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World Association of International Studies

Post Is Honoring the Dead a Left-Wing Cause or a Christian Duty?
Created by John Eipper on 04/20/19 4:22 AM

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Is Honoring the Dead a Left-Wing Cause or a Christian Duty? (Angel Vinas, Belgium, 04/20/19 4:22 am)

I don't agree with the etiology suggested by José Ignacio Soler regarding the "Ley de Memoria Historica" passed by the Spanish Parliament in 2007.

I suppose, however, that José Ignacio is aware of the massive publicity given by the Franco regime, on the basis of the so-called Causa General, to the alleged victims of Republican atrocities during the Spanish Civil War. The adjective is appropriate since the Franco dictatorship never published the results of this massive inquiry, except for a preview. Rightly so, since the documentation of the Causa General has been digitalised and is available online in PARES now. Many historians have studied it and proved the lack of rigor with which it was undertaken.  Apart from the Causa, in all Spanish churches inscriptions were engraved in memory of the victims of each parish. Some still remain. At least I saw them in the Pontevedra cathedral last year.

As is well known, Spanish and foreign historians have carried out massive research to document the atrocities committed by Franco's forces during the war and its aftermath. Much has come to light but the number of unidentified people is still enormous. Current estimates are in the order of 110,000.

Question: Is the wish to honor the dead mainly a socialist or some other left-wing posturing? Or is it also a Christian duty?

My answer: under the Polish pope, the Catholic Church didn't lose a minute to launch a massive undertaking in order to honor its dead during the SCW, taking care to beatify a number of them.

Would the gracious Catholic Church and its believers impede the same treatment for the victims of Francoist atrocities?

JE comments:  WAIS has dissected the Spanish Civil War in myriad ways, but I don't think we've ever addressed its saints.  Were any of the beatified on the Republican side?  What about the priests slaughtered by Franco's forces in the Basque Country?

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  • Spanish Civil War: No Republican Priests were Beatified (Carmen Negrin, France 04/21/19 4:15 AM)
    There were no priests beatified on the Republican side of the Spanish Civil War, but in 2003, the government spent 23,000 euros to return 29 members of the División Azul. So far, there has been no such governmental effort for any of those massacred by Franco. Local governments sometimes participate more symbolically than anything else, but the main effort is carried out by NGOs.


    I am always stunned by the supposedly Christian values of the Spanish right wing, but then it is nothing new if we compare it to the values they proved to have during the war.

    JE comments:  How could today's Vatican not strive for reconciliation by recognizing the martyrdom of priests on both sides of the conflict?  Of course, they might reply that sainthood is not a political statement.  But how often was it used as such during the Cold War?

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  • Can Collective Guilt Lead to Reactionary Backlash? (José Ignacio Soler, Venezuela 04/21/19 8:08 AM)
    I feel obliged to comment on the April 20th response of Ángel Viñas and John E's observations on my post about historical grievances.

    John asked, "what does it cost a people to look inward on their past and apologize for their transgressions?" He added, "the Germans famously did this, and now enjoy both prosperity and respect."

    I believe the question is not whether it is morally or politically correct to apologize or to show repentance for past transgressions, but what is the real culpability of a people for the transgressions, crimes or brutalities their ancestors committed in the distant past? Why should they be ashamed or blamed for actions that were not under their control?

    If that were the case, requesting apologies from everybody to everybody--which perhaps would be historically necessary--would be an endless process. To request apologies for ancient crimes reminds me of the primitive tribal laws, Venganzas de Sangre--blood feuds, a cycle of retaliative violence--that instead of forgiving past transgressions (a more Christian principle) aimed rather for revenge or in modern terms political or economic payoffs.

    The German example cited by John is an excellent example of generational immediacy, of showing repentance by almost the same generation, or at least near descendants, that committed the crimes. The fact is that the younger German generations are uncomfortable about apologizing for Nazi brutality during WWII. In fact, one of the possible causes of the rise of the radical right movement in Germany might be the result of collective exhaustion of still being portrayed as the historical villains.

    Regarding Ángel Viñas's disagreement about the "Ley de Memoria Historica" passed by the Spanish Parliament in 2007, I do not understand what he really disagrees with. My point was not whether victims of the civil war and Franquismo should remain anonymous, but that this law is used to exploit victimism as a demagogic political instrument of the left.

    To be clear I am not a Franquista. I never sympathized with the repressive dictatorial regime, and I am not against a law supposedly aimed for victims' justice, or to honor the victims of the regime. Rather I am against using victims as a leftist political instrument. It is also a great risk to open up old resentments for political purposes, as presently might be happening in Spain.

    JE comments: José Ignacio, Venezuela's turn is in the not-too-distant future. When the Maduro regime finally passes into history, how will the nation heal? There are three paths: 1) prosecution and retribution, 2) "indulto" or forgiveness and an attempt to erase the slate, or 3) a "truth and reconciliation" approach that seeks to uncover the crimes without punishment or vengeance. Which do you think Venezuela will choose?

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