For God and Country: The Legacy of Francisco Franco

For God and Country: The Legacy of Francisco Franco April 1, 2011

Eighty-two years ago today, the Spanish Civil War ended.  On April 1, 1939, Generalissimo  Francisco Franco declared victory over the forces of the so-called “Republic” who were in fact the tools of godless communism.    Here is a short clip from a speech he gave that day:

With this victory, Franco saved Spain and saved Holy Mother Church from communism and anarchy.  More importantly, his victory was the first setback suffered by international Bolshevism, and was a prophetic herald of the final victory won in 1989 by Pope John Paul II and President Ronald Reagan.   Had he not taken his firm and decisive stand, the course of world history would have taken a darker path.

Though his nation was devastated by three long years of war, Franco rebuilt it, stone by stone, on the firm foundation of Catholicism, Falangism, and Traditional Family Values.   Not since the Medieval period had any nation come so close to embodying the ideals of Christendom.  Though ignored or denigrated by liberals, Franco showed that it was possible to implement Catholic Social Teaching in the modern era.  While the rest of Europe was paying the butcher’s bill for the Enlightenment—chaos, decadence, immorality—Franco helped Spain to preserve the best ideals of the ancien regime.   Indeed, the greatest tribute to Franco is that even after his death, the nation he built persevered under the strong hand of the Borbon monarch, King Juan Carlos.

What is the legacy of the Franco?  I think we can draw the following important lessons from the Spanish Civil War and the rebirth of Spain.

1)  Communism is the greatest threat to civilization to ever emerge.  Whether it is called Marxism, Bolshevism, Anarchism or Socialism, it is a scourge that must be defeated by any means necessary.  Furthermore, as the “Popular Front” of the so-called “Republic” showed: liberalism is blind to the dangers of communism, and is far too willing to be its agent.   Burned and looted churches and the martyrdom of so many holy priests reveals the inevitable consequences of liberalism’s “democratic egalitarianism”.

2) Holy Mother Church needs a strong protector in these dangerous times.   The Church is the Bride of Christ, and must be preserved pure and spotless to be presented to the Bridegroom at the heavenly wedding feast.   But within and without there are those who would defile her with their false doctrines and dangerous flirtations.   Only a strong state, acting as a wise and benevolent father, can shield her from these dangers.  Furthermore, only a state linked so closely to her can insure that the law of the land is in pure and perfect conformity with the law of God.

3)  Desperate times require strong, resolute men.  Though liberals have no understanding of tragedy, it is sometimes necessary for blood to spilled in order to preserve all that we hold dear.  There were two kinds of violence in the Spanish Civil War:  the destructive, nihilist orgy of destruction that the so-called “Republic” unleashed on the people of Spain, and the the purifying, blood sacrifice that Franco brought to his people to set them free.  In our times, confronted by the resurgence of a “kinder, gentler” socialism, and with Christendom and the West again under attack by the forces of Islam, we need leaders who will take decisive action, no matter the cost.

4)  Parliamentary democracy need not represent the will of the people, and can be hijacked and turned against the people.   Only a handful of radicals and communists wanted what the so-called “Republic” offered Spain:  immorality, anti-clericalism, the loss of liberty to the collective.  Democracy in its truest sense, the will of the people, is best realized when the people place their trust in a champion, who understands what their real needs and desires are.  Such a leader, unswayed by the fickle winds of popularity and with a clear understanding of our fallen natures and the path to which God has called us, can provide the firm hand to lead the nation to its rightful destiny.

Nuestra Senora del Pilar, Patronness of the Army of Spain, Guardian of the Nation, pray for us!

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  • Kurt

    Viva el Abraham Lincoln Brigade!!

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/designwallah/2249056391/

    Los cuatros generales
    Los cuatros generales
    Los cuatro generales
    Mamita mia
    Se han alzado, que se han alzado.

