The Vatican Buries International Law
How Mussolini And The Yellow Brother Got Their Share
Edited by E. Haldeman-Julius
The Black International No. 4
- Chapter I – The Church’s Vile Record In Spain
- Chapter II – Enter First And Second Murderers — Under The Papal Banner
- Chapter III – Spain And The Catholic League
- Chapter IV – Papal Cowardice In Abyssinia — And Why
- Chapter V – The Jap Gets A Gold Medal For His ‘Chinese Incident’
Some years ago I strolled on a summer day through the drowsy streets of Toledo, an ancient city in the center of Spain. A thousand years ago it was one of the richest and most populous cities in Europe. More than a quarter of a million vivid, prosperous, bright-eyed folk had filled its narrow streets and bought luxuries from every part of the world in its teeming stores. Such was the fame of its craftsmen that the “Toledo Blade” was sought from end to end in Europe and is still famous in literature. How high Spain would have risen if men had continued to build on that superb foundation of that old Moorish civilization! But in 1923 I found only 30,000 folk, mostly poor and illiterate, living within the ancient walls; and I smiled sadly, when, as I passed along the almost deserted streets, a boy offered to show me where his ancestors had hanged “those wicked devils the Moors.” It is worse today.
It was the history of Spain and its Church in a phrase, Spain inherited all the stupendous wealth and science of the Arab civilization, one city of which could have bought up, ten times over, all the cities of Christian Europe, and to this it had added all the wealth it had acquired by the discovery of America. It was literally choking with wealth by the middle of the sixteenth century. And little more than a hundred years later it was the poorest, most despised country in the world. About 5,000,000 folk, most of them ragged and unkempt, eked out a poor living on soil that had given rich sustenance to 30,000,000 Arabs and their contented subjects. For this awful downfall, one of the saddest in history, and for all the later disasters that fell upon one of the most attractive peoples in Europe, the Black International is supremely responsible.
By the beginning of the twentieth century Spain had raised its proud head once more amongst the nations. It had a fine literature and a rising prosperity. The cities that had shrunk within the shell of ancient walls were bursting through these in the exuberance of the life. The people smiled again, like the roses of Seville in spring. They had for 80 years fought the strangle-hold of the Church and had loosened if not broken it. A distinguished literary traveller, Thirlmere, went intimately amongst the people and wrote this verdict: “The Church knows that she is doomed in Spain” (Letters from Catalonia, 1905, p. 437). Mr. Thirlmere ought to have been more cautious. He ought to have added: “Unless she can return to her old policy of violence and torture.” She has recovered it. Today Spain is back in the ragged Middle Ages, its people begging food of other nations — in a land which, with the crude plows and other implements of a thousand years ago, had richly nourished 30,000,000 folk and borne princely cities — their minds darkened, their hearts broken. And it is the work of the Black International: of the bishops, priests, monks, and nuns, who have returned to their old sleekness while the people have returned to their poverty
In an earlier work I referred to certain evidence of government by violence, indeed brutal violence, in Spain today. It may not have appeared in the American press, owing to the Catholic censorship, and it is material to compare it with the suave professions of Catholic apologists and the beautiful words they quote from Papal encyclicals. It is a simple account of the experiences of a French girl, apparently a Catholic, of nineteen who escaped from the purgatory of Vichy France into what she calls the “hell” of Franco Span. It was published (as it makes no reference to the Church) in the British News-Chronicle, a paper that is very sensitive to Catholic influence, on September 24 (1941).
Mlle. X was arrested soon after she crossed the frontier and was put in jail at Badajoz. She was lodged in a large room with about 250 women, “an appalling mixture”: prostitutes, thieves, so- called Communists, etc. “Most of the prisoners were in rags, filthy, and covered with vermin.” There were no mattresses or blankets for the night. After two days she was brought before the Governor of Badajoz and, without trial or inquiry, sentenced to an indefinite term of imprisonment. She claimed that she was of British nationality, and a few days later, she was taken before the prison director: a “brute”, she says, who bullied her for two hours, told her she was “a dirty little liar” and sent her “back to hell.” Every evening all the prisoners were assembled in the courtyard and compelled to sing the Falangist anthem and at the close cry lustily: “Long live Spain. Up with Free Spain. Franco, Franco, Franco.” The jailers lashed with whips any woman who did not join heartily in the chorus. The girl endured several weeks of this and she was then taken before a British Consul to prove her claim of nationality. She was removed to a jail at Seville, which was “worse than Badajoz” (which she describes as hell), removed back to Badajoz, and removed to Madrid, where she bad a solitary dark and freezingly cold cell; and all the time officers “tried to be as cruel as they could to me”, jeering at her as a Communist spy and assuring her she would never leave Spain. These Spanish gentlemen had her before them standing for two to three hours every morning. A girl in the next cell one day cried, “Live, live, Liberty, Long live England”. She was taken out and beaten, and presently there were shots in the courtyard. every day such shots were heard. One less of those who refused to bow to the Church.
I gather that this girl was not British, but the British authorities humanely lied, and admitted her claim of nationality, and rescued her. But think of the thousands of women and girls, and the tens of thousands of youths and men, suffering this living hell in the jails of Badajoz and Seville and Madrid and a hundred others, after fighting heroically for three years in the cause of freedom. And the Catholic press assures you, the Vatican Assures all the world, and far too much of the world-press repeats the assurance or refuses to disturb it, that Spain has now resumed its beautiful, happy life in the arms of Mother Church; and won’t you please contribute for the alleviation of the misery which the wicked Reds had brought upon the country. So it was in the beginning — or nearly 500 years ago, when the Church recovered power — is now, and never again shall be. Do you really wonder if in the heat of the hundredth struggle against the Church in 1936- 1938 some of the men who knew the long record of brutality and knew how the priests were using the callous and ambitious Franco to recover their mastery of the jails, shot a few of them and trampled on their ‘sacred’ vestments and other paraphernalia of their trade?
It is nearly forty years since I began writing on Spain and its Church, and the truth which I told was not a collection of obscure and disputed facts resting upon the testimony of Radicals and Reds. My first scalding indictment of the Church and the cleric-controlled state (The Martyrdom of Ferrer, 1909) was fully endorsed and whole pages of it translated in the following year by one of the most distinguished scholars of Madrid University, Professor Simarro, in his voluminous study of the trial (El Proceso Ferrer). What I claimed for the Arab civilization (The Splendor of Moorish Spain 1935) is based upon the works of half a dozen Spanish professors who are masters of Arabic and is no more than S.P. Scott claims in America in his ‘Moorish Empire in Spain.’ And the appalling story I gave of the struggle with the Church since 1814 is fully and truly told in such standard and conservative works as the Cambridge Modern History (Vol. XI) and Major M. Hume’s ‘Modem Spain’ (in the Story of Nations series). Yet every time the long blood-soaked struggle is renewed in Spain the public is puzzled and is ready to admit every Catholic lie about the innocent Church and its “satanic” enemies. I must repeat a few points.
On the broad map of our chaotic world Spain seems to be of limited importance. In the fevered and crowded chronicle of events during the last five years its recent Civil War and the conquest of it by that unholy alliance of Catholic armies and Nazi-Fascist butchers seems to be just the third step — after the disarming of Austria and the rape of Abyssinia — in the preparation of the stage for the Nazi aggression. But in a study of the share of the Black International in the world-tragedy it is supremely important; and it is to Spain, with which it hopes to link Spanish America once more, that the Vatican chiefly looks for the destruction of our modern liberty and enlightenment by a bloc of Catholic powers.
As far as the last century is concerned it is not necessary here to do more than repeat in a more definite form what I said in the first book of this series: that in Spain, as in Portugal and Italy. “Reds” have always been the clergy and their allies. The revolution which put Franco in power in 1938 is the tenth major revolution that has occurred in Spain since the days of Napoleon. In six of these the people wrested power, in five cases out of six without war, from the clerical-royalists. Every member of the Bourdon dynasty of Spanish monarchs except Alfonso XII, who died prematurely, has been ignominiously driven from Spain for his or her crimes and vices at one time or other. In four counter- revolutions the clerical-royalists recovered power, either by force or by perjury or a mixture of the two. These four counter- revolutions, in which the Church was as busy as the state, were followed by official reprisals of so brutal a character that between 50,000 and 100,000 unarmed Spaniards were executed or killed in jail and many hundreds of thousands suffered agonies. The six popular revolutions were, nevertheless, never followed by official reprisals, and the spontaneous local outbreaks in which the exploited workers burned churches and killed a few priests and monks were checked by the authorities.
