Page 1, 16th April 1937

16th April 1937
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"Duel " Averted


After an amazingly successful lecture tour in Scotland Fr. Henry Gabana, the Barcelona priest, has been forbidden by the Home Office to give further lectures on Spain.

The Home Office decision was the direct result of a question in the House of Commons put by Mr. Gallacher to the Home Secretary.

Mr. Gallacher's question came as an immediate sequel to the acceptance by Mr. McGovern (Mr. Gallacher's political intimate) of Fr. Gabana's challenge to debate with him in public the question of Spain.


This neat strategem is some indication of the fear of the truth in extreme Left quarters, for Fr. Gabana's authority is totally different from that of Red Propagandists .who have not been permitted to enter the country.

Father Gabana has come to England every summer for nine years, and when the civil war broke out was on his regular holiday. For years he has been working for the English in Barcelona, and three times has been officially thanked by the British authorities for arranging services on behalf of this country, e.g., at the Royal Jubilee and on the death of King George V.

Father Gibana was to have spoken at a rally in Bermondsey last Tuesday evening under the auspices of the Catholic Herald. The Home Office " ban " made this impossible, but the Catholic Herald was able to have his place taken by Mr. Arnold Lunn, who has just returned from Spain.


Last Thursday in the House of Commons Mr. Gallacher asked the Home Secretary " on what date Father Henry Gabana, a priest of Spanish nationality, was allowed to enter Great Britain; whether any conditions were imposed for his observance during his stay; whether any complaints have been received that he is addressing political meetings of which the chief feature is attacks upon the Governments of Spain and Catalonia; and whether His Majesty's Government propose taking any action to restrict his activities in this direction?"

Sir John Simon in reply said : "This individual arrived in this country on 5th July last for a few months' holiday and remained until 7th January when he left for the Continent. On his return on 18th January he was allowed to land on his statement that he wished to prolong his stay until the Spanish trouble is finished. No complaint was received with regard to him during his first visit, but my attention has now been drawn to his activities in addressing meetings on the subject of Spain. He is being warned that if he wishes to continue his stay in the country it can only be on the condition that he abstains from engaging in activities directed to furthering the cause of either side in the Spanish struggle."

Five days before this question was asked Father Cabana had started a lecture tour in Scotland. On the first day he spoke in Mr. Gallacher's constituency and at a strong Communist centre at Cowdenbeath. Continuing his tour he spoke at Kirkcaldy. Falkirk, Edinburgh and Dundee, and Carlin.

Hall Twice Filled Some idea of the success of his tour may be realised by the fact that in Dundee a large hall had to be filled twice, and Fr. Gabana gave his lecture twice. In Kirkcaldy the only hall large enough was the church itself, from which the Blessed Sacrament was removed for the lecture.

In Edinburgh, where the Archbishop attended, the great Usher Hall was hired and Bailie MacGregor, who was expelled from the Labour Party for his Spanish views, proposed the vote of thanks amidst the greatest enthusiasm.

In Carfin a special pilgrimage to pray for Spain was arranged to take place on the last Sunday in May.

Worn out by his exertions, but happy at his success in driving home the truth in a largely hostile country, Fr. Gabana returned to London last Saturday, knowing nothing of the measures being taken against his work.

Scotland Yard Measure

He was rung up by Scotland Yard and told of the question asked about him in the House of Commons two days earlier.

Inspector Wright of Scotland Yard then visited his house and instructed him to discontinue all lectures, giving the decision of the Home Office as his authority.

Amazed by this action, Fr. Gdbana then recalled the letter he had received from Mr. McGovern the day before Mr. Gallacher asked his question.

Some weeks earlier Mr. McGovern had written a pamphlet entitled " Why the Bishops Back Franco."

He had been told that Mr. McGovern was a Catholic and being unable to understand how a Catholic could have written this pamphlet he wrote to assure him that he must have been wholly taken in by the Red authorities and asked to see him so that he might discuss the question and prove to him his mistakes.

Mr. McGovern wrote back politely from

Palestine agreeing to see Fr. Gabana. Hearing no more Fr. Gabana at the beginning of his Scottish tour recalled Scottish Mr. McGovern's promise and wrote again.

In his answer. dated April 6, Mr. McGovern described in insulting language Fr. Gabana "as a propagandist for Franco, the foul and bloody murderer of Spanish men, women and children:: and accused him of being "guilty of misleading, cunning, and lying statements both on the platform and in the Press."

Unable to remain accurate even in his accusations Mr. McGovern suggested that Fr. Gabana had written the matter in the


pamphlet " How McGovern Was Bluffed " —a pamphlet with which Fr. Gabana had had nothing whatever to do with.

Prepared to Battle Stating that he would refuse to meet him " for any other reason than debate, as I consider you are guilty of shocking conduct in your defence of Franco, Mussolini, Moors and Legionaries," Mr. McGovern nevertheless found himself prepared to debate in public on the Spanish issue and desired " to inform you that I accept your offer very gladly."

This courageous statement preceded by exactly two days of Sir John Simon's refusal to allow Fr. Gabana to debate or lecture any more in public, a refusal prompted by the complaints made by that very political circle of which Mr. McGovern himself is a conspicuous member.

Sir John Simon's action was taken on the grounds that Fr. Gabana was an alien unfit to stay in this country if he continued to speak in a manner causing complaints, in other words that he was a public nuisance.

Who is Fr. cabana?

Fr. Gabana is a Catholic priest who for many years has been chaplain to the English-speaking Catholics in Barcelona. A public figure of importance in his own town he was generally known as a worker on behalf of good Anglo-Spanish relations.

Thus on the occasion of King George's Jubilee he arranged a special ecclesiastical ceremony which was attended by the British Consul and he was officially thanked on behalf of the British Government.

When the late King died, Fr. Gabana again arranged a service and preached in Barcelona Cathedral. This public memorial of our King was attended by the local authorities and the British consulate. Once again he was officially thanked. On a previous occasion Fr. Gdbana entertained

(Contizued at foot of next column)

the members of the Mediterranean fleet when visiting Barcelona, receiving the special thanks of the Admiral.

This is the priest who has worked for Britain for many years and who is now being forbidden to speak on Spain at the orders of the British Foreign Office.

Customary Holiday

Fr. Gabana did not come to England for propaganda purposes. For nine years he has spent the summer in this country, and for this reason found himself here when the Civil War started.

Unable to return to his own home because of the danger to his life, he remained here, accepting for his living and in order to be witness to the truth the invitations of purely Catholic societies and for Catholic audiences to speak about Spain's history, the origins of the war and the truth about the persecution of the Church.

There can be no parallel between the work of this politically exiled priest staying in the country of his choice for a holiday for many years and that of professional propagandists who voluntarily leave their homes to speak in public on behalf of the Madrid Government and Communist propaganda.

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