    Para la Nochebuena…Mamita mia
    Seran ahorcados…

    Madrid, que bien resistes…Mamita mia
    Los bombardeos…

    De las bombas se rien…
    Mamita mi
    Los Madrilenos…

    (The four insurgent generals…
    Mamita mia
    They tried to betray us…

    At Christmas, holy evening…
    Mamita mia
    They’ll all be hanging…

    Madrid, you wondrous city…
    Mamita mia
    They wanted to take you…

    But your courageous children…
    Mamita mia
    They did not disgrace you…)

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZCa3Kslx-WI

  • chad

    A little over the top but you’re very close.

  • chad

    April Fools.

    [DCU: I have no idea what you are talking about….]

  • Let us not forget that were it not for Franco, we would not have that marvelous painting Guernica by Pablo Picasso, and Orwell would never have written Homage to Catalonia’.

  • ben

    I had a friend who was a priest in Spain durring the civil war. He died Nov. 26, 2007 at 96. He was a Theatine and had spent nearly all of his life as a religious. He enterred the seminary in his native Majorca whe he was 9 years old. My wife and I went to seem him a few days before he died, his was a wonderful life. One time over a beer he tld me about the horrors for the war. He told me that most of his friends in the priesthood and in religious life had been killed, and even in his 90s, he could not answer why God had spared him, and not so many others whom he had considered better men and women. His unlikely survival became the sailient characteristic of his priesthood. It caused him to look at each day as a gift, and gave him a sense of mission, since God clearly must have spared him for some reason. He gave his whole life to his priesthood, he was for many years the oldest serving pastor in the archdiocese. He never retired.

    6,832 priests and religious were killed by the republicans in the Spanish Civil War. Nearly 1,000 of them have been beatified as martyrs by the Church.

    This is not appropriate material for an April fools joke.

  • Jeff

    Ben,

    I actually welcome the clarity here. This despicable joke indicates to me that my worst suspicions about the mindset and the capacity for evil on the left are true.

    Clarity is good, Ben.

    I think we’re all much more aware of what’s at stake in the Church today.

  • [youtube=”http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=op3w3wMqdwg&feature=related”]

  • Kurt

    Ben,

    Let’s also note 35,000 Republicans who died in Franco’s concentration camps; 10,000 innocent civilians who died in bombing by Franco or his Nazi ally; 25,000 innocent civilians straved to death by Franco during the fascist insurgency, and; 100,000 Republicans executed by Franco after he established his fascist dicatorship.

    And then let’s count the thousands of fascist collaboraters who have yet to be brought to justice and, if still living, given just punishment for their evil deeds.

  • Almudena

    David Cruz-Uribe,

    I am surprised and disgusted, not to mention extremely disappointed, at this April fool’s “joke”. I am a Spanish citizen residing in Spain, and my family was on the “losing” side of the tragic and brutal Spanish Civil War. I fail to see what you mean by “legacy”, as you seem to be forgetting that there is, and has been for a very long time, a Left-leaning Church which was also cruelly suppressed by this régime, and which refused to collaborate with it. Franco did not build a nation; he merely distorted and made a grotesque caricature out of it which collapsed upon his death and which only remains in the heads of a few nostalgics and madmen. He represented the worst of the conflict between the old, absolutist Spain and modern, progressist Spain which had been in conflict since the collapse of the ancien régime, as the “victorious” side attempted to wipe out the “other” Spain in a veritable process of cultural and political genocide which took place after the Spanish Civil War. My family, amongst many others, was a victim of this brutal and inhumane process; there have been a good deal of Left-wing priests and nuns in my family, who fell victim to the rebel side — Franco’s fascist hordes.

    It is very easy to joke about these things from across the ocean, let alone talk about “legacies” — and no amount of poorly-made mainstream movies can close the wounds which are still open in so many devastated families.

