Top bishop issues apology for Civil War
20 November 2007, Madrid - Ricardo Blázquez, the outgoing head of the Spanish Episcopal Conference, shocked many fellow clergymen on Monday by apologizing for the Catholic Church's role in the Civil War.
20 November 2007
Madrid - Ricardo Blázquez, the outgoing head of the Spanish Episcopal Conference, shocked many fellow clergymen on Monday by apologizing for the Catholic Church's role in the Civil War.
Speaking at a meeting of bishops from across Spain ahead of elections to choose a new president of the Episcopal Conference in March, Blázquez, the bishop of Bilbao who could be reelected, explicitly sought forgiveness for "specific actions" of the Church during the 1930s when bishops supported Franco's military uprising against the Second Republic that triggered the Civil War.
"On many occasions we have reason to thank God for what happened and for how people acted, and probably at other times, faced with specific actions, we should ask for forgiveness and reconsider, because the purification of memory implies both the recognition of our limits and of our sins," Blázquez said.
The bishop, who beat the fiercely conservative archbishop of Madrid to the presidency of the Spanish Catholic Church's governing body in 2003, also praised the efforts of a controversial predecessor in the post, Vicente Enrique y Tarancón, the progressive-minded cardinal who once threatened to excommunicate Franco.
Tarancón, Blázquez said, was an "instrument of reconciliation" after the death of the fascist dictator.
Blázquez's comments came after the Vatican put 498 martyrs killed during the Second Republic and the Civil War on a possible path to sainthood last month in the largest beatification ceremony in history.
Among those beatified were bishops, priests and nuns killed by rogue communist and anarchist elements before and during the war.
The ceremony was held just days before the Spanish government passed a law condemning the Franco regime.
[Copyright EL PAÍS, SL./ JUAN G. BEDOYA / Ángeles Espinosa 2007]
Subject: Spanish news