All that may be read in Hume’s standard history of the Cambridge Modern History, I have told the relevant facts in my ‘Revolt in Spain’ (1931) and given a condensed account in the ‘Appeal to Reason’ Library (No. 1). There is just one point of this past history which I would recall, as Catholic writers are now apt to say that all this butchery was perpetrated by the state, and even that the clergy tried to check it. Major Hume, the highest recent authority on Spain, describing the counter-revolution of 1822, says (Modern Spain, p. 256):
Modern civilization has seen no such instance of brutal, blind ferocity as that which followed the arrival of Ferdinand at Madrid. There was neither justice nor mercy in the government of the besotted churchmen who surrounded the King. The gallows was the sole instrument and argument by which they ruled . . . The frenzy of intolerance and cruelty spread from the preaching friars and ignorant nobles to the brutal mob. . . . It is a lamentable truth that much of the atrocities of this persecution was owing to the influence of the friars and the Church. A hideous ecclesiastical society, founded by the Bishop of Osuna and called “The Exterminating Angel”, which spread its ramifications. all over Spain organized vengeance upon Liberals; every pulpit, every monastery, every royalist club, was a center of persecution.
That Hume was no friend of radicalism is shown in his remark that they surpassed “even the most bloodthirsty wretches of the French Reign of Terror”, and he has to confess that the man who “surpassed all previous efforts, even in this blood-thirsty reign” was the very pious and priest-ridden Count de Espana.
It is enough that these horrors were perpetrated by an intimate alliance of the clergy and the servants of a King, Ferdinand VII who in his depravity is compared by historians to Nero; and about the same time even worse butchery was being perpetrated in South Italy by the same alliance of the clergy with his namesake and rival in vice, Ferdinand of Naples. Both Kings had recovered power by a most solemn oath on the Bible during Mass to observe the Constitution — Ferdinand of Naples had asked God to strike him dead if he was not sincere — and both were absolved from their oaths the bishops and the Jesuits and encouraged to wallow in blood. Eighty years later Alfonso XIII stood at the perjured altar amidst the crowd of bishops and took this solemn oath: “I swear before God and his holy gospels to maintain the Constitution”. And the priests were silent when the old fortress of Monjuich again resounded with the cries of tortured men and the reports of rifles: when Alfonso, to check the threatened revelation of his theft of millions of dollars — see Alfonso XIII Unmasked, by the greatest Spanish writer of the time, Blasco Ibanez — tore up the Constitution and set up the dictatorship of the brutal and dissipated General de Rivers. Spaniards know these things. After the revolution of 1931 a splendid system of education was created, and freedom of discussion carried the truth into villages and workshops. Did some soldier, worker here and there, knowing these things and seeing the priests conspiring with the perjured Franco and the butchers of Germany, lose his temper and run his bayonet through one or two of them? I should not be surprised. But remember that at present we have only Catholic statement’s about Red outrages in the Civil War.
We know what Catholic literature is, but we have also here a close parallel to guide us. The world-press was inundated with similar Catholic stories of Red outrages after the Socialist- Communist revolt of 1934. Fortunately, Spain had not yet passed completely under the control of the Black International, and, though some investigators like, Lord Listowel and Ellen Wilkinson, were obstructed at every turn and soon politely conducted to the frontier, others got through; and there were weighty and unassailable Spanish investigations to which I will return later. Here let me just quote an incident from Leah Manning’s What I Saw in Spain (1934).
The mother-superioress of a convent was pressed to testify that her nuns had been raped by the Red’s. As it was false, she refused. I gather, in fact, that the only outrage committed was to the delicate ears of the nuns, as the insurgent miners who had taken over the convent as a hospital were not very refined in their talk to each other. Probably many of the nuns were disappointed. A Catholic will reflect that here at least I confess to the honesty of a nun. As not always admitted that there are some good men amongst the priests and plenty of good nuns the world over! The more important question that any impartial reader will ask himself is whether this particular superioress, out of hundreds, is likely to have been the only one to be pressed by the priests and Catholic journalists to make a charge of outrages and reminded that the good of the Church is paramount.
These stories remind us of that historian of the Russian Revolution. L. Lawton, much quoted by Catholics, who tells how in the Civil War of 1919-1921 the sadistic Bolsheviks slaughtered 1275 archbishops and bishops, when even the Catholic Encyclopedia confesses that there were only about 80 in the entire country. But we will return later to these things. Let me lead up briefly to the immediate causes of the Civil War in Spain.
In view of its disreputable record the Bourbon dynasty was irretrievably lost in Spain when, in 1931, Alfonso was compelled to abdicate and fled for the frontier. For two years after that date the opposition to the Republican government came overwhelmingly from the Church. Municipal election’s in Spain gave a little more freedom of expression than general elections, which have been very corrupt ever since the Conservative-Liberal alternation of crops began to flourish in the parliamentary field. It was a striking victory of the republicans and anti-clericals at the municipal elections of 1931 that caused Alfonso, after a fruitless attempt to get the army to fight for him, to tuck his tail between his legs and run. The urban or educated Spaniard’s had voted against, him by three to one, and it was only in the cities that voting was free and the counting of votes honest. Even in a pro-Catholic history like Professor E.A. Peers’s ‘Spanish Tragedy’ (1936) we find it admitted that there, was “gerrymandering in the country districts on a large scale.” It used to be of the pleasantries of Spanish political life — it is this kind of thing that gives the country so many anarchists — to work out the results of elections some days before the election.
Two points about these events of ten years ago must for the stressed for the purpose of this inquiry. The first is that during four weeks after the popular triumph there were not even isolated outrages. I was not then in Spain but I verified this in the ‘Times,’ day by day and that paper was on the alert for Red outrages. The people knew the whole ghastly ‘story of the alliance of Church and corrupt monarchy which I have outlined and they had just escaped from a seven years’ brutal dictatorship which had been in the closest association with the Church. Yet it was not until the twenty-eighth day after the election that the burning of churches and convents began.
The second point explains why groups of young workers here and there, dodging the police (who made every effort to check them), then began to burn convents and churches; a very shocking thing, of course, but compare it to the official Catholic reprisals of earlier years which I described. In the Spanish illustrated papers I saw photographs of the young incendiaries politely conducting nuns and aged priests away from the burning buildings. Well, the fact was that Cardinal Segura, head of the Spanish Church, supported by his three leading archbishops, had issued a most vituperate attack on the new government and summoned the country to resist. He started the myth which, ridiculous as it was, the Catholic press has repeated ever since, that in some mysterious way a small minority of what he called “enemies of the Kingdom of Jesus Christ” had won a majority at the election (when, under Catholic about 12,000,000 votes were cast). This is still written in spite of the fact that the election had been one of the cleanest that Span had ever had; that in the cities, where there was little or no corruption, the voting was three to one against the Church (Madrid 90,000 to 30,000; Barcelona, 90,000 to 28,000, and so on) and that the Church won only in the smaller town’s and villages where “gerrymandering on a large scale” is admitted by admirers of the Church.
Segura was driven from Spain by the national flame of indignation, and he went to talk matters over with Pacelli-Pius at Rome. The Spanish clergy remained free to agitate for the impending general election, which was to ratify the verdict of the municipal election; the establishment of a republic and the disestablishment of the Church. The result of the general election showed that there had been no snap-vote and no intrigue of a minority. The anti- clericals — Liberals, Radicals, and Socialists — won 315 seats, the clerical-royalists 121.
The new government entered peacefully upon the work of framing a Constitution. The Church was to be disestablished and the annual subsidy to it abandoned; the Jesuits were to be expelled and monks driven out of trade; divorce was to be instituted and secular marriage recognized; 27,000 new schools were to be built. The worst sting was the confiscation of the wealth of the Jesuits and some of the orders. A Catholic prelate who (like so many priests) detested the Jesuits and the monks, Msgr. Jose Veleda de Gunjado, had shown that the monks and nuns had in their hands two-thirds of the money and one-third of the real estate of Spain, yet the state had been paying the Church annually more than it spent on education. The elections proved that, as Azana said, Spain “had ceased to be a Catholic country”, and this state of things was intolerable. Month by month the clauses of the new Constitution were carried by five to one in the Cortes. The country was quiet, except for the shrieks of the clergy and their dupes. The progress in education attracted pedagogists from many lands, the prosperity of the country began to rise, a fair progress was made with schemes of social betterment. This in all sober history, is the regime of savagery, of persecution of the majority by a small vicious minority, about which you read in Catholic literature.
I have now fully vindicated what I claimed in the first book; that the Black International, instead of having disowned the violent and bloody policy of earlier years, still pursued it in the one country, apart from Poland, where it was able to do so. I was in the Canaries, returning from Australia, just after the Church and King had set up the brutal General de Rivera as dictator in 1923, and men showed me where the pavement had been reddened with the blood of anti-clericals. I was in Spain next year and saw the country cowering under the Dictator and the clergy smiling and richer than ever. This continued until 1931; and we saw that the anti-clericals in spite of the red record of the Church clung to their tradition of humanity in their triumph.
This makes it all the more necessary to inquire closely how the country fell back into the clutches of the Black International. You know the theory of the Catholic press; in fact, at the time the theory of almost the whole American press. The Catholic nation, it said, was roused to a consciousness of its enslavement by a small Red minority, and Hitler and Mussolini merely helped it to express itself. This is made more comical sometimes by calling the wicked minority “Communists”. The Spanish Communists were so small a body that they had only one representative in the 300 deputies of the Left coalition in the Cortes! I may add that they had leaders of high culture and character and often rendered humane service during the war.
