Irish Hierarchy’s Reply to the Joint Letter of the Spanish Bishops
Cardinal Joseph MacRory: “There is no room any longer for any doubts as to the issue at stake in the Spanish conflict . . . It is a question of whether Spain will remain as she has been so long, a Christian and Catholic land, or a Bolshevist and anti-God one.“
The Irish hierarchy issued the following reply to the Joint Letter of the Spanish Bishops at their October meeting in St. Patrick’s College, Maynooth, 1937:
It is not without profound emotion that one can read the noble and touching Letter addressed by your Excellencies to the Catholic Episcopate throughout the world.
There, in a document of rare dignity and calm sobriety of expression, instilled throughout with the true spirit of Christian charity, may be found an exhaustive vindication of the Venerable Church of Spain against the odious calumnies heaped upon her by the enemies of the Christian faith, and an overwhelming answer to the reckless misrepresentations with which so large a section of the Press seeks to cloud the issues at stake in the lamentable conflict now raging in your sorely distracted country.
In a simple exposition of the facts and a calm and authoritative analysis of the situation, devoid of vehemence and rhetorical device, you have given the world your solemn witness to the truth, in language at once restrained and convincing, making cogent appeal to the conscience of mankind and to the ultimate verdict of history.
The impressive sincerity of this poignant appeal must move not merely those who share with you the Catholic Faith but all who still hold in high appreciation a sense of natural right and justice.
We recognize, Venerable Brethren, the cruel injustice that has been done the Catholics of Spain by the world Press at large — with some honourable exceptions — in its grossly tendentious presentation of the origin and development of the present tragic situation in your beloved country.
We know, and our people know, that by cunning and malevolent distortion of the facts and by giving full publicity to the mendacious propaganda of your enemies, while maintaining an ignoble conspiracy of silence on everything that might counter it, the world Press has grievously misled the nations on the origins of the Spanish Civil War and on the principles involved, and on the issues at stake in that momentous conflict.
We can assure your Excellencies, however, that our faithful Irish people have had the true state of the case placed before them by the Catholic and nationalist Press of Ireland, as well as by pamphlets and public addresses, and that the vast majority of them have never wavered in their sympathy for Catholic Spain, and for her sorely tried Hierarchy, clergy and religious.
We and all our people have been profoundly grieved by the recital of the unspeakable outrages inflicted on so many of your Bishops, clergy, religious, and Catholic laity; of the cruel martyrdom to which such vast numbers of them have been subjected; of the wholesale destruction of so many sacred edifices and religious houses and of the sheer vandalism by which the priceless artistic treasures they contain have been lost to the world forever.
It will be some consolation to your Excellencies to know that the truth about the situation in Spain is at last beginning to prevail in a neighbouring country also, where a Committee of non-Catholics has been formed to enlighten the people grievously misled by the mendacious propaganda of your enemies, to put the facts before them in their true light, and to let them see that, not the cause of the Spanish Church alone, but the whole Christian ideal upon which the traditional civilization of Europe was founded, and even those basic human values that are the natural heritage of the race, are deeply involved in the issue of the present conflict in Spain.
The calm and dignified exposition of the case contained in your Excellencies’ Letter, though studiously ignored by an unjust and malevolent Press, will do much, in the pamphlet form in which it has been issued to the public, to dispel the clouds of ignorance and prejudice that obscures the issues, and to set them forth for all to see in the white light of truth.
‘Magna est veritas et prevalebit.’ Even amongst a people who, like your own, are already convinced of the justice of your cause, the diffusion of this Letter will do great service in setting before them in all their hideous reality the devastating results of the false doctrines now being diffused with satanic energy and intent amongst all the peoples of the world.
We cannot withhold from your Excellencies the expression of our profound admiration for the heroism, worthy of the early Christian martyrs, with which your Bishops, clergy, religious and Catholic laity have met the barbarous persecution unloosed upon them and with which such vast numbers of them have made the supreme sacrifice, Usque ad Sanguinem for the Faith.
We pray that once more may be verified the ancient dictum: ‘Sanguis Martyrum Semen Ecclesiae’; that, in the noble words of charity and forgiveness with which your Letter closes, their blood may plead before God for the erring children of Spain, who, seduced by false teachings, have inflicted such incalculable evil on their Fatherland; and that from this welter of blood and suffering Divine Providence may yet bring forth renewed life and vigour to the noble Spanish nation and to the glorious Church of Spain, for the honour of His Holy Name and the abiding happiness of your people.
Given at Maynooth on 15th October, 1937.
Signed on behalf of the archbishops and bishops of Ireland.
+JOSEPH CARDINAL MACRORY,
Archbishop of Armagh,
Primate of all Ireland.
Bishop of Waterford and Lismore.