What was the Catholic Church trying to do in Spain in the 1930s?

What was the Catholic Church trying to do in Spain in the 1930s?

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Right now I'm trying to learn about Spain's transition to democracy in the 20th century. To start, I'm looking at the civil war that took place in the '30s. And the question I'm trying to answer is: what was everybody mad about?

Wikipedia (I know, I know) says:

"The central issue was the role of the Catholic Church, which the left saw as the major enemy of modernity and the Spanish people, and the right saw as the invaluable protector of Spanish values."

They cite Richard Herr's An Historical Essay on Modern Spain.

What I don't understand is what the Church was doing that was so controversial. What was it that people on left and right were afraid of?

The left side wanted to reduce the influence of the Church. Why?

The right side wanted to keep the church as it was, or buttress it. Why?

Thanks very much!

I don't have much specific knowledge about this topic, but I can help you try to dig a little deeper into other relevant articles on Wikipedia :)

The two sides of the Spanish Civil War were the Republicans versus the Nationalists. The Republican side constitutes the "left" referred to in the question. The Nationalists sought to restore the "traditional" political order in Spain, which very much included (along with the monarchy and the aristocracy) the power of Catholic Church.

A key even that precipitated the Spanish Civil War was the fall of the monarchy and the formation of the Second Spanish Republic under a new 1931 Constitution. To say that Republicans aimed to "reduce the influence of the Church" in this period is probably an understatement of the hostility. This following is from the article on the history of the Church in Spain:

The Republican government which came to power in Spain in 1931 was strongly anti-clerical, secularising education, prohibiting religious education in the schools, and expelling the Jesuits from the country. In May, 1931, a wave of attacks hit Church properties in Madrid, Andalucia, and the Levant, as dozens of religious buildings, including churches, friaries, convents, and schools, lay in ruins. The government expropriated all Church properties, such as episcopal residences, parish houses, seminaries and monasteries. The Church had to pay rent and taxes in order to continuously use these properties. Religious vestments, chalices, statues, paintings, and similar objects necessary for worship were expropriated as well.

In 1937, two previously distinct factions unified under the Nationalist banner. One of these factions, the Carlist, traced back to the 1830s was always zealously pro-Catholic. Conflicts between liberals and Catholics over land and educational reform were already evident in Spain during that period. The other Nationalist faction in the 1930s was Falangist, which was also pro-Catholic despite some more secularist elements. So while the Nationalist movement and the Catholic Church were far from identical, they were very closely connected.

Finally I will point you toward the article on Catholicism in the Second Republic. There is a lot of detail there about the role of the Church in education, the ties between the Church and rural elites, and so on.

To answer your question about the Catholic Church in 1930s Spain. The answer is, the Church wanted to avoid change and retain the status quo. To make an overly bold statement, the left were desperate for change based on the model emanating from Russia and the revolution of 1917. This is overly simplistic as there was no single faction of the left, it had varying degrees of extremism from the moderates to the radical POUM who were Marxist and sought change by revolutionary means.The right, on the other hand, were conservative and wanted to retain traditional institutions such as the family and religion. Franco, however wasn't a Fascist (unlike Mussolini) and was opposed to change. One of the identifiers of Fascism is dynamism and this certainly wasn't part of Franco's rationale. The Catholic Church simply wanted to retain the traditional institutions in Spain and preserve its own status.

The Two Catholicisms

An emblematic piece of fake news propagated during that fateful year 2016 was infamously headlined “Pope Francis Shocks World, Endorses Donald Trump for President.” Ross Douthat’s book To Change the Church: Pope Francis and the Future of Catholicism doesn’t have quite as much shock value, but the conservative New York Times columnist is still eager to offer a punch line that will unsettle plenty of Catholics. For Douthat, the left-leaning pope and the far-right American president do have something crucial in common: They are both deeply divisive and irresponsible populists. The two seek to connect with the people directly, they attempt to bypass existing bureaucracies and disrupt long-standing institutions, and ultimately, they don’t care much for observing the rule of law. Just as countless Americans are deeply worried about the “Trump effect” on their democracy, so too, Douthat suggests, should Catholics be frightened by the much-​touted “Francis effect” on one of the world’s oldest and largest religious institutions. The man born Jorge Mario Bergoglio in Buenos Aires in 1936 and known as “the great reformer” by his many admirers, could end up destabilizing the church or splitting it apart altogether.

Books in Review

To Change the Church: Pope Francis and the Future of Catholicism
Catholic Modern: The Challenge of Totalitarianism and the Remaking of the Church

Douthat puts on display much learnedness in theology and church history to back up this argument. Yet his account suffers from a misunderstanding of how the church works and how it really changes. James Chappel’s deeply researched and beautifully written new book, Catholic Modern: The Challenge of Totalitarianism and the Remaking of the Church, serves as a useful counterpoint to Douthat’s polemic. The Duke University historian demonstrates that, contrary to the image of the pope as a quasi monarch who can decree change from on high, transformations often originate at the bottom of the hierarchy and with the laity. The book’s focus is on how Catholics in France, Austria, and Germany became truly modern in the 20th century. Chappel highlights how two competing interpretations of Catholicism—​a conservative “paternal modernism” and a progressive “fraternal modernism”—have been decisive in reshaping the Catholic faithful’s relationship to the larger world. The conservative side won, but Francis is arguably a proponent of its progressive rival. That makes it all the more important to understand fraternal modernism’s earlier failures.

D outhat is deeply upset about Francis for two reasons. One has to do with his unusual approach to church governance. Douthat disapproves of the way in which the media-savvy pontifex circumvents internal discussions over deep theological questions and takes them directly to the public, in effect launching a series of trial balloons for transformations in church doctrine. Most famous was the incident in which Francis, ruminating to reporters aboard a plane, asked, “If someone is gay and he searches for the Lord and he has good will, who am I to judge?” But there are also his “private letters” that have somehow become public the tweets by Antonio Spadaro, his trusted Jesuit adviser, whom Douthat calls the Vatican reformer’s “hyperactive id” and the innocent-looking footnotes in apostolic exhortations that, in the eyes of his critics, Francis uses to smuggle in a complete change of the church’s view on contested matters, like whether remarried couples may take Communion.

According to Douthat, there’s a method in Francis’s seemingly chaotic approach. Pursuing doctrinal transformation through the studied ambiguity of his statements, he brings theological debates out into the open and beyond the cloistered realm of church institutions. It is the very opposite of the popular misconception that all-powerful popes constantly make officially infallible pronouncements. Francis instead exhorts his followers, as he did on World Youth Day in Rio in the summer of 2013, to hagan lío—shake things up.

In Douthat’s eyes, this is precisely what Francis’s tenure in Rome has done, to the detriment of the Vatican’s authority: He has created an unholy mess. Instead of playing to the church’s strength—that it has a single universal representative who can make binding pronouncements for 1.2 billion people—Francis has decided to decentralize decision-making, with every priest acting as he sees fit. Catholicism now means one thing in Germany and another in Nigeria. In Douthat’s view, this means confusion reigns everywhere.

Worse still, the pope demoralizes the curia with his lack of clarity. “Like functionaries in a somewhat capricious dictatorship,” Douthat writes, the churchmen have been “effectively ‘working toward the pope,’ trying to offer guidelines that differed with one another” in the attempt to “fit what they thought his ambiguities intended.” Surely Douthat is aware that the origin of this expression is “working toward the Führer,” coined by a prominent Nazi bureaucrat. Is the antipathy toward Francis among conservative Catholics really so strong that one cannot help but compare today’s Vatican to the Reich Chancellery?

Douthat does not like the liberalizing direction the pontificate has been taking, and here he offers the usual talking points of US conservatives: Give an inch on marriage or homosexuality, and polygamy, ordination of women, abortion, and transgender rights will be next. Any change or admission of pluralism will make the church slide all the way down the slippery slope to total moral relativism—​a generalized “who am I to judge?”

Current Issue

Douthat also argues that liberalization and, as Francis put it, “obsessing” less about sexual morality will not stop the exodus from the church in Europe and other places. The combination of what Douthat calls “German theological premises, Argentine economics, and liberal-​Eurocrat assumptions on borders, nations, and migration” will only alienate the faithful further.

It is telling that Douthat reduces what is arguably Francis’s most important intellectual contribution—his criticisms of capitalism and of “an economy that kills”—to the phrase “Argentine economics.” Francis’s “teología del pueblo” (theology of the people) does have Latin American roots and is close to the much better-known liberation theology that emerged in the 1950s, even if he rejects the Marxism of the latter. The two share what among Jesuits and proponents of liberation theology came to be known as the preferential option for the poor.

For Douthat, Francis’s egalitarian economics and liberal worldview are simply the newest iteration of the papacy’s transformation into a “globetrotting do-gooder CEO of Catholicism” and have reduced the church to a global NGO or, as another US conservative put it, “a chaplaincy for the elite interests in the emerging global world order.” Yet such condemnations are impossible to square with Francis’s anti-elite tendencies and his insistent calls for the church to seek “the existential peripheries” and for priests to smell of “the sheep.” He wants the church to descend from its Davos and do God’s work in a world that is poor, dirty, and messy and in need of justice.

In such criticisms of the supposed St. Francis the Globalist, one begins to hear echoes from Douthat’s sympathetic columns about Marine Le Pen and European nationalism and Douthat’s troubling flirtations with an ascendant far right. This new right tends to endorse what Viktor Orbán, Hungary’s far-right prime minister, has called a “Christian national” vision and a world of closed nation-states—a vision that is fundamentally incompatible with the pope’s call for mercy toward refugees and migrants and his liberal and egalitarian theology.

For this new generation of far-right nationalists, religion is not a question of ethical conduct it is purely about identity and peoplehood. As the French social scientist Olivier Roy observed, belief doesn’t matter to these figures—only belonging. And this far-right nationalism has taken hold of plenty of members of the church hierarchy, even as Francis fervently opposes it. Only one Hungarian bishop dared to speak out against Orbán’s incitement of hatred against Muslims, and numerous Catholic intellectuals, such as Harvard’s Adrian Vermeule, appear willing to forgive the dismantling of the rule of law in places like Hungary and Poland, as long as the professed “illiberalism” of the ruling governments means strict enforcement of traditional Catholic precepts.

Orbán’s nationalist definition of “the Christian people” provides the clearest alternative to Francis’s universalist conception of a santo pueblo fiel de Dios that transcends all frontiers, and it is clear with whom Douthat—an advocate of what, in his Times column endorsing Le Pen, he called a “mass-immigration halt”—ultimately sides.

T he constellation of right-wing Catholics and populists that has emerged in opposition to Francis is reminiscent of the interwar period, when nationalist Catholics allied with authoritarians and even fascists in the hope that they would deliver what these Catholics wanted in matters of family and schooling. But as Chappel’s excellent book shows, not all Catholics followed this course.

Conventional wisdom has it that the church finally decided to become truly modern by embracing toleration, pluralism, interreligious dialogue, human rights, and democracy at the Second Vatican Council in the 1960s. It’s also often assumed that such a development became inevitable after the horrors of World War II and the Holocaust—and, not least, was a response to the ambiguous role that Catholicism played in the latter. Chappel seeks to correct the record: The crucial decade of modernization, he argues, was not the 1960s but the 1930s. It was then that a growing number of Catholics abandoned the call for “an overturning of the secular order and a reinstatement of the Church as the sole guardian of public and private morality” and also dedicated themselves to fighting totalitarianism in both its right and its left forms.

As opponents of Nazism and Stalinism, many of these modernizing Catholics came to accept the idea of a secular, pluralistic state and took their cues from the left, embracing socialism and fraternal modernism, or a more egalitarian understanding of society and the family. But in other cases, these modernizing Catholics tacked right and developed a countervailing view, paternal modernism. Although they no longer demanded a restitution of the medieval order and most opposed an alliance with fascism, paternal modernists nonetheless supported authoritarian regimes friendly to the church, as long as they got what they wanted in core policy areas.

Of these two modernizing factions, Chappel argues, the paternal modernists were dominant within Catholicism in the 1930s and ’40s and played a much more important role in the postwar years, inspiring the large Christian Democratic parties that decisively shaped many Western European states—what Chappel calls the “most successful political innovation in modern European history.” With their conservative but anti-fascist credentials, the paternal modernizers were able to reign supreme for much of the second half of the century in Germany and Austria and even more so in a country that Chappel leaves out of his book: Italy, where the Democrazia Cristiana was continuously in government from the late 1940s to the early 1990s.

Paternal modernists made their peace with the market early on and avidly promoted a postwar consumer culture. (As Chappel observes tartly, “The apparent conflict between Catholic family values and the new consumer economy dissolved in the heat of the dishwasher.”) But the Christian Democrats also constructed welfare states based on traditional conceptions of gender and the family. In fact, even today and unbeknownst to them, many continental European citizens live in state structures—and a European Union—that bear the deep imprints of Catholicism.

W ith its call for “worker-priests” and more egalitarian family and social structures, fraternal modernism fared less well in postwar Europe. Chappel’s prime example of its vicissitudes is the French philosopher Jacques Maritain. In the 1920s, Maritain was close to the protofascist Action Française, and his beliefs were thoroughly antimodern. Ideally, he would have preferred to undo everything that had happened intellectually since the Reformation. But after the Vatican condemned Action Française, Maritain reconsidered his position in line with Rome’s binding decision he began to shift left and was eventually forced to flee occupied France for the United States. Once in New York, he discovered that democracy and First Amendment guarantees were actually great things for religion. By the mid-1940s, he had become a major champion of universal human rights and called on the faithful to be a “leaven” in the democratic body politic, as opposed to pining for a confessional state.

In Maritain’s eyes, Catholics largely failed to be that leaven in the postwar period. He grew deeply disappointed by the Christian Democratic parties and declared that “despite (or because of) the entry on the scene, in different countries, of political parties labeled ‘Christian’ (most of which are primarily combinations of electoral interests)—the hope for the advent of a Christian politics…has been completely frustrated.” But the later ascendancy of fraternal modernism also did not lead to a Christian politics. By the late 1960s, Maritain felt that it had enabled too many compromises with the modern world. He eventually retreated from public affairs and lived his last years with a religious order in France.

Maritain’s concerns foreshadowed a larger trend in the Vatican. Under John Paul II, the church systematically turned on left-wing experiments and on liberation theology in particular. While neither the Polish pope nor his German successor ever ceased to criticize capitalism, the bottom-up initiatives central to fraternal modernism, especially those fostered by worker-​priests, were marginalized. Meanwhile, the “obsessing” over sexual morality that Francis would later denounce became ever more prominent. It was not until Francis achieved the papacy that fraternal modernism’s focus on solidarity and equality was rehabilitated.

W hile Chappel’s division of the church’s modernizers into paternal and fraternal factions is indeed illuminating—especially when contrasted with Douthat’s nostalgic understanding of the church—his argument tends to become a bit too schematic as the book’s narrative progresses. It seems that anyone not hoping to travel back to the Middle Ages ends up a “modern” Chappel notes that many of the “Catholic intellectuals who defended accommodation with fascists were just as modern as those who opposed them.”