  • DarwinCatholic

    Kurt,

    Yes, well, it’s pretty normal in history for the losing side of a war to lose more people than the winning. I’m not aware of any reason why we should imagine that a Republican victory would have been any less of a bloodbath, or that a Stalinist-puppet regime in Spain would have been a better place to live than the repressive regime that Franco instituted.

    But that simply underlines why the Spanish Civil War is not a good subject for humorous endorsements: Incredible violence and depravity was committed by both sides and it remains a scar on the country’s psyche to this day.

  • I’m not exactly sure what the point is here. I think, in Spain, Franco was the lesser of two evils, and both sides were quite barbaric. I also do think many people forget the reasons why people supported Franco (though many on this thread have explained quite well some of those reasons). It was a barbaric civil war. Nonetheless, though I cannot support many of the things he did, I do find Franco was closer to the truth and wasn’t seeking to be a dictator, but was looking to be a king-maker.

    Nonetheless, we are not living in Spain during the Spanish Civil War. Great evils, from both sides, were done, and recognizing that should not be a problem. If I am correct, I think the point of this is not to glamorize the past, not to use Franco’s example as any ideal example of what should be done today, and it is a criticism not of Franco, but of a mindset sometimes found on the net. I could be wrong.

  • phosphorious

    I think, in Spain, Franco was the lesser of two evils. . .

    So the upshit here is “Left leaning consequentialism is the greatest evil ever to stalk the planet. Right leaning consequentialism is A-Ok.”

    I suppose you can take some comfort in the fact that tbose who support the lesser of two evils will, when they die, go the the lesser of two hells.

    A great post, David.

  • phosphorious

    correctin: “upshot”

  • Kurt

    DC,

    I appreciate your comments. But a couple of points.

    I would meet you halfway and say that at some point during the Civil War, yes, matters degraded to the point where neither side had virtue. When governments have to fight civil wars, it hardly brings out the best in them. The Republic increasingly moved towards the most militant elements of its coalition and became dependent on Soviet assistance.

    However, I am not convinced that had the fascist generals not launched their illegal and unconstitutional insurgency against the democratically elected government of the Republic, that events would have led to the acts of depravity that later occurred.

    Second, I hardly view the original post as haha humor. It was very well written and nowhere near a “Colbert” style parody. It is remarkably a fair presentation of conservative Catholic opinion at a certain time and place in modern history. I actually think it is helpful to remember that remarks like these could have been said honestly and earnestly by some of our fellow churchmen not all that long ago.

    There is currently in our society an element that I find troubling but tend to believe (and hope) are more full of talk and hot air. But to the degree I take this element seriously, particularly remarks which seem to question the legitimacy of the President, I wonder if they have philosophically decided that an armed insurgency or coup is appropriate and desirable. I pray not.

  • digbydolben

    As usual with the comments by Americans about any other country’s political history, almost everybody on this thread fails to consider Spain’s pre-twentieth century history. Go take a look at Goya’s depictions of the depravities of the Catholic Church in Spain as late as the 18th century. Consider the enormous land holdings and wealth of the Spanish Catholic hierarchy throughout the centuries and the foreign policies inflicted upon the masses of Spaniards by fanatic Catholic kings who were committed to restoring Catholicism to every country in Europe that had rejected it. Consider that the Franco regime murdered the greatest poet Spain ever produced, Federico Garcia Lorca, not so much because he was homosexual but because he brought high culture to the peasants’ villages and reminded the Spaniards that their heritage was almost as much Muslim Arab as Catholic European. At the end of his bloody reign in Spain, Franco was calling Paul VI Montini a “communist” and complaining about “worker priests.” Franco was a despicable monster and even the Bourbon prince whom he installed as Spain’s king will have nothing to do with his “legacy.”

  • Darwin

    Kurt,

    I certainly agree that the advent of war resulted in an incredible escalation of violence by both sides. War effectively empowered the most radical and violent elements in the popular front coalition and gave them free reign.

    I would also say there’s a good case that the initial decision to stage a coup was, while motivated by real and grevious wrongs, unjustified.

