly false statement is belied by the 1,500-year history of the Roman Catholic Church, and not the least by its consistent support of one after another of the capitalist totalitarian regimes of the past three decades. There is hardly a fascist regime anywhere in Europe or the Western Hemisphere which has not been supported and officially recognized by the Vatican and which has not made the Roman Catholic Church the official religion.

Within six months after Hitler, Goebbels and their crew took power in Germany in 1933, Pope Pius XII signed his Concordat with Hitler’s Third Reich. The Catholic Revue des Deux Mondes, Jan. 15, 1935, reported the orders to all German bishops that all Catholic opposition to Hitler must cease. As late as August 1940, according to the N.Y. Times of August 27, the German bishops, meeting at Fulda, issued a pastoral letter containing “a solemn pledge of loyalty to Chancellor Hitler.”

“Nazism and Catholicism”

The betrayer, of Czechoslovakia, Hitler’s puppet ruler and president of Slovakia after the dismemberment of Czechoslovakia, was the priest Josef Tiso. His premier, Volpetch Tuka, announced that “Slovakia’s government in the future will be a combination of German Nazism and Roman Catholicism.” Pope Pius XII demonstratively made Tiso a Papal Chamberlain with the title of Monsignor, while the Vatican radio broadcast:

“The announcement by Monsignor Tiso ... of his intention to reconstruct Slovakia on a Christian plan, is greatly welcomed by the Holy See. The new organization of the State is to be based on the Corporate system which has proved so successful in Portugal ... This coming so soon after Marshall Petain’s statement that he intended to reconstruct France on a Christian basis, is doubly welcome.”

Thus did the Vatican express its joy at the three-fold advance of clerical fascism – in Tiso’s Slovakia, Petain’s France and Salazar’s Portugal. Thus had it previously hailed the bloody dictatorships of Dolfuss in Austria and Franco in Spain.

Franco’s Fascist Spain

The present attitude of the Vatican toward fascism is most fully revealed in the case of Spain, which the United Nations has been forced to formally describe as a “fascist, totalitarian” regime.

In October 1943, four years after Franco came to power over the dead bodies of two million Spanish Catholic workers and peasants, the Pope’s newspaper Osservatore Romano hailed Spanish fascism as the “model state.”

This “model state” in 1947, eight years after Franco’s rule began, still held 300,000 anti-fascists in prison and kept 700,000 under surveillance. It averaged 2,000 death-sentences a year against its political opponents. About 60% of its budget went to the armed forces; a large part of the remainder to the police and Church, the latter state-financed. Wheat production was 53% of 1935; barley, 53%. Wages had risen 171% in money; but prices rose 570% at the same time.

Why was Spain the “model state” for the Vatican ? On July 6, 1941, Franco signed a Concordat with the Vatican whose first article reads:

“The Roman Catholic religion, to the exclusion of any other, continues to be the sole religion of the Spanish nation.”

A 1942 report of the U.S. Embassy in Madrid to the American State Department stated: “Protestant Churches for Spaniards have no legal status and enjoy no state guarantees.”

Wealth Retirned

Pope Pius XII’s proclamation of “great joy” at the victory of the “dearest sons of Catholic Spain” was not based altogether on spiritual values gained. Franco restored the State Ecclesiastical Budget of 65 million pesetas a year, plus allotments for repairing all Church property. The Spanish Jesuits were given back all their enormous wealth estimated before the advent of the Spanish Republic at a third of the entire wealth of Spain and including such lucrative enterprises as the fish markets and the most expensive cabarets.

Ope of the crowning achievements of the Catholic Church in Spain is the complete monopoly of education, which, according to law, must “conform to the principles of Catholic dogma and faith and to the prescriptions of cannon law.”

The American Catholic liberal, Emmet J. Hughes, in his recent book, Report on Spain, bitterly describes the precepts taught in the manual of religious instruction, Nuevo Ripalda, to all Spanish school children:

Q. What are the freedoms which liberalism defends? A. Freedom of conscience, freedom of worship and freedom of the press.

Q. What does freedom of the press mean? A. The right to print and publish without previous censorship all kinds of opinions, however absurd and corrupting they may be.

Q. Must the government suppress this freedom by means of censorship? A. Obviously, yes.

Q. Why? A. Because it must prevent the deception, calumny and corruption of its subjects, which harm the general good.

Q. Are there other pernicious freedoms? A. Yes, freedom of propaganda, and freedom of assembly.

Q. Why are these freedoms pernicious? A. Because they serve to teach error, propagate vice, and plot against the church ...

These are the concepts which the Roman Catholic hierarchy teaches in its “model state!” This is what the emissary of the Vatican, Cardinal Spellman, really means when he speaks of “saving America from the godless governings of totalitarianism.”

(This is the second of a series of articles on the political role of the Vatican.)

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