New Movie on St. Josemaria Escriva

Here's the trailer for the new movie "There Be Dragons," about the life of St. Josemaria Escriva, founder of Opus Dei.  It's directed by Roland Joffe, who also directed "The Mission."  Looks pretty good--though were there really so many drums in Josemaria's life?  The website for the film is here.


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8 years 3 months ago
Right, wholesale slaughter of innocents is "understandable" in the name of social "progress."

The history of the radical left in a nutshell.  How did that work out for those in the Soviet Union or China, Jim?  100 million killed by their own governments for progress, right?
Peter Lakeonovich
8 years 3 months ago
Fr. Martin,

In a separate, but related, note: are there any updates we should be aware of as your 1995 article regarding Opus Dei, which is linked below:

It might be useful background for those who plan to watch the film on St. Josemaria.

Carolyn Disco
8 years 3 months ago
Yes, please do read Fr. Martin's article on OD. It is outstanding for its clarity and incisive portrait of what is basically a cult. John Allen's apologia for them is a little much to swallow: all that self-flagellation is just akin to going to the gym. The descriptions of their recruiting tactics are chillingly manipulative.

I expect the movie is a puff piece, and wonder about its funding directly or indirectly by OD sources. These very young men who get grandiose ideas are suspect in my view. The parallels to Maciel and the Legion of Christ are a little too close for comfort. Focus on elites and the wealthy, but add centers near upscale universities.

Like the Legion, there is a website for those who extricated themselves from the group. Do read  The Opus Dei Awareness Network. Yes, do become aware.

Carolyn Disco
8 years 3 months ago
Fr. Martin,

But, but, OD has tried to mainstream ''a bit'' its spiritual practices. I wish I could be more assured. There is a whole culture that needs more than a ''bit'' of change.

Cynic that I am (based on experience), OD has learned much more about effective PR, all the better to become mainstream. The foundation of a group like that is too embedded to abandon its basic character. Sure, good people get hoodwinked, just like the Legion's sophisticated effort to mask itself.

Find recent members/ex-members to interview as before, and see what the result is. The genetic stripes do not change, IMHO. That corporal mortification is just plain sick, no matter how benignly some portray it.

BTW, their headquarters in NYC has separate entrances for men and women. What century are we living in?
I worry OD has just gotten more slick. Sort of like the New Nixon.

8 years 3 months ago
  No matter how much Opus Dei may have changed since 1995, their founder, about whom the film is made, can't change the things he did and said.  From the little I've read of the movie it avoids mention of his support of fascism and Franco in the Spanish Civil War (you can read a letter from him to Franco here ...

8 years 3 months ago
Thanks for the link, Fr. Martin - it looks like a very interesting movie!

As for the remarks, those who try to defame Escriva by linking him to Franco are ignoring facts and history to promote their particular politics (as usual).  Josemaria Escriva neither joined nor opposed Frano's fight against the Republican forces as was painstakingly documented by John Allen Jr. (no conservative by any means).

We might add that the Republicans were supported by the mass murder, Stalin, and killed thousands of innocent priests, nuns and civilians during the civil war.  Of course, Frano was no saint but he did allow for transition to democracy without slaughtering millions in the process as was the case in Germany or the Soviet Union.

8 years 3 months ago
Yes, the Soviet Union supported the Republicans in the Spanish Civil War, and Hitler supported Franco and the Nationalisits.

One interesting thing - the martyred Catholic religious of the Spanish Civil War are in contrast to those more recent martyrs of Latin America like Romero and the Jesuits of El Salvador .... they seem to be on opposite ends of the ideological spectrum. I wonder if this has anything to do with the reforms of Vatican II. I can't help but think the change is for the better.

While the Church supported Franco's 1936 insurgency against the left-wing Republican government,  the Basques, including their priests, were mostly Republicans, and it was Franco's forces which killed them ....

"A memorial service was held on Sunday, for 14 priests executed by Franco’s forces in the Basque Country during the Spanish Civil War.  The bishops of the Basque Country have issued an apology for the Church’s silence over the episode. None of the priests was given a proper funeral, nor did most of them have their deaths registered ..... The apology marks the first time the Church in Spain has expressed any remorse for its role in the Spanish Civil War. The Church hierarchy supported Franco from the moment the war began in 1936 and continued throughout the 40-year dictatorship."
 - Spain: Bishops apologise for Church silence over Civil War killings ...
8 years 3 months ago
Yes, there were attrocities on both sides; however, the majority of the leathal violence against religious persons and organizations was committed in the name of revolutionary socialism in Spain and in every other civil or international conflict of that century: Russia, Mexico, Portugal, China etc. etc.

