The Decline of Western Christianity

Yesterday Toad asked an interesting question in the comment section. He was wondering whether the little use we have nowadays of kings and queens – comparing the symbolism to Christ the King, and Mary, Queen of Heaven – could be the reason why the Christian Faith is declining so fast in Europe (and here I would include the whole of the western world). This has provoked some deep thinking and interesting comments already. I see the topic as important enough to merit a separate post of its own.

Golden Chersonnese also gave us a fascinating link to an interview from the National Review with Mary Eberstadt, author of “How the West Really Lost God”. Please take the time to read the article to get a fuller picture of the whole scenario.

The Fall of Rome

The Fall of Rome

Certainly there must be reasons for the “decline in interest in Christianity in Europe generally” – for we all know there are still some strong pockets of faithful believers in this ‘Old Continent’. But if this evident general decline has anything to do with Toad’s suggestion (basically, the West’s rejection of kings and queens, hierarchy and, I suppose, authority in general) I believe it would be minimal; if it were the reason, the decline would have started a long time ago. We must look for the “reasons” elsewhere.

Golden’s link to Mary Eberstadt’s interview puts the main cause to be a clear decline in the family being the root cause of the religious decline among Christians.

Her argument is powerfully persuasive, and I believe she has hit the nail on the head… but why has there been a “family decline” in the first place?

Just a few personal ideas from a Catholic viewpoint for the possible causes for this; others may be able to identify other reasons:

Everyone would agree that the so-called ‘Sexual Revolution’ is definitely one of the main causes. It leaves no room for God’s Moral Law. Then the whole godless ‘culture of death’ (abortion, euthanasia, artificial contraception) follows suite. The consequences have been disastrous: less children, broken families, licentious living, etc.

The way the Vatican II Council was interpreted (although some would say, the Council itself) must definitely be one of the causes of the religious decline among Catholics in the West. It would be too much of a coincidence for the two things to have started at exactly the same time otherwise. Besides, so much was changed after VII, and when most Catholic devotions and piety flew away through the window, people were left feeling disorientated and bereft!

In this aftermath of the Council, the loss of the traditional “Mass of All Ages” for the Novus Ordo Mass in the vernacular shook the faith of many Catholics.

After the 60s the Faith was no longer taught properly anymore, except in a few isolated homes and elsewhere. Once children were not taught to know their Catholic Faith, how could they be expected to live and love it? They had been deprived of their Christian heritage. Those ‘children’ are today’s adults, who are not passing the Faith onto their own children. So the decline continues.

However not everything can be laid at the door of Vatican II, for the fall away from the Christian Faith has affected Protestants and Anglicans too. From the 60s (more or less I believe) modernists and secularists started to pour out their ideas through the media, cinema, literature, etc., until it became almost a type of brainwashing… and was almost impossible to find a haven away from it. (Some say these were the errors of atheistic communism from the then former Russia seeping into the West; perhaps they are right!)

Wealth and a higher standard of living than that enjoyed by earlier generations could be another reason. It was certainly one of the factors in the decline of the Roman Empire; a cushy life for the ruling classes made them lazy and self-centred, disinclined to accept the necessary courage, discipline and self-sacrifice their peers had needed to conquer practically all the known world of the time. The same could be said for the modern Western European – we’ve become softies too, who don’t want to be challenged by the Gospel of Christ.

Yet man cannot live without God. We are Spiritual Beings with a longing for God in our souls, though so many do not recognise this, and seek this unknown “God” in all the wrong places. The incredulous times we are living through in Europe (and in the Western world in general) has brought with it a whole lot of dissatisfaction, greed, selfishness and a strange attitude shared by many of the meaninglessness of life.

All is not lost; at the same time, in the continents of Africa and parts of Asia, the Christian Faith is growing and thriving. As has been said before, it won’t be long before missionaries will be visiting us to revive ‘the pearl of great price’ we have so foolishly (but hopefully only temporarily) buried and forgotten.

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77 Responses to The Decline of Western Christianity

  1. Roger says:

    Very good!
    Actually in Dublin there are third world missionary priests.
    St Malachy his mottos are far more than about Popes, perhaps better seen as comments on Pontificates.
    Religio Depopulata Benedict XV 1914-1922 such an important time Fatima, Israel, Russian revolution, Spainish Flu, Great Depression It has been called the European Civil War.
    The depopulation of Christendom !
    The secular world that opened up afterwards with the League Of Nations etc..
    The First World War was called the Great War and the Lights went out all over Europe. I will leave it to others to talk of the Catholic Hapsburgs.
    The social changes and the huge leap in technology that followed that period. The mottos are very revealing when looked at from the prospective of Pontificates rather than Popes.


  2. golden chersonnese says:

    Everyone would agree that the so-called ‘Sexual Revolution’ is definitely one of the main causes.

    These feminists would actually agree with that, Kathleen.

    Women – and men, too – are free to choose from a host of fascinating lives that may or may not involve children, and across Europe couples are opting for the latter in droves. My friends and I are decent people – or at least we treat each other well. We’re interesting. We’re fun. But writ large, we’re an economic, cultural and moral disaster . . . Europeans, Australians and many European-Americans cannot be bothered to scrounge up another generation of even the same size, because children might not always be interesting and fun, because they might not make us happy, because some days they’re a pain in the bum. When Islamic fundamentalists accuse the west of being decadent, degenerate and debauched, you have to wonder if maybe they’ve got a point.

    (Sorry, it’s another long read, Kathleen, from The Guardian, of all things)


  3. kathleen says:

    Thanks Golden. Having a busy family Sunday, and have only just skimmed the article so far, but I get the gist. Our western hedonism and selfishness – shown primarily by our not wanting to have children – certainly gives the Islamic fundamentalists a valid point to accuse us of with those above-mentioned adjectives!

    Yet if we are fully aware of the problem (as I think many westerners are) why do we still go about digging our own graves? When will we wake up and do something about it?
    Those that are shouting out warnings: EWTN, Michael Voris’s “Church Militant”, and many Catholic apologists of the more traditional leaning, are just not being heeded. We really do need to pray hard, be true Christian witnesses in the world, and fight “in the public square” in whatever way we possibly can to hold back the coming disaster.


  4. NEO says:

    Morning, Kathleen. I think all of the causes you listed are valid but, I also think Roger has the root. The more I read the more I’m convinced that the Great War was just that. It took to much of Europe’s best young men leaving a continent short of proper leadership (left and right, I suspect). The moves that we made after we compounded the problem, the Habsburgs had pretty much run the course, I think but the Hohenzollerns hadn’t and in truth the Romanovs weren’t nearly as bad as their press said either. An entire continent, without it’s traditional leadership was almost guaranteed to go badly off course. Leaving Britain, of course, also weakened but still at least with the externalities of tradition. It has helped I think, is it enough, only time will tell. God Save the Queen, we all need her, and badly.


