The Bipolarism of Catholic Spain

Photos by Teresa Limjoco

Peter De Trolio of Jerez de la Frontera is an American lawyer who has been living in southern Spain for more than 20 years, where he has worked in  exporting.  A married father of two, Peter is currently teaching in a private school.   Fr. José Miguel Marqués Campo  was born in Spain but educated in Chicago, after which he entered the diocesan seminary at Oviedo, where he was ordained in 1996. He has been a parish priest in northern Spain for almost 20 years. In this frank, wide-ranging REGINA interview, they discuss Catholic Spain–her history, her challenges and the realities that Spanish Catholics must face today.

REGINA: Before we begin, can you tell us about the work you do with Catholics?

JOSÉ MIGUEL MARQUÉS CAMPO: As a priest, along with ordinary faithful in my pastoral care, I have gotten to know many bishops, priests, deacons, seminarians and people from all walks of life, from the different Religious Orders, and Lay Apostolic Associations.

PETER DE TROLIO:  I am preparing for the Permanent Diaconate and so I mix with much of the regular clergy but don’t have a great deal of contact with the Religious orders.  I also have friends in Opus Dei and on occasion attend their monthly retreats.

REGINA: Do you have any general comments on Spanish Catholicism at the outset?

PETER DE TROLIO:  Spanish Catholicism is a curious thing.  It’s not like Catholicism in the US where you find liberal, conservative, etc.  People here, at least in Andalucia, that identify themselves as Catholics are orthodox.  People here who would be liberal Catholics simply don’t practice.

There are also those that are very involved with the “Hermandades”  — confraternities that belong to parishes and participate in the Holy Week processions.  They tend to be very attached to their brotherhood and parish but don’t necessarily attend Mass regularly.  There’s a strange bi-polarism that I cannot get my mind around.

REGINA: The Church in Spain has an amazing history – the ancient buildings attest to this — but are Spaniards today aware of this? Are they taught about the early Christians, the Muslim occupation, etc?

PETER DE TROLIO:  From what I can see most people simply walk by the ancient buildings ignoring them in the way that a New Yorker ignores the Empire State Building; they are there but so what.  Everything is old, no one really notices.

JOSÉ MIGUEL MARQUÉS CAMPO: I do not believe that Spaniards, generally speaking, are really fully aware of Spain’s glorious Catholic history and civilization. And thus what one doesn’t know, one cannot really appreciate. For amazing as this history is, ever since the socially dominant liberal and regional independent agenda—especially though not exclusively, of a leftist persuasion—the national education system has been wired in such a way as to purposefully neglect Spain’s deep Catholic roots and culture, which were extended to her overseas provinces: North and South America, northern Africa, and Asia (Philippines).

PETER DE TROLIO:  Yes, they don’t seem to know their own history.  They don’t seem to understand the sacrifice of their ancestors to expel the occupying Moors.  Most confuse it all.  Most don’t know that many of the Churches are built on former Mosques which in turn were built on former Churches.

REGINA: Are ordinary Spaniards aware of the ‘black legend’ about them that was perpetrated by the Protestant powers in the 16th and 17th centuries?​

JOSÉ MIGUEL MARQUÉS CAMPO: Many Spaniards, alas, do not really know the genuine Catholic history of Spain, being seduced, as it were, by the typical, and very efficient, Protestant and Masonic propaganda. The infamous “Black Legend” during the Age of Exploration of the New World, thrown against Spain, was nothing more than fierce liberal-Protestant ideology against a Catholic Power of the epoch, which was, yes, expanding an overseas economic Empire, but in the process, extending to those territories a Catholic civilization.

Quite different than the British Colonial Empire, Spain’s Empire was not a colonial one at all; it was more akin to the ancient Roman Empire, in that her territories outside of the Iberian peninsula, were actually overseas provinces of Spain proper. Thus, Mexico was actually the Vice-Royalty of Nueva España, Colombia was Nueva Granada, etc.