If you want a common-sense view of the tragedy in a few words consider first the composition of the anti-clerical coalition. Most of the deputies returned to the Cortes were Liberals (145) and Radicals or Radical-Socialists (56). It is one of the painful but inevitable facts of the struggle of democracy since 1848 that whenever such a coalition as this wins a victory it splits up as soon as constructive work begins. Liberalism, which had to that time a very fine record in Spain, was still very powerful in the cities, but it now had to face, as allies, a larger body of Socialists, Communists, Syndicalists, and Anarchists. These had been brought up in a tradition of hatred of the middle-class, and in any case a split on the proposal to pass even moderately collectivist legislation was inevitable. And the more advanced workers, full of the mischievous principle that the proletariat needs no help from any other class, were by no means averse to irritating the Liberals. Government became very unstable and was often changed. The Liberals, we shall see, for the most part deserted the coalition against the Church, and their leader, Lerroux, a grand fighter (as friends of his told me) in the nineteenth century, but now a weakling, is strongly suspected of accepting Catholic bribes.
Further, the radical rump was composed of four mutually antagonistic parties. The Anarchists, whose main principle was that central government s always corrupt — it always had been in Spain — and the Syndicalists, who wanted the chief functions of state transferred to the unions (syndicates), would not vote at parliamentary elections until it was too late. In 1934 a Socialist government (or largely Socialist) had to crush a revolt got up by these elements and the Communists. We shall see what happened, but, while the existence of these masses of Anarchists and syndicalists who did not vote makes the anti-clerical majority in 1931 even larger than the election-returns make it, they were an element of great danger until they agreed to form a Frente Popular (Popular Front). It was then too late.
A third point is of almost equal importance. With that noble un-wisdom into which enthusiasts have so often driven advanced governments the Socialists prematurely granted female suffrage. Not only were there in Spain 500,000 more women than men but Spanish Liberals had, for selfish reasons, made the same blunder as the French and resisted the modern movement for the emancipation of women. They left them to the priests; and the priests raised their neurotic mixture of thwarted sex and religion to fever heat in 1934 and 1935. There must have been smiles in Pacelli’s gilded chambers when the “Bolsheviks” enfranchised the women. Woman’s place is the home, except when her vote is of value the Church.
Meantime the Catholics got a leader, Gil Robles, of just the type that was fitted to take advantage of such a situation. Imagine Hearst and a Jesuit rolled into one. The Church was then organizing Catholic Action everywhere, or getting its lay members to do work (intrigue, journalism, bribery, intimidation. etc.) which the public might not allow the priests to do. Robles, Jesuit-trained, robust and unscrupulous, was a newspaper-owner, and he introduced a new strident note into Catholic papers. With funds supplied by the Catholic millionaire, Juan March, and the Church, he began to organize “Catholic Youth”; with a leaven of the sort of scum that Mussolini had attracted in Italy and Hitler in Germany. People began to hear of Falangists, which is much the same as Fascists, or Soldiers. The prospect, of a fight gives pep to any creed.
In 1933 the Constitution was passed, and the government appealed to the country; and a wave of enthusiasm swept over the Catholic world when it was announced that the Right had won 207 seats, the Left only 99 (including one Communist), and the wobbling Center (Liberals) 167. It was not explained that the Right now included 150 Agrarians sent by peasants amongst whom the late government had promised to divide the confiscated religious property and had been too slow about it, or that women now had the vote. Robles knew that there had been no change of heart, and he worked harder and more unscrupulously than ever. He drew Carlists and royalists into his camp and encouraged the kind of rowdyism that Mussolini had found attractive in Italy. He won Lerroux — one hopes that it was not by money — and the Liberals split. Against the agreement of Liberals and Socialists three Catholics were planted in the cabinet, and the more radical workers began to collect arms to meet a Liberal-Fascist coup. Lerroux became Premier and declared the country in a state of war, and the workers of the north raised the flag of revolt.
It was the usual pathetic failure. Addressing a large meeting organized by the Communists in London at the beginning of the Civil War, I had to listen to one of the leading Communist speakers predicting that the victory of democracy was certain, because she had just heard that the government had served out rifles to the workers. Rifles — and to untrained men — in an age of tanks, planes, and big guns! When will such people cease to think about the barricades of 1848 or even about the Russian revolution of 1918 with its unique conditions? The poor men made a heroic fight, but Foreign Legionaries and Moors were brought over and the peasant- regiments of the army on which the clergy could rely were used. The chief result was to accelerate the withdrawal of Liberals and give more color to the clerical cry of bloody Bolshevism.
Still the Catholics were far from having won Spain. Robles called for the execution of leaders of the revolt, and the government refused. Very promptly, as we shall see, Spaniards of great authority and integrity had established that the stories of Red outrages were fabrications and that real and disgusting outrages had been committed by the Moorish troops, the Catholic Civil Guards, and even by religious communities. But Robles got the post of Minister of War, and Franco, Queips de Llano, and other tools of the priests, were appointed to commanding positions in the army.
In view of the seriousness of the situation, all radical parties, united in a Popular Front, and at the election of February, 1935, they — though it is evident that at least more than a million Anarchists and syndicalists still refused to vote — proved that the educated Spanish people remained, in spite of all the scares, anti-clerical. Robles’s Right coalition won 165 seats, the Liberals — those that remained republican and anti-clerical — 52, and the Left, 256. Azana, the able Radical-Socialist leader, became Premier.
This last free expression of the will of the Spanish people is important because not only Catholic writers, but the press and foreign statesmen, generally represented it as a victory for the Right. This was done by a sophistical, indeed dishonest, quotation of the votes cast instead of the seats won. British statesmen often gave this as an excuse for their scandalous protection of the intervention of the Germans and Italians. The vote’s cast for deputies of the Right were 4,750,000; for those of the Left, 4,536,000. But apart from the fact that women now voted — and aged nuns were carried to the polling station in litters — and that the Right coalition included Agrarians and Liberals who hated the Church but dreaded Communism, we have not only to add the Liberal vote (340,000) to the Left votes as far as the Church is concerned but to take into account its immense number of Anarchists and Syndicalists who still did not vote. It is enough to say that, although no election was ever more fiercely contested, of a total electorate of 12,548,000, less than 10,000,000 voted.
Broadly speaking, in any case, it was a scare-election, like that which put Hitler in power in Germany. There was no longer a clear-cut issue on the question of supporting the Church. The tremendous fall in the Liberal vote sufficiently shows this. It was a popular slogan of Freethinkers of the last century and the early years of this that the destruction of superstition is “the greatest of all causes.” But when the economic issue was raised it was discovered — in Spain, Portugal, Italy, France, and Spanish America — that the defense of the chance to make a fortune (which not one in a thousand had any effective chance of making) was a still greater cause. Let not the opponents of “the bloody bourgeois” crow. In most countries they made a similar blunder in abandoning the traditional Socialist fight against the Church. It was, they said, converted; and it smiles today over spacious cemeteries of their dead. Reform has to be won by concentrated movements, but they must be united in an ideal that all reaction must die.
These facts and reflections give the answer to the Catholic cry, which was lamentably accepted in the world at large, during the Civil War, that the Spanish people had repented of the hasty enthusiasm of 1931 and 1932, or had discovered that it had been duped, that the Franco-Mussolini-Hitler combine was a force of liberation. The Spanish people did not vote on the same issues in 1931 and 1935, and they were in large part not the same votes. There were the women, who had been left to the priests because this was supposed to help to keep them chaste while their husbands had mistresses’s or frequented brothels, and there was a new generation of voters of the age to which Robles and the priests particularly appealed.
But the chief fact to bear in mind is that the election- figures themselves testify that the country was still in the majority anti-Papal. The 4,750,000 votes cast for the Church candidates, swollen by seared Liberals, disgruntled agrarians, credulous dupes of outrage-stories, etc., were little more than one-third of the electorate, or of the adult Spanish people. And, like Hitler’s push in 1932, it was a supreme effort. Other means had to be sought, and the forces of the Right began at once to organize them.
The Catholic (and at that time general) theory is that, seeing the tide flow against them, the Reds began to murder their opponents and plunge the country in an anarchy from which it had to be saved. We have just the same plea in the case of Italy and the glorification of Mussolini as its savior, and Professor Salvemini has patiently and thoroughly proved that it is a tissue of lies. What exactly happened in Spain we do not know. The confusion of the Civil War, which soon opened, prevented any dispassionate Study of the events which had immediately preceded it, and we can no more be asked to accept statements about those events which were made under the Franco regime than we can be asked to pay serious attention to Fascist legends about Mussolini’s early struggle and his thousands of Fascist martyrs.