  5. Toad says:

    “When Islamic fundamentalists accuse the west of being decadent, degenerate and debauched, you have to wonder if maybe they’ve got a point.”

    Well, of course they have got a point.
    The point is whether the point they have got is legitimate or not.
    Do we object to women walking around with their faces uncovered, or not? Or their legs, or their feet? Or their noses?
    I don’t object to exposure of flesh myself.
    I might well strongly approve of some male faces being permanently enclosed in black plastic shopping bags.
    But that’s another thing. Nothing to do with God.

    Which is to say, in a roundabout way – where do we draw the line?

    For myself, the more I see of unclothed young people with agreeable bodies, the more happy I am.
    (A purely aesthetic view these days, I have to admit.)
    But I would not personally expose very much of my own hideous 72-year-old corpus outside the stout walls of my house, for fear of causing revulsion among neighbours, and frightening other peoples’ dogs.
    (Mine are grown used to it.)

    A rather ‘Pagan’ way of looking at things, I admit.

    “God Save the Queen, we all need her, and badly.”
    I disagree, Neo. Not very violently, but a little bit.
    What actual use is, or was, the very nice old girl?
    Moral guideline?
    Well, she kept quiet about her husband’s numerous infidelities.
    Not to mention her splendidly idiot children and their choices, Charles, Camilla, and Diana – not to mention “Andy” and Fergie” and God knows who else – who combined to provide me with a pleasant, and virtually brainless, small fortune.
    On which I now live. Lucky old me.

    So, it would be churlish of me to repine.


  6. Giovanni A. Cattaneo says:

    I think you had it right the first time. The decline of Christianity in the west precedes many of the things you mention on your article and though the old order that being the feudal system may not be the cause of the colapse it is the departure from it which is one of its glaring symptoms.

    The fact is that the colapse in the West began with the so called “reformation” if one could be ones own pope in a matter of faith why would it be that one could not be ones own ruler on earthly matters. It is the rebellion against authority and the praise for everything that is built outside of it that rots the core of the human mind today.

    The later illnesses of the sexual revolution and other glaring social issues simply was the final waves that broke the damn that the Church had been trying to patch up for 400 years, a miracle of sorts.

    In the end many of the critics of the republican system of government are being vindicated today, though nobody seems to talk about it, when it comes to what democracy would bring with it. Unfortunatly there is little to no chance for the system to be declared a failure until after is complete and utter implosion. Much after the fall or Rome when the only institution with any power or left standing was the Church, not until the last building of the so called new order is burned to the ground will people turn back to proper authority.


  7. Roger says:

    Let me share with you an extract frm a sermon by St Ferrer “..there will be signs in the moon. You must understand that in the Holy Scriptures the moon signifies our holy Mother the Universal Church, which implies the world-wide union of Christians; for when men speak of the Church, they do not speak of the material building, or the stone and the walls which compose it, but of that gathering of the faithful under one Head, which is the Church in reality. The Church is signified by the moon and its five phases: first there is the new moon, then the waxing moon, next the full moon, to be followed by the waning moon, and lastly the old moon. ..” “..The old moon, because the horns are reversed, typifies that the Church is no longer in the state in which Christ founded it. ..” “..the Church, typified by the moon, will be eclipsed; because then she will not give her light..”
    This was what 600 years ago and the question is whether the Church is in the State that Christ founded it?


  8. Toad says:

    This will, I think, interest Raven – at least. Many others too, I’m sure.

    BTW, Scruton has described himself as a “Sceptical Anglican.’
    His “Modern Philosophy,” is also well worth a read.


  9. kathleen says:

    Giovanni, whereas I wholly agree with you when you say that, “the rebellion against authority and the praise for everything that is built outside of it that rots the core of the human mind today“, I’m not sure if the problem started with the Reformation. The Protestants, in spite of their rebellion against Christ’s Vicar on Earth, the papacy, still adhered to Christian principles, and the family was still the “domestic church” within both Catholicism and Protestantism . Europe remained an almost totally Christian continent, even if the differing faiths were pretty hostile and suspicious of each other. The French Revolution ushered in the beginnings of violent hatred against religion (“atheistic communism”, though it wasn’t called that then), and that might have been what triggered off the “rot”.

    However, it might well be that NEO (and Roger) have it right: the Great War and the disastrous loss of so many of the best of Europe’s manhood, plus the fall of the very stable Catholic Austrian-Hungarian Empire, could have been “the beginning of the end”, so to speak. Almost 100 years later, we can see how Christianity began to slowly decline (unnoticed at first) until real evidence of the decline broke loose from the 60s onwards.

    No wonder Roger keeps going on about Our Lady’s warnings at Fatima, and that these came in 1917, just before the Bolshevik Revolution started. We are seeing her prophesies playing out with our own eyes.

    Thank you NEO for your kind words about our country and queen – probably undeserved! 🙂 You are a very gallant American!


  10. Peter Northcott says:

    One of the main influences on Scott Hahn’s PhD thesis, published in a slightly modified form as,Kinship by Covenant, was Carle Zimmerman’s, Family and Civilization, which outlined a direct correlation between the breakdown of the family with breakdown of civilisation throughout history. When families decline from ‘Trustee’, to ‘Domestic’, to ‘Atomistic’ family (where we are today), societal collapse and frequently, invasion by another race/religion, occurs as the Atomistic stage breaks down, and the civilisation is incapable of responding or defending itself, its members being inherently turned in on themselves.

    Interestingly, Eberstadt mentions Zimmerman only once, in passing, and yet her thesis is what one could consider a plagiarisation of his, merely re-hashed for today…


  11. Roger says:

    This is a good discussion.
    Why be paranoid about the decline in the Faith? Because of Thessalonians (2:3): “For unless there come a revolt first, and the man of sin is revealed, the son of perdition, who opposeth and is lifted up above all that is called God or that is worshipped, so that he sitteth in the temple of God, spewing himself as if he were a god.”
    La Salette singled out France, Italy, Spain and England . Italy, France and England these were or had been pillars of the Church but each characterised by revolt! Each incidentally ruled by Masonry.
    A Revolt against the Church thats the importance of the Fench Revolution followed by a revolt in Italy.
    Do not forget that the Russian Orthodox Church priests and sacraments are recognised as valid A most Christian Country.
    So are we seeing a general Apostacy and what was previously Sin now considered legal? It’s not about the decline of Christianity its about the rise of an anti christian generation.
    Fatima is of the greatest importance and should be restudied again and again because a solution for Peace was given the Immaculate Heart Of Mary.