It is also not clear that all of Chappel’s “moderns” really wanted to “privatize” religion and leave politics to the secular state. After all, paternal modernists wanted the state to protect and even promote patriarchal Catholic conceptions of the family as well as confessional schools. Many German Catholics, for instance, opposed Konrad Adenauer’s seemingly religion-friendly state until the 1960s because they deemed its policies on education unacceptable. Meanwhile, the Vatican had by no means abandoned the ideal of a completely Catholic state à la Franco’s Spain (where Catholicism was declared the official religion).

Still, quibbles about schematism and chronology aside, Chappel’s history shows how profoundly Catholicism can be transformed over time. Douthat’s big question is “How does one change an officially unchanging church?” But as Chappel demonstrates, the very question betrays a misunderstanding of Catholicism. While doctrine is indeed “officially unchanging,” the church as an institution—conceived as “the people of God”—has changed throughout history. In Islam and Protestantism, there are texts one can fall back on in the effort to return to religious “fundamentals,” but in Catholicism, institutionally speaking, the idea of Catholic fundamentalism is nonsensical. In a church based on the notion of the apostolic succession, one can’t go against the hierarchy by returning directly to the “fundamentals” of sacred texts.

Of course, change should not mean mindless accommodation to circumstances. It is one thing to adapt to Mussolini out of realpolitik it is another to argue that the results of the Second Vatican Council amount to a deeper understanding of what it means to be Catholic rather than a capitulation to the fads of the modern world. True, conservatives like Douthat can still complain that this pope, with his folksy ways, has failed to make a convincing theological case for the direction in which he wants to move the church. But Douthat and his fellow nostalgists fail to plausibly show how Francis’s idea that reform happens from the peripheries and through engaging with the faithful—in short, by going to el pueblo—is somehow incongruous with Catholicism. As Chappel demonstrates, no pope ever changes the church by himself. Social forces outside the hierarchy always drive the church along with those within it. As Chappel sums up his history, “The Catholic transition to modernity was less a stately procession than a harried scramble, and a desperate bid for relevance in a Europe that was coming apart.” Crucially, it was also a process that involved many lay actors—intellectuals, workers, and politicians. Chappel reminds us that the power of popes, like that of presidents, is seldom as great as it seems. Which I suppose allows one, in the end, to speak of Francis and Trump in the same breath, if one is eager to do so for the sake of a punch line.

Jan-Werner Müller Jan-Werner Müller teaches at Princeton. His forthcoming book, from Farrar, Straus and Giroux, is Democracy Rules.

Spanish Civil War Martyrs Recognized

Pope Pius XI issued an encyclical deploring the anti-Church sentiments of the Spanish government in 1933.

Who on earth would murder a 70-year-old partially paralyzed nun, her 80-year-old colleague and two religious sisters helping their elders?

Radicals in Spain, between 1934 and 1939, went on a rampage against the Catholic Church, especially targeting its most devout adherents. The aforementioned quartet were all Servants of Mary, Ministers to the Sick.

Mother Aurelia, Sister Aurora, Sister Agustina and Sister Daria are examples of Catholic martyrs of the Spanish Civil War. They were brutally forced out of their motherhouse in Madrid when the war started in July 1936, then killed five months later as they tried to make it to a convent in safe territory.

On June 4, the Vatican declared these four women martyrs of the faith, together with 91 others: 18 men from the Order of St. Benedict, four from the Discalced Carmelites, together with one diocesan priest, 66 Marist Brothers of the Schools and two allied laymen.

They were all killed in Spain between 1936 and 1939. The Vatican announcement opens the path toward sainthood.

It’s the latest announcement of Spanish martyrs Pope John Paul II felt at least 50 years should pass before the Church began highlighting their sacrifice, so the first beatifications came in 1987, culminating in the largest beatification ceremony in history when Pope Benedict XVI made 498 Spanish martyrs "blessed."

At least 6,800 priests and religious, including 13 bishops, were murdered in this brutal phase of a violent century. Some 4,000 laypeople were killed for helping or hiding religious people.

Msgr. Vicente Carcel Orti, a Spanish historian and author of 30 books, including The Religious Persecution in Spain During the Second Republic, 1931-1939, has spent years researching declassified documents from the Vatican Archives on the tragic events of the 1930s.

He emphasizes three aspects of this confusing political period to help contemporary Catholics understand the historical situation of persecution and victory over it.

First, he says, we must know the context for the violence of the 1930s. The monarchy had become very unpopular by 1930, and it was associated with the Catholic Church, but the Church did not oppose Spain’s transition from monarchy to republic.

King Alfonso XII reigned from 1886-1931. For the last seven years of his rule, he allowed Gen. Miguel Primo de Rivera to garner tremendous power as prime minister. He dissolved the parliament, political parties and trade unions.

When the prime minister was overthrown in January 1930, the stage was set for an offensive against everything associated with the king and his authority.

Municipal elections saw the victory of candidates favoring a republic in April 1931, and King Alfonso was forced into exile two days later. He fled to Rome. A provisional government bringing together various anti-Alfonso groups, from conservatives to socialists, took power.

According to Msgr. Carcel, Vatican documents confirm that Pope Pius XI advised the Spanish bishops to recognize the new republic, despite local hesitance that the government had taken power through a coup, not a democratic process.

Vatican documents "show that the Holy See and the Spanish Church faithfully abided by the Republic and wanted to collaborate with her for the common good," Msgr. Carcel told Levante-EMV, a leading newspaper in Valencia, Spain.

But the new government showed its anti-Christian face quickly.

The second reality to understand, according to Msgr. Carcel, is the phase from 1931-1936, when an escalating set of punitive laws — some enshrined in a new constitution — persecuted the institutional Church and demonized clerics.

The Second Republic took control of all Church property (ordering religious groups to pay rent and taxes for buildings they owned), made education secular, forbade religious orders to teach, and the Society of Jesus (the Jesuits) was forcibly dissolved.

In response, Pius XI in 1933 issued the encyclical Dilectissima Nobis (On Oppression of the Church of Spain). He deplored that the new government was so hostile to a faith held by the vast majority of the Spanish people. And he demonstrated that he saw the connection between politics in Spain and socialistic politics in other parts of the world:

"[W]e can only conclude the struggle against the Church in Spain is not so much due to a misunderstanding of the Catholic faith and its beneficial institutions as of a hatred against the Lord and his Christ, nourished by groups subversive to any religious and social order, as alas we have seen in Mexico and Russia" (5).

The third reality in Spain, explains Msgr. Carcel, is that the persecution of individual clerics began even before the civil war, and it was part of a strategy to eliminate the Church’s authority as well as the country’s religious tradition, as they were obstacles to total control for the left.

Communists, socialists and anarchists were behind most of the killing — with massive military support as well as internationally trained cadres from the Communist International, including an American unit termed the "Abraham Lincoln Brigade."

Some uninformed analysts claim that Catholics were killed because they supported Gen. Francisco Franco, who led the "nationalists" to victory over the "republicans" in 1939. Msgr. Carcel warns that this is not historical religious people were largely neutral with regard to politics.

He says it’s false to imagine the "republicans" were fighting to build a democracy. Rather, they were bent on implementing a system closer to the Soviet Union — the only nation that supported their side during the civil war.

Robert Royal, author of The Catholic Martyrs of the Twentieth Century, points out another reality regarding the Spanish martyrs: The claim that the Catholic Church in Spain was targeted because it was corrupt is disproved by the "heroic and sincere" attitude of the martyrs themselves — martyrs such as Marist Brother Aquilino Baldomer Baro Riera.

Together with three sick brothers, he was led outside by executioners in Les Avellanes, Spain. He told them, "As a man, I forgive you and as a Catholic man, I thank you, for you are placing in the palm of my hands the martyrdom every Catholic should desire."

When the militiamen told Brother Aquilino to turn around, he refused, insisting they shoot him facing forward. All four brothers were immediately executed.

These Marists are among the newly declared group of martyrs. They will be beatified on Oct. 13 in Tarragona, Spain, as part of a ceremony to end the Year of Faith.

We need to talk: healing our deeply divided church and country.

These are challenging times. Not only is our country divided our church is as well. Such times are especially challenging for Catholic journalists, preachers, teachers and other communicators who must work and minister in this world. How does one speak to a divided nation, a divided church? How do we heal these divisions?

The divisions in our country have been evident over the past year, most prominently during the presidential election, during the nationwide protests against police violence and most recently in the assault on the nation’s Capitol on Jan. 6. These divisions are not going to disappear magically during the tenure of the new president.

Our divisions are deep on issues like racism and economic inequality, as well as on education, cultural values and lifestyles. There are divides between the young and the old, between urban and rural, between men and women. We do not listen to the same music or the same news programs. While our pluralism is one of our greatest strengths, it is also a challenge to our national unity.

While our pluralism is one of our greatest strengths, it is also a challenge to our national unity.

Likewise, our church is divided. We have remarkable ethnic diversity in the Catholic Church in the United States, with parishes everywhere made up of people of European, Latin American, Native American, African and Asian heritage. This is both a blessing and a challenge.

The sexual abuse scandal has also caused a rupture in the church, as the laity has been rightly outraged by the hierarchy’s failure in the past to deal appropriately with bad priests. Many are also upset with the hierarchy because of its political stances or refusal to advance women to ordination.

Our church is also as politically divided as the nation is. Half of U.S. Catholics voting in 2020 cast ballots for Donald J. Trump half voted for Joseph R. Biden Jr. We have Catholics who emphasize the pro-life teaching of the church above all else we also have Catholics who emphasize the church’s teachings on justice and the environment. Some Catholics have more in common with conservative evangelicals than with their fellow Catholics, while others have more in common with liberal Episcopalians than with their fellow Catholics.

We have Catholics who want the church to change the world, while others simply want a quiet place to pray and be consoled.

Nor is it only the laity who are divided so are bishops and priests. We see bishops arguing with one another in public. Meanwhile, our parishes are run very differently by different pastors. As a result, many people vote with their feet (really with their cars) when it comes to where they attend Mass. They no longer go to the closest parish they go to the parish where they feel at home with the priest and the community. And many more, although nominally Catholic, simply do not go to church.

Others have left the Catholic Church entirely. About one third of those raised Catholic have left that church. These ex-Catholics make up over 13 percent of the U.S. population if they were to get together to form a church, they would be the second largest denomination in the United States, behind only the remaining Catholics.

Listening is just as important a ministry as preaching. We must listen before we speak or write.

The first task: Listen

What are communicators to do in the face of these divisions? The first job of a communicator is to listen. Listening is just as important a ministry as preaching. We must listen before we speak or write. The first lesson in Communications 101 is “know your audience.” What are their worries, what moves them, what do they love, what people and events have shaped their lives? What are their questions?

When I was a young priest, my parish had a prayer group that would discuss and pray over the Scripture readings for the coming Sunday. The participants were not theologically sophisticated, but their thoughts and reflections helped me when I sat down to prepare my homily. I could speak to their concerns because I had first listened.

Journalists also must listen to their sources to truly understand what they are saying, to know how to quote them accurately and fairly. If journalists are not sympathetic with their interview subject after the fact, then they have not asked the right questions. In the mid-1980s, when I was researching my book Archbishop: Inside the Power Structure of the American Catholic Church, I found that every archbishop I interviewed had something worthwhile to say, something worth quoting—even the archbishops with whom I disagreed both theologically and pastorally. If we ask the right questions and listen, we will be privileged to see into the soul of our interviewee.

Smart politicians, smart clergy and smart communicators know the importance of listening. After you listen, people are more likely to listen to you.

In this year’s message for World Communications Day, Pope Francis tells journalists to hit the streets, to meet people face to face: “to spend time with people, to listen to their stories and to confront reality, which always in some way surprises us.”

Listening is not just useful in helping us to communicate better: It is itself a healing art. Listening is a sign of respect to those who feel left out and disrespected. Many of those who are alienated in our nation and our church feel disrespected. They feel that no one cares. This applies to victims of racism when white people dismiss their concerns by saying, “But everything is so much better than it was.” It applies to workers whose factories have closed when they are told, “Just move to where there is work” or “Get retrained.”

It applies to women who ask why they cannot be priests. It applies to gay men and women who want to know why they cannot be with the one they love. It applies to undocumented immigrants and their children who fear deportation. It applies to the victims of abuse of every kind when they too often hear, “Just get over it.”

But it also applies to those who ask other questions about neuralgic issues: Why do things have to change? Why are you causing confusion? Why can’t I go to a Latin Mass? Why are transgender people in the girls’ bathroom?

Smart politicians, smart clergy and smart communicators know the importance of listening. After you listen, people are more likely to listen to you. Experts have repeatedly told bishops that one of the best things they can do for victims of abuse is to listen to them. They need to be heard. They need to tell their stories. They need to be listened to.

Listening is Godly. God spends most of his time listening to our prayers. Prayers are healing because we get to talk, and God listens.

Today, news and facts are subservient to opinion. We eat dessert without the nourishment of facts. No wonder we are bouncing off the walls.

Separating fact From fiction

When, after listening, we do finally speak, we need to separate fact from opinion. Journalistically, we speak of separating news from opinion. When I was younger, there was a clear separation in the newspaper between the news section and the editorial page. No more.

Two things have destroyed the news business: the internet, which took advertising revenues from print outlets, and Rupert Murdoch, who with Fox News broke down the wall separating news from opinion. When Fox News saw its ratings go up, CNN and MSNBC quickly followed its example.

In the old days, opinion was a brief dessert in the newspaper after a substantial meal of facts and news. Today, news and facts are subservient to opinion. We eat dessert without the nourishment of facts. As a result, the whole country is on a sugar high. No wonder we are bouncing off the walls.

At the same time, we should not be afraid of a variety of opinions, if they are expressed sincerely and respectfully. From 1998 to 2005, when I was editor in chief of America, I got in trouble because people in the Vatican and among the U.S. bishops did not like some of the opinions we published. We always had articles on both sides of a topic, but that did not matter. They wanted only their opinions expressed.

We need to learn how to express the Christian message in a way that is understandable in the 21st century. We will not do that with 13th-century language.

Theology and pastoral practice cannot develop without discussion and argument. We need to learn how to express the Christian message in a way that is understandable in the 21st century. We will not do that with 13th-century language.

Just as Augustine and Aquinas took the best intellectual thought of their times, whether it was Neoplatonism or Aristotelianism, and used it to explain the faith to their generation, so too we must take the best thought of our time to explain the faith to those who will live in the 21st century. Terms like transubstantiation do not have much meaning if you do not understand Aristotelian metaphysics. Saying that homosexuality is “intrinsically disordered” means one thing to a Thomistic philosopher and something entirely different to a modern psychologist.

Under Pope Francis, things have changed. At the first synod of bishops in his papacy, he encouraged the participants to speak freely, even to disagree with him. He cited the example of St. Paul, who took on St. Peter at a meeting in Jerusalem when the early disciples debated whether converts to Christianity had to be circumcised and follow Jewish dietary laws. Luckily, Paul convinced Peter and James, and the rest is history.

If Peter and Paul could argue, if Pope Francis can welcome disagreement, then as Catholics we must learn how to deal with differences of opinion the way a family does, not the way politicians do.

As Catholics we must learn how to deal with differences of opinion the way a family does, not the way politicians do.

