To those alive in the 1930s, the rise to power of dictator Francisco Franco was a death blow to the idea of freedom for the people of Spain. Franco was assisted by Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy in overthrowing a legally elected government. The ensuing Spanish Civil War was brutal, and atrocities were committed by both sides, but those of Franco far surpassed anything implemented by the Republican government. The Spanish Bishop of Vitoria celebrated a memorial service in which he asked forgiveness for the Catholic Church’s collusion with Franco in murderous events of the civil war. He specifically noted the church remained silent at the death of 14 priests by Franco’s forces, and even refused to give them a funeral. “The silence with which officials of our church surrounded the deaths of these priests is not justifiable nor acceptable for much longer. Such a long silence was not only a wrongful omission, but a lack of truth and an act against justice and charity, for which we ask pardon.”
It has taken over a half century to take notice of the murder of innocent priests, but, at least the Catholic Church is finally coming to grips with its behavior during the Spanish Civil War.