  12. Adrian Meades says:

    It is interesting to note the developments in western painting since around 1850. It is apparent that, once a medium to depict the events, people, landscapes, the glory and wonders of life, executed to the highest possible standards, painting became more and more focused on the self.


  13. Toad says:

    Has it struck you Adrian, that the invention of photography around that time, might have had an effect on western painting?
    This is, I suppose the basis of “modern” (excuse the mild obscenity) art.
    The idea that a painting, or a sculpture, need not be a representation of an object, but can be an object in itself?


  14. Toad says:

    “Giovanni, whereas I wholly agree with you when you say that, “the rebellion against authority and the praise for everything that is built outside of it that rots the core of the human mind today…” “..says Kathleen.

    …But what if ‘authority’ is represented (as it sometimes is, forcefully – and even democratically – by Nazis, or Fascists, or Communists, or Islamists?
    No rebellion there?

    Or does it simply apply to the sort of authority we select as being applicable to us?


  15. The Raven says:


    I will come back to this later, as I want to say more, but it strikes me that Roger Scruton was wrong in his analysis, in that it strikes me that the first step in establishing a safe and democratic society is the establishment of the rule if law: if everyone, from general to refugee, is subject to the law and may appeal equally to the law then that is the genuine first step to a worthwhile polity.

    Authority or democracy without law are just different sides of the medal of tyranny.

    Dunno how that ties in to your or Giovanni’s comments, but I’ll come bak to it when I have a minute.


  16. Toad says:

    “…it strikes me that the first step in establishing a safe and democratic society…”.

    Well, Toad has no longer any honest employ as you know Raven – nothing to do but daub "modern" paintings, and play silly games with sensible dogs.

    You have far more important things, as I appreciate. (No irony intended here.)

    But, I suspect, (before you have even had a chance to answer 'part one,') – there can be no such thing as a truly "…safe and democratic society."
    As Popper said, re Hitler: “Don’t ever say, ‘It can’t happen here.’ Because it always can.”

    What if everyone, “from general to refugee,” is subject to the rule of law that says, “Kill all the Jews”?


  17. Roger says:

    The Rule of Law ? Well the Law is entrenched in ownership and power. The Rule Of Law in Christendom was shaped by Christ as the supreme Authority and you could for instance seek sanctuary. But now the only law before you is the State (whatever this might be?)
    What does the word Democracy mean in an anti christian world? As you can all see in Europe without control over currency the various nations have no control over their economies. Egypt is a case in point over voters and democracy.
    Now the UN has become the World Power and Authority that can legal permit the bombing and removal of governments.
    Remove Christ and mans state becomes 1000 worse than before Christ brute power and authority not morality is the result.
    I am not naive the super powers not the voter are imposing their standards on the world.
    Who is the Man of Sin? Sadly Adam was the original Man of Sin and Man thats rejected Christ is 1000 fold worse. Six is the number of Man?


  18. Roger says:

    Cameron has recalled Parliament. National Debt and War thats a nice combination to saddle any fragile economy with!
    The French Revolution and Napoleon plus Conscription. The rise of the Emperor and guess what kings appointed in a conquered Europe, curious how the French revolt created an Emperor and vassal Kings?.
    Once you harness a Nations wealth you can use this as collateral to finance enterprises (that dutch model again). Conscription and War Debt is the fuel for social hardship.
    The Arts? Well by and large these reflect the power and wealth of the patrons who sponsor them do they not?
    Grand Armees and weapons of mass destruction one begats the other doesn’t it.
    If we look at this world as transitory and the next as eternal then all that matters is whether our souls are lost or not. Satan’s only object is the destruction of souls. This is the wisdom of the saints. The decline in christianity is the ultimate folly because it is the choice of Hell in Eternity and pleasure in this world.


  19. Giovanni A. Cattaneo says:

    I think that without a doubt, for those with inquisitive minds, the last two centuries will have demonstrated that the rule of a single despot is preferable to the rule of the mob. With a despot one can easily identify and rectify the problem as one individual is simple to replace, while the rule of the mob, one has a cancer of the mind which is much more difficult to eradicate.

    The Founding Fathers knew this, it was one of the greatest fear that it would not be the enlightened populace that would make and pass the laws but rather the uneducated mob that will simply vote for it self comfort after comfort and create a practical anarchy. I think that by all intents and purposes we have arrived at that tipping point in our history.

    To backtrack a bit on what I said about the protestant attack on legimate authority. Though I would agree, superficialy, on the matter of protestant respect for family that was not the point of my criticism on their contribution to the decline of Christianity in the West. However, upon further examination I believe that even in that instance the protestant mind set was deliberate and maliciously bent upon the attack on the family even if not done with with intent. The reason being that their sewing of discontent and discored aimed directly at the Christian Church and hence at the family of God. Not only that but many of the sins and eventual traction of the reformation was gained through the laxity of the moral law to which the Church is architect and steward much of which was centered around marriage and sex.


  20. Toad says:

    “With a despot one can easily identify and rectify the problem as one individual is simple to replace,”

    Oh really, Giovanni? I don’t recall Stalin, Franco, or Salazar being “simple to replace.’
    And it took a rather nasty world war to replace Hitler and Mussolini.

    But you are probably too young to remember.


  21. The Raven says:

    I’m not sure that there can ever be a “truly safe and democratic society” this side of the grave, Toad, and even if there is such a society, it would only be a matter of time before it all fell apart again, human beings being what human beings are.

    The best that we can hope for is a society that does its best to be safe and democratic.

    And I’ll pull you up on your naughty rejoinder: if the law is that the general and the refugee should kill the Jew, then you aren’t in a situation where all are able to equally appeal to the law for recourse, as the Jew doesn’t have the same legal protection as the other two.

    My point is that if there is no rule of law, in a state where one individual or group has impunity or the state can sequester the lives, labour or property of others at its whim, then the most carefully monitored election is only going to produce a dictatorship of one sort or another.


  22. Giovanni A. Cattaneo says:

    Toad, though I do not consider Franco a despot I will however entertain your example. After Stalin died much of the terror unleashed by Stalin him self died with him, after Franco died the King of Spain called for democratic elections, after Hitler, Mussolini and add to that Saddam Hussein, there was nobody, there was no charismatic leader to continue on their legacy or ideology because it was always top down and never bottom up. Your assessment, on its face, at best is faulty and at worst a lie.

    On the other side let us consider the example of Elizabethean England had it been ruled by Queen Mary rather than her protestant sister. Had Elizabeth never been queen there is very little to suggest that England would have turned protestant.

    Let us however look at Venezuela ruled by Hugo Chavez until his death after which his idiology continues to destroy said society because it was not the man but the idiology. The auspices of which was given cover by democratic system.