    However, I’d tend to agree with Stanley Payne’s recent revisionist work such as Collapse of the Spanish Republic that left actions and violence were much to blame in creating a climate in which violence against the right and the Church was widely tolerated (which is certainly not to say that there wasn’t rightist violence as well) and in which the right could be actively surprised and excluded using the machinery of the state. It’s a mistake to imagine that the Spanish Republic of 33-36 had the civic stability of any point in US history, and that the coup consisted of a bunch of badies kicking over a just and stable government. Unfortunately, many on both right and left had ideologies which demanded an end to parliamentary government with the right to dissent. And the burning of hundreds of churches and killing of over a thousand clergy in the first weeks of the civil war certainly did not come from nowhere, or from a radicalization which only came after months of war.

    • digbydolben

      Tell me something, DarwinCatholic, have you EVER said a SINGLE WORD in extenuation of the crimes of the Left? (But here you are, as usual, exculpating a vulgar, Right-wing bigot of a dictator who, according to what I’ve read, wouldn’t have been able to tell a Velazques from a Zurbaran, and slept with the mummified hand of Teresa of Avila, probably to ease his conscience and keep the ghosts of his murdered away.)

      [personal comment removed]

    • Kurt

      Darwin,

      I’m pleased that I can find myself in total agreement with your first two paragraphs.

      Rather than quibble on points of disagreement, let me propose three new propositions that I hope we could have agreement on:

      1. If we are going to make the argument that Spanish fascism was the “lesser of two evils,” then let’s acknowledge that those liberal Catholics in the 1930s who saw both sides as evil (pretty much limited to the writers for Commonweal and Catholic Worker) were shabbily treated by their fellow Catholics because of their views on this matter.

      2. Regardless of any difficult choices needed to be made, the philosophy expressed in the original post (which I think very much represents a point of view that was popular and taken seriously in certain Catholic circles in the 20th century) is something we now understand is unacceptable and dangerous.

      3. The democratic Right and the democratic Left need to continue to take seriously the obligation to police themselves from anti-democratic elements. The democratic Left should not in any way have mixed feelings, but should embrace as virtuous the expulsion of the Communist influenced unions from the CIO in 1949 and 1950. Jim Carey, the Reuther brothers, and Msgr. Charles Owen Rice did our country and the democratic Left a great service.

    • Darwin

      Kurt,

      Just brief responses to two of your points, as it sounds like we’re probably about as close together as two people who would have fought on different sides of a war can be:

      1) I’ll agree that many Catholics were willing to see far too much good in Franco and the Nationalists — but at the same time I think the reason why Commonweal and the Catholic Worker were treated shabbily over this issue is pretty obvious and easy to sympathize with. While it’s clear that the Nationalists were, to a great extent, “bad guys” (as were the Republicans) they were in general willing to protect churches, clergy, religious and the free practice of faith — while the Republicans showed a frequent tendency to burn churches, ban the practice of the faith, and put priests and religious in front of firing squads. I don’t think any reasonable person would expect African Americans in the 1860s to condemn the union as “equally bad” because of Sherman’s march to the sea, or Eastern European Jews in the middle of World War II to opine that Stalin was just as bad as Hitler. When faced with two groups of bad guys, it’s pretty understandable to marginally side with the one not intent on killing and destroying all you hold good and sacred — even if those guys are at the same time treating your persecutors unconscionably.

      2) I do agree with your statement here — though perversely, that’s why I don’t think it made a particularly good joke. It at the same time expresses sentiments which I don’t think should be dignified with expression, and also implicitly accuses anyone who saw the Nationalists as being preferable to the Republicans of being of that mentality. I would imagine you could probably imagine some cases in which someone could satirize the Catholic left, and then come back and say, “Well, it wasn’t the valid points the left might have made that I was satirizing, just this very extreme point of view which I expressed here. Any sense in which I might be seen as painting right opinions with the brush of this extreme is… entirely accidental.”