Sunday, September 07, 2008

Church To Garzón....Go To Hell

As it's Sunday it seems like a good day to examine the response of the Catholic Church to Baltasar Garzón's request to help in constructing the census of those who disappeared or were executed during or after the Civil War. Garzón directed his request to the Conferencia Episcopal, which is the assembly of Spain's Catholic bishops. You might have though that it was a good place to start, after all the hierarchy existing within the church would then ensure that orders were passed from each bishop to the individual parishes under their control to ensure that any information they possess was passed on.

Well no, the Conferencia Episcopal has instead decided not to collaborate, the bishops claim that their assembly is not the competent organism to carry out the task. Apparently, when it comes to uncovering some of their darkest secrets the bishops suffer a sudden loss of authority and are unable to issue any instructions. The aim is clearly to try and make Garzón's task as difficult as possible by forcing the judge to direct his request to thousands of individual parishes.

It's interesting, in the light of those who claim that the judge is “reopening the wounds of the past”, to take a look at the church's attitude to Franco's regime. I may be wrong but I have the feeling that this is the same organisation that holds regular and lavish martyrdom fests in St Peter's Square in Rome, where praise is heaped upon carefully selected religious victims of the war. One was held only last year. You would imagine that this would have Mariano Rajoy, Manuel Fraga and company protesting for raising the ghosts of the past? Instead of protesting, they put on their Sunday best and catch the first flight to Rome. Or how about those plaques on so many church walls that commemorate the Falangist leader José Antonio Primo de Rivera? It's not just a case of the transition to democracy being insufficient, in the case of some institutions it's as if it never happened.

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