    It is idiological regimes (which is what democracy forces on to society) those that aim to change the minds of people and which to an extent serve under the guise of democratic rule tend to last longer because it is the people them selves that clamor for them. It is specialy worth noting about representative democracies in which the population have bought in the false dynamic that tranquility is preferable to justice and that peace at any means, including capitulation, is preferable to war have malinformed or rather ignorant .

    Simply put when the social contract dies so does the society that is built upon it. Which in too many cases is too easily done.


  23. Roger says:

    The Church is the Mystical Body Of Christ
    But Anti Christ also has a body it is feed on sin. Anti Christ has authority over those in mortal Sin. So forget the petty dictators understand that the worst state for a man is to lose his soul. The decline of Western Christianity is the spiritual death of the West which is becoming through Sin possessed by Anti Christ.
    The West put on Christ and in putting off Christ is putting on Ant Christ. But this is the antithesis of Love of God and Love of Neighbour. This will lead to hatred of God and mistrust and hatred of neighbour. Egypt controls that artery of commerce and trade called Suez canal.


  24. Toad says:

    OK, Giovanni – you don’t care for democracies. What do you like?
    Should America be ruled by a Catholic Queen?

    And you’d better put down my assessment as faulty. Toad never lies. (Except when there is a clear advantage to be gained from doing so, of course.)
    I would further suggest that all regimes are idiological. All of them.
    Even Catholic monarchies.

    “..after Hitler, Mussolini and add to that Saddam Hussein, there was nobody, there was no charismatic leader to continue on their legacy or ideology …”

    Do you really think, had there been a ‘charismatic leader ‘ available in those cases, they would have been allowed by the victors to carry on?


  25. Toad says:

    “The West put on Christ and in putting off Christ is putting on Anti Christ. But this is the antithesis of Love of God and Love of Neighbour.”

    Roger do you really think that – when The West was entirely Catholic – there was much evidence of countries, “…loving their neighbours”?
    Because I don’t.
    And even later, when it was still all “Christian,” have you ever heard of the 100-Years War?
    Look it up.

    Pascal got it right when he said, “Why do you want to kill me?…” and then answered his own question, “…Because you live on the other side of the river.”
    That’s mankind. Always has been. Always will be. Christ or no Christ.

    (Phew, Toad is getting hectoring – and boring.)


  26. kathleen says:

    I agree Toad that I do not think you lie (at least, not outrightly! ;-)) However, you are often far from fair-minded, like in your blasting of depots and mass murderers when you include names like that of Franco’s. No, Franco was certainly no saint (IMO) whatever his ‘fans’ might say, but he was a long shot from being comparable to the famous and truly evil tyrants of the twentieth century.
    Do you honestly think Spain would have been better off if the bands of red murderers, looters, anarchists and communists (admittedly lumped together with many ordinary and harmless republicans) had these won the Spanish Civil War? Most analysts, in hindsight, EVEN THOSE LIKE RAJOY WHOSE FAMILY WERE ON THE REPUBLICAN SIDE DURING THE WAR would not agree with you.

    The brutal massacres committed during this war are impossible to condone on either one side or the other, but it was the uncalled for savage murderous attacks on the Catholic clergy, followed by attacks on faithful Catholic laity, plus the devastation and destruction of Churches, monasteries, seminaries, etc. that the democratically-elected republican government was quite unable to contain, that caused the situation to erupt in a civil war in the first place.

    The post-war years for Spain were terrible: poverty, hunger, misery, etc., made worse by the disastrous circumstances of the rest of Europe due to WW2. Gradually, by Franco’s adamant decision to keep Spain out of further wars, the country started to recover, until by the time of his death in 1975, it made an amazingly (given its past) easy transition to democracy. Spain has much to thank him for.

    I have met many people in the past who lived through those post civil war years, and though life was tough, there was great joy, a loving family life and a real living out of basic Christian principles.
    Nowadays, tragically, Spain is just one more of those “declining Christian nations”.


  27. Roger says:

    It isn’t about the majority. The West produced a harvest of saints. Great saints that like a cloak covered the iniquities. Lightning rods this is the reason for St Francis and St Dominic, the orders and most especially the nuns. This is behind St Therese and the Little Way.
    The West has for 2000 years been productive of Graces.
    Its this nursery of Grace and the thousands of Masses and prayers.
    Now Our Lord pointed out the weeds amongst the wheat. I am not naive not insensitive to this wordly view. But you know Our Lord knows all of this. He knows the weaknessess, the lack of Will and good intentions that tail into nothing.
    So nothing new in either what you are saying nor my response. There is however one big difference for these times and that is a Massive and overnight change that took place in 1960. The Church changes over time and with caution. Church Councils are normally reviewed by later Popes and some sessions dropped even Councils nullified. The reason is because Satan can appear as an Angel Of Light.
    But this falling away at this time and foolish talks of the Third world actually point to the General Apostacy


  28. Toad says:

    “.. by the time of (Franco’s) death in 1975, it made an amazingly (given its past) easy transition to democracy.”
    …which democracy was,as you well know, Kathleen – the very last thing Franco wanted, and which he had made strenuous plans to avoid.

    “Do you honestly think Spain would have been better off if the bands of red murderers, looters, anarchists and communists (admittedly lumped together with many ordinary and harmless republicans) had these won the Spanish Civil War? “

    I honestly don’t know, Kathleen, and neither do you. We will never know and can only guess.
    And my guess is as good as yours, I suspect.
    And I do think it is quite possible that Spain might have been less worse off if the democratically elected government had won: but then, quite possibly not.
    What effect a Socialist government (or even a Communist one) in Spain might have had on World War Two is also impossible to say – with even the remotest degree of confidence.

    (And no, I’m not “fair minded.” I’m biased – like you, and everyone else.)

    “Toad: It isn’t about the majority.”
    When did I ever say it was, Roger?
    Of course we both agree the Church makes mistakes.
    It’s only human, after all.


  29. johnhenrycn says:

    Toad says that Scruton has described himself as a “Sceptical Anglican”. Scruton has also described himself as an atheist. He’s also said that he has found himself drawn “into the ambit of the Catholic Church”. Who knows? He was dropped, some years ago, as a contributor to one of the top three conservative journals of opinion over here for a perceived journalistic offence. The offending piece was small beer, and he remains one of our pre-eminent thinkers, imo.
    Where was I? Right. I think Professor Scruton will eventually be received into the Church. His personality and thought processes are just too Catholic to contemplate any other outcome. Before he is confirmed, however, he will have to confess his complicity in the theft by his companion at the time of two exquisite silver-bound crystal cruets – the ones used in the Sacrament – from a Catholic church in a tiny hamlet outside of Paris:

    ‘Qu’elles sont mignonnes!’, she cried.
    …She picked up the bottles and placed them,
    one on each side, in her jacket pockets.
    ‘Pourquoi pas? Ils ne les apprecient pas.’
    I have many times thought of this crime…and the profound effect that it had, in reminding me of my own more invisible stealing.


