Rorate Caeli

Editorial: Catalan has always meant Spaniard

Vestments, Images, Pious Objects: the "Republican Left of Catalonia" (ERC), then as
now a hardline anti-Catholic party and current backbone of Catalan secessionism, was behind thousands of deaths of Catholic martyrs in Catalonia, and scenes such as the one above -- piles of objects ready to be burned in a bonfire in the main square of Vich, Barcelona Province, Spain (1936)

It was 2006, our first full year. And, as we commemorated the grievous massacres of Catholics in 1936-1939 in our first special series, "The Passion of Spain", the then-Socialist central Spanish government negotiated with the Catalan regional government a new Charter of Autonomy, the "Estatut".

The seeds of the problem that ecloded this Friday, the pseudo-independence of the northeastern Spanish region of Catalonia, were all present in that Estatut, whose most radical ideas would end up being declared unconstitutional by the Constitutional Court. What is interesting to recall is that the Leftism already present in that text is the central axis of the Catalonian secessionist movement today, whose backbone is formed by the extreme-left ERC (that martyred thousands of Catholics in 1936-38) and the ever more extreme and Anarchist CUP.

Is Catalonia a "nation"? Not exactly. It is a part of a regional nationality, in a sense, but if it's defined by a language, then many people in other Spanish regions and in the French Roussillon also speak it. What is most important, though, is that what we now call Catalonia was never an independent nation. Its earliest version, after the first waves of the Reconquista, was the County of Barcelona, which very soon merged with the domains of the Kingdom of Aragon, the lord of Northeastern Iberia, to form the larger Kingdom of Aragon. As the same dynasty, the Trastámaras, reigned over both Aragon and the Western Iberian kingdom of Castile, the stage was set for one of the most succesful political matches in History, the founding moment of Spain: the wedding of Ferdinand of Aragon and his second cousin Isabella of Castile in 1469.

The territories of northeastern Spain were, therefore, since the very beginning, constituent and leading regions of Spain. And Catholicism was, long before any language, the cement that kept it together.

We pray for a united Spain, all languages and peoples around the Immaculate Virgin. Only the faith in the Immaculata will preserve the Unity of Spain. It seems impossible now, as disintegration seems sure, as we foresaw in 2006 ("ready to be partitioned"), if not now then not far into the future. But how much more impossible did the Spanish epic that transformed the world after 1492 seem before Covadonga?

As it happened after Luther's revolt, and in the Kingdom's firm promotion of Trent, we pray that Spain will once again be a bulwark of Catholicism.  "For with God nothing will be impossible."


Our editorial from 2006:

Who would guess that the year of the 70th anniversary of the Spanish Civil War (see our previous topics, The Passion of Spain and New Martyrs Recognized) would bring more than symbolic reminders of the great Spanish political drama? Probably, few would have thought that Spaniards would once again choose inept leaders, moved by fear, and pride, and hatred, as they did in the infamous days of the Second Republic, but that is what they did when they chose José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero as their prime-minister.

First, he surrendered to the Muslim terrorists; then he pandered to the "gay" lobby; then, he pledged to persecute the Church's school system and finances; now, after compromising with the Basque terrorist nationalists, he surrenders to the Catalan anticlerical extreme-left nationalists. Not all nationalisms are good; or rather, one would not go too far to say that all nationalisms are bad and idolatrous, and are essentially different from the virtue of patriotism.

Among the factors which led to the Civil War of 1936-39, one of the most important was the rabid nationalism of Catalonia. Now, Catalonia had not considered itself as a nation before the 19th century; there had never been a "nation" called Catalonia, though Catalan had been spoken in the Iberian Peninsula since the 10th century, the period in which the Romance languages became more clearly distinguishable. Catalan had been the main language in the kingdom of Aragon, which stretched from the Ebro to Calabria, but Catalans had always considered themselves as part of those glorious Hispanienses who had expelled the brutal Caliphs.

It is easy to verify that Catalan has always also meant Spaniard: read the names of the defenders of Spanish integrity and its Catholic spirit, and you will find many Catalan, and Basque, and Galician surnames -- proportionately many more than from the Castilian-speaking peoples.

The insurrection which started the Crusade for the defense of Catholic Spain in July 1936 was driven by a Catalan (Goded Llopis, born in the colony of Puerto Rico from Catalan parents) and a Galician (Francisco Franco Bahamonde...). The great leaders of the Spanish Church during those terrible years were Catalans: Cardinal Gomá y Tomás, born in the province of Tarragona; Cardinal Plá y Deniel, born in Barcelona...

On the other hand, while Basque nationalism had been mostly linked to the Catholic Church in the Basque regions, Catalan nationalism had always been intensely anticlerical*. And this hatred for Christianity and Christian values is clear in the recent "Statute" (Estatut) for the Autonomous Community of Catalonia, which breaks the delicate balance achieved by the regions, the central government, and the different social currents in Spanish society (particularly the Catholic Church) in the negotiations which led to the Constitution of 1978. The center-right Spanish parties have been concerned with the use of the name of "nation", for the first time, in the legal text. But that is not the main problem.

The main problem is that, in the new "Statute", anticlericalism rises again its ugly head and declares what a "politically correct" Constitutional text (for that is what the "Statute" is) must look like. A few excerpts:

"All persons have the right to live with dignity the process of their death"

"The public powers must promote the equality of different partnership stable unions, regardless of the sexual orientation of its members."

"The public powers must promote the equality of all persons, regardless of their origin, nationality, sex, race, religion, social condition, or sexual orientation, as well as promote the eradication of racism, antisemitism, sexophobia, homophobia, and any other expression which attempts on equality and dignity."

"The public powers must see that the free decision of the woman is foremost in all cases which may affect her dignity, integrity, and physical and mental welfare, especially regarding her own body and her sexual and reproductive health."

"The public powers must protect social, cultural, and religious sociability among all persons in Catalonia, and the respect of the diversity of beliefs and ethical and philosophical convictions of all persons, and must promote intercultural relations through incentives, and the creation of environments of reciprocal knowledge, dialogue, and mediation."

Let there be no doubt: what is in stake is not the unity of Spain but the survival of Catholicism in the Iberian peninsula. The Spanish spirit has always been multiethnic -- but Catholic, always Catholic, always a Crusader spirit, as the Reconquista itself was a Crusade, as the Civil War itself became a Crusade after the Republican hosts massacred priests and nuns, and burned chapels and convents. But this Spain of many Spains has surrendered its soul and approaches death, under pressure, betrayed by its leaders, abandoned by a mostly "progressive" clergy, deceived by newfound wealth. Its dead body will soon be ready to be partitioned.

* This was true in the early decades of both movements, but, while the clergy in the Basque lands still largely supports the Basque nationalist movement, the latter has become not only extremely violent, but secular and anticlerical. This historical background, nonetheless, explains several interesting aspects of the development of the Civil War in (the Basque Country).