But so much is reliably known that even Professor Peers, the pro-Catholic author of ‘The Spanish Tragedy,’ speaks of “an epidemic of murder by gunmen, for at least some of which there was an uncomfortably and rapidly growing suspicion that Fascism was mainly responsible (p. 195). The phrase is inimitably professorial. In the two chief incidents which were made the pretext for the revolt the evidence is clear enough. A group of leading Socialists coming out of a building in Madrid were shot down by gunmen. Can there be a moment’s serious doubt to which party the gunmen belonged or by which they were hired? This led to the retaliatory murder of a Catholic Falangist leader, and we shall equally not hesitate to judge to which party the murderers belonged. Frango at once declared that the country must be delivered and organized his mercenaries, the Moors and Foreign Legionaries.
Robles had got Franco appointed to the command in Morocco where he had under his hand the force, which, as experience in the revolt of 1934 had proved, could be relied upon to fight, and fight brutally for its paymaster whatever the merits of the cause. In the south of Spain, which is much more Catholic (largely for business reasons) than the Madrid and Barcelona regions, the command was given to the brutal and fanatical Catholic Queipo de Llano, the Spanish gentleman, who, in a broadcast from Seville during the war, said that they would pound up the Bolsheviks to make mortar for the rebuilding of the churches. As many more Catholic officers as possible had been put in the higher commands in the army and navy. Few of them had more military ability than Franco and de Llano, but they were Catholic’s, at least in profession.
This had been done while Robles, the friend of the Jesuits, was Minister of War (May to December, 1935), a year before Franco, on July 19, 1936, led his noble band of crusaders for the Holy Faith, the half-savage and fanatically Moslem Moors and the scum of the Foreign Legion, across the straits to the South of Spain, where his fellow-conspirators waited, No serious writer hesitates to conclude that it was done in preparation for a revolt against the government and Constitution to which these Spanish gentlemen had, and like Alfonso the Great, taken an oath of loyalty. The government leaders, in fact said, when the rebellion broke out, that they were fully aware of the plot and did not fear it. They believed that the far greater part of the Spanish army was loyal, and this proved to be the case in Madrid and many other places. Their conduct seems feeble and incompetent unless we suppose that they regarded a revolt, which they would certainly defeat, as an opportunity to destroy the growing menace of the Falangists.
The early course of the war fairly justifies that expectation. and one cannot say that they ought to have foreseen that Italy and Germany would play the part of the First and Second Murderers. Careful attention to Franco’s pilgrimages to Berlin and Rome in 1936 might have warned them but we must admit that no one would have expected France and Britain to look on placidly, and even give most vital assistance, while German and Italian troops butchered the heroic Spanish people and even, as in the bombing of Guernica, coldly gave their airmen practice for the coming war on France and Britain.
In the case of France Vatican influence counted very materially. We shall see in a later book how close at this time was the cooperation between the Vatican and what it called “the government of Jews and Freemasons.” For the shame and hypocrisy of Britain’s action, there is no excuse. The so-called Committee for the Protection of Non-Intervention in Spain ought frankly to have been called the Committee for the Protection of Intervention. The very moderate supply of arms by distant Russia — and even this began only after the Italian intervention — was made an excuse for condoning the massive and indispensable assistance of Italy and Germany. Nearer the truth was the plea that Mussolini “Could not afford to see a Communist state established so near to Italy”. These French and British statesmen know now, to their cost, how little they could afford to see a Fascist state created in Span. But the plain truth which illumines the whole of that dark and ghastly and stupid period of preparation, is that they did not want to see a Socialist state set up anywhere, and, with all their hypocritical professions, they murder the Spanish people, although their Foreign Offices must have known that Communism was the weakest element in the Frente Popular and there was no question of following the Russian political model in Spain.
Whether or no Pacelli-Pius had from the start a further intention than the restoration of the Church in Spain he clearly saw it in time as part of a larger plan. For Mussolini, the conquest of Spain was, part of his design of securing mastery of the Mediterranean and cutting one of the main arteries of the British Empire. For Hitler it was the removal of a possible menace to his conquest of France and the possession of a bridge to Africa when the time came to enslave the Italians as well as the French. Blinded by their anti-Socialist zeal, no English statesman foresaw this and realized of what enormous value to them in the coming struggle against Fascism a democratic Spain would be. Pacelli shared their “sacred fury” against Socialism, but the course of events now gave him the plan of a bloc or League of Catholic Powers by which he hopes to counteract Germany even if it is victorious, and in any case to, in his own words, counterbalance the influence of the American and British branches of his Church.
There is no need to wait for the tranquil post-war days to get a just estimate of the action of the Black International in Spain. Even if there were not a scrap of documentary evidence no one with even an elementary of the Vatican and of modern Spanish history could daub that the plot was concerted and carried out in the closest cooperation with the Church, which would gain most of all by the success of the revolt.
But there is plenty of evidence: not evidence of a secret plot, but of the most open and enthusiastic support of the rebels by the Spanish Church and the Vatican. There was nothing secret about it. Whether Franco in his visit to Rome before the revolt apprised Pacelli of his plans and asked the Papal blessing — remember that this is just what the Irish rebels had done in 1916 — does not matter. He was in the closest touch with the hierarchy in Spain and as he raised the flag of revolt (and perjury) all the Spanish bishops but three, who were in a delicate Position. declared for him. Every priest and every convent welcomed the rebels as they came along and helped them. It would be very extraordinary if they had not done so, seeing that Franco came as a crusader to smite the infidels, who, they said, had persecuted them for five years. Catholics everywhere provided the mass of traitors within the gates which has added a new term to military literature: the Fifth Column.
But the Papacy or its Secretary of State very soon made a declaration which identified it with the holy war from the beginning. Bishops, priests, and nun, who had understood that Franco and his had pious colleagues had corrupted the entire army and had, in the expectation of speedy victory, declared themselves prematurely, had to fly before the just anger of the people and the government troops. It will be remembered that with all his Catholic troops and Moslem fanatics, his jail-birds of the Foreign Legion and his Irish Brigade, his Germans, and his Italians, Franco took two years to conquer half of Spain: a very singular situation if it were true that the anti-clerics were a minority. A large number of bishops, priests, and nuns made their way to Rome, and on September 14, 1936, the aged them.
The speech which was published, has none of the halting senility of the Pope. It was a carefully-prepared address. lt would in any case commit the Vatican to the side of the rebels as well as the local hierarchy, but it is easy to recognize the accents of Pacelli, to whose department the preparing of the address properly belonged. It was this document written for broadcasting through the Catholic to world, to which Pacelli was now appealing to work for the extinction of Bolshevism in Spain, Russia, and Mexico. It was published in England by the Catholic Truth Society with the title ‘The Spanish Terror’ and might be described as the bugle-call of that war upon Bolshevism, which made the Church the intimate ally of all the forces of privilege and of the vilest criminals in five centuries of European history.
Frankly, though the press generally reproduced some of its sonorous phrases with deep respect, it was ludicrous. “All that was most fundamentally human and most profoundly divine” was being trodden under foot. This is bad enough when we reflect on the splendid human service that the Socialist-Liberal coalition had rendered and the clerical Fascists have destroyed, but Some of the priests and nuns must have had difficulty in refraining from Smiling when the Pope included amongst the victims “the fruitful activity of lives wholly dedicated to religion, to science, and to charity.” The morals of the Spanish clergy are notorious, but their devotion to science must be a profound secret. All these holy things were “assaulted, violated, destroyed” — it reads like the first sentence of a famous speech of Cicero’s — “in the most ruthless and barbarous ways, in an unbridled and unparalleled confusion of forces so savage and cruel”, etc. There had been a “satanic preparation” — a perfectly childish representation of the facts — for “the flame of hatred and savage persecution” such as the Catholic Church, and it alone, is so apt to experience. There was, in fine, an attempt to “subvert established order of every kind from Russia to China, from Mexico to South America.”
The reader will not expect me to analyze this preposterous stuff — the Pope talks as if it were the anti-clericals Who had revolted — but he will reflect that it served Pacelli’s purpose. From the time of its distribution over the Catholic world and the reproduction of its gorgeous phrases in the secular press it prepared men to swallow every tale of Red outrages that the Falangists cared to concoct; it made Catholics more blindly bitter than ever against Russia; it put in a good word for the Pope’s Japanese friends; and it represented Hitler and Mussolini as respectable crusaders who at great sacrifice, were striking a blow for civilization. The Papal banner was the first foreign flag to wave over Franco’s diplomatic headquarters at Salamanca, and even such ghastly massacres as that at Guernica did not receive a word of disapproval. Catholic Portugal was encouraged to act as a feeding ground for Franco’s armies. American and British Catholics poured their dollars or pounds into a common collecting box with the bankers and stock brokers. Ireland and Poland — pathetically — resounded with the slogan, “For God and Spain,” and Duffy pompously led his Irish Brigade to join the young English Tories who were enlisted in a London hotel to serve under Franco. So mean a disposition was create by the Pope’s words that British Catholics threatened to secede from the Trade Unions if the collection of funds for loyalist Spain was not stopped, and Catholic mothers in some places compelled the Cooperative Movement to abandon its humane plan of sending milk to the half-starved Spanish children. The activity of British Catholics materially helped to sustain the government in that ignoble surrender to Hitler and Mussolini by allowing unlimited intervention, for which it has paid so dearly; and they felt no misgivings when the Vatican, asked to join in the French and British protest against the beginning of the bombing of civilians, replied that it must avoid even the suspicion of interfering in polities!