  30. Toad says:

    How interesting, JH. I’ll order the book this very day.
    If Scruton can become a Catholic – and why not – well, who knows?
    That would be a coup for the Church approaching that of Camus. Mais, helas….

    (Good to know you are not dead.)


  31. Roger says:

    Just to throw another spanner into the Evolution works.
    Prof Benner again billions of years absence of Oxygen, Water, organic molecules.
    Water on Mars would fit with The Hydroplate Theory as would Water found on the moon.
    Science and its rational on how Life began changes almost on a weekly basis.
    But these scientific theories have underminded Christianity. What is taught in State Education makes the Church outdated and children simply reject their parents and grandparents beliefs as fables.


  32. kathleen says:

    Yes, really good to see you back again johnhenry – we missed you! Do stay around, pleeeease! 😉

    Toad, Franco was indeed against democracy in theory, especially in the immediate post-civil-war period, but it is well known that in his last years he saw that it was an inevitable event for Spain, and that any attempt to abort the desire of the majority of the population would be to steer Spain towards another civil war – something he was adamant he was going to avoid at all costs. That is why he had already made those plans with the then Prince Juan Carlos to bring back the Monarchy after his (Franco’s) death. With the Monarchy would come the inevitable transition from dictatorship to a democratic government. He was right.

    What really consolidated King Juan Carlos as Monarch, and Democracy as a form of government in Spain, was not the Act of Constitution a few years earlier, but the King’s vital role in the botched attempt to overthrow the government of Adolfo Suarez by a band of fascists in February 1981. (I remember this well, as I was in Spain at the time!) King Juan Carlos, with the whole country waiting with bated breath for news, gave a memorable speech on the T.V. reassuring the population that the situation was under control, and adulating freedom and democracy. His popularity soared after that.


  33. Toad says:

    “Science and its rationale on how Life began changes almost on a weekly basis.”

    It doesn’t in fact. But – if even it did – it would be no bad thing. We don’t know for sure how Life began, and – quite possibly – may never do so.
    But, as we learn more, our ideas change.
    Communication is a notable case in point.

    (Some of my Grandmother’s beliefs actually were fables. I now realise.
    Often involving Banshees, and “The Wee Folk.”)


  34. Roger says:

    Toad Man has Free Will but within this somehow lies Gods Providence. Prophecy’s iare fulfilled within man and Free Will, the Messianic Prophecy’s are an example.
    But the trouble with Prophecy’s is they are conditional (sic Jonah) and they can be fulfilled in ways outside of Man’s expectations.
    The Foundation of the Church is the Man God Our Lord the sinless spotless Lamb cannot err. Peter can in fact did deny Our Lord by which we understand the distinction between the man Peter and the Papacy.
    The part that we see and is the Church Militant and this works within Free Will, The Cross and with the Mystery Of Inquity. There are those within her that die outside of her and those outside who will die inside her. Don’t take the Church for granted.
    It really is wiser to not judge. Our Lord told Us not to judge that doesn’t mean ignore or break the Law but History has already been judged. The Church has seen heresy, schism persecution etc. if you like the worst and best of Man.
    The Church isn’t a smooth, safe journey into Eternity but it provides the balm for Adam’s Sin (and the seriousness and extent of this shouldn’t be undrestimated) by putting on Christ.


  35. Toad says:

    “That is why (Franco) had already made those plans with the then Prince Juan Carlos to bring back the Monarchy after his (Franco’s) death. With the Monarchy would come the inevitable transition from dictatorship to a democratic government. He was right.”

    Then how come the Dear Old Generalissimo was all set to appoint Luis Carrero Blanco to take his place – until ETA blew the Dear Old admiral to Kingdom Come, (Heaven, presumably) Kathleen?


  36. Roger says:

    Again careful Toad the Banshees are found curiously with one family. Often when you look more closely there are truths here which are being explained with archaic language.


  37. johnhenrycn says:

    Roger says that “Toad Man has Free Will…”
    Perhaps he meant “Toad, man has Free Will…”
    …but I’ll never know because I invariably get lost half way through his comments, sad to say.
    Yes, been absent in body, but not in spirit, and I do check in. I second Kathleen’s compliment to Raven re his comment on the Latin Mass thread.


  38. Toad says:

    Is it permitted for Toad to ask how “moderation” works?
    Is it like Purgatory? Is there an end to it?
    No? Oh, well.


  39. Toad says:

    “It really is wiser to not judge.”

    …Clearly a hint there, from Roger to Toad Man.( And The Moderater?)

    …Who (Toad, that is) finds that Scruton’s “Gentle Regrets” is some seven years old, whereas his latest published work, from 2012, is called, “Our Church” – and is, apparently, a deeply affectionate reflection on The Church of England.
    Maybe I will have to read that first. And JH will have to hold his breath.


  40. Toad says:

    Yes, Toad spelled “moderator” immoderately. Or, more accurately – inaccurately.
    (In case “Eccles” is lurking.)


  41. kathleen says:

    You are right Toad: the extreme right-wing President of the Government under Franco, Admiral Carrero Blanco seems to have had every intention of maintaining his power and taking control after Franco’s death, in spite of the already firmly laid plans to restore the Spanish Monarchy and usher in democratic elections. In Franco’s final declining years (both physically and mentally) he was unable to do much about this; Carrero Blanco was already so powerful! The terrorist group ETA decided to take matters into their own hands and make sure that a continuation of a Franco-type regime would never happen!

    Franco was no fool, and had recognised the inevitable: the whole of Spain wanted an end of dictatorships! Even though the last years of the Spanish dictatorship under Franco were very relaxed (and not in any way comparable to those in the Eastern communist block) the strong desire of the great majority of the Spanish population was to take their place in Europe as a truly free and democratic country together with their neighbours.

    This was of course a good thing, but the unfortunate consequence of the arrival of democracy to Spain (and one that should not follow on naturally from this political shift in government) has been a steady decline in Catholic faith and practice, with a growing secularism and religious indifference, and all the problems such a decline entails (many which have been already listed above).


  42. Toad says:

    Well, it is always agreeable for Toadman to find himself in agreement with you, Kathleen, and we clearly can agree on one thing at least – that, if the The Kindly Old Fascist Dictator were alive today, he’d be spinning in his splendid tomb at The Valley Of The Fallen.
    Which is one small reason why Toadman himself appreciates current-day, Godless, Spain so much: The thought of the Generalissimo’s teeth impotently gnashing.

    (That’s enough For Whom The Bell Tolls” for a month or two. Surely?


