Fr. Juan Elias Medina was 33 when he was imprisoned and executed in 1936. Medina, a priest of the Diocese of Córdoba, shouted “¡Viva Cristo Rey!” and forgave his executioners before he was killed.
Seventy-eight other priests from the Diocese of Córdoba were also recognized as martyrs this week, along with five seminarians, three Franciscan friars, and 40 lay Catholics who were killed for their faith in Spain in the 1930s.
Hate crimes against Christians and Catholic churches are once again on the rise in Europe. The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe published data last week documenting more than 500 hate crimes against Christians in Europe in 2019.
Incidents in Spain included attacks against Catholic priests, arson attacks on Catholic churches, the destruction of images of the Virgin Mary, and the theft of consecrated Eucharistic hosts from tabernacles.
One priest was the target of an attempted physical assault while he was offering Mass April 2019. Another was punched in the face as perpetrators threatened to burn down his church in Sept. 2019.
A shrine dedicated to the Virgin Mary was defecated in. The church’s walls and a statue of Jesus Christ were smeared with excrement.
A convent was the target of arson a few days after it was vandalized with paint in Sept. 2019. A statue of Jesus was set on fire in November and a church’s altar was set alight twice in two weeks among other arson attacks.
The participants in the Catholic bishops’ conference in Spain also received numerous threats of an arson attack in 2019, according to the OSCE.
Spain’s Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez visited Pope Francis at the Vatican last month.
In improvised remarks that were captured on video, the pope reflected on the vocation of politicians and highlighted the dangers of ideological thinking.
“It is very sad when ideologies take over the interpretation of a nation, a country, and disfigure the homeland,” he said.
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Sánchez, the leader of the Spanish Socialist Workers’ Party, has previously clashed with the Church in Spain over religious instruction in schools and euthanasia, among other issues.
Spain’s bishops have criticized the government over its efforts to remodel the education system in Spain. They argued that the Celaá Law, named after Education Minister Isabel Celaá, would undermine parental rights.