Speaking the truth in love

Finally, as communicators we must speak the truth. This exhortation should not be needed for Christians, but we know that the truth has at times been suppressed by the church, especially when it came to sexual abuse by members of the clergy. The recently published “McCarrick Report” shows that bishops lied even to the Vatican.

Fear of scandalizing the faithful was the rationale for lying to the faithful, but the faithful were even more scandalized by the cover-up. Fear of lawsuits led to stonewalling by bishops and chanceries on releasing information about abusers, but the stonewalling motivated juries to increase payouts. Outlets like The National Catholic Reporter that tried to expose the scandal were roundly condemned for trying to destroy the Catholic Church, yet clerics in charge of the church did more to destroy it than anyone else. The church’s credibility was severely damaged by the lies and cover-up. As they say in Washington, the cover-up is worse than the crime.

Like a prophet, a communicator must “comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable.”

As Catholics, we must truly believe that “the truth will set you free.” Truth-telling can also mean speaking like the biblical prophets, challenging people with facts and opinions they do not want to hear. But how do we give people facts and opinions that they do not want?

In his World Communications Day message, Pope Francis asks who will inform people about the lack of Covid-19 treatment in the poverty-stricken villages of Asia, Latin America and Africa: “Social and economic differences on the global level risk dictating the order of distribution of anti-Covid vaccines, with the poor always at the end of the line,” he writes. “The right to universal health care [is] affirmed in principle, but stripped of real effect.”

12 Anti-Semitic Radical Traditionalist Catholic Groups

Traditionalist Catholic groups are scattered around America and the world. But only a handful preach anti-Semitic hatred.

There are hundreds of traditionalist Catholic chapels around the United States that celebrate the Latin Tridentine Mass and dislike many of the liberalizing reforms enacted by the Second Vatican Council of the 1960s. But only a handful of these organizations qualify as part of the "radical traditionalist Catholic" movement that is characterized by open anti-Semitism and blames Jews for conspiring to destroy the Catholic Church and a number of other iniquities. The movement is far from unified, with these groups engaging in seemingly endless infighting and now splintered into an array of very small groups. The exception is the Society of St. Pius X, which has scores of chapels in the United States and many more elsewhere. What follows are profiles of 12 radical traditionalist groups in the U.S. that exhibit varying degrees of anti-Semitism, typically focusing in on conspiracy theories that accuse the Jews of corrupting the church and society. Because of that ideology, they are being added to the Southern Poverty Law Center's list of hate groups.

State Line, Pa.

Catholic Apologetics International (CAI) was founded in 1993 by Robert Sungenis, a man who would develop into one of the most rabid and open anti-Semites in the entire radical traditionalist movement. Sungenis, who was born into a Catholic family but became a Protestant before returning to the Catholic Church in 1992, was taken seriously in mainstream Catholic circles for many years, even producing two religious series for EWTN, a Catholic television station. That ended in 2002, when Sungenis published a 33,000-word, anti-Semitic attack on a joint statement by the National Council of Synagogues and the Bishops' Committee for Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs that criticized the Catholic Church's history of attempting to convert Jews. The article repeated a series of ancient anti-Semitic canards, relied on anti-Semites like Father Denis Fahey as authorities, and even praised Fahey and Father Charles Coughlin (the viciously anti-Semitic "radio priest" of the 1930s) as "dedicated Catholic priests who lived impeccable lives and defended Holy Mother Church from every sort of Satanic deception." As a result, EWTN pulled Sungenis' TV series and removed all mention of him from its Web site in a similar way, Envoy magazine also removed Sungenis from its website. Since then, Sungenis has gone even further into anti-Semitic conspiracy-mongering, frequently reminding people that the 1911 edition of the Catholic Encyclopedia "predicts the anti-Christ will come from Jewry." His CAI Web site has several articles attacking Jewish "power," including one by the Rev. Ted Pike, head of the National Prayer Network, that blames Jews for establishing a "New World Order" and refers to the alleged "Jewish origins of bolshevism, Jewish dominance of Hollywood and the media, [and] Jewish control of Congress." Sungenis is also a columnist for The Remnant, where, in a piece entitled "The New World Order and the Zionist Connection," he detailed a massive conspiracy aimed at Satan ruling the earth. "Among the major forces in the ascent of the New World Order," he explained, "are the Jews, Judaism and the land of Israel." Sungenis is also familiar with the world of non-Catholic anti-Semitism, as shown by his citations of Michael Collins Piper, a "journalist" who has worked for years for Willis Carto, a leading anti-Semite and Holocaust denier.

Broomhall, Pa.

Established in 1999, Catholic Counterpoint, a publishing enterprise that specializes in the most extreme radical traditionalist materials, is run by John Maffei, who worships at a Society of St. Pius X chapel. An example of the material he produces and sells is a video, entitled "Synagogue of Satan," by Father John O'Connor, an anti-Semite and Holocaust denier. The video, Maffei writes in his promotional materials, includes "all [O'Connor's] presentations on the Zionist movement and how it controls the U.S. thru [sic] the banking system … and their bringing us into two world wars. … Few have the courage to speak the truth about the six million Jews that supposedly died in the concentration camps of Germany. This is a history course that will set you free." Maffei is also a big fan of Hutton Gibson, the anti-Semitic father of actor Mel Gibson. His Web site is filled with photos of the elder Gibson, and Maffei sells Gibson's books at the many radical conferences he attends. At one such event, put on by Catholic Family News (CFN) in 2003, Maffei told a participant that CFN head John Vennari, who has also attacked the Jews in his own writings, wouldn't let him sell Gibson's materials because they were "too extreme." Maffei had better luck at the 2006 conference of The Barnes Review, a journal specializing in Holocaust denial published by radical anti-Semite Willis Carto, where he sold those materials and more. Maffei also sells writings by Father Charles Coughlin, a leading American anti-Semite of the 1920s and 1930s, and even a book by neo-Nazi Artie Wheeler that outlines a complicated 9/11 conspiracy theory. Maffei, who also sells alternative health products including "miracle soap" and a book on how doctors actually make people sick, told the Intelligence Report in 2006 that "unknown forces" destroyed his car and blew up his garage after he conducted an interview with Wheeler.

Niagara Falls, N.Y.

Catholic Family Ministries, which publishes the monthly Catholic Family News (CFN), is run by John Vennari, a former monk at the Holy Family Monastery in Berlin, N.J., who says he is now part of the official Vatican press corps. Vennari is a contributor to the radical traditionalist book We Resist You to the Face, whose last sentence tells reader that the Catholic Church is afflicted with "Jewish errors." In his CFN newspaper in 2003, Vennari called Judaism "part of the Kingdom of Satan" and accused the Talmud of "teaching of contempt" for Christ. His newspaper also regularly publishes columns by Joseph Sobran, who was fired by the conservative National Review over his anti-Semitism and has written for the Journal of Historical Review, a leading Holocaust denial publication. Vennari has also accused the church of being overrun by homosexuals. But he is probably best known for his exposition of the so-called Judeo-Masonic conspiracy theory, which claims that Jewish Masons have been infiltrating the church since the 1700s in order to destroy the institution and install a puppet in the Vatican. Vennari's booklet on this topic, The Permanent Instruction of the Alta Vendita, is essential reading in radical traditionalist circles. CFN holds yearly conferences that feature prominent Catholic extremists including American Catholic Lawyers Association head Christopher Ferrara, Father Nicholas Gruner, and Michael Matt. At the 2003 CFN conference, Vennari decried Vatican ecumenical outreach as "pandering to other faiths, especially Jews." Vendors at CFN conferences have sold wildly anti-Semitic books including The Protocols of the Elders of Zion and Hilaire Beloc's The Jews.

South Bend, Ind.

E. Michael Jones, a former hippie who says he spent his honeymoon stuck in traffic while trying to reach the 1969 Woodstock Festival, started down the road of radical traditionalism in 1981, when he founded Fidelity magazine after being fired as a professor at South Bend's Catholic women's college, St. Mary's. According to religion scholar Michael Cuneo, Fidelity was devoted to exposing wrongdoing in the church with a special emphasis on sex, a topic Jones seems obsessed with. Jones developed a reputation for his frequent clashes with other radical traditionalists, notably Father Nicholas Gruner. (For his part, Gruner told Cuneo that Jones was "secretly a Jew.") In 1996, Jones changed the name of his magazine to Culture Wars, and he has increasingly focused on the alleged evils of the Jews as he adds to his "continuing series on the Jews." The magazine's cover stories over the last year or so are instructive: "Judaizing: Then and Now," "John Huss and the Jews," "The Converso Problem: Then and Now," "The Judaism of Hitler," "Shylock Comes to Notre Dame" and so on. Jones runs through all the usual anti-Semitic canards -- the ideas that "Jewish media elites" run the country, that Jews are "major players" in pornography, and that Jews are behind Masonry and the French Revolution -- but that's only the start. He also accuses Jews of poisoning society with thinkers such as Karl Marx (a devotee of Satan, says Jones) and Sigmund Freud (who set off an epidemic of sexual sin, he says). And he describes the World War II Nazi genocide of the Jews as "a reaction to Jewish Messianism (in the form of Bolshevism)." Last April, in an article raging about a new president of Notre Dame University, Jones charged that anyone who went to a mainstream university would emerge "with a Jewish world view … and maybe a Jewish spouse." Jones, who has written nine books and hundreds of articles, regularly cites extremist sources, especially the American Free Press run by veteran anti-Semite Willis Carto. He also has taken up race, most obviously in his "Rooted Culture" conferences that include a trip to Germany. The 2005 trip theme would be familiar to any neo-Nazi -- "the continuing deracination in Germany." Jones has one other line of business that would be familiar to the racist right: the "neo-ethnic songs" he sells as part of a bid to create what he calls a true "Volk" music.

Constable, N.Y.

The International Fatima Rosary Crusade, known popularly as the Fatima Center, takes its name from Fatima, Portugal, the place where the Virgin Mary is said to have appeared to three peasant children in 1916 with a series of revelations. The center was founded in 1977 by Father Nicholas Gruner, a Canadian who became obsessed with Fatima after an Italian priest told him that he had a special calling to promote devotion to the Virgin Mary. The following year, Gruner launched The Fatima Crusader, a quarterly that Gruner claims now has some 1 million readers. The publication has carried anti-Semitic articles such as the 1992 piece, "The Program of Christ Against the Plans of Satan," which denounced what it saw as Jewish "naturalism" and blamed Jews for putting "the Christian state in danger." The Crusader also has staunchly defended the work of Father Denis Fahey, a hard-core anti-Semite whom it called "brilliant." In an interview with Catholic scholar Michael Cuneo, Gruner accused a fellow radical traditionalist, E. Michael Jones, of being "secretly a Jew" who was "planted in the American Church to confuse Catholics and sow hatred against people like myself." The Fatima Center heavily promotes a conspiracy theory about the Vatican allegedly working to hide the so-called "Third Secret of Fatima" from the faithful. (Among other things, the theory accuses Pope John XXIII of making a blasphemous pact with Moscow that prevented the Vatican from denouncing communism and has resulted in Satanism flourishing "inside … the Vatican itself.") In 1995, Gruner was ordered to report to his bishop in Italy, but did not as a result, the Vatican suspended Gruner from his priestly duties in 2001 (a lesser sanction than excommunication). Gruner owns a share of Catholic Family News, helped publish the schismatic book We Resist You to the Face, and is a regular speaker on the radical traditionalist circuit. In 2005, for instance, Gruner told an audience at the annual St. Joseph's Forum conference that Masons -- by which he meant the Jews -- "sacrificed their babies to the pagan gods." Gruner also rubs shoulders with hard-line Holocaust deniers, selling his wares at a 2006 conference of the anti-Semitic Barnes Review.

Norfolk, Va.

John Sharpe Jr., a graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy and a former submarine officer and media spokesman for the Atlantic Fleet, runs both the Legion of St. Louis (LSL) and IHS Press -- two of the most nakedly anti-Semitic organizations in the entire radical traditionalist Catholic pantheon. LSL explicitly pledges in its vision statement to unite Catholic men around the teachings of Father Denis Fahey and other anti-Semites, particularly Hilaire Beloc, author of the anti-Semitic book The Jews. It calls for the creation of self-contained communities of Catholic "militants" who intend "to wage . real ideological and political war" against their enemies, "the Judeo-Masonic tendencies of the modern social order." LSL's bulletin brims with anti-Semitic materials from the likes of Ernst Zundel, the neo-Nazi author of The Hitler We Loved and Why who is now in prison in Germany for Holocaust denial, and the American Free Press, a newspaper run by veteran American anti-Semite Willis Carto. Sharpe blames the 9/11 attacks not on Al Qaeda, but on "Judeo-Masonry." "The temporal power that the Jews have achieved since … 1789 is both pervasive and relatively unchallenged," he writes. "[T]he current and historical mortal enemy of Christian civilization is Judeo-Masonry." At the 2006 conference of American Renaissance, a racist magazine specializing in theories of race and intelligence, Sharpe sold his two-volume set Neo-CONNED!, which has several articles by racists and anti-Semites. LSL also serves as the U.S. distributor for Britain's St. George Educational Trust, which sells a catalogue of anti-Semitic books including works by the late "radio priest" Charles Coughlin, Holocaust denier Michael Hoffman's Strange Gods of Judaism and Henry Ford's The International Jew. The trust's board includes convicted Italian terrorist Roberto Fiore, who Sharpe has described as a close personal friend, Society of St. Pius X (SSPX) priest Michael Crowdy, and other hard-liners. Sharpe also has written articles for The Angelus, published by SSPX, including "Judaism and the Vatican," which blames Jews for three centuries of political liberalism. In The Angelus' June 2003 issue, Sharpe approvingly cites the assertion of his mentor, Father Denis Fahey, that "every sane thinker must be an anti-Semite." Sharpe's parents, John Sr. and Judith, run a similar radical group, the In the Spirit of Chartres Committee, which sponsors regular conferences in Phoenix and hosts an array of radical traditionalist speakers.

Palmdale, Calif.

Omni is a leading purveyor of radical traditionalist Catholic materials, including a cornucopia of rabidly anti-Semitic and conspiratorial writings. Run by Phil Serpico, son of the former aerospace technician who started the organization in 1958, Omni describes the Jews as "the first civilization to practice the belief in racial supremacy, and the chief advocate of that practice today." That's mild compared to the offerings that grace Omni's book catalogue, including Richard Harwood's Did Six Million Really Die? (published by neo-Nazi Ernst Zundel) Henry Ford's The International Jew, available abridged or in a deluxe, four-volume set Arthur Butz's Holocaust-denying The Hoax of the Twentieth Century ("a must read into the biggest hoax in world history, who's behind it, how they've profited from it, and what can be done to put an end to it") several issues of the late Father Leonard Feeney's Jew-bashing monthly The Point The Judaic Connection, describing a Judeo-Masonic conspiracy against the Catholic Church and even defenses of Hitler. Omni also sells masses of antigovernment conspiracy materials that decry the United Nations, the World Trade Organization, and the supposedly imminent "New World Order." Overall, Omni sees the Vatican II church reforms as a con pulled off by liberal bishops, and pledges to expose "elements detrimental to the survival of our culture and civilization" and to supply "an alternative source of facts for a more meaningful understanding of world and local events." Finally, Omni also sells Coast Lines Depots: Los Angeles Division, a 1992 book by the younger Serpico, who turns out to be a railroad buff who runs another Web site specializing in that topic.