During the benevolent rule of Isabel I the Catholic, of Castile, she actually drew up royal laws for the governing of Spain’s American territories (not colonies!), which included a double protection of the local inhabitants: from the atrocious pagan practices of human sacrifices, and from the greed of some European economic exploiters. Naturally, the Catholic Queen issued royal provisions for the evangelization of those lands by missionaries sent by the Church.

PETER DE TROLIO:  They are in many ways victims of the black legend.  Many of them actually believe it and the Anti-clericalism still present here in Spain does not do much to disabuse people of it.  Spaniards show an outward arrogance at times that hides a massive inferiority complex that comes directly from their belief in the legend.  Their belief in the legend comes very much from their lack of knowledge of their true history which has always been twisted to benefit the governing regime.

The Spanish Republic did its best to attack the Church and foment “pogroms” against Churches, religious orders, etc.  There are stories of villages where the Priests were taken out of the Church into the town square and stabbed to death by the mob and then the church was set afire. “ PETER DE TROLIO

REGINA: Why do you think that the Church was so enmeshed in politics in 20th century Spain?

PETER DE TROLIO: The Church was the target of anti-clerical government officials in Spain from the middle of the 19th century.  Beginning with the “dismortizacion de Mendezabal,” — the expropriation of the property of the Religious Orders — the Church has been targeted here.  What went on during the Spanish Republic and later the Spanish Civil War was purely a continuation of the problems of the 19th century.

JOSÉ MIGUEL MARQUÉS CAMPO: The unique position of the Church in Spain was due to that symbiosis of Spanish society. By the 1930s, the radical left-wing had reached sufficient strength in order to impose their sociopolitical and economic ideology, doubtless assisted by subterfuge from the Soviet Union. The Second Republic, a complete and utter farce, especially with regards to maintaining public order, began in 1931 after the abdication of King Alfonso XIII.

PETER DE TROLIO: The ‘Republic,’ was not the kind of democratic republics we have in America; it was simply a government without the King, controlled completely by the Socialists and the left wing unions, which in turn were affiliated with the Communists.

  1. JOSÉ MIGUEL MARQUÉS CAMPO: And so, with the country under the inept government of the Second Republic, the radical left-wing actually started the “civil war” years before the commonly-held ‘start date’ of the Spanish Civil War in 1936.
  2. JOSÉ MIGUEL MARQUÉS CAMPO: The Left today has an obsession with re-writing history, claiming that Spain was a paradise before the right-wing, supported by the military, started a coup in 1936. But the facts… are facts: the truth of the matter is that Franco, although a “Nationalist” Catholic, actually supported the Second Republic, insofar as he believed that it could be a legitimate form of government that could maintain public order.

But public order was totally non-existent, since the government was unable or unwilling to halt the left-wing cruel persecution of Catholics, including the vicious murder of bishops, countless priests, religious, ordinary lay Catholics—by the thousands—burning of churches, images of saints, profanation of tombs (there are ghastly photographs of the streets of Barcelona with opened coffins of profaned nuns).

PETER DE TROLIO: There is no question that the civil war was caused and spurred on by the radical Left.  The idea was to get the Right to rise up, then to crush it and install a Stalinist-type government.  There is a wonderful book called “The Spanish Tragedy,” published in 1936 just after the beginning of the war that explains with great detail what really happened.

REGINA: What evidence is there today of what happened during Spain’s Civil War? 

PETER DE TROLIO: There are villages where you find one Church where there should have been three or four and inside it is an odd patchwork of styles and eras.  Then you find out that after the Republic the Church that was in the best repair was filled with the pieces that were saved from the flames in the other Churches and a hodge podge was created in the only Church left.  The vast majority of the population were practicing Catholics and this type of attack by the Left did nothing to engender confidence with the public.

JOSÉ MIGUEL MARQUÉS CAMPO: Between 1936-1937, the Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Jesus in Gijón where I am working was taken by the left-wing, and used as a jail to imprison Catholic of all walks of life and ages, including children. Our diocesan seminary of Oviedo has in process of canonization several seminarians who may have died heroically as martyrs.