None of this, however, excuses your attempt to defame the memory of Escriva in order to promote your leftist politics, Ms. Watson.  The Church was as neutral as it could be considering the evils and complications of civil war.

8 years 3 months ago
I don't have any sinister agenda  :)    I don't think I have a lethal political stance - I'm just a democrat.  I'm not trying to defame the founder of Opus Dei -   I believe his own words and actions tell us  of him. I'm saying  that the movie seems to be a puff piece.
8 years 3 months ago
Just because the movie might not reinforce your particular political world-view does not mean that it will be a puff-piece.  I would wait until it comes out for judgement. 
8 years 3 months ago
You're right - my political world view is not appreciative of fascism.  Combining fascism with Catholicism doesn't make it ok, but as you say, that's just my view.
A Nobody
8 years 3 months ago
As a former member (left just over a year ago) I find Fr. Martin's 1995 article to be still quite accurate and balanced, particularly where their concept of vocation is concerned.
Jeffrey Connors
8 years 3 months ago
Well said, Crystal.

Opus Dei still feels the same way about the Society of Jesus that it did 15 years ago, with the exception that they now feel that they've eclipsed them in their original role.
Jim McCrea
8 years 3 months ago
If you listen to the trailer without looking at it, it hearkens back to "Drums Along The Mohawk."  For ye younge whippersnappers out there:
8 years 3 months ago
Crystal - Escriva was no fascist.

Calling the opponets of your radical leftist political philosophy "fascists" does not make them so.  It is mere slander and a way of ignoring ideas and facts that contradict your ideology.

These are the same tactics - guilt by association, disinformation and ad hominem attacks - that are used against Pope Pius by the left.  Enough already...
Jim McCrea
8 years 3 months ago
At the time of the Spanish Civil War, "Spain was - a third world nation burdened by a semifeudal nobility, poor soil, a backward peasantry, - a long tradition of political and anticlerical violence, and a church so retrograde that it embarrassed even the Vatican."

(Chapter 9, American Catholic; the Saints and Sinners Who Built America's Most Powerful Church, Charles R. Morris)

It there any wonder that the Republicans had so little respect for the Catholic clergy?  Their wholesale violence against clergy and religious was deplorable but somewhat understandable if one looks at the disreputable reputation that the church had justifiably gained among the masses who were rebelling against the equally deplorable status quo.
8 years 3 months ago
Hi Jeff  :)

Andy Buechel
8 years 3 months ago
I'm intereseted to see the movie, and I'm not convinced that it will be a puff piece.  Quite possible, but not altogether likely.  The screenwriter/director made both The Killing Fields and The Mission, neither of which could be described as in any way sympathetic to the goals of fascism.  Further, the story doesn't seem to be about Fr. Escriva per se, but rather a journalist investigating his cause for canonization, who in turn is coming to grips with his own father's actions in the civil war.  Hopefully this structure will allow some of the complexity and ambiguity of that terrible situation to become clearer.  There was no ''good'' side to the Spanish Civil War, but because of that, it seems to me that one could side with Franco and not be a fascist or side with the Republicans and not be a Soviet-style Communist.  Perhaps that sort of difficulty will be showcased.  I, for one, look forward to seeing the movie. 

The plot summary from the invaluable Internet Movie Database here.  Be warned, spoilers possible (though I didn't really see anything too significant).
Gabriel McAuliffe
8 years 3 months ago
Thank you, Andy for such a thoughtful comment.  One nun in particular was martyred at this time, and I don't think that it was at the hand of facsits:  Blessed Maria Sagrario of St. Aloysius Gonzaga, OCD.

it is really too bad that some here think that the murder of innocent people was "understandable."
Andy Buechel
8 years 3 months ago
It's probably a bad idea to wade into these waters, but I actually agree with Jim.  I 100% deplore the killing of any non-combatants (and frankly, usually combatants as well), but the Republicans wouldn't have seen the clergy as innocent.  They would have seen them as an intrinsic part of a thoroughly corrupt system that kept millions of true innocents (in their minds) enslaved to poverty and ignorance.  I think that these people were wrong on that (though not without valid points: how much of our privilege-clerical or otherwise-is built on the sufferings of others?), but I can also see the logic to their thinking.  Again, this is NOT a justification for their slaughter, which I condemn utterly (as I would assume goes without saying, but somehow I fear not).  Pace the maxim, to understand is not necessarily to pardon, but it does allow us to see the humanity in those with whom we might vehemently disagree.  To claim from our vantage point that Franco was somehow better than the Republicans because he killed fewer clergy is, somehow, to miss the point of the horrors and tragedies of the Spanish Civil War.  Perhaps Spaniards in the 30s had to choose sides (perhaps not).  We certainly do not.  As I said above, there was no good side to the Spanish Civil War from any Christian perspective.  Better to mourn the dead and strive that such tragedies might be avoided in the future rather than parse which side killed more priests.