Forest Lake, Minn.

The biweekly newspaper The Remnant was started in 1967 and edited for decades by the recently deceased Walter L. Matt, who had worked for his family's conservative newspaper The Wanderer but left over a dispute about the Vatican II church reforms. The Remnant has been edited since 2002, when Matt died, by his youngest son, Michael J. Matt, and features a Who's Who of radical traditonalist writers. These include columnist Mark Alessio, American Catholic Lawyers Association head Christopher Ferrara, Robert Sungenis, and John Vennari. Although The Remnant describes itself as a loyal opposition to the Vatican, it has consistently attacked "Nostra Aetate," the Vatican proclamation seeking to reconcile with the Jews, railed against the "takeover" of the church by homosexuals, decried ecumenism, and fretted about the much-feared coming of the "New World Order." In a 2000 article in the newspaper, Vennari praised the anti-Semitic priest Denis Fahey and demanded that "Jewish rabbis … repudiate their blasphemous Talmudic errors and convert." More recently, in a February 2006 article, Vennari and Matt criticized Pope Benedict XVI for visiting a synagogue in Cologne without exhorting the Jews there to convert. Last August, Alessio used the pages of the newspaper to defend actor Mel Gibson after his drunken anti-Semitic tirade, arguing that Gibson had been victimized by "a year-long, merciless slander campaign on the part of Jewish activists (and their apostate Catholic cronies)" who objected to his recent film "The Passion of the Christ." A year earlier, Alessio had attacked Anti-Defamation League-sponsored tours of the U.S. Holocaust Museum, describing them as an effort to indoctrinate Catholic educators into the "holocaust religion." The newspaper has also carried repeated attacks on the Masons, who it sees as a primary enemy of Catholicism. The most extreme columnist at the paper, however, is Sungenis, author of a two-part, 2005 series entitled "The New World Order and the Zionist Connection." Sungenis' articles repeat almost every anti-Semitic canard, from the allegation that Jews run Hollywood to the claim that Jews were behind communism. Using materials by hard-line Holocaust denier Willis Carto, Sungenis even reminded readers that the Antichrist, when he arrives, will be a Jew.

Richmond, N.H.

At the end of a dirt road atop a wooded mountain in southwestern New Hampshire, the Slaves of the Immaculate Heart of Mary own a complex of three main buildings, the basement of one of which is used as a church. Members of the larger Slaves community live in the surrounding country, sending their children to a school run by the organization. The Slaves are followers of the anti-Semitic priest Leonard Feeney, a "genius" who started the organization after he was excommunicated in 1953. The group began operations in Boston, but later moved to Still River, Mass., where it became known for such unusual practices as allowing one nun to remain married after taking her vows and raising children communally. After the founder's death in 1978, the organization broke up into several factions, with the most radical setting up shop in Richmond (the old Still River site is now known as St. Benedict Abbey, which is in full communion with the Vatican). Today, the Slaves continue to endorse Feeney and to defend him from charges of anti-Semitism, despite his well-documented hatred of the Jews. (One unsigned 1958 article in Feeney's rabid publication, The Point, summed up the situation like this: "Essential to the understanding of our chaotic times is the knowledge that the Jewish race constitutes a united anti-Christian bloc within Christian society, and is working for the overthrow of that society by every means at its disposal.") Like Feeney, the Slaves today see the Vatican II reforms as the product of Jewish pressures and argue that the "Jewish nation is at enmity with Our Lord's Plan." They have denounced the Vatican's moves to reconcile with Jews as "capitulation to the tyrannical demands of the most insidious elements within Jewry (e.g., the Vatican audiences granted to the pro-abortion, pro-homosexual, anti-Christ Jewish Anti-Defamation League)." In fact, the Slaves say that Jews will be the first people to accept the Antichrist and will quickly join "in launching the most savage persecution of the Church in the history of the world." This kind of ugly rhetoric earned the Slaves a sharp rebuke in 2004 from Bishop John B. McCormack of Manchester, N.H., who called their teachings "blatantly anti-Semitic" and "offensive to all people of good will." That didn't stop the Slaves' Brother Anthony Mary, while lecturing at the 2005 St. Joseph Forum's conference, from describing the "Jewish nation" as "the perpetual enemy of Christ" and saying that the Virgin Mary had threatened the Jews with "blood and terror if it's required." The Slaves, who also inveigh against "feminists, sodomites, and those who advocate the sin of birth control," hold annual conferences that feature prominent radical traditionalist Catholics from around the country. Last August, speakers included John Sharpe and Father Nicholas Gruner.

South Bend, Ind.

A privately run organization dedicated to "addressing the root causes of the crisis in the Church," the St. Joseph Forum specializes in popularizing the writings of the anti-Semitic Irish priest, Father Denis Fahey, through its "Project Awaken" program. In several books, the late Fahey wrote that society and the church had been twisted by "the leadership of the Jews, who wield such enormous power in the modern world through the subjection of man to production and production to finance." The forum decries what it describes as the Jews' "Naturalistic Revolution" -- materialism and rationalism -- and urges battle against "the visible and invisible" forces working to destroy Christianity. The group raises funds to distribute Fahey's writings and has put on an annual conference in South Bend for 11 years. The conferences typically bring together some of the most extreme voices in the radical traditionalist world, including John Vennari, E. Michael Jones,, Father Nicholas Gruner, John Sharpe, and Brother Anthony Mary, who described Jews at the 2005 conference as "the perpetual enemy of Christ." Tapes of the forum conferences are sold by the Saint Augustine Institute of Catholic Studies, a publishing arm of the Slaves of the Immaculate Heart of Mary.

Spokane, Wash.

Formed in 1978 when radical traditionalist Francis Schuckardt bought a Tudor-Gothic building on a bluff overlooking northern Spokane, Wash., St. Michael's Parish has long been a center of extreme-right Catholic activities. Schuckardt, who argued that the liberalizing Vatican II church reforms were part of a demonic conspiracy to destroy the church and inaugurate an atheistic world order, lost control of the group in 1984 during a major scandal: Four young male acolytes accused him of sexual assault right around the same time that a newspaper published an exposé that detailed abusive cruelty inside the compound, including severe beatings of children and one case where a child was fed rotten carrots and then made to eat her own vomit. Schuckardt's successor is Mark Pivarunas, who was consecrated a "bishop" in defiance of the Vatican by renegade Mexican Archbishop Moises Carmona Rivera. Under Pivarunas, St. Michael's Parish has remained an anti-Semitic organization, selling books like John Vennari's The Permanent Instruction of the Alta Vendita, which details a "Judeo-Masonic" conspiracy to destroy the church. On the group's Web site are Pivarunas writings that condemn Vatican II for "promot[ing] the work of the anti-Christ" and for its efforts to reach out to Jews and Muslims even though, he argues, those religions have "persistently attacked the Catholic Church throughout history." At a St. Michael's conference last October, Australian John Lane gave a talk earnestly recounting how he had learned "about the Protocols of Zion [a book alleging a Jewish plot to take over the world], I mean, the whole story." Lane also spoke reverently of meeting Hutton Gibson, the actor Mel Gibson's father and a hard-line anti-Semite. Pivarunas chimed in with a condemnation of Pope John Paul II's outreach to Jews, which included a visit to a German synagogue. Such attitudes aren't new at St. Michael's. In the mid-1990s, when the religious scholar Michael Cuneo visited, his official guide told him: "We know that Freemasons and Jewish leaders have wanted for centuries to bring on a one-world government, and we know that the Church was the only thing really standing in their way." St. Michael's, which is part of the larger Congregation of Mary Immaculate Queen, has 800 lay adherents, a cloistered residence for nuns, a church, and an academy for students from kindergarten through high school.

Los Angeles, Calif.

Tradition in Action was formed in 1995 by Marian Horvat and is dedicated to creating "counter-revolutionaries" -- people willing to fight changes in the church, starting at the time of the French Revolution, that were supposedly wrought by Masons, Jews, and "other seminal secret forces." Horvat was joined in 1996 by a Brazilian church scholar named Atila Sinke Guimarães, who like Horvat was a former leader in the far-right Catholic anti-abortion group, the American Society for the Defense of Tradition, Family and Property, which threw them out in 1998. Tradition in Action is particularly angry with the late Pope John Paul II, arguing that before him the Catholic Church "was vigilant for 2,000 years against the enmity of the synagogue." Horvat helped Guimarães launch the 1997 English edition of his In the Murky Waters of Vatican II, an attack on the Vatican II reforms. Guimarães moved to the United States to join Horvat in 1999, and has been here ever since. Guimarães has also been writing for John Vennari's Catholic Family News since 1998, and for Michael Matt's The Remnant since 1999. Guimarães, Vennari, Matt and Horvat collaborated in the 2000 anti-Vatican book We Resist You to the Face, in which the four authors "respectfully suspend obedience to the Pope" and declare themselves in a "state of resistance" to the Vatican II reforms. The book also condemns John Paul II for accepting gun control and the United Nations, and even for allowing pop singer Bob Dylan to perform for him. Tradition in Action goes further than that, however. On its Web site, it cites approvingly church actions against Jews over the centuries, listing a series of religious edicts condemning Jews for usury and blasphemy, and banning marriage between Catholics and Jews. In the same vein, the site approvingly quotes the infamous 1492 edict of Ferdinand and Isabella, the Catholic monarchs of Spain, that expelled from the country all Jews who declined to convert to Christianity.

Learning From The Spanish Civil War

Over the past few days, I watched a 1983 British television documentary about the Spanish Civil War. It’s six hours long, but you can watch it all on YouTube, starting here. I think it was Uncle Chuckie who recommended it — and boy oh boy, was that ever a solid call. Last week I posted here that I knew almost nothing about the Spanish Civil War, but now I can’t say that. The passion, the pain, and the terrible tragedy of that three-year conflict (1936-39) came vividly alive in the series, which was impressively balanced. I expected it to be heavily tilted toward the Republican (leftist) side, but the UK producers allowed both left and right to tell their stories. One advantage the filmmakers had is that they made it in the early 1980s, when many of those who lived through and even fought in the conflict were still alive to offer their testimony.

What follows are some scattered impressions.

Maybe it’s an American thing, but it’s hard to look at a conflict like this without imposing a simple moralistic narrative on it, between the Good Guys and the Bad Guys. Certainly the received history of the conflict frames it as an unambiguous fight between democracy and fascism — and the evil fascists won. The truth is far more complicated.

In fact, the filmmakers make a point of saying that ideologues and others who project certain narratives onto the conflict do so by ignoring aspects of it that were particularly Spanish. That is to say, though the civil war did become a conflict between fascism and communism (and therefore a proxy war between Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union), that’s not the whole story. Its roots have a lot to do with the structure and history of Spain itself.

The first episode covers the years 1931-35, which covers the background to the war. In 1930, the military dictatorship was overthrown, and municipal elections across the country the next year led to a big win for combined parties of left and right who favored a democratic republic. (N.B., not all leftists and rightists wanted a republic!) After the vote, the king abdicated, and the Republic was declared. Later that spring, leftist mobs burned convents and churches in various cities, while Republican police stood by doing nothing. This sent a deep shock wave through Spanish Catholicism.

The Republic, in typical European fashion, was strongly anticlerical. It quickly passed laws stripping the Catholic Church of property and the right to educate young people. There were other anticlerical measures taken. Anti-Christian laws, and violent mob action, were present at the beginning of the Republic. Prior to watching this documentary, I assumed they happened as part of the civil war itself. Imagine what it was like to see a new constitutional order (the Republic) come into being, and suddenly you can’t give your children a religious education, and your churches and convents are being torched. How confident would you be in the new order?

According to the film, Spain was still in the 19th century, in terms of economics. It was largely agrarian, with a massive peasantry that was underfed, and tended to be religious and traditional. On the other hand, they were dependent on large landowners who favored the semi-feudal conditions. These landowners were extremely conservative. Their interests clashed, obviously, and became violent when the land reform promised by the liberal Republicans did not materialize fast enough for the peasantry. Mind you, the Republic was declared in the middle of the global Great Depression, with all the political and economic turmoil that came with it.

The urban working class was organized along Marxist lines, though the left was badly fractured, and unstable. There were democratic socialists, but also communists who hewed closely to the Stalinist line. Plus, anarchists were a really significant force in Spain, something unique in Europe at the time. They competed politically, and usually aligned with the left in fighting the right. But they refused to compromise their principles by taking formal power, even when the defense of the Republic required it.

Regional autonomy also played a role in defining sides. When the civil war started, Catholics supported the Nationalist side (the Francoists) … but not in the Basque Country, which was religious, but which wanted more self-rule — something the Nationalists despised. Catalonia also wanted more independence, which meant it was firmly Republican. Barcelona, the Catalan capital, was a Republican stronghold for left-wing reasons, to be sure. I bring up the situation with the Basques and the Catalans simply to illustrate the complexity of the conflict.

Anyway, the 1933 elections resulted in a swing back to the right, with a coalition of center-right and far-right parties winning control, and reversing some of the initiatives of the previous government. Socialists, anarchists, and coal miners in the province of Asturias rebelled against the Republic. They murdered priests and government officials the military, led by Gen. Franco, brutally suppressed the uprising. All of this radicalized the left even more.

By 1935, left-right opinion had become so polarized that there was practically no middle ground left. Both sides came to distrust democracy because it was the means by which

Falangist propaganda poster

their enemies might take power. And, as one Nationalist interviewed in the documentary puts it, people on the left and right just flat out hated each other. The whole country was a powder keg.

By the 1936 campaign, the centrist parties had practically disappeared. A leftist coalition won the vote, but deadly violence between left and right began ramping up. A far-right fascist militia, the Falange, formed. Mutual assassinations on both sides, and street fighting between Falangists and Republican forces, triggered a military coup against the government. The coup failed to overthrow the Republic, but it did divide the country, and spark a civil war between Nationalists and Republicans. Gen. Francisco Franco quickly emerged as the Nationalist leader.

I give you all that history to show what was news to me: that this was by no means a simple case of right-wing military figures trying to overthrow a democratically elected government — though it was that too!

The series devotes an hour each to the complicated internal politics of both the left and the right. All my life I’ve heard Franco and the Nationalist side described as “fascist,” but it’s not accurate. True, the Nationalist had real fascists in their ranks — that was the Falange — but Franco exploited and controlled them. The Falange’s founder, Jose Antonio Rivera, was killed by the Republicans, and turned into a martyr by the Nationalists. Doing so allowed Franco to embrace the Falange but also to defang them as a political force. In the film, an elderly Falangist complains that Franco was not a real fascist, and he wouldn’t seriously implement the Falange’s program (e.g., Falangism’s opposition to capitalism).