During the Spanish Civil War, priests were especially targeted, and in my home province of Asturias, some were cruelly butchered, literally, on the altar of their parishes, having their chest cut open mercilessly, tortured and left to die, bleeding.” –FR. JOSÉ MIGUEL MARQUÉS CAMPO

One anecdote is particularly touching: a 12-year old boy from Toledo, Santiago (James), had been kidnapped by left-wing, anti-Catholic radicals. He was taken to a church cemetery and forced to reject Christ and utter blasphemies. He steadfastly refused to do so. His cry was the cry of many Spanish martyrs of the era: ¡Viva Cristo Rey! / Hail to Christ the King! He was subsequently shot in the legs, was abandoned in that cemetery to think about it overnight, crippled and bleeding. Next morning, his cruel captors came back to force him again to reject the Catholic faith. He remained resolute. Santiago was then shot to death. This is a documented fact. A glorious martyrdom!

Since that time, the Church has beatified hundreds of Spanish martyrs and canonized quite a number of them. True enough, terrible personal suffering but whose generous blood will prove a blessing for the future of Catholic Spain. All in all, for all the cruel suffering on both sides of the civil war, historical facts clearly reveal an attempt by the left-wing to forcibly impose its communist revolution—at all costs, including the massive murder of Catholics at large—on an unwilling, ancient, noble, Catholic nation.

REGINA: The Church had Francisco Franco as its champion during the Civil War and afterwards. How did this happen?  Today, what effect did Franco have on the Church and Spanish society?

PETER DE TROLIO: During the Republic the Church was thrust into the politics of the situation and when the Civil War broke out they were one of the interested parties that had a block of supporters.  Franco, after he was named leader of the revolt by his peers, began to make a coalition.  It was clear that the Church wasn’t going to support those that had caused it so much damage and so the Church joined the coalition that also included the Monarchists, the Carlists (a group supporting a pretender to the throne), the Falange and the Military.  Franco promised to reinstate the Church to its previous position of importance and influence.

JOSÉ MIGUEL MARQUÉS CAMPO: Though Franco was no saint, and his government held a firm grip on society, and indeed, the severe repression of left-wing dissidents in the years after the civil war, it was a providential intervention, for not one Catholic would have been left alive in Spain, and the country would eventually have gone down the path of being a Soviet satellite in Western Europe.

Franco died in late 1975, just ten years after the conclusion of Vatican II, when the Church was reeling under an unprecedented crisis of faith and identity. (The then-disenchanted Paul VI had publicly lamented three years earlier that by some crack in the Temple of God, the smoke of Satan had entered to disorient the Church like never before in her two thousand year history.)

PETER DE TROLIO: After Franco the Church lost a considerable amount of influence.  Roman Catholicism was disestablished.  Crucifixes were removed from public buildings, the censorship ended for movies and books, religion was no longer a required subject in school. Many priests stopped wearing clerics and anti-clericalism began to rear its ugly head again.  Church attendance dropped radically.  Obviously didn’t happen overnight but slowly over time.  For a while religion was not a graded subject at school as it had been.  It is again now but depending on who wins the general elections that could change.  There were no other obvious liturgical changes, at least here in the south.  So our churches remain, mostly, intact with free standing altars made to fit in well with the rest of the architecture.  We did lose many important religious holidays as days off, the feast of St. Joseph, Saint John the Baptist, Santiago, Corpus Christi and Ascencion Thursday.  Anything that was a Holy Day of Obligation was a day off if it fell during the week.

REGINA: What happened in the Spanish Church in the years following the Second Vatican Council?

PETER DE TROLIO:  After the Council things changed considerably.  There began a movement called “worker Priests,”   a group of liberal priests who went out and worked as common laborers.  In the end they did more damage than good.  In the places where they lived and worked, the churches emptied out.  Later on, Paul VI condemned Franco for the execution of several Basque terrorists.  As well, much of the hierarchy and the clergy began to condemn the regime.  Liturgically, in contrast, things didn’t get too bad.  In most places there was not wholesale architectural destruction as occurred in America.  As well, the old vestments were preserved and continue to be used.