At the time when the drowsy Pope spoke about the satanic preparation and the unparalleled outpour of barbarism, phrases which were simply an expression of Pacelli’s bitter disappointment at the failure of the rebellion — no one seriously believes that it would have won without the Italians and Germans — there had probably been a lot of rough treatment on both sides. The Moors were furious at winning so little of the promised loot; the Spanish people were furious because the Church again resorted to bloodshed, and against a government returned to power by the majority of the people after the priests had called up every Catholic voter in the Republic. Some day we may know just what was done, on both sides, in violation of what are called the usages of civilized warfare. We cannot expect to learn this from Spain as it is today, but if any man imagines that the priests and nuns just went on serenely saying their prayers until the “sadistic” Reds burst in upon them he must take his information from novels and Catholic newspapers.
We are, however, not without helpful material. Two years earlier there had been, as I said, a minor war of the same combatants, and the Catholic press and much of the secular press had given terrible stories of outrages by Socialists and Communists, There always have been such stories since the French Revolution, and Catholics, being forbidden to read the truth, still cherish some of the picturesque lies — like that of the prostitute on an altar of Notre Dame — told by the refugee priests of a century and a half ago.
After the suppression of the revolt of 1934, Lord Listowel and Ellen Wilkinson went to Spain to investigate the stories. of outrages. I had a talk with them after their return. They had the written assurance of the President of the Republic Zamora (a Catholic) and the Liberal premier Lerroux, that the stories of outrage’s committed by the anti-clericals were false, and when they went to the supposed locality of the outrages to verify this, the Catholic authorities prevented them, and, on the absurd pretense that their inquiry so infuriated the people that their lives were in danger, rushed them to the frontier. But in Spain itself the boot was rather on the other foot. It was the champions of the Church who had committed outrages; the Moors, the Catholic soldiers or Civil Guards, and in some cases religious brothers. These stories of Catholic brutality were severely investigated on the spot by Professor Fernando de los Rios, an ex-Minister of Education, Senior F.G. Ordas, a Liberal ex-Minister of Commerce, and the lawyer Alvarez del Vayo, and they were found to be horribly true. They made independent examinations and, unlike the retailers of Red atrocities, they gave full names and places in their lengthy reports. Mrs. Leah Manning has a digest of these three reports in the appendix of her book, ‘What I Saw In Spain’ (1934), and she tells how some of the stories of Red outrages were fabricated.
The best one can say, therefore, for Pacelli’s scalding rhetoric is that he had made no serious inquiry, but he inflamed the entire Catholic world and so gilded the action of Hitler and Mussolini in the eyes of the world in general that he is in a large measure responsible for the failure of democracies to see what the real and ulterior aim of those butchers was. On the other hand, Pacelli, like every Catholic writer in the world, and a good many others, perpetrated an utter absurdity and declined to notice it. It is the contention that Spain is overwhelmingly Catholic, yet a small minority of “satanic” folk carried every free election for five years and held half the country for two year’s against the other half, and the fleets, air-fleets, tanks, and guns, of the two most powerful nations in Europe! It is stupid to talk about Russia. It did what it could, but for sheer geographical reasons it could not do much.
Before the end of the war a reluctant press felt itself compelled to speak admiringly of the heroism of the Spanish people. Theirs, on the anti-clerical side, was a war of the common folk, the workers and their wives and sons and daughters. They had no mercenary foreign troops, for the French and British volunteers, hampered in every way in their enlistment by their governments, were comparatively very few, and there were still less Russians, as was proved at the close. It was the people of Spain who held up the Spanish, German, and Italian armies, backed by Portuguese Fascist help — that was why Franco had at once secured the Portuguese frontier — and British and American funds for two years. Yet the same papers that told the story continued to repeat that Spain was Solidly Catholic, though every loyalist soldier, every boy and girl who helped them, was under the direst ban of the Church. And Catholics continued, and continue, to drone about that remarkable minority of Satanists who are supposed to have carried every Spanish election for five years and then somehow contrived to get the people to fight passionately for them for two years. The miracles of Lourdes are pale in comparison.
Yet, in face of the most elementary common-sense, there is hardly any lie that has been put out by the Vatican to cover its policy of cooperation with crime and consecration of bloodshed that has had a wider acceptance. I do not know whether George Seldes, author of ‘The Vatican,’ is or is not a Catholic, but on this point he beat the Jesuits, He says that there are only 30,000 non- Catholics in Spain, and then he sees nothing to be explained in the magnificent defense of the people of Spain under a shower of anathemas from the Church! Then there is that quaint political sport — in the biological sense — McGovern, the Catholic Socialist Member of the British Parliament, the man who was chiefly responsible for the abandonment of the anti-church policy of the British advanced Labor; and his Church now gloats over the destruction of Communism. He is supposed to have studied Spain on the spot, and he is an honest man whatever you think of his ability. He says that all but about one million of the Spaniards are Catholics; which still leaves the tail wagging the dog for seven years in a most mysterious way.
Curiously enough the Catholic writer who comes nearest to the truth is a Jesuit, the Irish priest, Father Gannon. In the ‘Irish Times’ (January 23, 1937), he said that there are “ten or fifteen million Catholics” in Spain. Apparently he thought it wise to admit how far the corruption of the innocent people by the sadistic minority (as the Catholic, Sir P. Gibbs deliberately calls them) had gone. The phrase “ten or fifteen” is rather loose even for a Jesuit, especially when you are thinking of millions. Let us split the difference and say that the priest claims only about 12,000,000 Catholics in Spain out of a total population of 29,000,000. We get near commons-sense at last, and we will not quibble with so generous an admission. The only interpretation of Spanish life from 1931 to 1938 that is not completely ridiculous is that the majority of the Spaniards had quitted the Church. That, means a loss of at least 15,000,000 and fully explains the policy of the Black International in that country.
The Church shared the spoils, in fact got most of them. It was restored to the despotic and parasitic position it had had before 1931, and the tinfoil Dictator, the most ridiculous specimen of the brood in Europe, awarded it an annual subsidy of 65,000,000 pesetas. The country was and is, half-starved, reduced to international beggary, but the Church has always been willing to overlook that misfortune of its supporters. From all sides the priests called for the rebuilding of their churches, seminaries, monasteries, etc., and this made a further drain upon the slender public purse. The remains of the dissipated General de Rivera, whose character, Ibanez, had so ruthlessly revealed to the whole civilized world, were transferred with gorgeous religious and secular ceremony to the Escurial, the palace of the dead Kings of Spain. If the flimsy structure of the new dictatorship lasts long enough I expect to hear of him being canonized. Many young ladies in Madrid and Paris will be interested.
Naturally all the fine work of the Liberal-Socialist coalition was destroyed. It is one of the gems of the Papal speech which I quoted above that the satanic Reds destroyed science, whereas, they had done splendid work in restoring science in Spain, and a child would know that the rebels and their priests would ruin this. The system of education which had drawn hundreds of students of pedagogy from all parts was abolished. Manuals of history of a childishly mendacious character were substituted for the excellent text books and priests and nuns had the run of the class rooms. Whatever dropped and withered there must be money for “religion.” So greedy was the Church that by the end of 1940 there was bitter murmuring against the priests among the Falangists, and Franco was compelled to defy the Vatican over the appointment of bishops. It only required this “quarrel over investitures” to complete the restoration of the Middle Ages. But the Vatican won, of course. Without German, Italian, and clerical protection, the Spanish people, low as they have fallen, would sweep away the perjured adventurer and his popin-jay brothier-in-law in a month. The army is divided and in large part ripe for rebellion.
And the 15,000,000 who had quitted the Church? Turn back to the French girl’s narrative which I have quoted. Tens of thousands of the rank and file of them are taken out of vile jails to sing hymns and Fascist chants with a whip raised over their backs, while the chaplain enjoys his bottle in the background. Hundreds of their leaders who survived the war are buried like dogs. Still the firing squads are busy all over Spain. The American Catholic must not read these things. He is told that there are only 30,000 folk, who had quitted the Church and they are “under restraint.” He will find it out when Fascism is destroyed and something more painful than the “terrific propaganda” which Cardinal Hinsley foresees will fall upon his Church in Italy. France, Portugal, Spain, and Spanish America. The Pope knows it and stakes everything on the victory of Fascism.
The Church linked Portugal with Spain in the Civil War. Here again the record of the Black International is vile. To the middle of the last century, Portugal had the same fate as Spain. A king of disreputable character surrounded by fawning bishops, slew or tortured tens of thousands of rebels against Church and feudalism. But reform, or moderation set in earlier in that compact little country than in Spain. When another disreputable monarch began to play tricks in the early years of this century the middle-class Liberals drove him out, set up a Republic and stripped the Church of all its privileges. Then came the tragic dilemma — feudalism or Socialism, finance or freedom — and before the specter of the down the Reds, men took down their anti-clerical banners. Portugal became a military dictatorship with the Church in full power once more.