PS. It may be worth mentioning that Paul VI intentionally avoided beatifying martyrs of the Spanish Civil War during his papacy.  Franco was still alive and ruling in Spain, and since most of the martyrs were from the Republicans, Paul wanted to give Franco no further legitimation for his own oppression and tyrrany. 
8 years 3 months ago
I agree with what Andy wrote about the Spanish Civil War.

I do think it's possible the film will be good - I liked The Mission and The Killing Fields, which Joffe also directed, very much.  Part of my concern about the movie came from an article I'd read about it a year ago  ....

"The project was initiated by a member of Opus Dei, is partly produced and financed by the group’s members and has enlisted an Opus Dei priest to consult on the set." 

8 years 3 months ago
"it does allow us to see the humanity in those with whom we might vehemently disagree."

I agree with many of your points and also do not see Franco's nationalists as a "good" form of government; however, you are trying to understand the Republicans in light of Christian charity.  This is ironic only because the socialists viewed the world in a gnostic or manichean mindset with their reforms/system as unquestioningly good and the opposition as unquestioningly evil.  They did not seek to "understand" Chrisitianity because it was an a tradition that prevented the imposition of their utopian system of human progress - a system, despite its claims of rights and liberality, that was essentially inhuman, as was demonstrated in other countries.

There is no concept of original sin in athesitic communist theory - only material systems and controls.

So, yes, Franco was better than the Republicans, only because he preserved the traditions and Christian understanding of the populace to be preserved and this prevented the mass slaughter seen elsewhere - esp in what is now Russia and China - in socialist controled countries of the time.

Franco was better not just because he killed fewer clergy, although that was certainly the case, but because he opposed a system that was inhuman to the core and that killed hundreds of millions of innocent lives during the years following world war II.  He also allowed a peaceful transition to democracy that was not seen in communist controlled countries.

I am not a historian, but I think this reasoning is common sense regarding ideologies and political systems of the time.
Jeffrey Connors
8 years 3 months ago
Hi Crys.  :-D


Following that line of logic, the United States and Great Britain should have been allied with Nazi Germany against the Soviet Union instead of the other way around.  How easy it is now, apparently, to forget what a menace fascism was.

The Spanish Republic in July of 1936 was not Soviet Russia.  Faced with a military coup, they would have been happy to have accepted aid from the Western democracies, but the Western democracies were pursuing a strict non-intervention policy.  When Franco looked to Hitler and Mussolini for assistance, the Popular Front government had no one to look to but the Soviets for help.

Bear in mind also, that CEDA, that so-called Catholic Party, headed up by Gil Robles, had been in a coalition govenment with the radicals in 1934-35 and had openly advocated a dictatorship, calling for the dissolution of Spain's "liberal institutions in order to save Spain from judaizing freemasons..."

What justification did Generals Franco, Mola, and Sanjurjo have to launch a military coup against a democratically elected government?

It's true that both sides comitted atrocities, but there is a very imporant difference.  In the Repbilican zone, most of the the killings took place out of popular anger  in the early weeks of the war.  Once the government got control over it in the ensuing months, it largely ceased.  In the Nationalist zone, it was sanctioned and directed at the very highest levels, and continued to the end of the war and well beyond.
8 years 3 months ago

I would argue that in our culture that it is much more politically correct to forget or ignore the attrocities of communism that fascism that dominates every other movie out of our media complex.

Here is a good example from City Journal:

And, don't for get the tiny memorial for the hundreds of millions killed by communism (placed on a street corner in Washington DC) compared to the momumental memorials dedicated to the victims of fascism.  Both evils should be remembered and reviled equally but that is just not the case in our political environment.

I will respond later on Franco - a dictator who I am not defending, btw.  But you seem to be understating the Republican deliberate attacks on all religious organization - esp. Catholics and the Church - that very much do reflect the radical violence of socialist regimes around the world (from Mexico to Trotskys destruction of the Orthodox Church in Russia)

Jim McCrea
8 years 3 months ago
Brett:  when people are pushed to the point of despair, don't be too surprised if their reaction isn't what you find acceptable.  It's got nothing to do with left or right.  It has all to do, in this case, with the church visibly and palpably on the side of those who were making life unbearable for the many.  Let me repeat this from above:  " - and a church so retrograde that it embarrassed even the Vatican."