JOSÉ MIGUEL MARQUÉS CAMPO: If Spain had been spared perhaps the worst of the aforementioned Dutch and German apostasy in those first ten years after Vatican II, after Franco’s passing, the dam seems to have burst to let in an ecclesial flood that swept many good things away. It’s as if Catholic Spaniards, due to Spain’s supposed “backward” staunch Catholic past, had been denied all the wonderful post-conciliar novelties, including a secularized liturgy, a secularized clergy wearing laymen’s attire, and the liberating new modern morality, that the overly-prolonged Franco régime had kept at bay with undemocratic censorship. Of course, all of this was avidly promoted by the left-wing elements in political society and those of the same persuasion within the clergy.

“In our city, lines wrap around the building at the convent of the Daughters of Charity at mealtimes.  The Spanish welfare state could not provide for all of these hungry people and they would never do it with the kind of love and devotion that these nuns do.”PETER DE TROLIO

REGINA: The Church had always been the major provider of social services in Europe, historically.​ Was this also true in Spain?

PETER DE TROLIO:  Yes. The Religious orders not only provided places for unwed mothers to go during their pregnancy, they served as adoption agencies, provided milk for mothers who were unable to nurse, fed the poor, established school, created free hospitals and cared for the aged.

JOSÉ MIGUEL MARQUÉS CAMPO: Certainly! It really surprises me that today, we are led to believe that the Church’s social doctrine started with Leo XIII’s 1891 encyclical, Rerum Novarum. While certainly addressing the social circumstances of the Industrial Revolution, that does not mean that, in purity, we can affirm that the Church developed what would even later be called her “social doctrine.”

The Catholic faith from its divine-apostolic origins already had a social dimension, that traditionally would be known as the social reign of Christ — that is, a civilization with a social order in conformity to God’s design. And that means everything, including of course, social services, such as education, hospitalization, orphanages, and works of charity, to name a few.

REGINA: What kinds of services does the Church provide today in Spain?

PETER DE TROLIO: They still continue to run hospitals, homes for the aged and soup kitchens.  Without these services in these difficult days many, many people would starve.

JOSÉ MIGUEL MARQUÉS CAMPO: One highly respected ecclesial organization is Cáritas Española / Spanish Charities, which takes care of the poor and needy of a modern, secularized society, reeling under a profound moral and economic crisis of late. Another excellent ecclesial social service is the Cocina económica / Economic kitchen, run by the Daughters of Charity, whose mission is to maintain a dignified dining room, providing a good quality food service (for the symbolic price of 1 euro) to anyone in such need. In conjunction with the food service, there are the Albergues / Lodging Houses, also run by the Daughters of Charity, providing a temporary room for the night for those living on the streets.

“In Europe we have created generations of pagans that went to church.  It is extraordinary.  Now that is not to say that there are not extremely devout people who are tremendously well educated in their faith, but they are the exception and not the rule.” — PETER DE TROLIO   

“Some Spaniards are marrying later on but because they want the pretty ceremony and the party — not because of any religious conviction.” — PETER DE TROLIO 

REGINA: What about the Spanish Catholic family in these difficult times?

PETER DE TROLIO:  Much like in the rest of Europe the family is in decline.  The rate of illegitimacy is extremely high.  People are co-habitating without the benefit of marriage and having children.

JOSÉ MIGUEL MARQUÉS CAMPO: Well, the traditional and natural family structure of man and woman getting married, having children and raising them, of course is still in existence! But the perverse ideology of gender is wreaking havoc in Spanish society. The former Cardinal-Archbishop of Toledo, later appointed Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship by Benedict XVI, and now currently Cardinal-Archbishop of Valencia, once gave a most interesting conference in Gijón several years ago, precisely on the future of the family. He warned us very seriously that the so-called gender ideology was the most dangerous ideological revolution in history, more damaging to society than were the French or Communist Revolutions.