Under President General Cremona and Premier Dr. Salazar, Portugal is what is humorously called a corporative state. The late Pope, who knew as much about economics and sociology as a child in a primary school does, gave the Catholic world one of those Encyclicals which it admires so much, saying that Italy’s corporative state is the ideal for reconciling capital and labor and honoring the Church. Naturally, you would not expect a churchman to notice that this corporative state was a ghastly failure, even economically, in his own country, Italy; that crime was rising by leaps and bounds, and the schools were rotting. In Portugal, where more than half the people are still pious, illiterate, and densely ignorant, it was comparatively easy; and the Jesuits, who had been expelled, were brought back to help. So the corporative state was established. What did it matter to the Papacy that, concentrating power over capital and labor in one pair of hands, it was the ideal form of state for an aggressive imperialistic dictator? Mussolini must have smiled.
We may take it that Pacelli was the chief author of the Encyclical ‘Quadragesimo Anno’ (1931) in which the Pope summoned all Catholic countries to adopt the form of the corporative state. They were then a ragged regiment; Italy, Poland, Eire, and (more or less) Hungary. To these Pacelli in 1934 added Austria and in 1935 most of the Republics of South and Central America. When he saw Germany and Italy guaranteeing the success of his plot in Spain, and Portugal had bowed to the Papal orders in 1934, he began to dream larger dreams. He worked, we shall see, in Yugo-Slavia, to prepare the way for Mussolini’s legions and win at least a Croatian Church for the Vatican. He courted France and encouraged the Rexists in Belgium. His dream took the shape of a bloc or League of Catholic corporative states, very docile to the Black International, spanning the planet, following Mussolini’s “victorious eagles” eastward, ready in time to check either a German Nazi empire in north Europe or a democratic Anglo-American combination.
The Catholic writer Teeling (The Pope in Polities) is generally understood to have made a protest in the name of Catholic democrats against the anti-democratic policy of the Vatican. He is not very emphatic on any point except the Papal attitude to the conquest of Abyssinia, and he is far from satisfactory on the point. He says that Catholics “sighed in vain” for a Papal condemnation of Mussolini’s crime, but “the poor old man” was content with a refusal to bless the war, as Mussolini pressed him to do, or to restrain the Italian Church from blessing it.
It is something to have a Catholic writer admitting that all the world condemned Mussolini except the Pope” (p. 130). The Catholic press generally tried to twist vague Papal words into a condemnation. But it is misleading to talk about the “poor old man.” Pacelli was the director of the Papal policy, and there was nothing vague or evasive about it. For ages the Vatican has cast a covetous eye on the Ethiopian Church. The existence of a branch of Christianity which had as much right to call itself Catholic as that of Rome and was equally Apostolic in its foundation, has always been a challenge and a reproach to the Vatican, but it was little use dreaming of getting the submission of the Greek Church. At the Russian Revolution, we shall see, there was some hope of inducing the atheistic new rules to sacrifice to the Vatican the rich and populous branch of the Greek Church in that country, and for Years the Papacy courted the Hammer and Sickle as eagerly as it later courted the Swastika. The hope died, but the Vatican kept its eye on such independent branches of the Church as that of Ethiopia.
This was the bait which Mussolini dangled before the Pope in 1934. By the “gentleman’s agreement” he had made with the Pope in 1929, he had, he supposed, secured Papal support in advance for his imperial adventures, but the whole world was so shocked in 1934 by Mussolini’s obvious preparations to attack Abyssinia, so disgusted that his “invincible legions” chose the weakest possible opponent, that the Vatican had to consider its position in America and Britain. The solution of the difficulty was Pacellesque, if I may coin the word. Let the Pope pose as a moral coward; a poor old man who was bewildered by the sudden development — so bishops said in America — and its menace, and let the entire Italian Church boisterously support Mussolini and secure the unanimous support of the nation. The Vatican tried at a later stage to explain the situation by saying that the Italian hierarchy and clergy acted in this as Italians, not as representatives of the Church, and there were Catholics in America who repeated this miserable subterfuge. As if it were not one of the very strongest claims for the moral influence of the Catholic Church that on any moral issue it sublimely ignores national limitations and judges them in the light of eternal principle alone! You might as well imagine the police of Washington consorting with criminals under the window’s of the White House as the Italian hierarchy acting on so delicate an issue without Papal instructions.
As to the Pope himself, which really means Pacelli, we will not waste time discussing whether he condemned the war, especially when we have Catholic writers saying that he did not, until someone quotes a clear and verifiable word of condemnation. The editor of the British Catholic paper (Catholic Times, July 17, 1936), challenged by the Protestant Bishop of Durham, replied: “I grant you that throughout these months of crisis the Holy Father has said no word in favor of the League of Nations nor in favor of that united stand against Italy, which was so much desired in this country.” Cardinal Hinsley, it is true, says in his Preface to Rankin’s eulogy of Pacelli, ‘The Pope Speaks’ (1940), that in his presence the Pope, before the invasion of Abyssinia, spoke of “all my efforts to prevent the barbarous tragedy.” What a pity Hinsley did not quote the words six years earlier and spare Catholics in America and Britain so much pain and humiliation! And what a pity Mussolini did not hear that the Pope was talking of his grand imperialist design as “barbarous.”
Cardinal Hinsley does not think it necessary to explain why a Pope who privately thought the invasion of Abyssinia barbarous had not one word of public condemnation of it. He could be very eloquent on events far away in Spain, of which he could have no exact knowledge and on events still farther away and more difficult to check in Mexico, Russia, and China. They hurt the Church. But on an outrage which was organized under his nose, a tragedy which was so notorious that all the world except himself condemned it, he had nothing to say as a world-oracle. It would hurt the Church if he said it.
Once or twice he tried the tactics of that other famous oracle, the ancient oracle of Delphi. On July 28, 1934, speaking (domestically) on a saintly missionary who had worked in Abyssinia, he glanced at the war-talk and said that he “hoped for peace, truth, justice, and charity.” On August 28th he had to address a body of Italian Catholic nurses, many of whom were destined for the war-zone, and he could hardly ignore it. He said, with a calculated vagueness that Delphi never surpassed, that while folk abroad described it as “a war of sheer conquest and nothing else”, which would certainly be an “unjust war”, the Italian authorities said that it was a war of defense against Abyssinian aggression and to find room for some of Italy’s surplus population (for which the priests were even more responsible than Mussolini). He ended in a mumble that God would find a way to a just peace. Italian Catholics rejoiced that the Pope had endorsed Mussolini’s motivation of the war and we shall see that archbishop’s declared it to be a war of defense. American and British Catholics boasted that he had denounced the war of conquest.
It occurred to some that if there is a particle of truth in the Catholic claim for the Papacy it was the Pope’s duty to go beyond abstract principles which everybody recognized and say in plain Italian whether Mussolini’s enterprise, which had not the least ambiguity in the eyes of the rest of the world, was or was not criminal. Pacelli therefore had an explanatory note put in the Osservatore, (August 29) saying that surplus population was “not by itself a ground of war”, which left matters just as they were. American Catholics felt that all the gorgeous claims that their apologists had made for the Papacy were stultified, and Price Bell of the ‘Chicago Daily News’ was instructed to get the truth from the Pope’s own lips. He wrote a moving four-page article on “interview” in ‘Liberty’ (October 19, 1935), but had to confess that he had not got a word on Abyssinia from the Pope. One gathers that he had just paid the usual fee from $10 upward, according to the size of the crowd — to be admitted to a reception.
Pacelli knew that, after a little grumbling behind closed doors American and British Catholics would, in their own interest, submit to anything that the Pope said or did, so he let him pose to the outside world as a moral coward and effectively satisfied Mussolini by a glorious unity of the Italian Church in support of the war. Professor Salvemini has collected the utterances of 7 cardinal archbishops, 23 archbishops, 44 bishops, and 6 archbishops with titles abroad. It is almost enough to quote from the Papal organ, the ‘Osservatore’ (August 22, 1935), the fact that from the Eucharistic Congress at Teramo a telegram was sent to Mussolini in the name of 19 archbishops and 57 bishops saying: “Catholic Italy thanks Jesus Christ for the renewed greatness of the Fatherland made stronger by Mussolini’s policy.” Will anyone suggest that the dispatch of this telegram and the Publication of it in the Papal newspaper were contrary to the wishes of the Pope and his vigorous Secretary of State, the real and very despotic ruler of the Church?
