Report of a Group of Anglican and Free Churchmen who visited Spain, January 29 to February 9, 1937
At the invitation of the Spanish Republican Government we journeyed to Spain on January 29, as a group of Anglican and Free Churchmen, to inquire as to the life and work of the Christian Churches there in relation to the conflict. Our inquiries were particularly directed to conditions in Barcelona and the adjacent country, and to Valencia where the Government of Republican Spain now centres ; certain of our number were able to extend their investigations to Madrid just before the city's main communication with the coast was severed.
We inquired especially into the causes of the cessation of public worship, and into the events which led up to the destruction of churches and the killing of clergy. Further, we sought and obtained explicit statements from members of the Government as to their policy in respect of liberty of conscience and of worship. Closely related to these issues were questions affecting the social well-being of the Spanish people, especially the welfare of the poorer and unprivileged classes.
The courtesy and frankness of representatives of the Government were paralleled by the willingness of private citizens of different creeds and parties to assist us in our inquiry. Throughout our journeyings in Republican Spain we were at all times free to see members of various Christian communions. We took every opportunity to express the good will of Christians in Britain to their fellow Christians in Spain, who were suffering the bitterness of civil war.
The inquiry was limited to the territories under Republican rule. Investigations in the parts of Spain under General Franco's control could only be made at his invitation.
We report as follows on the main subjects within the scope of our inquiry :—
(1) " ANTI-GOD " PROPAGANDA.—We found no evidence of an organised " Godless " propaganda such as has existed in Soviet Russia. We were unable on inquiry to hear of any caricatures of God, of Christ, or of the Virgin and Saints, such as have been features of " anti-God " propaganda in other countries. On the other hand, members of our party found copies of the Scriptures offered freely for sale on street book-stalls. The situation in regard to religion in Spain was summed up to us by a very acute English observer of dispassionate views, one who knows Spain well and is himself a practising Catholic, in the following terms : " There is a strong anti-clerical movement, but no anti-God movement in Spain."
(2) THE DESTRUCTION OF ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCHES AND THE KILLING OF PRIESTS
In all the territory that we visited, namely Barcelona, Valencia, Madrid, and their environs, all Catholic churches were either closed or secularised ; and no religious services were being held in them. So far as we were able to observe, the church buildings were of three classes. There were those which were closed but uninjured ; these were mostly churches of special historical and artistic interest, like the Abbey of Montserrat