  43. The Raven says:

    “if the The Kindly Old Fascist Dictator were alive today, he’d be spinning in his splendid tomb at The Valley Of The Fallen.”

    I suspect that you may have mixed too much gin with that metaphor.

    Although, if he were alive, I would have thought that keeping him in a lead-lined box under a few tons of stone would be an effective way to keep him out of politics.


  44. Toad says:

    An old “Irishism” I fear, Raven. Too old.
    Serves Toadman right.

    “Although, if he were alive, I would have thought that keeping him in a lead-lined box under a few tons of stone would be an effective way to keep him out of politics.”

    Not in necessarily in Spain. He is still remarkably popular in certain quarters. As is Hitler. And Co.


  45. The Raven says:

    Is it Franco that they love or his successors that they despise?


  46. johnhenrycn says:

    “Scruton’s “Gentle Regrets” is some seven years old, whereas his latest published work, from 2012, is called, “Our Church…”

    Toad, for an old geezer (like me), you’re a bit too enamoured of recent publications. I’ve just about finished the first three parts of Proust’s magnum opus that we talked about a while back, which is why I’ve not been around of late. Turgid, but never mind; it’s either him or Roger.


  47. johnhenrycn says:

    …or you. Lord have mercy.


  48. Frere Rabit says:

    I have followed the above comments on Spain with interest. As one who was a member of the blue shirted youth movement in school in Spain in the 1960s, I have nothing but admiration for the teachers, youth workers, Catholic priests, and everyday members of “el movimiento” – the movement – in those days, a quarter of a century after the Spanish Civil War.

    Franco managed to keep Spain out of WW2, a significant achievement in itself. His main agenda was not the fascist vision but an ultra conservative programme which eventually returned a monarchy. If the Falange had their way, Franco would have been assasinated. Even now, true Spanish falangists loyal to the memory of José Antonio Primo de Rivera regard Franco as a traitor to the falangist cause. I talk with such people and they still see Franco as a “wet”.. There is much rubbish talked on this subject. Franco was not a fascist but a true Spanish conservative who was ahead of his time. Thatcher, Reagan and Pope John Paul II had the same aim of bringing down the Soviet empire, and they succeeded.

    My own grandfather fought in the Republican side of the Spanish Civil War. He was trained by the International Brigades in Albacete, a short journey from where i live and work now. I salute him for his ideals and his courage. I disagree with his political analysis. In Spain today many have made the same connections and respect their Republican grandparents while supporting a conservative political future – represented by the Partido Popular which is the only sensible option for the Spanish economy and the unity of the nation.

    As for the views expressed above in this thread, there is the usual bias. Too much uninformed outside commentary on Francoism over the years has created a view of the Franco years that equates the epoch with Nazism. It is simply untrue. The horror stories are always those of the extremes of the Franco regime, but the utter depravity of the murderous anarchy that preceded the civil war, and continued during its horrid three years of bloodshed (well described by Orwell who recounts the red terror in Barcelona) have recently been brought home to us here in Alicante. A recent excavation has shown the site of a pothole in which local conservatives were forced by trade unionists to jump down into a bottomless pit. The photographs of the bones and the shoes and remaining clothing of these people, in the local paper, “Información” awaken again the memory of unspeakable outrages.

    The anarchy and indecision of the popular front government ruling Spain in 1936 led to an uprising of the traditional right and the military. You can see that as an illegitimate disregard for democracy, or you can see it as a necessary recovery of decency.

    We will always have a problem of different perspectives. Franco’s legacy has still to be tested by time but I believe he will eventually be understood as a European leader who steered his country well and brought it into the modern Europe with its culture intact and its economy entirely revolutionised by the tourist industry that he promoted and understood, long before other European nations had begun to see the future of sun and sand.


  49. johnhenrycn says:

    So nice to see you writing something other than drivel, Frere Rabit, which is the word you used to descirbe the offerings of someone else here recently. You took some time with that comment, and I profited from it. Still, I wonder if democracy is all that it’s cracked up to be.
    I remember when when, in my neck of the woods, municipal electors had to own real estate. I laughed at that idea back then, but no longer


  50. Frere Rabit says:

    Glad you profited from my contribution, JH. (Who else here will give it a second thought?)
    Peace and all good to you.


  51. The Raven says:

    I certainly profited by your comment, Rabit, good night.


  52. Giovanni A. Cattaneo says:

    I think that to this point much of discussion has fallen in to “Was Franco good for Spain?” I will simply end my thoughts on the actual topic by saying the following.

    It has only taken the world 200 years of republican democracy to destroy the culture and the morality that Feudalistic Christendom built in a thousand years. It has taken society it self back to depth of the dark ages and in some cases worst, because it this new social schema does not simply seeks to de-christianize the society but to institutionalize sin it self as a virtue to be aspire to and praised.

    This has not been done not at the point of knife but with the complicit and cheering mob behind the politicians that push for it.

    In the end the enlightenment ideas fail because the people fail to live up to them. As for most freedom is an abstract concept but rather the given lot in life to which they have no more handle of than the wind. I would conclude by saying that aspiring to be free is the false idol of our secular age, rather it should be order and not freedom that people should seek.


  53. johnhenrycn says:

    “It has only taken the world 200 years of republican democracy to destroy the culture and the morality that Feudalistic Christendom built in a thousand years.”

    Are you referring to the USA, the most publically Christian nation on earth? Whether it’s the best country, I will not comment.

    “In the end the enlightenment ideas fail because the people fail to live up to them.”

    In the end, fatuous comments like that fail because people haven’t the time to figure out what you’re on about. The Enlightenment was part of God’s plan, a two-edged sword, but still part of His plan, and one that thinking people are grateful for.


  54. Toad says:

    “In the end the enlightenment ideas fail because the people fail to live up to them.”

    That struck me as worth thinking about, too.
    I actually agree with Giovanni here(!) – with reservations, as I think all constructive “social” ideas fail for that reason.
    Christianity, Communism and Socialism for a start. Probably Islam, Ancestor Worship and Hinduism as well, for all I know.

    And I gladly add my appreciate of Rabit’s analysis of Franco. Though I think that his (Franco, that is, not Rabit) official sanction and active encouragement of mass murder to secure his “Conservatism” went a good bit too far.
    The anarchy of the Left was as Rabit says – literally lawless – and deplored by a great many on the left, including the Republican Government.
    “The Spanish Holocust,” by Preston, is worth a read. Horrible though most of the content is.

    But I suspect to blame The Poor Old Generalissimo for Benidorm is also going a bit too far. He wasn’t that vindictive.


