However, “there came to power, through elections in 1936, a very strongly socialist tending, pro-Soviet Union government.”
Royal said that none of the Western leaders, including England and the United States, recognized the new government in Spain, “so there was a questions about the legitimacy of it.”
“The Republicans were the government of Spain until they were overthrown,” he explained.“The Nationalists including many generals in the army revolted against that radical government and, after military victory, took power. Seems like a small matter, but it's led to this mistaken impression of Republicans as isolated pockets of revolutionaries.”
He continued, “(t)hat has to be dispelled as a false impression to appreciate what really happened in Spain.”
“Lost in the political struggle is that an awful lot of innocent, ordinary, everyday Catholic lay people, clergy and women religious were just slaughtered.”
Royal clarified that “there were a lot of atrocities on the Nationalist side – but the Republican side is never tarred with the same brush.”
He gave examples of atrocities committed by the revolutionaries, citing mass graves outside of women religious' convents, desecrated art and destroyed churches.
“The utter blasphemy and disrespect shown – it just boggles the imagination.”
Royal said that the failure of “There Be Dragons” to accurately show what happened is indicative of a deeper cultural problem, which is the fact that “Christian martyrdom in the 20th century has been largely overlooked.”
Persecution of Christians “is part of the secular history of the 20th century that has been neglected,” he said. “You cannot understand the 20th century unless you understand that there were virulent anti-religious forces.”
“There's a lot of disappointment among Catholics about that movie,” he added. “It might have been better if they were willing to take a few chances to show how much more brutal and disrespectful” the revolutionaries were.
“The message that they're trying to portray is that reconciliation is possible,” Royal said, noting a positive aspect of the film. However, “to get the point of reconciliation the truth has to be told about what went wrong.”
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“You can still forgive but the truth matters.”
Royal said that ultimately, the movie is simply “another evasion of a very important truth that needs to be told.”