Back in December, I commented on how several journalists had used Donald Trump’s controversial remarks regarding Muslims to remind readers of anti-Catholicism in America in previous generations. I pointed out that the journalists conveniently reported only half of the story. The Protestant immigrants to America were painfully aware of the persecution of non-Catholics in countries where Catholics held the majority. Popes reserved the right to suppress Protestants and Protestant worship services wherever Catholics were able to gain the cooperation of the civil authorities. See my previous post here.
In the article below, Spanish evangelical Christians recall the persecution they suffered in Spain during the dictatorial regime (1939-1975) of faithful Roman Catholic, Francisco Franco (see photo of fascist Franco posing with clerical allies).
“…many Spanish Protestants were incarcerated, beginning with Franco’s victory and until the late sixties. Most of them were brought to the courts by Catholic priests. In 1965, Monroy recalls, private Protestant meetings to pray, sing and study the Bible were approved. But the meetings were only legal if there were less than 20 people. Christians were were fined and even incarcereted. In the public spaces, only Catholic ceremonies were allowed.”
But Protestants were also oppressed in many other Catholic countries during the 20th century: Salazar’s Portugal, Mussolini’s Italy, inter-war Poland, Vichy France, Pavelic’s Croatia, and several Latin American countries that were strongly influenced by Catholic clerico-fascism.
Some may respond, “Why bring this up now? It’s all water over the dam. The Catholic church is nowhere near as religiously and politically militant as it used to be.”
The Catholics who still bother to attend mass on Sunday are fed a saccharinized version of their church’s history. Why would anyone think it would be otherwise? But their church’s actual history defies all claims to Spirit-led, infallible leadership. That’s the moral of the story.
Spain, forty years after Franco’s death