Saturday, January 07, 2012

Catholic Sins

The merest mention of the Roman (Catholic) Church tends to nauseate me. From its brainless refutation of biological evolution to a reckless commitment to overpopulation, not to mention institutionalized child abuse, it shows the human race at its very worst. After the Spanish Civil War (1936-9), the Church formed an unholy alliance with the despotic General Francisco Franco. Consequently, families of defeated Republicans, many of them vehemently anti-Catholic, were forced to convert to Roman Catholicism. Assuming that my opinion could not sink any lower, I read recently an online report by the BBC’s Spain correspondent Katya Adler (Figure 34.1) and was compelled to revise it – further downward.

Figure 34.1: BBC reporter Katya Adler broadcast a shocking chapter in the Roman Church’s recent history.

Copyright © 2012 Discovery Communications Inc.

The words ‘kidnapping, child-trafficking and illegal adoption’ are acutely unpalatable, particularly to those of us who have children of our own. After the war had ended, such crimes became state-sanctioned and highly organized throughout Spain, continuing until the 1990s. It has now come to light that perhaps as many as 300,000 babies were stolen from their parents and sold – yes, sold – by the Church to pro-Franco, Catholic families. Perhaps we should not be too surprised. As the scientific humanist E.O. Wilson wrote, no religion ever flourished by tolerating its rivals. Still, this is unprecedented.

Spain has been rocked by the revelations. Lest we forget, also, that a further 100,000 families are still searching forlornly for relatives who went missing during the three-year conflict, more than 70 years ago. In a land of hearts already broken, this latest tragedy is beyond all decent contemplation.

So how did it happen? Very simply: babies were seized shortly after birth, and parents informed that they had died. No questions were asked and no further explanations given. In my experience, Spaniards, although distrusting of authority, are not naturally militant. While living under a brutal dictatorship, they would have thought twice before protesting. Also worth acknowledging is the fact that there is no statutory requirement under Spanish law for a child’s natural mother to be named on the birth certificate. How convenient for the traffickers.

Reading the name Moreno in Katya Adler’s article opened my eyes still further, it being the name of my grandmother’s forebears. Juan Luis Moreno and Antonio Barroso (Figure 34.2), lifelong friends from Catalonia, discovered that their respective parents had never told them the truth. Both had, as infants, been bought from priests. Today, neither knows his own ancestry, which is self-evidently traumatic.

Figure 34.2: ‘Mi vida es una mentira,’ admits Antonio Barroso (right), pictured with Juan Luis Moreno. (My life is a lie.)

Copyright © 2012 El País

The two friends are now vice-president and president, respectively, of the Asociación Nacional de Afectados por Adopciones Irregulares (National Association of People Affected by Illegal Adoptions) (Figure 34.3). Throughout the country, its branches are co-ordinating painstaking DNA analyses for those who come forward. Progress might well be difficult, and not just owing to the sheer numbers affected. After Franco’s death in 1975, amnesty laws were introduced, effectively to ‘let bygones be bygones’ in an attempt to heal the nation’s civil war wounds. Ever since, there has been substantial resistance, by both politicians and the judiciary, to revisiting the past. The public might now demand they do just that.

Copyright © 2012 Anadir

I hope 2012 delivers justice to the stolen children – los niños rabados – and to those responsible for the latest in a vast catalogue of Catholic sins.

One final thought: I wonder whether the Pope was in on it.

Copyright © 2012 Paul Spradbery

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