  55. Toad says:

    Has it struck others that the illustration for this article looks just like a depiction of “Spring Break” in Fort Lauderdale?
    “Toad, for an old geezer (like me), you’re a bit too enamoured of recent publications. I’ve just about finished the first three parts of Proust’s magnum opus …”
    Proof, if it were needed that you are a better man than Toad, JH. Have often tried and always failed with Marcel. Although my very favourite books are Powell’s “Music of Time” series – structurally based on “…Temps Perdu.” (well, sort of.)
    But you are in error of my reading habits as I, too, seldom read anything under about half a century old.
    Currently I’m on “Joseph Andrews” (1742) by Fielding, and Strachey’s “Queen Victoria” (1921) both recommended, the latter especially. And both much funnier than Proust.


  56. Giovanni A. Cattaneo says:

    Actually Johnhenrycn, American democracy is the great success story of the enlightenment thinkers. However, even in this their most successful project the fragility of the thing is rather glaring.

    As far as the rest is concern as my mother used to say “not a leaf of tree falls if not by the will of God.” So I have no doubt that the enlightenment was part of God’s plan, that was never part of the discussion.


  57. Roger says:

    There are no Politics in Heaven. No Democracy’s. No Republics. No Econimics.
    Pope Leo XIII had a vision on 13th October 1884 (there are various accounts of this but the consistent report is of Satan being permitted a time to try to destroy the Church) Leo XIII immediately sent instructions for the recitation of the St Michael prayers after Mass to ALL Bishops .
    This was 33 years to the Day of the Fatima Miracle.
    This reminds of the sifting of Peter and His subsequent denials of Christ.
    Enlightenment? Science? but we live by Faith don’t we? Isn’t this what Catholic means? Faith.
    The two pillars of the Faith are the Bible and Sacred Tradition, so expect these to come under attack. Expect changes innovations especially in the Sacraments.
    From 1884 onwards expect a wholesale assault on the Faith. It isn’t enough to blindly obey either. St Paul corrected St Peter so we do not Blindly Follow error no matter what mitre they wear.
    The sifting of the Church means the test not of knowledge but of Faith. Faith because Our Lord asked whether He would find Faith when He returned.


  58. Adrian Meades says:

    “The idea that a painting, or a sculpture, need not be a representation of an object, but can be an object in itself?”
    I’m sure people have always appreciated crafted objects for their own particular qualities, rather than what they represent. But look at a work of the leading British artists of today and try to find any value in it that doesn’t depend on the egos of the either the artist or the viewer.


  59. Toad says:

    “Pope Leo XIII had a vision on 13th October 1884 (there are various accounts of this but the consistent report is of Satan being permitted a time to try to destroy the Church) Leo XIII immediately sent instructions for the recitation of the St Michael prayers after Mass to ALL Bishops This was 33 years to the Day of the Fatima Miracle.”

    All well and good – but what Roger signally fails to mention (can’t imagine why) is that 13th October, 1884 was – The Very Day – A Century – One Hundred Years Exactly – before the day on which the great John Henry surpassed the six million dollar mark in winning prize-money – the first racehorse ever to do so – on 13th October, 1984!

    Spooky, eh? If that’s not spooky, Toad doesn’t know what spooky is! Uncanny, more like.

    Which is, of course, the reason why our Great Mutual Friend, on CP&S, is named after that semi-mythical beast. (Or so Toad naturally supposes.)


  60. johnhenrycn says:

    Fantastic race. Fantastic horse. But no, my blog name was chosen in homage to a great Prince of the Church, not a gelding.


  61. Toad says:

    …Toad in error yet again.
    Still, we can comfort ourselves with the assurance that neither superstar was responsible for any progeny.
    If only more of us could claim that simple acheivement.


  62. Roger says:

    In October 1943 under Obedience to the Bishop José da Silva Lucy tried to write down the Third Secret Of Fatima. This proved very very difficult for her to do. Our Lady appeared to her January 2, 1944 to confirm to her that it was indeed God’s will that she write the words of the Third Secret. This was completed between 2nd to 9th January 1944. Sister Lucy had no problem writing down the first and second parts of the Secret, which included the terrifying vision of hell and the annihilation of nations. Yet in the case of the third part, intervention from Heaven was necessary for her to be able to write it down. This testifies to the seriousness of its contents. Cardinal Ottaviani, who had interrogated Sister Lucy in 1955 and who read the Secret, is on public record as saying that the Third Secret is a prophecy. The second secret expressly included the request for the consecration of Russia and if this was not done the annihilation of nations. The writing of the third secret touched the End of WW II and rather like 1917 to 1918 was a year before Hiroshima. I think we can all understand now how nations could be annihilated using such bombs. Syria divides the Super Powers whose stockpiles of such weapons poses the biggest threat to the world. Fatima remains very much before Us.


  63. johnhenrycn says:

    Reblogged on

    …which is not to say – forgiving my double negative – that Roger isn’t wiser than I am.


  64. Toad says:

    I find Roger deeply and endlessly fascinating. Can’t get enough of him. Would dearly like to know what, if anything, he does to earn a crust. But I must not ask. Etiquette.

    September tomorrow. Often an interesting (as the Chinese say) and tumultuous month, as we all know, often to our cost
    Toad prophecies a great deal of trouble.
    There. You read it here first.


  65. Roger says:

    At one level the decline in Christianity seems to be a composite of issues all coalescing as evidence against the Faith. But if this is looked at from a strategic perspective a battleground then I think we see a picture of assault on certainly sacred Tradition (Christianity is lies and unscientific and therefor can’t be true. The Apostles mislead. It would be different today).
    Fatima does provide an anchor in as much as what these children recorded and reported has proven time and time again to be True.
    They are Prophets for our time (and Heaven has always used Prophecy).
    The combination of a global depression and tension between the holders of the stocks of weapons of mass destruction (super powers) with a decline in western Christianity is a potent scenario.


  66. kathleen says:

    Your last comment was very good (IMO), especially your final sentence.

    And talking about Spain, I also really appreciate Rabit‘s analysis above.
    Yes, it really bothers me when people misleadingly liken Francoism to Nazism: the truth being that the two have no similarities whatsoever. Nor can Franco be compared in any way to Hitler.
    Franco’s legacy has still to be tested by time but I believe he will eventually be understood as a European leader who steered his country well and brought it into the modern Europe with its culture intact and its economy entirely revolutionised by the tourist industry that he promoted and understood.….”
    I wholly agree with this.

    Franco did not “encourage mass murder“: that is untrue. He might have been in favour of the death penalty for certain crimes, as were many people at this time when it was legitimate by law, but never, in any way, “mass murder”.


  67. Toad says:

    I simply disagree, Kathleen. And, so does Paul Preston who wrote “The Spanish Holocaust,” and “Franco,” a biography. The several massacres, such as at Badajoz and Malaga after the cities were taken – were approved and encouraged in order to demonstrate what would happen to anyone who still disagreed in places like Barcelona and Madrid.
    Matter of opinion, though.


