FRANCO EXPLAINS NEW SPAIN TO AMERICAN BISHOP
Will Understand Our Cause While It Remains What It Is
ON THE EVE OF THE OUTBREAK OF WAR GENERAL FRANCO GAVE ONE OF HIS RARE INTERVIEWS TO THE AMERICAN BISHOP OF SAVANAH, ACCOMPANIED BY A SMALL PARTY OF PRIESTS AND LAYFOLK.
The Rt. Rev. John O'Brien, Editor of an American Catholic weekly, who was present, has recorded for the CATHOLIC HERAU) the words of the Generalissimo.
Though no reference was made to the position of Spain in the present international situation, the interview explains clearly why Spain will remain neutral.
" We were fighting against alien domination," said the Leader of Spain, " against the imposition on our people of an ideology that was contrary to our traditions, contrary to our Christian faith, and contrary to the wishes of the overwhehning majority of the Spanish people."
The paramount influence of Red newspapers in deceiving many of the Spanish people was emphasised by the General.
At this moment the interview affords a warning that Spain will not become a tool in Germano-Soviet hands, nor a field for international, financial or liberal propaganda.
Spain will understand our cause just so long as that cause remains what it is to-day: the repelling of aggression and tyranny—Spain will cease to understand if ever we seek to impose on the world the ideology of parliamentarianism, liberalism and pink socialism.
" FOUGHT FOR CHRISTIAN CIVILISATION"
By Bishop O'Brien
BURGOS, SPAIN, August 29, 1939
0 We have achieved the emancipation of the traditional Christian Spain from the domination of the Red Communists who were under the direction of Soviet Russia," declared Francisco Franco in a personal interview with me three days before it was reported that Warsaw
had been bombed.
We were in the study of the Generalissimo's residence in Burgos, the seat of the Nationalist Government, which is soon to be moved to Madrid. We had come to congratu late the Caudillo on his glorious victory, and to learn from the new leader of the Spanish people the reasons which had prompted him to rise In rebellion against the Leftist Government in July, 1936.
" We were fighting evilest alien domination, against. the imposition on our people of an ideology that was contrary to all our traditions, contrary to our Christian faith, and contrary to the wishes of the overwhelming majority of the Spanish people," the Generalissimo continued.
"We were fighting against a. Government that sat idfy by while churches were burned, altars destroyed, priests killed and nuns burned alive.
"Such a Government," Franco asserted, " by its failure to check such outrages and to punish the murderers, by its cowardice and criminal negligence, had abandoned all claim upon the allegiance of the Spanish people. Never in all history has civilisation witnessed such wholesale cruelties and tortures as were inflicted upon the Christian people of Spain by an organised band of Red torturers under the direction of Russian instigators," declared the man whom the Spanish nation with a single voice now calls the " Saviour of Spain."
Speaking slowly and calmly, with little or none of the gesticulation so common among the people here, the Father of the New Spain kept his own distinguished services in the background. He stressed the courage and the bravery of those who followed him in the struggle to throw off the yoke, conceived and fashioned in Leningrad, and placed by its followers upon the Iberian peninsula before the inhabitants fully realised its meaning.
" How Was It . . . ?"
"How was it that an appreciable number of Spaniards embraced Communism and took part in such atrocities as the burning of churches and the murdering of religious?" he was asked.
• " We are in a position to answer that question now," he answered, " for we have put that question to each person condemned to death—only after careful investigation and fair trial—for atrocities involving deliberate murder of noncombatants."
" The answers show that 99 per cent. were infected with the virus of atheistic Communism, not by books or learned treatises, but by Red newspapers. For years preceding our uprising these papers had been defaming our priests and religious, ridiculing the Christian religion, and all religion, in fact, as a humbug. and poking fun at the idea of a God," he continued, " It was these Red dailies which little by little destroyed the religious faith of many a misguided youth. They promised him wealth, land, riches; instilled hatred of all who owned property.
They pictured the Church as the defender of the system of private ownership and therefore as an enemy and an obstacle to their collective Utopias—an obstacle which must be removed.
Seed for the Whirlwind
" In, these newspapers Russia was held up as a model. It was pictured as a paradise for the common man. The words of Lenin that Spain would be the next country in Europe in which a Soviet dietatorehip would be established were frequently quoted. The family as an institution was attacked and free love was advocated.
" Thus did these Red newspapers sow the seed for the whirlwind of fury and destruction which was to descend upon the churches, monasteries, hospitals, Upon the priests, nuns and lay people who believed in the Christian religion or even in God." The Generalissimo said all this calmly, but in a voice which had unmistakable earnestness.
" What will be the policy of the New Spain in regard to such newspapers?" was my next question to the Caudillo, as he is affectionately called here.
Silent for a moment, then choosing his words carefully, Franco replied: "Freedom of the Press will be protected. Constructive criticism will be welcomed. But licence to spread falsehood, to defame religion, to disseminate hatred against the owner of property or the worker, to divide Spain, to engage in a Campaign of sabotage against the Government and the nation will not be tolerated."
Foreigners who predicted that the Franco regime would be characterised by a special devotion to the interests of the propertied class and scant attention to the workers have seen their predictions falsified by the social legislation already enacted and now operative.
Deeply solicitous for the poor and the working cla-ss, Franco has made provision to aid the worker with, a graduated scale in accordance with the site of the family.
The Law of the Family Allowance was put into operation this spring, when a representative couple came from each of the provinces of Spain to receive froni the hand of the Generalissimo the fund provided by the new Government.
It embodies the most advanced thought in social legislation end shows the deep concern of the Nationalist Government to help the worker and safeguard the family life in Spain. It mirrors the spirit and applies the principles of the social justice encyclicals of Popes Leo XIII and Pius XT.
Justice For All
" We do not want a Spain dominated by any one group, neither by the capitalists nor the proletariat," said Franco. " Spain is for all Spaniards who love and serve her."
The Head of the New Spain then Indicated the basis of the new legislation, saying " Social justice will be the basis of the new empire, without the destructive and suicidal warfare between classes. without foreign intervention or influence incompatible with our national dignity."
No Foreign Domination
The fear expressed by some in the early days of the war that Spain would be parcelled out between Italy and Germany has been shown to have been completely unfounded.
Spain is for the Spaniards. " We do not sell our country to foreigners." These words of Franco are posted in the towns along the border. They express a fact.
I was with the Generalissimo for nearly half an hour. His desk was loaded with papers of every sort. The tremendous task of rebuilding his wartorn land rested chiefly upon his shoulders. We prepared to leave.
A New Epoch
In our party were the Most Rev. Gerald P. O'Hara, Bishop of Savana.h and Atlanta; the Rev. Joseph Moyian, Pastor of the Co-Cathedral in Atlanta; the Rev. Joseph Kavanaugh, Secretary to the Bishop; and Mr and Mrs Eduardo de Cienfuegos. Mrs Cienfuegos, under her maiden name, Jane Anderson, had toured America, telling of her tortures and experiences at the hands of the Reds during the War. " We desire to congratulate you most heartily," said Bishop O'Hara as the spokesman for our group, " upon your glorious victory and your emancipation of Spain from the tyranny of the Reds. We are confident that under your able direction Spain will enter a new epoch of progress and peace which will mean much for Europe and the world."
The Generalissimo spoke a word of appreciation and shook hands cordially with each of us. He had been most gracious to us and had given generously of his valuable time.
The ruler of the New Spain gives one an impression of restrained power and complete self-confidence. He had spoken
(Continued at foot of nest column/