The prelates continued all through the war to keep Catholics — and practically all Italians were now compulsory Catholic — loyal to Mussolini. They gave a most unctuous consecration to a shameful war of aggression, barbarously conducted, and openly represented it as a gain to the Church. In a diocesan letter of October 15, 1935, the Bishop of Nocera explained that Ethiopia was uncivilized be cause it was not subject to the Pope and the war would be a great blessing for it:
It is a People which, having became detached from Rome, can cannot get full benefit of the Christian ideas: which has not been able, therefore, to produce those beneficial conditions to which the West of Europe owes its greatness. Roman Catholic Italy has the duty of bringing to populations deprived of them its principles of equity, charity, and fraternity. We pray God that he should use Italy as His divine instrument for the evangelization of the whole world.
One can say these things in a country where the Black International controls education. A bishop ought at least to know that until the 15th century the Abyssinian Church had had no connection whatever with Rome; that submission to Rome was then imposed from Portuguese as a condition of their help in saving the country from the Moslem; and that it led to a grave demoralization of Abyssinia and was fiercely rejected as soon as possible. And note carefully the hope of the Black International that God will go on to choose Italy to “evangelize” — that is to say, bring into submission to the Vatican — the whole world. We know how it was evangelizing Abyssinia; with poison gas, bombing natives, and massacre (as at Addis Ababa). The interesting point is the allusion to Pacelli’s growing Plan of a league of Catholic powers.
A fortnight before this the Archbishop of Taranto had said Mass in a submarine and given an address to the officers and men. They were, he said, fighting a war of defense — was there ever a more brazen apology? — not conquest, and it would not only relieve Italy of over-population and supply it with raw material, but it would lead to “the expansion of the Catholic faith”. It was therefore “a holy war, a crusade”. The archbishop was worse than the bishop and the cardinal-archbishop, Sehuster, of Milan, bead of the Italian Church was worse than the archbishop. Speaking on October 28 he said, as quoted by Salvemin:
The Italian flag is at this moment bringing in triumph the Cross of Christ in Ethiopia to free the road for the emancipation of the slaves, opening it at the same time to our missionary enterprise.
Apart from their lies about Red outrage one can at least understand the action of the Spanish prelates in supporting Franco, but these Italian prelates, the nearest to Rome and the most rigorously controlled by the Vatican, consecrated the crime of their dictator and their Papal Secretary of State with all entirely nauseous mixture of greed for the country and greed for the Church. I saw two of the picture postcards that then circulated in Italy. One bore a map of Abyssinia showing treasures of corn, gold, oil, etc., in different regions. The other was a tank taking a statue of the Virgin to the Abyssinians.
So it was to the end. When, in May, 1936, the Italians entered Abbis Ababa and Mussolini announced victory, the church bells rang everywhere and the churches were illuminated and decorated. There was one exception, St. Peter’s. Its bells rang — because peace had come, of course — but it was not illuminated. The fox retained his cunning, and probably Mussolini grudgingly allowed that he had to save his face as well as he could in Britain and America. It had to suffice that the Pope blessed “the triumphant happiness of a great and good people for a peace that will further and will initiate the true European and world-wide peace” (News Times and Ethiopia News, October 31, 1936), and that the bishops fell over each other in hastening to congratulate the Duce and his “defence of Christian civilization”. Not a word was said when Graziani perpetrated one of the foulest massacres of this foul period as when the butcher’s butcher-son published a book glorifying war as such and explaining what fun it was to drop bombs on natives.
Italy did little for Abyssinia. Production fell, and a mere title of the surplus population of Italy which was supposed to be panting for room beyond the seas would go to Africa. The Italian authorities made no haste to educate the natives, and such industries as were set up were reserved for Italians. Abyssinians were not allowed to become artisans. They were to be the hewers of wood and the drawers of water. Make all allowance you like for Italy’s lack of capital, of which Mussolini had drained the country, but the truth cannot be obscured, Mussolini wanted only two things: the “glory” of founding an Italian empire and a backward country for Italian’s to exploit. And in 1937, the ‘Osservatore’ announced, the Pope blessed this enterprise by awarding the Golden Rose, the supreme honor that the Papacy has for mere women, to the Queen of Italy as Empress of Abyssinia.
He had ground to do this. Whatever else Italy failed to do for the Abyssinians it spent a vast sum in giving them the treasure of the Papal faith. At government expense priests, monks, and nuns were shipped out and chalets and houses built for them. There is an account of it all in the ‘International Review of Missions,’ (January, 1937, p. 103). The Vatican sent out a set of Ethiopian type and a press, and Italian Catholic papers told how the natives eagerly pressed for the good words. Protestant missionaries found that they might as well pack up. Moslem and Christian had hitherto shown a mutual toleration. Now they were set against each other Whatever the state gained or failed to gain by the conquest of Abyssinia the Church was determined to profit. All this, the Catholic protests, follows inevitably from Catholic principles. So much the worse for those principles; though we seem to have heard a hundred times that the Church emphatically disowns the maxim that the end justifies the means.
It is impossible to write these chapters on the action of the Black International in Spain and Italy without irony and repugnance, and many will find that it raises a problem about the attitude of the American Catholic layman. As far as Spain is concerned there is little to explain. His daily paper spoke of the Reds probably in the same language as his Catholic weekly. Bolshevism was growing like a poisonous plant in Spain, and practically all the world wanted it eradicated. There was, it is true, that intriguing paradox which I have discussed; how the Red tail — and such a small one — had succeeded in wagging the Catholic dog for seven whole years. But when there is a question of smiting Bolshevism, you do not notice these trifles.
In the case of Abyssinia the situation was very different. The whole world, outside Eire, Poland, and a few other potato patches, condemned Mussolini, and the facts were not in dispute. Such writers as Seldes and Teeling make it clear that there was some dissatisfaction in the body of the Catholic laity, but the tone of the Catholic press and the utterances of the hierarchy show that it did not reach very far. Yet you find it impossible to believe that the Catholic men and women whom you meet in business or at the club or a friend’s house, are so docile to their priests that they will read without a shudder the shocking language of the Italian prelates I have quoted, or be easily persuaded that turning Oriental Catholics into Roman Catholics throws a mantle of justice, if not nobility, over Mussolini’s enterprise.
I cannot here go deeply into this matter, but I may make one point. The relation of a Catholic to his priest is not the same as that of a Protestant to his minister. Periodically he hears a sermon on the priesthood, and the gist of it is that, if he accepts the creed at all, he must regard the priest as something totally different from any other minister of religion. The preacher insists that he shall not look to the priest as a man — his intelligence and even his character do not matter — but to his office and powers. He can turn bread and wine into God (in the Mass) and can forgive sins. He has, whatever his personality, been endowed with tremendous supernatural powers. You may find this difficult to follow, but a Catholic is as strictly bound to believe these things as to believe in God. That medieval superstition, on which the Church still literally insists, is the root of the power of the priests. That is why, for instance, they can do what no other ministers can do, such as to forbid a Catholic to read any literature that criticizes the Church or its teaching, and in this way they protect the superstition which is the root of their power. Catholicism is not a collection of beliefs. It is an organic whole, and you cannot be a Catholic and question a single “article of faith.” If in addition to this you remember the tremendous hypnotic force wielded by the Church, corresponding very closely to the German boasting of Aryan blood or the Italian boasting of Mussolini’s infallibility you will begin to understand. But it is not a case of “to understand all is to forgive all.” Your conclusion is more apt to be: Away with the whole damn lot — to give a rough translation of Voltaire’s polite phrase.
It is one of the consequences of this doctrinal mentality of the Catholic that he can be persuaded to accept propositions which to you and me look childish. I am, of course, speaking of the general body of Catholics and am quite aware that you will meet a man here and there who seems fairly liberal; though you will find that either he is not liberal at all on these dogmas which the Church, for reasons (as they are the basis of the power of the clergy), declares indispensable, or he is a Catholic only nominally. One such proposition is that the Catholic faith is so unique, so profoundly important for this life and the next, that when there is a prospect of getting further millions of men to accept it, he, in spite of his having the same sentiments as we have, agrees to wars, executions, imprisonments without trial, compulsory hymn-Singing and jailers’ whips. After all, the Church has “the right of the sword” over these people. That is an indispensable article of the creed.
A second proposition which is relevant here is — this will seem incredible to any who are not familiar with Catholic literature — that the Catholic accepts the belief, on which the priests insist, that his Church is hated and persecuted by wicked men with a rancor that other Churches do not experience. It is a sheer legend, but very useful to the clergy. For the last fifty years at least the Catholic Church has been treated by non- Catholics with an indulgence, even an admiration, which has enabled it to secure by intrigue, a power far out of proportion to the number of its members in democratic countries. In Catholic doctrine — again indispensable doctrine — a large part of the explanation of this legendary hatred is the devil. Naturally he hates, and moves bad men to hate, that which is holiest . . . I feel that I ought to apologize for talking like this to educated men and women but believe me, that is the ordinary Catholic mentality. And it is in virtue of this proposition that Bolshevism is in the Catholic mind associated with the devil, and he is ready to cry for its extinction in Russia. Spain, and Mexico. You will not be so churlish as to remind him that he is really calling for aggressive war.