  68. johnhenrycn says:

    Franco’s “White Terror” – following on the heels of the Republican “Red Terror”, may have killed more people than the latter; but mass murder charges have been levelled at the Republican side, too. Your Paul Preston has estimated the death toll in the “Red Terror” at about 50,000, and other historians peg it at higher than 100,000. Suffice it to say the Spanish Civil War was a brutal event with atrocities on both sides; and if you were a practising Catholic you had no realistic choice but to support Franco. Besides, Miss Jean Brodie worshipped him and that’s good enough for me.


  69. Toad says:

    As my last comment, made at 4.15, four hours ago, is still in Purgatory, awaiting the Moderator, JH, I’m a bit hampered in regard to the conducting of a coherent debate.

    Never mind. I’m also getting a bit weary about being cast as the beast that hates the Catholics due to the Spanish Civil War, and the swine who advocates “Gay Marriage,” and “Modernism.”
    And I’m doomed to be always on the losing side.
    My fate. Unwarranted optimism.
    Whenever I see Romeo and Juliet, I still always expect the priest to get there in time.

    But CP&S seems to be the cross I was born to bear.
    So I will offer it up for the souls of the countless Socialists (and Fascists, if there are any) in Purgatory. And shamble on.

    Yes, this is a somewhat incoherent post. But I am, as I said, weary. Unto death.
    (Nice hot bath, possibly.)


  70. kathleen says:

    Wow Toad, you who accuse others of bias, have just given a link to one of the most biased reports on the above-mentioned book by Paul Preston (who admits to being on the Republican side anyway)…. and in none other than the anti-Catholic ‘New York Times’!
    I could also give you a whole lot of links with proof (“bias” you’d call it) showing the Red Terror atrocities committed before and during the Spanish civil war by members of the hoi-poloi mixture of communists, anarchists, militant socialists etc. on the Republican side, but what good would that do? You will never admit they were anything but poor victims.

    I’m weary too, of this conversation which is going nowhere.


  71. Toad says:

    How many times do I have to say I’m just as biased as any Catholic?
    Bias is good!
    Well inevitable, anyway.


  72. johnhenrycn says:

    Bias and open-mindedness are the two sides of the same coin, the coin being constructive debate. We start with bias, then experiment with open-mindedness and then recalibrate our bias in light of new insights. That’s how it sometimes works. But even when it works, the amendment of our most deeply held beliefs is barely noticeable. I don’t think I’ve changed my opinions on important matters more than a wee smidgen since becoming an adult. So what really is the point of arguing with people, of trying to sway them to one’s point of view? Insofar as Christianity is concerned, it seems to me the best missionaries are those who lead the unconverted and the lukewarm to Christ by example, not by preaching, not by apologetics, which strengthen belief but don’t create it.


  73. kathleen says:

    Well said JH! I’m sure your final sentence above, and the advice (attributed to St. Francis of Assisi): “Evangelise, and when necessary, use words” is the right one.
    Trouble is, in this strange cyber world of the internet, when we are not together in body, all we have at our disposal “to evangelise” are words! 😦


  74. Frere Rabit says:

    The utter savagery of human beings in any civil war is something that we can observe from the daily newspapers and – in these times – on YouTube. My earlier point was about the nature of the Spanish Falange, the leadership of Franco (which was quite removed from the political movement of the Falange), and the erroneous comparison of his regime with Nazism.

    I would not dispute any of the horrors recounted in the Preston book (thank you Toad for the reference), as these kinds of barbarities occur on both sides in any civil war. The nature and purpose of the National Movement and its leadership in Spain was quite different to the racist and suprematist politics of the Nazis.

    I would be the first to recognise that the Catholic Church in Spain is still judged by association with Francoism. That is the reality all Catholics have to live with in the new Spain. The impossible task is to convince Spaniards that Franco only did what Mrs Thatcher and President Reagan did many years later: stand up to Soviet and socialist terror and stop it in its tracks. If his supporters used machine guns rather than the threat of nuclear annihilation, the battle was part of the same war. It was indeed unpleasant, but we live in a world freed from the menace that Orwell wrote about in such chilling terms in “Homage to Catalonia”.

    While Orwell would never have approved of Franco, he may have approved of the modern Spain that Franco enabled by the time of his death and the transition to democracy that he put in place.


  75. The Raven says:

    Kathleen, Rabit

    We’re going to have to agree to disagree on this one: Franco was, in my own, biased opinion, directly comparable with the other Fascists of his era (including the Nazis).

    My reasons for saying this are:

    • he was a Castillian supremacist, his treatment of the Basques, Catalans and other autochthonous peoples of Spain, his attempts to obliterate their languages, their identity and their cultural institutions was a clear demonstration of this;

    • his clear disobedience of the laws of war, including the impressment of surrendered Basque soldiery into his forces;

    • the widespread use of rape and sexual humiliation of women and girls by his forces, particularly his African Legion, which went unchecked and was used as a terror weapon in the war;

    • the rounding up and subsequent murder of people who had fallen foul of local elites in areas occupied by Rebel forces (irrespective of whether the individuals in question were trades unionists, school teachers or simply “trouble-makers” and irrespective of their real or imagined involvement in republican resistance to the Rebels);

    • the massacres of defeated soldiery (already mentioned on this thread); and

    • the murders of Basque clergy.

    The fact that he was fighting people who were vile murderers in their own right does not change the moral character of his own actions. After all, who would claim that Hitler’s major combatant, Stalin, was not a monster simply because he had fought monsters?

    I do not doubt that, given a free hand, the “terror” that would have followed a victory by the Republican forces would not have consumed as many innocent lives as the Franquist terror (and many of the same people would have suffered; how long would Lorca have lasted in the hands of the NKVD?), but that does not, in my biased opinion, excuse or exonerate Franco or his subordinates.

    His subsequent record in Spain may, or may not have been beneficial, but his actions during and after the war rank alongside the crimes of the Nazis in their cruelty and wickedness.


  76. Toad says:

    In view of the above, including particularly Rabit and Raven – I will gladly add a conciliatory (and, let us hope, final) note that – although a great deal of Franco’s more unspeakable actions were taken in the name of Christ and National Catholicism, that does not automatically make Christ and Catholicism to blame.
    Some high-ranking Church dignitaries might have had a thing or two to consider, though, in their prayers before sleep.
    But don’t we all?.

    Coincidentally, I was chatting yesterday with one of the few locals who never goes to Mass: “The only reason I’d go into a church would be to set it on fire,” he told me.
    Takes all sorts do it not? …And old habits die hard.
    Although it might be taking communion in the hand that has him all riled up.
    I must nor forget to ask next time.


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