Vatican's Plan to Beatify Spanish Clergy Divisive The Vatican is preparing to beatify nearly 500 Spanish clergy killed during the civil war of the 1930s. The Catholic Church calls them martyrs, but opponents say the church is trying to obscure its own role in supporting fascism in Spain.
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Vatican's Plan to Beatify Spanish Clergy Divisive

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Vatican's Plan to Beatify Spanish Clergy Divisive

Vatican's Plan to Beatify Spanish Clergy Divisive

Vatican's Plan to Beatify Spanish Clergy Divisive

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  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/11945372/11945373" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

The Vatican is preparing to beatify nearly 500 Spanish clergy killed during the civil war of the 1930s. The Catholic Church calls them martyrs, but opponents say the church is trying to obscure its own role in supporting fascism in Spain.

RENEE MONTAGNE, Host:

Jerome Socolovsky reports.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

JEROME SOCOLOVSKY: The monastery of San Lorenzo de El Escorial is a giant stone structure on a mountainside with a commanding view of the Spanish capital. Next to the massive oaken doors stands Augustinian friar Modesto Gonzales(ph).

(SOUNDBITE OF DOOR CLOSING)

MODESTO GONZALES: (Spanish spoken)

SOCOLOVSKY: He leads me through the endless corridors to the basilica and turns the clock back 71 years.

GONZALES: (Spanish spoken)

SOCOLOVSKY: This fall, they will be among the 498 Spaniards who will be beatified in Rome. Friar Modesto says many more may follow. During the three years of civil war, more than 6,000 priests, bishops, monks and nuns were executed.

GONZALES: (Spanish spoken)

SOCOLOVSKY: A two-hour drive north of El Escorial, in the city of Burgos, a group of war orphans are meeting in the home of Nati Fernandez(ph). She also turns the clock back 71 years to when she was just four months old.

NATI FERNANDEZ: (Spanish spoken)

SOCOLOVSKY: Critics say that by beatifying its martyrs, the church is sending a message: that people who died for the faith are somehow more noble than people who died for another cause, like the parents of Nati Fernandez.

FERNANDEZ: (Spanish spoken)

SOCOLOVSKY: For NPR News, I'm Jerome Socolovsky in Madrid.

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