Spanish journalist Txomin Pérez Rodríguez wrote: “I thought that @TwitterEspana had put in place strict measures against posts that incite hatred. Then I see that #FuegoAlClero is TT [a Trending Topic] today and it is not clear to me that they have done something. Or do they only act against what interests them?”
Other Twitter users began using the hashtag #YoApoyoAlClero, which means “I support the clergy,” in response to the hateful posts.
Some posts recalled that churches were burned and priests were executed during Spain’s Red Terror during the Spanish Civil War in 1936-1939.
On Nov. 24, Pope Francis advanced the sainthood causes of Fr. Juan Elias Medina and 126 companions, who were killed during the Spanish Civil War. Declared martyrs, they will now be beatified.
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.
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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.