The documentary says Franco ought to be understood as a hard-right conservative authoritarian, not a fascist. Mussolini was a big supporter, and sent troops and military aid, but was frustrated by Franco’s failure to be affirmatively fascist. Hitler sent lots of military aid, which was critically important to the Nationalist victory, but was angry at Franco for not being willing to be more Nazi-like. The truth is, Franco was trying to lead a reactionary coalition of fascists, monarchists, traditionalist Catholics, and others on the Right. The Spanish Right by and large did not trust the Spanish fascists, who were revolutionary modernists. This is an example of the filmmakers’ point that you can’t get a true grasp on what was happening in Spain at the time by imposing a narrative that overlooks particularly Spanish characteristics of the conflict.

Franco managed to unite the right, but the left remained hopelessly mired in internal rivalry. If you’ve read Orwell’s Homage To Catalonia — which I did in the early 1990s, and forgot all about — you know something about how fissiparous and treacherous left-wing politics were in the Spanish Civil War. Orwell went to Spain to fight with the POUM, the democratic socialists. They were set upon and betrayed by Spanish communists loyal to the Soviet Union. The Soviets were open supporters, military and otherwise, of the Republicans, but also instructed their Spanish followers to undermine the non-communist left.

Two things struck me about the left. I mentioned earlier the role of the anarchist militias, and how they were both crucial to the Republican war effort — they were fierce fighters — but also an Achilles heel, because they were obstinately principled. There’s a passage in the film in which a Republican veteran talks about how hard it was to get the anarchists to take military orders (naturally!). They would stand around debating about whether or not they should obey an order, while the far more disciplined Nationalists would be making gains. Isn’t that cartoonish, in a herding-cats way? But it happened.

The other thing — and this, to me, was the more important thing — was how off-the-hook crazy the Spanish left was. In 1936, after the start of the war, the anarchists and left-wing supporters led a revolution within the Republic. Here’s Orwell describing revolutionary Barcelona:

It was the first time that I had ever been in a town where the working class was in the saddle. Practically every building of any size had been seized by the workers and was draped with red flags and with the red and black flag of the Anarchists every wall was scrawled with the hammer and sickle and with the initials of the revolutionary parties almost every church had been gutted and its images burnt. Churches here and there were being systematically demolished by gangs of workmen. Every shop and cafe had an inscription saying that it had been collectivized even the bootblacks had been collectivized and their boxes painted red and black.

That’s from Orwell, but this is reported in the Granada documentary too. It’s this kind of thing that made me aware that had I been alive then, I would have 100 percent supported the Nationalists. It was truly a revolution, and violently anti-Christian to the core. It was brought low by the communists, on Moscow’s orders, on the grounds that defeating fascism had to come before the revolution. The communists were right.

[UPDATE: A reader points out that I can’t possibly know how I would have reacted had I been born Spanish, and had been there at the time. This is a fair point, of course. I should have made the more modest and defensible claim that watching the documentary made me certain that I am glad the Nationalists won. Had I been there at the time, though, as a Spaniard, I likely would have fought for whichever side my family and friends supported. Similarly in the US Civil War, it would be silly for me to say that had I been there at the time, I 100 percent would have supported the Union, for anti-slavery reasons. I am against slavery, naturally, and like to think I would have fought for the Union. But the truth is, had I been there, I would almost certainly have fought for the South, like my family and friends, because I would have seen it as fighting for them. This is a good reason for all of us, whatever our political convictions, to be careful about passing harsh judgment on Spaniards of the era. We may well know today how we would like to have acted were we participants in the events of that era, but that is not at all the same thing as knowing with any certainty how we would have acted. — RD]

At the end of the documentary, there were film clips showing Catholics who lived in Madrid and other Republican-controlled cities, going to public masses. An old Catholic who had lived through those times told the filmmakers that for the first time in years, they could be public about their faith. That’s how I knew for sure that the correct side had won the war.

However, the Nationalists were exceptionally merciless in victory. Both sides committed appalling atrocities during the war, but after Franco won, he was cruel to the vanquished. He established a hardline Catholic autocracy that ruled Spain until his death in 1975. It’s not surprising that what Franco stood for did not survive him.

Watching the film made me realize what an Anglo-American right-wing liberal I am, by temperament. I would have been quite out of place in Franco’s Spain. I suspect that many left-wing Americans who watch it will realize the same thing about themselves when faced with the excesses of the Spanish left. The inhumanity of Francoism is undeniable.

And yet, there was no conservative-liberal alternative in 1930s Spain — nor were there any liberal-liberal alternatives, in the sense that we Americans recognize. Most members of the Democratic Party today would not be as anti-Christian as mainstream Spanish leftists in 1931. There are very few members of the GOP who are as hardline as Spanish rightists were. But — here’s the thing — the dynamic that radicalized both sides is recognizably emerging here.

How would you have felt as a Spanish Catholic in 1931, watching the new Republic pass laws closing Catholic schools and taking away many of your religious liberties, and then, when leftist mobs started burning churches and convents, observing the police letting it happen? How might that have affected you politically? Similarly, if you were on the left, and saw the Falangists, bona fide fascists, making alliances with other right-wing parties, and growing in strength and influence, how would that likely affect your political judgment?

I want to say something about religion. The documentary’s attention to the radical, violent, even murderous anticlericalism of the Spanish Republic and its supporters deeply affected my historical judgment about the conflict. Before watching it, I knew that the Spanish left had been anticlerical, but again, I thought it was something the left did in the heat of war. I had not realized how radically anticlerical they were long before the fighting started, and how they used democratically acquired powers not to reform the role of the Church in Spanish life — something that is defensible, in principle — but to amputate it from the body politic. So intense was the Republican hatred of religion that its politicians either could not anticipate the reaction from Spanish Catholics, or did not care.

Watching this in the documentary made me reflect on how we are living through a much less vivid version of the same thing here. As the American left secularizes — and as that secularization expands — the left’s hostility to religion, as well as its inability to comprehend why religion matters so much to others, will likely bring about a more aggressively anti-religious state. Damon Linker wrote about this last year. Excerpt:

More traditional religious believers already feel under siege from the federal government and an often overtly hostile surrounding culture. Liberals tend to dismiss this as paranoia and whining. But as we saw with Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s harsh questioning on Wednesday of judicial nominee Amy Barrett, a devout Catholic, the impression isn’t wholly without foundation in reality. (Back in June, Bernie Sanders posed similarly accusatory questions to a conservative evangelical nominee for the Office of Management and Budget.) The message conservative believers hear from liberals and the left is clear: If you hold traditionally religious views, you will be treated as an unwelcome outsider in American public life.

This hostility has provoked a shift in the goals and outlook of traditionalist Christians. Where once they thought of themselves as a “moral majority” that might retake political and cultural institutions and transform them in their image, now they merely want to ensure that the government’s power to persecute them is restrained. (Hence the emphasis of the dwindling religious right on religious liberty protections.)

Hence also the strategic (some say cynical) alliance many evangelicals forged with Donald Trump during the 2016 presidential campaign. There is abundant anecdotal evidence that the alliance may well backfire, hastening the exit of young (overwhelmingly anti-Trump) evangelicals from the faith. But those evangelical leaders who supported and continue to stand by Trump would likely say that this eventuality makes it even more essential to establish a strong presidential protection racket for religious institutions. The smaller and less powerful the church becomes, the more persecution it is likely to face in an increasingly secular (and sometimes even explicitly anti-religious) common culture.

In this respect, the rise of Donald Trump to the presidency was driven in part by a precipitous collapse in the power of the churches in American public life.

We conservative Christians are very well aware that to our opponents, religious liberty is nothing more than an excuse for hating on LGBTs. This idea would have been strange a generation ago, when standing for religious liberty was a bipartisan cause. When you are not religious yourself, and when you know no one who is religious, and when you have taken up egalitarianism as a secular religious crusade, it’s easy to find yourself with incomprehension of religious believers, and contempt for them as Enemies Of Progress.

The historical and cultural contexts are not the same for the Spanish left of 1931, and the American left of 2019, but the incomprehension and contempt for religion is similar. And, as Linker (a liberal) points out, there is no reason to believe that when younger Americans detach from religion — as is happening widely — that they will become secular liberals or progressives:

As Trump’s strong support in the GOP primaries among non-religious Republicans attests, a significant number of the post-religious (especially those who are less well educated) could well end up on the nationalist alt-right.

The Spanish Civil War documentary doesn’t go into this level of detail, but I find it unlikely that many of Spain’s Catholics were enthusiastic about all members of the Nationalist coalition. In fact, I read elsewhere that middle-class and upper-class Spanish traditionalists and conservatives regarded the Falange with the same kind of disdain that many American rightists see the alt-right, and the more enthusiastic #MAGA backers. Nevertheless, if you are a Christian, and you have to choose between a party whose members you don’t like for whatever reasons, but who will leave you alone, and a party whose members will take away your religious liberties, and, at the extreme, will burn your churches — well, that’s not much of a choice, is it?

I can’t stress this enough: we Americans today are not dealing with the extremes of the early Spanish Second Republic. We have a much deeper and older tradition of democracy than Spain did. We do not (yet) have the intense and grinding class divisions that Spain did. We are not remotely as poor as Spain was back then. But the care we have to take not to overstate the comparison should not cause us to dismiss the parallels in the political dynamic that led to the end of democracy, and civil war — especially if something like the Great Depression struck.

Whether you are for or against Donald Trump, it should be obvious that his election, and takeover of the GOP, has destabilized American politics, and the broad establishment consensus around which it has been based since time immemorial. Whether that’s a good or a bad thing is beside the point here. The point is that something massively important has happened, something that shakes the system. Trump’s radicalism has mostly not manifested in actual policies, but in his flagrant repudiation of ethical and procedural norms.

If I were on the political left, and I saw that conservative voters were willing to nominate a man like Donald Trump, make him president, and allow him to govern with little opposition, it would unnerve me, and make me more radical. If I observed things like Scott Walker and Republican legislators in Wisconsin passing bills to limit the powers of the incoming Democratic governor, I would be tempted to lose a lot of faith in democracy. The Republicans in Wisconsin did not trust the Democrats with power, and tried to blunt the effects of the last election. It may be legal, but it is clearly undemocratic, and a vote of no confidence in the system. It shouldn’t surprise anybody that Democrats respond with the same cynicism.

Meanwhile, in New Jersey, the Democratic Party, which has its hands firmly on the grips of power, is trying to use redistricting to make the state’s Republicans a permanent minority. It’s so undemocratic that even some prominent Democrats outside the state (e.g., Eric Holder) have spoken out against it. Still, there it is. It’s another example of one party using its power in ways that undermine confidence in democracy. If this kind of thing takes hold, what are the brakes on it? This is how democracy collapsed in Spain: with both left and right coming to fear and loathe each other so intensely that they ceased to respect a system that allowed their enemies to come to power. And when parties did come to power, they so feared and loathed the Other that they did as much as they could to advance their own interests, heedless of the opposition, in order to gain “territory,” so to speak, in advance of the next election, which could flip power back to the other side.

For many of us conservatives who either do not like Trump, or who at least are very skeptical of him, the utterly disgraceful behavior of the Democratic Party in the matter of the Brett Kavanaugh nomination was a clear sign of how far the left party is willing to go to protect its goals. I felt it myself, and talked to a number of conservatives who came away from the Kavanaugh hearings feeling more radicalized. The idea was, if they will do that to him, they’ll do that to me, if they win power, and have the opportunity.

This is exactly the kind of thing that unraveled the Spanish Republic. And, to be fair, the refusal of Senate Republicans to give Judge Merrick Garland a hearing may have been hardball politics, but it was also one of those things that delegitimizes the system.
Again: The historical example of the Second Spanish Republic shows what contempt for the opposition does to the stability of democracy. This is not only true of the Spanish Republic, but for the Roman Republic too. In his new book Mortal Republic, which examines how the Roman Republic fell apart and gave way to tyranny, historian Edward Watts observes:

Rome shows that the basic, most important function of a republic is to create a political space that is governed by laws, fosters compromise, shares governing responsibility among a group of representatives, and rewards good stewardship. Politics in such a republic should not be a zero-sum game. The politician who wins a political struggle may be honored, but one who loses should not be punished. The Roman Republic did not encourage its leaders to seek complete and total political victory. It was not designed to force one side to accept everything the other wanted. Instead, it offered tools that, like the American filibuster, served to keep the process of political negotiation going until a mutually agreeable compromise was found. This process worked very well in Rome for centuries, but it worked only because most Roman politicians accepted the laws and norms of the Republic.

Watts says that in the Roman Republic’s final century, politicians began to use the mechanisms of governance in ways that disproportionately favored their own side, and punished the other side. They surrendered a sense of “fair play,” and began to see politics as a zero-sum game. Violence in the streets between political factions followed — just as it had in the Spanish Republic. Watts writes:

Roman history could not more clearly show that, when citizens look away as their leaders engage in these corrosive behaviors [i.e., practicing zero-sum politics, and encouraging street violence between political factions], their republic is in mortal danger. Unpunished political dysfunction prevents consensus and encourages violence. In Rome, it eventually led Romans to trade their Republic for the security of an autocracy. This is how a republic dies.

Last year, David Blankenhorn made a list of 14 causes of political polarization in our time. It’s well worth reading. He calls the final one the most important cause:

  • Favoring binary (either/or) thinking.
  • Absolutizing one’s preferred values.
  • Viewing uncertainty as a mark of weakness or sin.
  • Indulging in motivated reasoning (always and only looking for evidence that supports your side).
  • Relying on deductive logic (believing that general premises justify specific conclusions).
  • Assuming that one’s opponents are motivated by bad faith.
  • Permitting the desire for approval from an in-group (“my side”) to guide one’s thinking.
  • Succumbing intellectually and spiritually to the desire to dominate others (what Saint Augustine called libido dominandi).
  • Declining for oppositional reasons to agree on basic facts and on the meaning of evidence.

Well, yes, this is true. What I wonder, though, is how much common ground actually exists. I don’t deny that it does, but I seriously doubt whether as much still exists as people like to think. I am reminded of this 2015 post of my interview with “Prof. Kingsfield,” the pseudonym of a professor at one of America’s most elite law schools. He and I spoke right after the Indiana RFRA fight of 2018:

“Alasdair Macintyre is right,” he said. “It’s like a nuclear bomb went off, but in slow motion.” What he meant by this is that our culture has lost the ability to reason together, because too many of us want and believe radically incompatible things.

But only one side has the power. When I asked Kingsfield what most people outside elite legal and academic circles don’t understand about the way elites think, he said “there’s this radical incomprehension of religion.”

“They think religion is all about being happy-clappy and nice, or should be, so they don’t see any legitimate grounds for the clash,” he said. “They make so many errors, but they don’t want to listen.”

To elites in his circles, Kingsfield continued, “at best religion is something consenting adult should do behind closed doors. They don’t really understand that there’s a link between Sister Helen Prejean’s faith and the work she does on the death penalty. There’s a lot of looking down on flyover country, one middle America.

“The sad thing,” he said, “is that the old ways of aspiring to truth, seeing all knowledge as part of learning about the nature of reality, they don’t hold. It’s all about power. They’ve got cultural power, and think they should use it for good, but their idea of good is not anchored in anything. They’ve got a lot of power in courts and in politics and in education. Their job is to challenge people to think critically, but thinking critically means thinking like them. They really do think that they know so much more than anybody did before, and there is no point in listening to anybody else, because they have all the answers, and believe that they are good.”

