Welcome to this week’s “Throwback Thursday” installment. Today, we’re going to revisit a post that was originally published back on February 17, 2016 and has been revised.
Back in December 2015, I commented on how several journalists had used then-presidential candidate, Donald Trump’s controversial remarks suggesting the banning of Muslims from entering the U.S. to remind readers of anti-Catholicism in America in previous generations. I pointed out that the journalists conveniently reported only half of the story. Protestant Americans of past generations were well-aware of the persecution of non-Catholics in countries where Catholics held the majority. Popes and bishops reserved the “divine right” to suppress Protestants and their worship services wherever Catholics held sway and were able to gain the cooperation of the civil authorities. See my previous post on that topic 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 Catholic prelates).
“…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 including Salazar’s Portugal, Mussolini’s Italy, inter-war Poland, Vichy France, Pavelic’s Croatia, and in many Latin American countries where Catholic clerico-fascism ruled.
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