The Enormous Arrogance of a Belligerent Force

Bear with me on this one.

First, an excerpt from Vincenç Navarro – The Church against Jesus in Público

(translation mine)

The military coup of 1936 (which the Catholic Church supported) led by General Franco was the defence of the economic and financial interests of the most privileged groups in Spanish society, interests which were affected by the highly popular reforms carried out by the governments democratically elected during the Republic. Among these privileged groups was the Church itself, which was one of the largest landowners, and as such, affected by the agrarian reform proposed by the Republic. The Church, in the 1930s, also held 12,000 country ranches and 8,000 urban buildings. The Church was also the institution that exercised a monopoly in education, also affected by the educational reforms of the democratically established government that favoured the establishment of public schooling, also a highly popular measure.

It followed from this that the Church became the largest spokesman for resistance to such measures, publicly encouraging the army to rise up against the democratic government. And when the military coup took place, the Church immediately defined it as a Crusade, a crusade that paradoxically had at its vanguard Muslim troops, who were those who led it. It was no surprise, then, that when the coup took place sectors of the popular classes attacked churches and the clergy. The excesses that occurred during those attacks (which should be criticized) should not become an obstacle to understanding (though not to justifying) the enormous hostility from the popular classes toward the church, which, betraying the message of its founder, had allied itself to the most exploitative and oppressive forces existing in Spain, an alliance which continued throughout the dictatorship. Throughout that hated regime, the Church (with very few exceptions) was a part of it.


This institution was, then, a belligerent force in that conflict, and it is an enormous falsehood to present the Church as a “victim”, as Benedict XVI did recently. In reality, its role was predominantly victimiser. In many areas of Spain it was the Church that put together the list of those whom the Falange or the army would shoot, who were, by the way, those who were defending a democratically elected government. And the enormous arrogance that characterises the Church explains why it has not even sought forgiveness for its behaviour toward the victims, who belonged on the whole to the popular classes of the different regions and nations of Spain.

Sometime later, elsewhere:

SUBJECT: ARCHBISHOP URGES MORE USG CRITICISM OF CHAVEZ

Porras said the international community also needs to work and speak out more to contain Chavez and the export of his revolution. Porras said most regional governments have deferred to Brazilian President Ignacio “Lula” da Silva to handle Chavez because the two share leftist ideologies. Lula has been unwilling to engage, however, which has stymied regional efforts to contain Chavez, the Archbishop asserted. Porras said the Europeans have been just as weak on Chavez, especially since the departure of Spanish President Jose Maria Aznar.The Archbishop said that both Latin America and Europe need strong leadership from the USG.

Venezuelan archbishop denies information in WikiLeaks report :: Catholic News Agency (CNA)

Archbishop Porras explained to CNA that the WikiLeaks cable which was reprinted by the Venezuelan News Agency read like “a science-fiction movie script that has absolutely no basis.”

He said allegations that he offered the U.S. access to the infrastructure of the Church are not in keeping with “the actions of the Church” or with his actions as then-president of the Venezuelan bishops’ conference. “None of these things took place,” he said.

Archbishop Porras expressed regret that the Venezuelan News Agency decided to re-print the allegations along with negative comments about the bishops. The government-run media has been engaged in an “orchestrated” campaign against numerous Church leaders in the country, he said, including Cardinal Jorge Urosa of Caracas and Archbishop Roberto Luckert of Coro.

Such actions are intended to merely undermine the credibility of the Church among Venezuelans, he added. Church leaders in the country only seek “to serve and to simply be a voice crying out in the wilderness to make the commandment to love God and neighbor a reality,” the archbishop concluded.

Rewinding a bit. To 2002, precisely. To the day after the attempted coup in Venezuela. The one backed by the US (and Aznar). BBC Mundo, the Spanish BBC News service, has an interview from that day with a Monsignor Baltazar Porras.

Baltazar Porras

The BBC report treats the coup d’etat as a fait accompli, referring to Chávez as the ex-president of Venezuela. Porras, according to the report, had accompanied Chávez in his last hours in the Presidential Palace. The interview is remarkable, not only for the BBC’s matter-of-fact treatment of Chávez’s overthrow, but for the Porras’s beatific smugness while a coup d’etat is underway. An excerpt:

What, in the end, was the act that made him arrive at the conclusion that he should step down from government?

The events of that afternoon, and the violence unleashed, together with the public positions that the different components of the Armed Forces had taken made him think that it was better to avoid a greater spilling of blood and that it was the moment to step down.

According to a testimony from him, from the afternoon on he began to develop and talk through the decision with his closest allies and after 9 that night he had made the determination.

Did he have any anguish, any regrets?

First, to me he asked forgiveness in the way he had treated me and in the end he asked us that we transmit to the whole of the episcopate the request for forgiveness in not having found the path of a more direct and friendly relation with the Catholic Church.

Further in:

What do you believe will be the most difficult problem that the provisional government of Venezuela will face?

To unite all sectors and avoid opportunism for those who always want to interfere in situations like this and look for ways to fish in troubled waters.

It is necessary to overcome so many wounds in different sectors and be able to unite the greatest number of wills and abilities to move the country forward in a moment that is difficult, that is atypical, that is a transition toward full constitutionality.

In the end, a bit like the BBC’s editorial procedures for coup laundry, that transition didn’t really work out too well.

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