On the conservative side, said Kingsfield, Republican politicians are abysmal at making a public case for why religious liberty is fundamental to American life.

“The fact that Mike Pence can’t articulate it, and Asa Hutchinson doesn’t care and can’t articulate it, is shocking,” Kingsfield said. “Huckabee gets it and Santorum gets it, but they’re marginal figures. Why can’t Republicans articulate this? We don’t have anybody who gets it and who can unite us. Barring that, the craven business community will drag the Republican Party along wherever the culture is leading, and lawyers, academics, and media will cheer because they can’t imagine that they might be wrong about any of it.”

Here we are three years later, and Republicans have done very little on religious liberty. It’s not nothing that they aren’t hostile to it, as Democrats are — but that’s not the same thing as taking affirmative measures to protect it. A side issue illuminates more starkly how useless the GOP is on socially conservative legislation: despite that fact that Republicans controlled both houses of Congress and the presidency, they still wouldn’t defund Planned Parenthood.

Of course we keep voting for them because even if they don’t want to help us, it’s better to vote for people who don’t want to hurt us than for people who do. But I digress.

David Brooks foresees a critical challenge facing conservatives in this new year. He says we are likely to see indictments of Trump insiders this year. And:

If we lived in a healthy society, the ensuing indictments would be handled in a serious way — somber congressional hearings, dispassionate court proceedings. Everybody would step back and be sobered by the fact that our very system of law is at stake.

But we don’t live in that world anymore. If indictments are handed down and we move towards trial, we know what Donald Trump will do. The question is, says Brooks: what will the Republican Party do? What if it sides with Trump and describes the proceedings as a political farce?

If that happens, then the roughly 40 percent of Americans who support Trump will see serious evidence that he committed felonies, but they won’t care! They’ll conclude that this is not about law or integrity. It’s just a political show trial. They’ll see there is no higher authority that all Americans are accountable to. It’s just power and popularity straight through.

If that happens, we’ll have to face the fact that our Constitution and system of law were not strong enough to withstand the partisan furies that now define our politics. We’ll have to face the fact that America has become another fragile state — a kakistocracy, where laws are passed and broken without consequence, where good people lay low and where wolves are left free to prey on the weak.

He’s right. Understand that Brooks, though he despises Trump, is not making a merely partisan point here. It really matters if 40 percent of the US public sees evidence of felonious behavior in a president, but don’t care. It is a sign of deep decadence. On the other hand, it must be asked how we got to a point when so many people prefer Trump to rule by a Democrat. This is not to excuse them (a “them” which might well include me), but rather to serve as a spur to serious analytical thinking. Why did so many Spanish Catholics and middle-class Spaniards throw in with right-wing autocracy over a democratically elected Republic? If you say that the Spanish left’s words and deeds had nothing to do with driving people to the right, you’re blinding yourself.

But the opposite is also true. It was true in Spain then, and it’s true in America now. We on the right have to own our part in this destructive dynamic. It’s important to add that, as Tucker Carlson explained three years ago, when Trump was still a GOP primary punch line, Trump is in large part a judgment on the failures of the conservative Washington Establishment.

There’s no question that Trump is an accelerant in the burning down of the Republic, if that, indeed, is what’s happening. The thing I can’t settle in my mind is this: is this fate inevitable? Was the Spanish Republic’s fate? Watching the documentary, it is hard for me to see what might have happened in Spain to save the Republic. The divisions were too deep, and the passions too strong.

However, as I said at the beginning of this post, quoting the filmmakers, we can’t understand what happened in Spain by imposing the politics of other countries onto it. Spain had a militant right wing that was aligned with Nazis and Fascists, but it was not Nazi, and it was not entirely Fascist. Spain had a militant left wing that was aligned with Stalin and the USSR, but it was not entirely Stalinist. The civil war took on aspects of ideological warfare in other European countries, but it was, at its core, a Spanish thing.

Similarly, comparisons between America today and Spain in 1931 can only go so far. Still, they can be made, and ought to be made, not least so we can think about how we might avoid the fate of the Spanish Republic. If we can. If you see nothing else of the Granada series, watch the first episode: “Prelude To Tragedy”. Prior to watching the film, I didn’t know enough about the Spanish Civil War to have understood why it was a tragedy, in the precise sense (as distinct from the general sense of the word “tragedy” to mean “a bad thing that happened”). Now I see that it was exactly that: a catastrophe that was unavoidable, and the dénouement of which elicits both pity and terror — pity for the suffering of all Spaniards, left and right, and terror at what the civil war reveals about the fragility of civilization.

If nothing else, learning about the modern history of Spain has evoked a certain tenderness in my heart for that country, which I do not know. I’m very much looking forward to my visit this month. To this blog’s Spanish readers, I hope to meet some of you:

UPDATE: Reader Luis comments:

Thank you for this post, Rod. I’m a Portuguese national who has been living in the States for the last ten years. Though these events are not directly part of my country’s history but rather that of “nuestros hermanos”, as we affectionately call our Iberian neighbors, I have long been fascinated with the Spanish Civil War and I do think there are some parallels with our time (mutatis mutandis). In particular, I think you get to the tragic heart of it all when you say:

“The Spanish Civil War documentary doesn’t go into this level of detail, but I find it unlikely that many of Spain’s Catholics were enthusiastic about all members of the Nationalist coalition. In fact, I read elsewhere that middle-class and upper-class Spanish traditionalists and conservatives regarded the Falange with the same kind of disdain that many American rightists see the alt-right, and the more enthusiastic #MAGA backers. Nevertheless, if you are a Christian, and you have to choose between a party whose members you don’t like for whatever reasons, but who will leave you alone, and a party whose members will take away your religious liberties, and, at the extreme, will burn your churches — well, that’s not much of a choice, is it?”

The tragedy of the Spanish Civil War was indeed that it drowned out the moderates on both sides, forcing them into Faustian bargains. The problem is, Franco’s integralism (as Salazar’s in my country) was ultimately disastrous for the moral authority of the Church. I think something similar will happen in the US – this alliance of religious/social conservatives with the Falange-viva-la-muerte-alt-right types will be the end of us. And it’ll happen much sooner than it happened to Catholicism in Spain.

Miguel de Unamuno saw this coming in Spain by the way. He pleaded at the time that the Church be more open towards political liberalism since only political liberalism, he thought, offered a chance for spiritual rejuvenation of his country. He was a voice crying in the wilderness. But he was right. Franco was ultimately the undertaker of Spanish catholicism. Yes, Franco delivered the Spanish Church from martyrdom – and I am not making light of the suffering of martyrs. But avoiding martyrdom came at a price – the price of a slow spiritual and moral death. From a supernatural perspective (again, not making light of suffering), which one is worse?

Frankly this is why all this Deneen nonsense about the errors of political liberalism really gets my blood boiling. Our only hope lies in (classical) liberal values, in reasoned debate in the “marketplace of ideas”. It’s not sexy, I know – intellectuals love being armchair rebels, especially in a country like the U.S. where since liberalism is the historical norm, you can come across as a daring maverick for defending the utter insane idea that integralism in 21st century America makes any kind of sense or has any kind of relevance.

So no, I don’t think we need to join the National Front of our day. What we need is more Unamunos. And if it turns out that we’ll be voices crying in the desert and that there won’t be enough of us to make any real political difference, then at least I prefer that kind of tragedy to that of the Faustian bargain. But maybe I’m too much of an idealist…

With all of that being said, who knows what any of us would have done in 1930s Spain? I certainly understand those who reluctantly supported the National Front, exactly for the reasons you give. But understanding them doesn’t mean that I hold them as the ideal or the model to be followed in our day (or in theirs).

UPDATE.2: Look, folks, don’t mess up the thread with whataboutism of the left or the right. I’m not going to post it. You’re boring me to death with it.

The New World- Catholics and the Colonies

Efforts to set up a permanent settlement by the Spanish in the 16 th century were mostly unfruitful, until French Huguenots threatened their trade routes by settling at the St. John’s River in modern day Jacksonville at Fort Caroline. Almost immediately after the Spanish founded St. Augustine and massacred their French rivals at Fort Caroline, Spanish priests were starting Indian missions. The first Indian mission was founded by a secular priest, Sebastian Montero from 1566-1572. Spreading Catholicism to Native American groups was a critical mission for the first Spanish settlers. By attempting to spread their Catholic religion to Native groups from the start of colonization, these Spanish settlers and priests were trying to secure their religion’s success in the New World.

Jesuit priests were chosen early on by Florida’s governors to missionize the surrounding Native American groups however, these efforts were unsuccessful because of Native opposition. By 1595 Franciscan friars replaced the unsuccessful Jesuits and established missions along the Florida coast and north into Georgia. These missions were funded by the Spanish government, however these Catholic missionaries at times protested the treatment of Native Americans by civil authorities. With relative success in the Florida area, missions spread to Texas, New Mexico, and California with varying degrees of accomplishment converting Native American groups throughout the Spanish colonial period.

French Catholics also settled in the New World on Maine’s Scoodic River in 1604. French missionaries also missionized to Native Americans, particularly to tribes in their Northern territories. French missionaries converted the entire Abanaki tribe of Native Americans. The French blended conversion with economic partnerships to use Native groups as allies against the encroaching English settlement in colonial North America.

Unlike the French and Spanish settlements in North America, the British colonists were mostly Protestant and very weary of Catholicism. Catholics did however find their way to the colonies in the 17 th century, most notably in Maryland and Pennsylvania, where they found a relative degree of freedom to worship. Because of the Catholic religion of the Spanish and French, Catholicism’s perceived ties to a distant papal ruler, and warfare between Catholics and Protestants in England, many British colonists felt uneasy accepting Catholics into British colonial society.

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The Other Catholics: A Short Guide to the Eastern Catholic Churches

As millions watched the funeral for Pope John Paul II, many were confused by the concluding Panakhyda celebrated not in Latin, but in Greek and Arabic by hierarchs in black hoods, turbans, crowns, and unusual vestments. Was this not the responsibility of the cardinals? And were those clerics even Catholic?

The answer may surprise you, as Catholics are generally unaware that they have millions of coreligionists who are not themselves part of the Roman Catholic Church. Indeed, even the term "Roman Catholic" isn't quite right it was actually a derogatory label assigned to us by Anglican Protestants, trying to legitimize their own use of the term "Catholic" over and against that foreign Church loyal to the pope of Rome.

In point of fact, the Catholic Church directly under the jurisdiction of Rome is properly and canonically termed the Latin Church. All official Church documents simply use the term, "Catholic Church." And contrary to popular belief, most of the day-to-day work preformed by the Holy Father is not in his role as pope and pastor of the Universal Church but in his position in the Latin Church as the bishop of Rome and the patriarch of the West.

So who are these "other" Catholics? They have their own hierarchies and liturgies, as well as their own distinct apostolic lineages. They may look and act like Eastern Orthodox churches, but they recognize the pope of Rome as the head of the visible Church on earth and have suffered for the cause of that unity.

Meet the Catholic Churches. There are more of them than you think.

One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic

Antiminsion: A rectangular cloth with an icon of the tomb of Christ, consecrated by the bishop and without which no sacrament can be preformed.

Antidoron: Blessed but unconsecrated bread given to all at the end of the liturgy.

Chrismation: Roughly, the Eastern equivalent of the Sacrament of Confirmation.

Council of Chalcedon: Convened in 451, the council fathers affirmed "Christ in two natures of one person without mixture, without change, without separation and without division." This definition was contrary to the traditional Alexandrian theology of "One incarnate nature of Christ." The council also established Constantinople as ranking second only to Rome and ahead of Alexandria and Antioch.

Council of Lyons II: An ecumenical council held in 1274 with the aim of ending disputes with the Greek Church. It added the words "and the Son" to the Nicene Creed, which resulted in its rejection by a Greek Council in Constantinople in 1277.

Council of Nicea: Inviting bishops from across the world in 325, the emperor Constantine hoped to settle the main disputes separating the faithful. The heresies of Arius were condemned and the Divinity of Christ was affirmed as being of the same substance as that of the Father (Arius claimed that Jesus was a creation of the Father, and was not Himself God) the date for the Feast of the Resurrection (Easter) was set according to the solar calendar and the council formally established the primacy of the patriarchs of Rome, Alexandria, and Antioch.

Divine Liturgy: The Eastern eucharistic service equivalent to the Mass.

Dormition of Mary: Roughly, the Eastern equivalent of the Assumption.

Ecclesia sui iuris: Latin term for autonomous Churches of their own rightful existence.

Eparch or Hierarch: The Eastern equivalent of a bishop.

Eparchy: The Eastern equivalent of a diocese.

Exarch: A bishop one rank below a patriarch.

Filioque: The Latin term "and from the Son" inserted into the Nicean Creed by the Latin Church in the year 1274. Considered by the Orthodox a major cause of theological division.

Great Fast:Eastern term for Lent, which for Eastern Churches begins on the Monday before Ash Wednesday (the 40 days are counted differently).

Great Vespers: Non-eucharistic Saturday evening service (does not count toward the Sunday obligation).

Greek Catholic: An outdated term for Byzantine Catholic.

Icon: A two-dimensional image written according to strict guidelines and venerated as would be the relic of a saint.

Iconostasis: An icon-adorned screen separating the altar from the church proper.

Metropolitan: Roughly, the Eastern equivalent of an archbishop.

Myrovannya: Slavic term for a festal anointing with blessed oil.

Mysteries: Roughly, the Eastern term for sacraments.

Patriarch: The highest-ranking bishop. The pope, for example, is the patriarch of the West.

Panakhyda: An Eastern requiem or memorial service.

Paraklesis: A service for the intercession of the Lord, the Mother of God, and the saints.

Pascha: Eastern term for the Feast of the Resurrection (Easter), derived from the term Passover.

Prosphora: Eastern term for the bread used for the host.

Raso or Ryassa: Eastern equivalent of a cassock.

Rite: A liturgical, theological, spiritual, and disciplinary patrimony of a distinct people manifested in a Church sui iuris.

Uniat or Uniate: A derogatory term for an Eastern Church in communion with Rome.

Zeon: Boiling water added to the chalice representing the Holy Spirit and the water from the side of Christ.

According to the Constitution on the Church, Lumen Gentium, the Catholic Church is understood to be "a corporate body of Churches," united with the bishop of Rome, who serves as the guardian of unity. The other Catholic Churches are not merely Catholics with papal permission to use different liturgies. They were also founded by the apostles and are particular, autonomous Churches of their own rightful existence (sui iuris). Any individual Catholic may freely attend and receive the sacraments in any of them. After all, Catholic is Catholic.

Because we believe in "one, holy, Catholic, and apostolic Church," some might object, "There is only one Church, so how can we speak of many ‘Churches?'" It's helpful to consider an analogy used by the Church Fathers: While there are three distinct Persons who share the One Divine Essence, there are likewise many autonomous individual Churches that make up the one, holy, Catholic, and apostolic Church. As it is with the Triune Godhead, we must be careful not to blur true and important distinctions of the individuals in order to emphasize their unity.