Hence the Vatican’s beautiful friendship with Japan and positive hatred of Russia. We will consider in a later book the lie which is used to give an odor of sanctity to this hatred, the claim that Russia persecutes religion, but by 1934, when the British government had officially reported to the contrary, as we shall see, any ground for a charge of persecution had disappeared. Yet when, in that year, Russia applied for admission to the League of Nations, the Vatican whipped up its representatives at Geneva to oppose the application. I will deal at length with the matter later, but it is necessary here to point the contrast. Pacelli stirred every nerve to get a great civilization, which already had the finest record in Europe of humane service and social betterment, publicly insulted and represented as a nation far inferior to Mussolini’s Italy or Piludski’s miserable Poland (which was at the time very seriously persecution religion). On the other hand, he drew nearer to Japan. Russia had long discarded the idea, which some had had, of spreading Socialism by aggressive war. It was, if only in its own interest, very earnest for the peace of the world. But it was damned and vituperated by Rome. Japan was just as clearly aiming at, indeed already engaged in, a disgraceful aggressive war. The Vatican took it to its bosom.
The point arises here because just in that year there was some prospect of war between Russia and Japan, and Catholics everywhere loudly proclaimed that, should it occur, they would side with Japan. “In the event of a war between Japan and Russia,” said an editorial in one of the leading British Catholic papers, (Catholic Times, November 23, 1934) “Catholics would sympathize with Japan, at least in so far as religion is concerned, so let us beware of an Anglo-American ‘bloc’ against Japan involving us on the side of Russia.” These apologists for a bad case find it difficult to write plain English. The editor obviously means that British and American Catholics would hope on religious grounds — that is to say, for the profit of the Church in China and Japan — to see Japan beat Russia. We do not think less of sympathy with crime because its motive is said to be religious. It is only one mare of a hundred proofs that the interest of the Church, which always the means the interest or profit of the Black International, is different from and often opposed to the interest of the race.
In the second book I described the beginning of the alliance of the Vatican with Japan. The country had just taken the first step in a monstrous plan of aggression and exploitation which must have been known in every Foreign Office in the world, and its conquest of Manchuria was sternly condemned everywhere. The French were, as we shall see, then playing a dangerous game, for which they now pay so dearly, with the Vatican, and — I quoted this on French clerical authority — the advised the Japs to apply to the Pope for recognition. As the idea was put to the Japanese by French missionaries, you may wonder whether the initiative did not come from the Vatican; but you will have to be content to wonder, as the beginning of the negotiations is left in obscurity.
It was not difficult to persuade the Japs to apply to Rome. Most of the educated and ruling men of Japan are atheists of the type who regard religion as a very useful institution — for women and workers, In 1871, when the Europeanization of the country began, they sent a large and unique deputation to Europe to study Christianity and report whether it was a more ‘suitable — that is to say, more effective in securing the docility of the masses — religion to give to their people than Buddhism. Lafeadio Hearn tells how their report on the influence of Christianity in its own field was so poor that they abandoned the idea, but much water had gone down to the sea since 1871. One change was that the Pope was again a secular as well as a spiritual monarch, since Mussolini had created the state of the Vatican City, and the mixture of small sovereignty and vast international religious power gave him a unique position.
We saw what happened. Even Pacelli dare not, while the whole world was inflamed against Japan, pledge the Pope as a temporal ruler to alliance with Japan, but he appointed a Vicar Apostolic “to negotiate with the government of Manchukuo about religious affairs.” Other powers might sacrifice their trade-interests to their principles by declaring that they would have no truck with a bloody usurpation, but the interests of Catholic missions are too sacred to be sacrificed for mundane considerations. Whether there was an understanding that the Vatican promised to work to prevent the League of Nations from applying sanctions to Japan, as it later worked for the exclusion of Russia, we do not know. The Vatican does not issue a Blue Book — not even a Little Blue Book — when it has completed a deal. Few would trust the book if it did.
What we do know, however, is enough. The representatives of the Vatican in Manchukuo and Japan worked so amiably with the army and the government that by 1934 the French Catholic writer I quoted was able to boast that “no Japanese prince or mission now passes through Rome without paying its homage to the Sovereign Pontiff.” Incidentally, French trade in the East benefitted very happily. American Catholics raised their familiar cry of libel of Holy See, wicked suspicion, etc., when the growing intimacy was mentioned in the press, and it transpired that the news had came from the clerical officials (whose pockets are always wide open) of the Vatican City pres’s bureau that negotiations were in progress for an exchange of ambassadors between Tokyo and the Papacy. There was more indignation and surprise that people should malign Holy Church so much; and on May 5, 1935, the Papal organ, the ‘Osservatore,’ joyously announced that the Pope was sending a representative to Tokyo and the Mikado sending an ambassador to the Papal Court.
You make short work of all the Catholic sophistry, about this ominous development if you consider the run of events at the time. The world at the conquest of Manchuria had evaporated. Trade- interests had again beaten principles. Sanctions against Japan had not been imposed, and the trading nations were on friendly terms with the Jap and willing to take his word, as they would take Mussolini’s word after Abyssinia and Hitler’s word after Austria, that absolutely no further advance would be attempted; while all three adventurers were quite openly dangling before the eyes of their respective peoples a program of conquests that promised wealth to every class in the nation.
The case of the alliance of the Pope and his Yellow Brother” was the worst of all. At the beginning of the century Count Hayashi (Secret Memoirs, 1915), had written that “Japan must keep quite and lull suspicion and wait her day; then not only put the meddling powers out but meddle herself.” After 1930, with the growth of an aggressive Fascism in Europe and a general profession of admiration of its efficiency, the Japanese concluded that they need not keep quiet in their own country; they could not, indeed, if they were to educate their people in the ground plan of dominating Asia. One of the most spluttering firebrands was Yosuke Matsuoka. He had been educated in America and was a Christian, so he was very useful for lulling suspicions abroad, especially in America, but he was very patriotic in Japan. Upton Close in his book, ‘The Challenge,’ translates an article which Matsuoka published in 1933. It coruscated with gems like this: “The mission of the Yamata race is to prevent the human race from becoming devilish … The one nation not subject to the universal law of decline is that which is ruled by a divinity and a permeated by the spirit of the Gods … the fated time has come to effulge its benefits to the world”. Not very Christian, but plain enough. At the following New Year, Japanese stores displayed gorgeous paint-and-pasteboard panoramas of Japan’s coming victory, the sinking of the American fleet, etc.
This was the symphony of events which accompanied the negotiations in Pacelli’s opulent chambers in the Vatican. Let us charitably suppose that in 1935, Matsuoka earnestly assured Pacelli that Japan would not steal another acre of Chinese soil, that Pacelli was simple-minded enough to believe him, and that the highly favored Catholic missionaries in Japan did not report to the Vatican that the entire country, including the Buddhist and Shinto priests, was joyously chanting the national anthem of domination of the East. A Catholic can probably believe that, although the steeling of Jehol from China had already followed the stealing of Manchuria. But in 1935 the sacred representative of the Papacy in Tokyo would find it one of his first duties to report that, under cynically mendacious pretexts, the Japanese were moving south over China proper. By June, 1935, they had appropriated a further vast area of China. In November, 1936, they tried to set up a puppet government for five whole provinces besides Manchuria.
In short, from that day to this, it has been one long story of conquest officially described in the most brazen language. It was not a war, but an “incident” — thus escaping the economic inconveniences of a war — it was for the “cooperative prosperity” of China, Japan, Europe, and America, it was just a police measure, and so on. And all the time it was exultingly represented in Japan itself as the mere beginning of a career of conquest that would enrich every class in the country. It was, further, a war conducted with the full bestiality of the methods of the Pope’s allies. Brutality to civilians in actual fighting was supplemented by brutality after conquest. The Chinese subjects were debased with dope and exploited mercilessly. Soldiers and officers used Chinese women as Goths and Vandals had never used Roman Women. A Chinese lady told me of an incident reported to her by her family in China: an old woman in the occupied zone traveling from village to village was raped six times in a few hours by soldiers of the nation which is “ruled by a divinity and permeated by the spirit of the gods.” . . .
By 1941 the whole diabolical plan was clear. Japan’s service was to be to draw off a very large part of the Russian forces to the East while the “crusade” destroyed Russia in Europe. We now know — if anybody required any evidence — that the Russian campaign was decided and plotted very early in 1941 after the failure to reduce England by aerial bombardment or invasion, which was originally intended to precede the attack on Russia. Matsuoka; the Versatile was sent to Europe. He visited Hitler and Mussolini; and the ‘Osservatore’ (March 31, 1941) told with pride how he visited Pope Pacelli. Did he carefully conceal from Pacelli that the war for the extinction of Bolshevism, the bloodiest war in history, the most ardent desire of the Pope, was to be launched? That Japan, besides its designs in Southern Asia and its bestiality in China, was to help by destroying Russia and threatening to intercept American supplies? Believe that if you can. the Vatican organ tells us that at the close of their cordial interview, the Pope presented Matsuoka with a gold medal; and Matsuoka declared in the Italian press that his talk with the Pope was “the prettiest moment in my life.”