The leadership of this church have managed to lose the masses many times in her history because of aligning itself with tyranny, despotism and the seats of power.  She has suffered much because of that.  Too many power hungry ecclesiastics simply doesn't seem to understand what this is wrong and will undoubtedly experience violent reactions in the future.  What they sows, so shall they reap.
8 years 3 months ago
I am far from an expert on the Spanish Civil War but people have got their timing and associations out of whack.  In 1936, Hitler was not the menace to the world's minds that he would become later.  He was already becoming a threat  to some but not in the way he would a few years later.  Mussolini was a socialist/communist and his brand of socialism was called fascism which he formed after he left the communist party and was thrown out by the socialists. He remained a communist in spirit till his death.  He was also the darling of the progressives in the US who wondered who would prove best for the progressive movement, the fascists of Mussolini or the communists.  There was no love of democracy amongst many of the progressives.  It was Hitler's move against the Jews that set the progressives against him but not all.

Hitler's brand of fascism was more nationalistic than Mussolini's and centered on his hatred of the Jews and his distaste for Russia.  Franco can be called a fascist I guess but you would have a hard time defining just why he was and what he did differently than other military dictators.  So to throw the term ''fascist'' at him is sort of meaningless.  It is a convenient term for those you don't like. Is Castro a fascist?  He is certainly a military dictator.

In the 1930's the real threat was communism which was militantly atheistic and already had a track record of killing millions of people.  From what I understand the Republicans were dominated by communists and anarchists so if one wanted to predict the future, one had only look at Russia and to see what it would do to religion and the Church.  The fact that the Church was backwards probably played a part but democracy was not such a sure dunk thing as it is now as Germany, Russia and the Austrian empire only abandoned monarchist rule a few years before and there were many in these areas who wanted to restore it somewhat.  Democracy had a bad name in history and was reintroduced to the world by the United States but the French version shortly after was another disaster.  We tend to look at the world through our own prism today but today is not the mid 1930's.
8 years 3 months ago

Your hatred of the Catholic Church clouds your interpretation history.  The Church and her people were stuck - in wartime, no less - between two radicals ideologies on the left and the right.

However, when faced with the radical socialist sentiments as expressed by Trotsky, the traditional groups were right to align with anti-Republican forces.  Trotsky, in the cause of permant revolution around the world, said: "We must rid ourselves once and for all of the Quaker-Papist babble about the sanctity of human life."

While this simplifies the complexities of the civil war - it does highlight the ideology behind the socialist side.  Human dignity is nothing except an obstacle to the all powerful plans of the socialist state.  If you oppose the state, you oppose human "progress" and are therefore less than human and shoudl be treated as such.

And, just for America Magazine, let us not forget that the Republicans persecuted and disbanded the Jesuits - in the homeland of Ignaius Loyola...
8 years 3 months ago

Fascism is an authoritarian, nationalistic, sometimes religious, "third way" between communism and capitalism, where there is a single party, no egalitarianism, and where ethnic groups that don't fit in are often discriminated against.  Franco's Spain would definitely count as fascist.

There was such  fear of communism that  right-wing dictatorships like Franco's were embraced.   But fascism is not intrinsically a more worthwhile form of government than communism just because communism is atheist.  If you want to talk about killing lots of people, Franco did  his share  - the <a href = "">white terror</a>.

For a long time the church sided with the wealthy and powerful and gave its heart to whoever would preserve Catholicism, no matter what their ethics.
8 years 3 months ago

"For a long time the church sided with the wealthy and powerful and gave its heart to whoever would preserve Catholicism, no matter what their ethics."

The Church is not perfect as it is full of mere humans (often in terrifiying situations in history); however, this is a completely simplistic, and erroneous statement.  It is motivated by pure leftist politics and sentimentality.

