Page 1, 17th October 1941

17th October 1941
Page 1

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People: Aguirre, Pizzardo, Meyer
Locations: LONDON, Rome, Paris


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Vatican Efforts to Reconcile Basques and Nationalists in the Spanish Civil War


Important revelations, bearing on the Basque issue in the Spanish Civil War, were made in London, by Canon A. de Onaindia of Valladolid, often described during the war as the " Red Canon."

In his speech Canon Onaindia described his mission as Basque Envoy to the Vatican in 1936 when he saw Mgr. Pizzardo, UnderSecretary of State. He was informed that no exception could be taken to the moral position of the Basques, but they were advised to make friends with Franco.

To our reporter the Canon revealed the way in which the Red Government in Barcelona sabotaged an effort by Cardinal Pacelli (now Pope) to reconcile the Basques and the Nationalists. According to this Franco's, consent to a measure of

autonomy for the Basques had been obtained.


Important revelations bearing on the Basque issue in the Spanish Civil War were made last week in London by Canon A. de Onaindia, the . Spanish anti-Franco priest who was famous for his much publicised attempts to secure Vatican support for President Aguirre's Basque Government which had sided with the Reds against General Franco.

Known as " Red Canon," he was kept in the limelight by sympathisers abroad with Franco's enemies anxious to show that the Reds were not opponents of religion.

For the first time since his arrival in this country when France fell last year, Canon Onaindia addressed a Catholic meeting in defence of the Basque cause when he spoke to members of the German-speaking Club at Hampstead.

Intrigued that the young Canon of Valladolid the is only 381 should be invited to speak under Catholic auspices in this country where Catholics have been in the main pro-Franco, I was anxious to be present at his address and was pleased to hear Dr. Meyer, the organiser of the lectures held weekly at the Club, express the hope that people should not form a final opinion on the points raised till they had had an opportunity to hear the views put forward by a pro-Franco sympathiser who, by. arrangement with the Spanish Embassy, has been engaged to speak in three weeks' time.

" BEEN AGAINST US " Talking afterwards with the Canon I suggested his speech had been in thc nature of

propaganda for his cause. Refuting this, he pointed out that a review edited by exiled' Basque clergy in Paris and called Anayak had ceased publication on the same day the war ended, " so as to give no pretext for saying that the Basque priests wished to continue hostilities, even in the field of propaganda."

Remarking in the course of his address that there was " rho treed to waste time in justifying the position of the Basques in the Spanish Civil War," the Canon went on: " The English Catholic public has been and is against us, and the English Catholic journals do not know, nor wish to know, the true situation of the Basque country both during and after the Civil War."

The history of the strenuous efforts made by this young Canon to get a reluctant Vatican to grant some kind of recognition to Aguirre s Government was dramatically related by the protagonist himself to an attentive audience. Aguirre. it will be recalled, strained every effort to attain recognition, but never succeeded. Canon Onaindia was throughout the struggle a persistent liaison officer between him and Rome.

Said the Canon : " In October, 1936, the

Basques sent rue as their envoy to the-Vatican, to the Secretary of State to His Holiness (Cardinal Pacelli, the present Pope). was the bearer of full details of the Basque cause in writing, and was received officially by the then Under-Secretary of State, Mgr. Piz.zardo, now Cardinal, 'as Cardinal Pacelli was then in North America.


" The report was considered worthy of the fullest attention of Mgr. Pizzardo, who appointed a moralist from the Secretariate of State to make a detailed study of the moral cause 1 presented. This moralist was Mgr. Coffano.

n Ten days later 1 had two other interviews, dud at the end of the second was informed that ' from the moral point of view, there could be no admonition of the position adopted by the Basques in the. War, but that, front the political aspect, it would perhaps have been more practical for them to-have contracted an alliance with the Spanish military (General Franco's Nalirmalists) in order to achieve their desires for autonomy.. This, however, is not a matter coating within the competence of the Vat lean'."

(Continued on back page)

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