When Christ founded His Church, He commissioned the apostles to go out into the world to preach and baptize. Most Catholics are familiar with the founding of the see of Rome by Peter. The primacy of that Church was sealed with the blood of Peter and Paul, and the succession of bishops continues to the present day. What many do not know is that the other apostles themselves founded churches, and that their own successions of bishops continue as well.

As presently defined, there are 24 Catholic Churches that can be grouped into eight different rites. A rite is a liturgical, theological, spiritual, and disciplinary patrimony of a distinct people manifested in a Church. While each Catholic Church may have its own rite or customs, in general, there are only eight major rites. History, language, misunderstandings, nationalism, and basic human weakness have resulted in the current communion of 24 Churches.

With a few exceptions, the Eastern Catholic Churches result from incomplete reunions with the Orthodox Churches. In those instances, large numbers of bishops and faithful of the Orthodox mother Churches either held back or later rejected union with Rome. Today, many Orthodox are fearful of losing their distinct traditions in a world dominated by the Latin Church. Making matters worse, some of the Eastern Catholic Churches have adopted Latin customs and haven't been very good examples of how union with Rome should work. This is tragic, since the traditions of these Churches are themselves apostolic and help preserve the catholicity of the Church with their own unique development of the gospel message. For example, unlike a good Latin parish, in a traditional Eastern Catholic parish you won't find musical instruments, statues, rosaries, or stations of the cross. Indeed, the priest may well have a wife and children, and the church might be without pews or kneelers. In some circumstances, even the Bible might have a larger canon and include Third and Fourth Maccabees. Unity does not mean uniformity.

The following is a brief survey of each of the 24 sui iuris Catholic Churches all of which are in full communion with Rome. Parishes can be found throughout the United States and Canada. They are grouped by rite and include brief descriptions, along with an estimate of their current membership numbers. Some of these Churches are headed by metropolitans or major archbishops who are independently elected and then confirmed by the pope. The Patriarchal Eastern Catholic Churches elect and consecrate their own patriarch completely independent of the pontiff letters of official communion are exchanged after the installation. Other Churches simply submit a list of eligible candidates to Rome for consideration.

A final note: Any discussion of Eastern Catholicism necessarily involves ecclesiastical language alien to Latin Catholics. See the sidebar for definitions of important Eastern Church terms.

1. The Patriarchal Latin Catholic Church
Rite: Latin
Membership: 1,070,315,000

There may have once been other Western Catholic Churches, but over time, they were absorbed into the direct jurisdiction of the Latin Church. In response to Protestantism, the Latin Church consolidated the various Western practices into what became known as the Tridentine Rite.

Some variation still exists in the Latin Church: The Mozarabic Rite continues in Toledo, Spain, and the Ambrosian Rite survives around Milan even into Switzerland. The Bragan, Dominican, Carmelite, and Carthusian Rites were abandoned after Vatican II in favor of the revised Latin Rite.

2. The Patriarchal Armenian Catholic Church
Rite: Armenian
Membership: 368,923

The Armenian Church is a daughter of the New Testament Church of Caesarea, and Thaddaeus and Bartholomew were its founding apostles. Catholics there suffered persecution until the conversion of King Tridates IV made Armenia the first Christian state in history. The missionary work of St. Gregory the Illuminator resulted in an alphabet and translations of Greek and Syrian texts. The Armenian Rite is used exclusively by this Church and is related to both Greek and Syrian Christianity with some Latinization since the Crusades.

While Armenians attended the first three ecumenical councils, they weren't represented at the Fourth Ecumenical Council of Chalcedon, which condemned their faith in St. Cyril's definition of "One nature of the Word of God incarnate." Armenians formally accused the Byzantine and Latin Churches of the Nestorian heresy in the year 555.

Until the Muslim conquests, Byzantine emperors attempted to impose reunion on the Armenians with some success. Nevertheless, the Armenian Church continued to develop independently with its identity as a people centered on its own language and ecclesial body.

When the Byzantines pushed back the Muslims in 862, they again attempted reunion, only to be rebuffed. Serious discussion with the Byzantine Church began in 1165, but the Armenians established union with the Latin Crusader states in 1198. This union wasn't recognized by those outside of Cilicia. And while Armenians were present at the Council of Florence in 1439, it had no lasting results. Finally, in 1742, Pope Benedict XIV confirmed a former Armenian apostolic bishop as Catholic Patriarch of Cilicia.

The vicious persecution and genocide in Turkey at the end of World War I decimated the Armenians, and the Church was later brutally suppressed under communism. Only with independence in 1991 have communities of Armenian Catholics begun to resurface.

3. The Patriarchal Coptic Catholic Church
Rite: Alexandrian
Membership: 242,513

The Egyptian Church was founded by the apostle Mark a gospel writer and disciple of Peter martyred around 63 A.D. His see was the first Church to develop a strong centralized hierarchy, and the succession from Mark continues to this day. The term Coptic is Arabic, derived from the Greek word for Egyptian. Interestingly enough, the Alexandrian patriarch is the only other patriarch to have the title of pope, and until the Council of Chalcedon, the see of Mark was second in primacy after Rome.

Like the Armenians, the Coptic Church rejected the Council of Chalcedon out of fidelity to St. Cyril of Alexandria's doctrine of "One incarnate nature of Christ" though there were also political issues regarding their opposition to growing Byzantine domination. Persecutions intended to force acceptance of the Council of Chalcedon only reinforced their resistance. Eventually a succession of Byzantine popes had a small following in the city of Alexandria, and the majority native Coptic popes resided in the desert monastery of St. Marcarius.

After the Arab invasion in 641, the Coptic Church went into decline. Islamic rule brought persecution as well as some periods of relative freedom. The Church has continued to grow, despite recent attacks by Islamic militants and the exodus of those faithful looking for a better life in the West.

While the Coptic Church attended the Council of Florence and agreed to union, it had no concrete results. Other attempts at reunification occurred in 1582 and 1814 but were also unsuccessful. During these failed attempts, many Coptic bishops and faithful did enter union with Rome. For this reason, the Coptic Catholic Church was organized in 1741 when the Coptic bishop of Jerusalem became Catholic. In 1895, Pope Leo XIII of Rome reestablished the patriarchate of Alexandria for the Coptic Catholic Church.

Monasticism began in the Egyptian desert. While there are no Coptic Catholic monasteries to rival those of the Coptic Orthodox, there are religious orders modeled on Western communities involved in educational, medical, and charitable activities.

4. The Ethiopian Catholic Church
Rite: Ge'ez
Membership: 196,853

The Ge'ez Ethiopian Rite is a variation of the Alexandrian Coptic Rite with Syriac and Jewish influence. Judaism was practiced by some Ethiopians before the arrival of Christianity, and pocket communities of Jewish Ethiopians still exist. The Church there is unique in retaining circumcision, dietary laws, and both Saturday and Sunday Sabbath.

When Emperor Ezana converted to Christianity in the fourth century, St. Athanasius of Alexandria ordained the bishops for the Ethiopians. Later, in 480, those who opposed the Council of Chalcedon fled to Ethiopia from Rome, Constantinople, and Syria and evangelized the pagans they found there.

From the time of Athanasius, Ethiopian bishops were routinely appointed by the Coptic patriarch. In 1948, Emperor Haile Selassie reached an agreement with the Coptic Church to establish an autonomous Ethiopian patriarch. And so, Ethiopian Orthodoxy became the state religion until the 1974 communist revolution.

In 1439, Pope Eugenius IV sent a letter to the Ethiopian emperor inviting him to unity with the Catholic Church, but it was rejected. A century later, under attack from the Muslims, the emperor requested military aid from the Portuguese. This led to Pope Gregory XV's appointment of a Portuguese Jesuit as patriarch of the Ethiopian Church in 1626. Sadly, union lasted only ten years after the forced Latinization of the liturgy, customs, and discipline resulted in open bloodshed.

Catholic missionary activity resumed during the Italian occupation of Eritrea and Ethiopia, but the current structure of the Ethiopian Catholic Church wasn't established until 1961.

5. The Patriarchal Antiochian Syrian Maronite Catholic Church
Rite: West Syrian Maronite
Membership: 3,106,792

Unique among the Eastern Churches, the Maronite Church is entirely Catholic with no corresponding Orthodox Church it has never broken union with Rome. The Maronite Rite is of West Syrian origin but has been influenced by the East Syrian and Latin traditions. The Eucharist is a variation of the Syriac liturgy of St. James. Notably, this Church maintains the Eucharistic narrative in Aramaic the actual language of Christ.

The Maronites trace their origin to a group of disciples of the hermit St. Maron and their founding of a great monastery midway between Aleppo and Antioch. They were fervent supporters of the Chalcedonian definition of "two natures of Christ," and in 532, a synod in Constantinople made the monastery of Bet Maroun the head of the entire monastic community in northern Syria.

The Maronites suffered brutal persecution at the hands of the non-Chalcedonian Orthodox, while the Muslim Arab rulers of Syria punished all contacts with the Byzantines. When the Byzantine see of Antioch fell vacant, the Maronites proclaimed their own bishop as "Patriarch of Antioch and all the East." Unfortunately, hostile relations with the Arabs and rival Christians drove the Maronites to the isolated and remote mountains of Lebanon.

In 1099, the Crusaders received a warm welcome from the Maronites, and their patriarch attended the Fourth Lateran Council in 1215, receiving formal Latin acceptance as the head of the Maronite Church.

With the founding of the Maronite College in Rome in 1584, the Church became quite Latinized. With the encouragement of Vatican II, the Maronite Church revised its missal to return to many of the traditions and customs that had been lost. Since then, the patriarch has ordered all the clergy to wear the original Syriac vestments and has instituted several other Syriac reforms.

6. The Patriarchal Chaldean Catholic Church
Rite: East Syrian
Membership: 382,637

The Assyrian or Chaldean Church was established in Edessa in the first century. After the area was conquered by the Persians, the Church organized itself around a Catholic patriarch in the Persian royal capital at Seleucia-Ctesiphon. While Christians were persecuted by the pagan Roman Empire, they were welcomed into the Persian Empire.

This Church was represented at the Council of Nicea but not at later ecumenical councils once the Roman Empire adopted Christianity, the Persian Christians needed to avoid suspicion as Roman collaborators. The Chaldeans always favored the Antiochian school of Christology and welcomed the influx of Nestorian Christians, who were both condemned by the third Ecumenical Council of Ephesus and expelled by Emperor Zeno. Unofficially, they accepted the Council of Chalcedon as a vindication of Antiochian theology.

The Church was a very active missionary force and expanded into India, Tibet, China, Mongolia, and perhaps even Korea and the Philippines. This activity continued even after its Mesopotamian homeland was conquered by the Muslim Arabs. Indeed, it was nearly annihilated by the Mongol invasions of Tamerlane.

In the 13th century, due to Dominican and Franciscan activity in the region, there were several individual conversions of bishops and a few brief flirtations with reunification. Unfortunately, nothing lasting came about. However, in 1551, after one prominent family dominated the Chaldean Church and elected a twelve-year-old as patriarch, a group of concerned bishops elected their own patriarch and sent him to Rome to arrange a union with the Catholic Church. Their overtures were accepted by Pope Julius III in 1553, creating the Chaldean Catholic Church now centered in Baghdad.

Relations with the Assyrian Orthodox Church have also improved. In 1994, the Orthodox Patriarch Mar Dinkha IV and Pope John Paul II signed a common Christological Declaration. Two years later, Mar Dinkha IV and Chaldean Catholic Patriarch Raphael I Bidawid signed a joint patriarchal statement that committed the two Churches to full reintegration, drafting a common catechism and setting up a joint seminary. At this stage, the Assyrians wish to retain their freedom and self-governance while the Chaldean Catholics affirm the necessity of maintaining full communion with Rome.

7. The Syro-Malabar Catholic Church
Rite: East Syrian
Membership: 3,752,434

The first Christians in India were evangelized by the apostle Thomas in what is now the state of Kerala. For most of their history, they were in communion with the Chaldean-Assyrian Church.

Indian Christians first encountered the Portuguese in 1498, when they warmly received the representatives of the Church of Rome, whose special status they continued to acknowledge despite long isolation.

Sadly, the Portuguese didn't initially accept the legitimacy of the Malabar Church, and in 1599, Latinizations were imposed appointments of Portuguese bishops, changes in the liturgy, Roman vestments, clerical celibacy, and the Inquisition. In 1653, after years of bitterness and tension, most Indian Christians severed their union with Rome. Alarmed, Pope Alexander VII sent Carmelites to India to repair the situation, and most of the Christians eventually returned to full communion with the Catholic Church.

In 1934, Pope Pius XI initiated a process of liturgical reform to restore the historic Syriac nature of the Latinized Syro-Malabar Church. Unfortunately, tension with the Latin Church remains over the establishment of Syro-Malabar jurisdictions in other parts of India where Latin dioceses already exist.

8. The Patriarchal Syrian Catholic Church
Rite: West Syrian
Membership: 123,376

Antioch was one of the ancient centers of Christianity, ranking third in primacy after Rome and Alexandria. When the Council of Chalcedon's teachings were rejected by large numbers in the rural areas of his jurisdiction, Jacob Baradai, the bishop of Edessa, ordained several bishops to carry on the Faith of those who had parted from the council. This Church, labeled "Jacobite," continued to use the Antiochian West Syrian Rite when urban Antioch adopted the Byzantine Rite.

With the conquest by the Persians, the Syrian Church was free to develop along lines parallel to that of the Assyrian Church with 103 dioceses extending into India, Afghanistan, Turkistan, and Xinjiang, China. Like their rival Assyrian Church, most churches and monasteries were destroyed by the Mongol invasions.

Syrian Orthodox bishops warmly received the Crusaders and discussed union with Rome. But while they attended the Council of Florence and agreed to union, nothing materialized. Jesuit and Capuchin missionaries were very successful, however, and many Syrians were received into communion with Rome. When the patriarchate fell vacant in 1662, the Catholic party was able to elect one of its own as patriarch. Despite this small victory, the Ottoman Empire favored the Syrian Orthodox and forced the Syrian Catholics underground.

Provoking yet another schism, the Syrian Orthodox Holy Synod elected Metropolitan Michael Jarweh of Aleppo as patriarch in 1782. Shortly after he was enthroned, though, he shocked the faithful by declaring himself a Catholic.

9. The Syro-Malankara Catholic Church
Rite: West Syrian
Membership: 404,052

This Church was founded by the East Syrian–Rite Syro-Malabar Christians that rejected the Portuguese Latinizations. As a group, they were not welcomed back into their former Chaldean-Assyrian Church. In 1665 the non-Chalcedonian Syrian Orthodox agreed to send them a bishop on the condition that they agree to accept non-Chalcedonian Christology and follow the West Syrian Rite instead of the East Syrian Rite. In the 18th century, there were four formal attempts to reconcile the Catholic and Malankara Orthodox Syrian Churches, all of which failed. In 1926, five bishops who were opposed to the jurisdiction of the Syrian Orthodox patriarch in India opened negotiations with Rome. They had asked only that their liturgy be preserved and that the bishops be allowed to retain their dioceses. In response, Rome only required that the bishops make a profession of faith. This instigated a movement of faithful into the new Syro-Malankara Catholic Church.

