On Tuesday night, the church of San Francisco de Borja, in the centre of Madrid, hosted a mass in honour and glory of the dictator. “Franco’s work is unsurpassable”, said the priest, who generously praised the General of the coup d’état during the ceremony.
Article translated by AnnA (@annuskaodena)
The mass in honour of Franco has just finished in the parish church of San Francisco de Borja, at Serrano Street, Madrid. It is Tuesday, November 20th 2018, although from what we have just heard inside the church and the spectacle outside, at the entrance, we could well think that we are back in the times of national-Catholicism. The attendees are still gathered at the entrance. The National Police are watching. And the cries begin. “Franco, Franco, Franco.” They also sing “Cara al Sol” (anthem of the Spanish Falange Party). Nazi salutes. Cries of “Spain, not Red nor broken”. Salves to Franco. And also, why not, insults to the press.
A small woman stands out from the crowd outside, away from the spotlights of the cameras. She is 60 to 70 years old. Who is she? She explains herself: “On Saturday, while the police were arresting the topless girl [in reference to the FEMEN activists who protested during a Falange act and who were brutally attacked], I slapped her in the face. It felt great.” Immediately after, the lady gets her mobile phone and shows the photo that captures the exact moment. But there is no time for more. The brawl has just begun.
Some youngsters, who I can’t get to see properly, try to raise a banner condemning the crimes of the Franco regime. Some people try to cover them. They corner them. And the trouble starts. Loyal Francoists approach them but the police intervene quickly. The muddle prevents any checks from happening. They are raging now. They feel provoked. They sing louder. They raise their arms higher to salute. Insults to the press get harsher. The lady who hit the FEMEN activist takes a selfie and retells the story to another woman. “You did the right thing”, the woman responds. She feels proud. ‘The unity of Spain is now guaranteed’, she must be thinking.
The show experienced outside, however, falls short of what happened inside. During the mass. On the altar. Under the cross of Christ. The entrance of the Church of San Francisco de Borja must be a kind of time tunnel. The priest, at the very least, must have felt that. His speech managed to keep up with the best times of national-Catholicism. He is a worthy heir of those bishops who, not so long ago, used to raise their arms when the dictator was passing by.
The priest referred to the dictator as “caudillo”, also as “one of the best sons of Christ” and to top it all off as “the sublime son of the Church”. He praised the dictator’s soul, his Christian dedication and also his work, which he described as “unsurpassable”. And he began to quote: the “roads”, the “social security”, the “reservoirs”, the “villages”, the “middle class” and even the “forests”. His speech was not far-off from the usual speeches given by the Francisco Franco Foundation when they are invited to events. By now he was casting himself upon the pulpit. In the name of God.
And then, the readings: the letter of the Apostle Saint Paul to the Romans, the Holy Gospel according to John. And also, let it be said, the priest read a quote from the Jesuit Roberto Rayuela which refers to the Civil War as a “liberation crusade” and praised how the General of the coup d’état resorted “to the Lord” in the face of “the most serious situations”.
The compliments continued on this line. His “dedication to God”. His attendance at mass. His “doctrinal readings”. And his “good virtues practice”. It did not seem to matter to the parish priest that in between so much reading, the General forgot to fulfil a very simple commandment. The fifth. The one that says “you will not kill”, which Franco even broke on his deathbed, in September 1975, when he ordered the execution of five people, despite international pressure, including that of Pope Paul VI.
The priest continued the calls to the congregation to “defend what we must defend” with “the Caudillo’s undisturbed smile”. And he claimed that the current situation, in reference to the decision of the Congress of Deputies to exhume the General from the Valley of the Fallen, “can only be explained by a type of hatred which does not belong in this world”. Because Franco, as the priest explained from the altar, left this world “asking everyone’s forgiveness”, just as Jesus Christ did on the cross saying “Father, forgive them, because they do not know what they are doing.”
The ceremony ended with the Spanish anthem played at the organ and with some verses by Manuel Machado which received the only ovation heard inside the temple. With that, the priest asked the parishioners to pass the peace and so they did. A peace that, ironically, Franco never granted to the Spaniards. Not even after winning the war. The list is almost endless: thousands murdered and missing, stolen babies, slave labour … But the priest didn’t tell this part of the story.
Original source: Público @publico_es
Author: Alejandro Torrús @ATorrus
Publication date: 21st of November 2018