REGINA: “Spain has one of the lowest birth rates in Europe. Is there also a high divorce rate? Are families forming?”​ 

JOSÉ MIGUEL MARQUÉS CAMPO: It would seem that the contraception mentality has found Spain to be a sort of paradise, oddly enough. I say this because contraception is, essentially, an egocentric mindset, yet Spain is an otherwise generous country, for example, in numbers of regular blood donors, social services, solidarity initiatives, and in ecclesial terms, with liberality in charitable works of mercy, and a still strong missionary apostolate overseas.

But somehow, the anti-life, contraception mentality has sunk in deeply, no doubt helped along in Catholics by the typical liberal-progressive heterodox who do not catechize families about being open to life, with all that implies for personal morality, as well as social morality.

PETER DE TROLIO:  There was a very high divorce rate here and I heard on the news the other day that the divorce rate is climbing again.  That was being used as a sign that the economy is improving.  When the economy collapsed people couldn’t afford to get divorced so the divorce rate plummeted.

But, in this society, marriage has become as throwaway as it is in the rest of the world.  People still marry but not like before.

“Spain indeed has a terribly low birth rate, not only in Europe, but ranks among the lowest in the entire world. It’s not a promising prospect.”  FR. JOSÉ MIGUEL MARQUÉS CAMPO

REGINA: Are multigenerational Catholic families still influential in the raising of children in Spain?

PETER DE TROLIO:  The multi-generational family had all but disappeared until the tremendous economic crisis we are in arrived.  But, it was the reverse of before.  Before, older people moved in with their adult children — today adult, unemployed children are moving with their families back into their parents’ house.

Now, these people want to move out as soon as they can, so the trend ended but the understanding that families need to help one another has not ended.  This too will disappear as the family continues to come apart.  To make matters worse, Spain allows gay “marriage” to occur and these “couples” can adopt children.

JOSÉ MIGUEL MARQUÉS CAMPO: With all the secularization typical of Western society, and of which Spain is, alas, also influenced, it does seem that family ties here, multigenerational, are strong enough to resist the ideological assault on the family.

“Today, I am teaching a catechism class to the parents of our first communion class in the parish where I volunteer.  What should be a review is new information for them.  Many of these people were shocked to discover that Catholics truly believe in Transubstantiation.” PETER DE TROLIO   

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REGINA: What about catechesis? Has it been as dismal as the rest of Europe? 

PETER DE TROLIO: ‘Dismal’ would be being kind; I need a word more pejorative than that.  These people are truly what we would have called “unchurched.”  The people that went to Catholic schools have a slightly better understanding of their faith but it still remains low.

JOSÉ MIGUEL MARQUÉS CAMPO: Traditional catechesis, that is, before the postconciliar “springtime,” and so-called “new Pentecost,” was realized by excellent national catechisms based on the universal Roman Catechism published under the auspices of the Council of Trent, and then more recently based on the Major and Minor question-and-answer Catechisms published under the authority of Pope St. Pius X. One such famous catechism is the one prepared by Padre Astete, used with great spiritual and instructional benefit, for countless generations. And other catechisms with similar orientation.

JOSÉ MIGUEL MARQUÉS CAMPO: After Vatican II, catechisms became increasingly anthropocentric, much like the “reformed” liturgy, and also sociological, poor in actual doctrinal content. Thankfully, in more recent times, diocesan catechetical material has improved in orthodox doctrinal content, and there exist special training sessions for catechists. But even with these betterments, there is still a very long way to go, however, in this regard.

“As in most of the world, the orders of religious sisters are suffering considerably.  The only orders that are gaining vocations are the traditional, cloistered orders.  Many are coming from Africa and the Orient.  When you see the young sisters of these orders, walking in pairs in silence, they are always smiling.” — PETER DE TROLIO 

REGINA: How about vocations in Spain?

PETER DE TROLIO:  At least here in Andalucia our seminaries have very few candidates.  That being said, they have candidates.  I was told by a priest I know that in one diocese in the North of Spain, before the Council the diocesan seminary had 1000 candidates at any given time.  A few years after the Council had ended they had five.