Churches of the Byzantine Rite

The Byzantine liturgical tradition is a highly stylized form of the Antiochian Rite developed for the Imperial Church based in Constantinople (Byzantium). After the Latin Rite, it is the most widely used rite in the world. At the Council of Chalcedon, the dioceses of Thrace, Pontus, and Asia were absorbed in order to legitimize Constantinople as the see of St. Andrew, the brother of Peter. Currently, there are 16 Eastern Orthodox Churches and 15 Catholic Churches that use the Byzantine Rite.

10. The Patriarchal Melkite Catholic Church
Rite: Byzantine
Membership: 1,340,913

Founded as the Antiochian see of Peter, it was here that the followers of Jesus were first called Christians. The term "Melkite" comes from the Syriac word for king and was originally used to refer to those within the patriarchates of Alexandria, Antioch, and Jerusalem who accepted the Council of Chalcedon.

With Jesuit, Capuchin, and Carmelite missionary activity in the Greek Orthodox patriarchate of Antioch in the mid-17th century, the Antiochian Church became polarized, with the pro-Catholic party centered in Damascus and the anti-Catholic party in Aleppo.

The pro-Catholic party elected a patriarch in 1724 who was recognized by Pope Benedict XIII. In response, Constantinople excommunicated the Catholic patriarch and appointed a Greek as the Orthodox patriarch of Antioch.

While the Ottoman Empire was very hostile to the Catholic Melkites, the Church continued to grow because the Orthodox patriarch of Antioch was entirely subordinate to the Turks. On a positive note, in 1995, the Antiochian Orthodox and Melkite Catholic Churches agreed to work toward healing the 1724 schism.

11. The Italo-Albanian Catholic Church
Rite: Byzantine
Membership: 60,448

>From the earliest periods of Christianity, southern Italy and Sicily had strong connections with Greece and followed the Byzantine tradition. Despite this fact, as part of the Latin patriarchate, the Italo-Albanian Church has always been in union with Rome. Large numbers of Orthodox Albanians fled to this region when their country was conquered by Muslims and interestingly enough in 1553, the Italo-Albanian metropolitan archbishop was confirmed by the patriarch of Constantinople, with papal authorization. Thus, the Italo-Albanians have never formally broken communion with the Orthodox Church.

12. The Ukrainian Catholic Church
Rite: Byzantine
Membership: 4,321,508

The Ukrainians first received the Christian faith by way of Constantinople. Metropolitan Isidore of Kiev attended the Council of Florence and agreed to union between the Catholics and Orthodox, but the union was ultimately rejected.

In 1569, Jesuits began working for a local union between Catholics and Orthodox as a way of reducing Protestant influence. The Orthodox, for their part, favored such a union to preserve their Byzantine traditions at a time when the Polish Latin Rite Church was expanding.

A synod of Orthodox bishops at Brest in 1595 proclaimed a reunion between Rome and the metropolitan of Kiev. After similar moves in Przemysl in 1692 and Lviv in 1700, two-thirds of Ukraine had become Catholic. But as Orthodox Russia expanded its control into Ukraine, Catholicism was gradually suppressed. In 1839, Tsar Nicholas I abolished the union in all regions under Russian rule, but the Ukrainian Catholic Church thrived in areas under Austrian control. Later, the Soviet Union forced the Ukrainian Catholic Church into the Russian Orthodox Church.

With the fall of the USSR, Ukrainian Catholics emerged from the catacombs, but they've not yet recovered all of their stolen property. Lubomyr Cardinal Husar is popularly given the title of Ukrainian Catholic patriarch, but this title hasn't been approved by Rome due to sensitive relations with the Russian and Ukrainian Orthodox.

13. The Ruthenian Catholic Church
Rite: Byzantine
Membership: 497,704

Nearly all Trans-Carpathian Ruthenian or Rusyn Orthodox formally united with Rome in 1646. Rusyn ethnic identity remains closely tied to the Byzantine Catholic Church. As a result, they were viciously persecuted and forced into the Russian Orthodox Church by Imperial Russia. Later, the Soviets attempted to wipe out all Rusyn national identity by declaring them to be either Orthodox, Russian, or Ukrainian.

14. The Byzantine Catholic Church USA (Rusyn Ruthenian Slovak)
Rite: Byzantine
Membership: 100,000

Many Ruthenian or Rusyn Catholics immigrated to North America. In 1891 and again in 1929, almost all returned to the Orthodox after experiencing strained relations with the Latin hierarchy and their imposition of clerical celibacy. Those who remained with the Catholic Church make up the Byzantine Catholic Church USA Metropolitate.

In 1999 William Cardinal Keeler of Baltimore apologized on behalf of the American Latin hierarchy for the inexcusable actions of Archbishop John Ireland of St. Paul, Minnesota, and others responsible for driving so many into what is now the Orthodox Church of America.

15. The Romanian Catholic Church
Rite: Byzantine
Membership: 746,000

The apostle Andrew was chosen to carry the gospel to Scythia in what is now Romania. This Byzantine Church is notable in that it exists within a predominantly Latin culture (Romanian is a romance language directly descended from the language of Roman soldiers and settlers).

Romanian delegates attended the Council of Constance in 1414 and signed the decree of union at the Council of Florence. Unfortunately, in 1744 there was a popular movement back to Orthodoxy following violations of religious and civil rights that had been guaranteed by the union with Rome.

Under communism, the Church was suppressed and merged into the Romanian Orthodox Church. In 1989 three secretly ordained Catholic bishops emerged. Since then, there has been considerable tension with the Orthodox over the return of Romanian Catholic Church property.

16. The Greek Catholic Church in Greece
Rite: Byzantine
Membership: 2,345

The Greek Orthodox Church is virulently opposed to the existence of this small Church. Indeed, the situation is such that it's illegal for Byzantine Catholic priests to dress like Orthodox clergy in Greece. The few Greek Catholics here are served by celibate priests who have transferred from the Latin Church.

17. The Greek Catholic Church in former Yugoslavia
Rite: Byzantine
Membership: 76,670

In 1611 a Byzantine vicar, subordinate to the Latin bishops, was appointed for Serbian Orthodox who fled from the Muslim Turks. In 1777, Rome created an independent eparchy for all Byzantines in Croatia under Austrian rule. Approximately 50 percent of this Church is ethnically Rusyn.

18. The Bulgarian Catholic Church
Rite: Byzantine
Membership: 10,000

Bulgaria was often in dispute between Rome and Constantinople, but it fell under the jurisdiction of Constantinople in 870 at the Eighth Ecumenical Council. Wanting independence from Constantinople, the Bulgarians negotiated a union with Rome in 1861, but most eventually returned to the Orthodox. This was the only Byzantine Catholic Church not officially suppressed under communism perhaps because Pope John XXIII was once a papal emissary to Bulgaria.

19. The Slovak Catholic Church
Rite: Byzantine
Membership: 225,136

In 1646 the Union of Uzhorod was accepted in what is now eastern Slovakia. After communism fell, most of the confiscated ecclesial property was returned to the Catholic Church. In America, Slovaks are not distinguished from Ruthenians or Rusyns.

20. The Hungarian Catholic Church
Rite: Byzantine
Membership: 268,935

A Greek monk named Hierothus from Constantinople was consecrated the first bishop of Hungary around 950. As the cracks of schism grew between Latins and Greeks, the Byzantine Rite Hungarians remained in communion with a Serbian Orthodox metropolitan. But after a number of union agreements, most of the Orthodox became Byzantine Catholic.

In the 18th century, a group of Hungarian Protestants decided to become Catholic but chose to enter the Byzantine Catholic Church instead of the Latin Church. While Greek had been the liturgical language, in 1900 Pope Leo XIII approved the use of Hungarian.

21. The Russian Catholic Church
Rite: Byzantine
Membership: 20 parishes worldwide

In its conversion from paganism, Russia accepted Byzantine Christianity while still in full communion with Rome in 988. The institutional Russian Catholic Church began in the 19th century as the result of a movement involving Vladimir Soloviev and Rev. Nicholas Tolstoy. They believed the schism between Greeks and Latins never created any official break between Russia and Rome.

In 1908 Pope Pius X appointed an apostolic exarchate. The decree from the Vatican Secretariat of State read: "Therefore His Holiness commands the aforementioned to observe the laws of the Byzantine Rite faithfully and in all their integrity, without any admixture from the Latin Rite or any other Rite he must also see that his subjects, clergy and all other Catholics, do the same."

Under communism the greater part of the Russian Catholic clergy and faithful together with Georgian Catholics, Armenian Catholics, and Latin Catholics were put to death along with thousands of Orthodox, Protestants, and Jews in the mass executions of the gulags.

22. The Belarusian Catholic Church
Rite: Byzantine
Membership: 100,000

The Belarusian Catholic Church began in the Union of Brest in 1596 and became the state religion, but it was later suppressed by Imperial Russia and again by the Soviet Union. Strongly associated with Belarusian nationalism, it has no organized hierarchy.

23. The Albanian Catholic Church
Rite: Byzantine
Membership: 3,000

The apostle Paul preached in Illyricum and Titus preached in Dalmatia, both of which are found in modern-day Albania. The first bishop was Kaisarios, one of the 70 apostles. Sadly, most Albanians became Muslim during the Turkish conquest.

Both the Catholic and Orthodox Churches were suppressed in 1967 when Albania was declared an atheist state religious buildings were closed, and no services of any kind were permitted.

24. The Georgian Catholic Church
Rite: Byzantine
Membership: 7,000

The Georgian Church began in 337 and used the Syriac Rite of St. James. When the neighboring Armenians rejected the Council of Chalcedon, the Georgians accepted the conciliar decrees and adopted the Byzantine Rite.

Theatine and Capuchin missionaries worked for reunion in Georgia, but under Imperial Russia in 1845, Catholics were not allowed to use the Byzantine Rite. Many Catholics adopted the Armenian Rite until the institution of religious liberty in 1905, which allowed them to return to the Byzantine Rite. In 1937 the Georgian Catholic exarch was executed by the Soviets.

At present, the Georgian Catholic Church has no organized hierarchy.

Outreach from Rome to the Eastern Orthodox has increased in the past 30 years. Pope John Paul II worked tirelessly to reach out to Eastern Christians his own mother, in fact, was an Eastern Catholic. And it appears that Benedict XVI will continue this effort. The day after his inauguration, he received representatives of the Russian and Ukrainian Orthodox Churches and has since stated that one of his primary goals is to address the difficulties that continue between Catholics and Orthodox.

It remains a deep and abiding tragedy that Orthodoxy and Catholicism sister Churches in the Apostolic Faith remain at odds. Any semblance of official reunion will take time many Orthodox Churches still struggle to discover their own identity after generations of control by tsars, kings, sultans, nationalism, communism, and the new emergence of evangelicalism and renewed Islamic militancy. In the hope of that reconciliation, the Eastern Catholic Churches can act as a bridge a mediator between East and West. In them, the Eastern traditions are both preserved and united with the West. In spite of a difficult past, they're a sign of great hope and a pattern for how Eastern practice might coexist without corruption or confusion with the Latin Church and the universal office of the papacy. As we have seen, maintaining this balance requires great care.

Genuine apostolic tradition is preserved in the Eastern Catholic Churches. Insofar as some have drifted toward Latin practices, they've abandoned the unique traditions passed on to them by their founding apostles. This is a tragedy for all Catholics. Unity, again, is not uniformity. The Catholic Church is universal, and in its God-ordained diversity, there is great strength.

Kevin R. Yurkus. "The Other Catholics: A Short Guide to the Eastern Catholic Churches." Crisis (July/August 2005).

This article is reprinted with permission from the Morley Institute a non-profit education organization. To subscribe to Crisis magazine call 1-800-852-9962.


This book provides a comprehensive history of one of Spain's key institutions during a long and conflictive period. Generations of secular critics saw the modern Spanish Church as a monolithic, efficiently organized institution intent on imposing a highly traditional Catholicism on a society undergoing rapid social, economic, and political change. However, the rise of liberalism, republicanism, socialism, anarchism, and intellectual pluralism challenged the clergy's view that Spain had always been and would always be Catholic. The Church attempted to modernize its strategy by creating trade unions, an expanded school system, agrarian associations, and a modern confessional press, while maintaining its privileges as the established Church of the State until the proclamation of the Second Republic in 1931.

This study examines the reasons behind the Church's failure to recreate the Catholic Spain of a vanished golden age and the consequences of that failure, particularly during the Second Republic, the Civil War of the 1930s and the regime of Francisco Franco. The alliance of Church and State under Franco, although far from being as untroubled as apologists maintained in public, began to break down during the 1960s. The causes of deteriorating relations between the Church and the regime form an important part of the book because they formed the background for an astonishing transformation that saw the Church accept democracy following Franco's death in 1975. Although the Church's adaptation to a pluralistic society was far from smooth, that it happened at all is remarkable, given the historic opposition of a majority of clergy and laity to liberalism, democracy, and intellectual freedom.

William J. Callahan is professor of history at the University of Toronto and fellow at Victoria College. He is the author of numerous works, including Church, Politics and Society in Spain, 1750-1874, winner of the Wallace K. Ferguson Prize of the Canadian Historical Association.

""Callahan has a great deal of experience writing about the intersection of Church and society in the history of Europe. He has a very fair way of treating the Church that is neither pandering nor hostile. He writes with a clear understanding of ecclesiastical culture and seeks to explain the actions of the hierarchy with clarity and insight. This is a very scholarly work with fine apparatus, extensive bibliography and a detailed index. It is unlikely to be outdone for many years to come. This is certainly the most definitive work on the subject available in English. This book is recommended for all academic libraries supporting graduate programs or undergraduate majors in church history.""--Herman A. Peterson, Catholic Library World

""This is a magnificent book. It maintains a commanding view of the Spanish church in its relations with the res publica, with the Vatican, and with society, while at the same time evaluating the different currents within the ranks of clergy and laity. The impressive depth of scholarly analysis is matched by the elegance of William J. Callahan's writing. . . . [A] superb achievement. . . . Callahan has given us a magnificent survey of the church in contemporary Spain.""--Audrey Brassloff, American Historical Review

""Callahan's conclusions are careful and cautious. The clear and very readable prose includes marvelous quotations. The Catholic Church in Spain is absolutely indispensable for anyone interested in the history of Spain or the Catholic Church in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Callahan deserves the thanks of all Spanish historians providing a fundamental study that is unquestionably the major work on the topic.""--University of Toronto
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The Protestant Reformation

Martin Luther (1483-1546) founded a new Christian faith, Protestantism, in the 16th century. He had been an ordained priest, but disputed Church policy with respect to the sale of indulgences (a partial remission of the punishment for a sin). Once a supporter of the Jews, he was frustrated by their unwillingness to embrace his own religion. Martin Luther became one of the most intensely bitter anti-Semites in history. His writings described Jews as the anti-Christ, worse than devils. Jews were poisoners, ritual murderers, and parasites, he preached, and they should be expelled from Germany. His view was that synagogues should all be burned to the ground, and all Jewish books should be seized.

Watch the video: The King of Spain greets the Queen with a kiss


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