Father Vicente Carcel Orti, an expert in the history of the religious persecution during the Spanish Civil War, said this week the 498 martyrs who will be beatified on October 28 died for their faith. “They were simply killed as a symbolic act, because they represented the Church. Moreover, if any one of them had been involved in politics, the Church would never have proclaimed them martyrs,” he said.
Father Orti, who has written two books on the Spanish Civil War, noted that the martyrs were “men and women who belonged to the lower classes of society, they were as poor as their own assassins. They had nothing to do with the war, they did not take up arms, they didn’t confront anyone nor did they ever shout ‘Long live Franco’.”
Likewise, he explained that “most of the martyrdoms took place before the Spanish Church had spoken out in favor of one side or another. In fact, the first official document of the Spanish bishops which put them on the side of the nationalists dates to June 1, 1937 and by then almost 6,500 priests, religious and laity had been killed.”
Father Orti also pointed out that the persecution “began on April 14, 1931, practically with the Republic, when a growing offensive against the Church began through discrimination and unjust laws that attacked this institution.” This created “a very strong tension against the Church,” which finally broke out with the Franco uprising of July 17, 1936, he said.