JOSÉ MIGUEL MARQUÉS CAMPO: Vocations in Spain have obviously gone down the same path as the rest of secularized Western civilization which has forgotten their Catholic roots. Though to be sure, not quite as an alarming drop in vocations, like in France, Holland, and Germany, to name but a few. Certainly, a very low birth rate has, doubtless, its role to play, but that in itself is not the main problem.

The crucial issue is the poor catechetical formation of families, who no longer live the faith at home, and thus no longer transmit and pass down the Catholic faith from generation-to-generation. So, even though there continues to be a Catholic cultural environment in Spain—unavoidable, obviously, the roots run so very deep—that is not equal to a living and vibrant Catholic faith being passed on. Of course, this is a generalization, since there are many families who do in fact live the faith at home, and do an extraordinarily heroic job of transmitting the faith to their children, in the midst of an indifferent or even hostile social environment.

PETER DE TROLIO:  The collision of the Council, the end of the state/religion union and the disaster that were the 70’s caused numbers to plummet.  They still have not recuperated.

JOSÉ MIGUEL MARQUÉS CAMPO: Today there are numerous pastoral actions, among diocesan and religious orders, intended to foment vocational curiosity. One such activity at the diocesan level, are yearly gatherings of “altar boys” at the seminary. The problem with such an initiative, is the fact that “altar girls” are also welcomed, which of course, defeats the entire purpose of fomenting vacations among the altar boys to the priesthood. Putting them together just won’t work, because it isn’t a good combination. You either see it, or you don’t. The excuse is that altar girls may also be encouraged to pursue a vocation. But not to the priesthood, right? So what’s the point? Surely, there can be other pastoral initiatives for altar girls—quite frankly, beginning with the fact that they shouldn’t serve at the altar like the boys—that will not get in the way of fomenting a vocational awareness to the priesthood for altar boys. Really, until such time we do away with politically correct, total, “sexual equality,” ideological paradigms, these misguided pastoral initiatives will not get very far…

Other diocesan initiatives involve “youth Masses” on the third Sunday of the month in the main chapel of the seminary. Though there are positive aspects,  such as orthodox homilies by a young priest, these celebrations suffer from the same, worn-out, pseudo 1970s-1980s guitar music Mass mindset, that I think time has proven beyond any doubt whatsoever, that this simply does not work! That it simply will not work! That it simply cannot work! Why? Because we are so absorbed in ourselves in these piously secularized celebrations, that we give of ourselves, and thus become so full of ourselves, that we leave no room for God to give of Himself to us.

“For all their secularized lives, ironically, young people are just not captivated by ordinary, everyday language, accompanied by street or popular music in a supposed Mass setting. To insist on this proven, epic experimental liturgical failure, after fifty years or so, is nothing short of mind-boggling. “– FR. JOSÉ MIGUEL MARQUÉS CAMPO 

PETER DE TROLIO:  Today, the few men who are entering are dedicated and have a true calling.  What we lack in quantity we are gaining in quality.

JOSÉ MIGUEL MARQUÉS CAMPO: I would suggest introducing these young people, with an appropriate catechesis, to a non-secularized, truly pious celebration of the Traditional Latin Mass, with appropriate organ music and singing, with all the indispensable liturgical moments of “sonorous silence,” as our very own St. John of the Cross would so aptly put it. But alas, the ecclesial situation is not prepared for this.

Still, it would be so totally different for these young people, so totally new to them, deprived as they are of this venerable, ancient Roman Mass, why… it might even awe them into orientating their entire lives towards God!

REGINA: Today, many Germans see the Catholic Church in their country as hopelessly corrupt. Is this true also in Spain? Is corruption a major problem for vocations?

PETER DE TROLIO:  I don’t think people see the Spanish Church as corrupt, especially today.  In the past people thought the Church had too much power and influence.  In the previous regime, a Nun or Priest could fix many problems for a person.  They also could block you from getting something if they chose.  It was a double edged sword.  And, as in much of the rest of the world, many women entered religious orders to be “career women” which was impossible outside and/or not to have to marry and many men entered for the security and for the ability to get an education.  These people became unhappy and bitter as they lived lives that they weren’t called to.  As such there were many complaints about truly wicked nuns and nasty priests.  That is all gone now as the vocations that exist are true.  It is difficult to be a Nun or a Priest here today so no one is entering for the “advantages.”

JOSÉ MIGUEL MARQUÉS CAMPO: It is not my impression that many Spaniards view the Catholic Church as “hopelessly corrupt.” Sure, the old, persistent anti-clerical sentiment still runs fairly strong in many, but that’s not the same as viewing the Church itself as a corrupt institution. If anything, the anti-clerical mindset views the Church as the one institution that must be fought and annihilated, not because of corruption, but rather because of the strong influence the Church still exercises in Spanish society.

REGINA:  ​Are Spain’s famous local traditions of piety — feasts and processions — still ​ ​intact?

PETER DE TROLIO:  Traditions of piety are alive and well in Southern Spain.  Strangely, not at all connected to how religious a person might be, they are fiercely guarded and the youth actively participate.  Membership in a confraternity is a thing of pride and there are family traditions as to which one a child will belong to.

In fact, one of the upstart political parties on the extreme left, at a meeting in Seville, declared that Holy Week processions would be abolished.  There was so much hue and cry that they had to rectify their statement immediately.  No one can win an election in the south if they are openly against the confraternities.

The Holy Week processions are all-important down here in the south and everything stops for them.  There are also processions at Corpus Christi and on the feasts of Patron Saints and especially on the feast of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel.

There are so many people at these processions that you have to push through the crowds and I’ve always felt like I was about to be trampled by the pushing crowd.  So in some way Christianity is being preserved, in an odd way, amidst all the de-christianization.

Having said that, there is still faith in Spain.  The people who practice are real believers and that is the seed we need to re-evangelize the nation.

“Anti-clericalism is a totally ideological, and indeed even pathological perception, because although the Church certainly has a role in society, she really does not exercise all that much influence. Were that true, some of the nefarious civil laws, like ‘divorce express,’ the ‘right’ for women to abort, and others, would never have been approved in Parliament, nor indeed, would ever have been tolerated by Spanish society.” FR. JOSÉ MIGUEL MARQUÉS CAMPO 


“This year of 2015 marks the fifth centenary of the birth of one of the Spanish Church’s most renowned saints: St. Teresa of Ávila — or of Jesus, as she is commonly referred to here. “ — FR. JOSÉ MIGUEL MARQUÉS CAMPO

REGINA:  If you were to point to bright spots for the Faith in Spain, what would they be?

JOSÉ MIGUEL MARQUÉS CAMPO: As the great Catholic author, J.R.R. Tolkien, would say: there is always hope! Bright spots for the faith in Spain include her ample tradition of canonized saints for the Church, whose lives and spiritual legacy will continue to provide an authentically Catholic culture for endless generations to come.

The hundreds of already beatified martyrs of the persecution of Catholics during the 1930s, is the blood that will prove to be the generous seed for more Catholics in Spain, since the Church has always grown, miraculously, with the precious blood of those martyrs who die for the Lord.

“Given our very deep Catholic roots, culture, civilization, heritage, history, and indeed Catholic soul, we have a lot of great things going for us! We just need to re-discover it all, and many may even need to discover these priceless treasures for the first time. Being sincerely and humbly true to our Catholic nature, is simple enough, with the promise of unsuspected horizons for evangelization.” Fr. José Miguel Marqués Campo 

Our hope is to rekindle our genuine Catholic identity. St. John Paul II’s apostolic exhortation during his Visit to Santiago de Compostela in 1989 (the year I entered the seminary), best sums it up: that Spain and the rest of Europe, by re-discovering the true roots of our civilization, make it possible for each of us to again be our true Catholic selves.



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