If anyone wants an objective view of these events and the Church, they would do well to pick up Michael Burleigh's "Sacred Causes: the clash of religion and politics from the great war to the war on terror."
8 years 3 months ago
The person who started fascism was a Marxist and died a Marxist.  That is Benito Mussolini.  He did not associate with the communist in Italy because of their Russian allegiance so he started his own movement.  At his death he was in the process of writing a new communist manifesto.  Fascism is a left wing movement and is no way a right wing ideology which is one of a stratified society usually with a ruling class and most often a monarch as titular or actual head of state.  How one classifies a military dictator, and there have been plenty of them in history, is problematic but fascism is not a good description nor is right wing.
Egalitarianism was part of Mussolini plan and there was no free enterprise in the future of his system but both he and Hitler had to deal with business organizations that existed but they essentially became subservient to the state.  Business did not exist as an independent force within either Mussolini's Italy or Hitler's Germany and did not use its wealth or capital to build industries as they saw fit.  They were controlled by the state.  Nazi means National Socialism and it was officially called the National German Workers Party.  Hitler was in a hurry to establish power and a war machine so setting up egalitarian society was not his first priority though he did establish a lot of state controlled services such as free health care and the state supervised industry in national four year plans modeled after Soviet Russia.  How you want to classify such a government is not easy but it is in no way one that is right.   Essentially Mussolini and Hitler's governments were egalitarian oriented and those who were interested in such joined their movements.  Both were composed heavily of ex communists.  Mussolini had no problem with Jews or other groups so racism is not an essential part of fascism but it obviously was for Hitler.  I do not believe Franco had many racist policies and I believe saved a lot of Jews during the war.  So did Mussolini till he was ousted and replaced by a German government in 1943.
In reality there is no good definition of fascism but the so called two main examples, Italy and Germany were socialist movements, the government controlled the means of production.  Stalin made it popular to call any group that opposed communism, fascists, so if one uses the term to label someone fascist they are just continuing a tactic started by Stalin.  My guess is that Franco was called a fascist because he got aid from Mussolini and Hitler in the Spanish civil war not because of his policies.  Both Mussolini and Hitler, but especially Hitler was interested in stopping the spread of communism.  So was Franco, but for very different reasons.  Franco killed a lot of people and was not a very good ruler.  He eventually allowed a transition to a free market economy but not for many years.
Forget the term ''fascism.''  It is essentially meaningless for Franco.  He was a harsh dictator and anti communist.  So were Hitler and Mussolini.  But that is where the comparison ends.  He had no interest outside of Spain and in fact that was his prime shortcoming.  He closed Spain economically and this caused hardship for the people.  Now Castro and Chavez were also military leaders who have caused economic hardship for their people, created a cult of personality and meddled all over Latin America and Africa with either their militaries or money.  But they are not fascists so they are ok.  Franco was an anti communist dictator who killed a lot of people who he thought did/would suppress Catholicism.  But that is a problem for people.  Not because he killed people, communist do it by the millions all the time, but because he killed communists and sympathizers.  Thus, he is a fascist and evil.   The term is meaningless and a joke.  It is only used because it raises an emotional distaste with people.
Jeffrey Connors
8 years 3 months ago
Brett and JR,

You have some serious historical reading to do, other than the revisionist tripe being peddled by the likes of Glenn Beck these days, who even goes as far as to accuse Theodore Roosevelt, of all people, of being a dangerous progressive.

There was a time when I objected to the classification of Franco as a "fascist" too, based on his resistance to strong attempts to draw Spain into the war on behalf of the Axis Powers and the fact that he never rounded up Jews for the Nazis. I'd thought of Franco more as an authoritarian military man, a believer in "law and order," a staunch anti-communist, a believer in traditional Catholicism and of his society's traditional and deeply-divided class structures built upon latifundist lines. He was certainly vindictive and cruel towards his defeated adversaries. He was a military strongman much along the lines of what you would see in the recent decades past in Latin America, but I didn't know if I'd call the drab, listless and colorless country he ran until the 1970's a true totalitarian state. Jose Antonio Primavera was the leader of the fascist Falange Espanola at the start of the Spanish Civil War, and he was executed by the Republicans. His replacement, the slow-witted and uncharismatic Manuel Hedilla was easily dominated by Franco. Franco co-opted the Falange and all the other right-wing groups that fought on the Nationalist side, such as the Carlists and Monarchists, under one umbrella he could control. The old joke in Spain was that the system could more rightly be called "cunadismo" (brother-in-law-ism) instead of "fascismo" because it was run by Franco's brother-in-law Ramon Serrano Suner (who died in 2003 at the ripe old age of 102) and various Opus Dei technocrats.

Looking at it more carefully, though, you'd have to see that his "dicta-blanda" of the 60s and 70s clouded the fact that life under the regime immediately after the war was in fact  totalitarian along fascist lines, brutally repressive, and marked by a personal personality cult.  Political prisoners were murdered and worked to death for several decades, including those who were used as slave labor in the construction of the basilica at the Valle de los Caidos. As for his WWII neutrality, I'd say it was driven more by his own instinct for survival than it was for any antipathy towards the Axis powers.  He didn't buy into the Nazis' strange and pagan-influenced racial theories.  He saw his own position closer to Mussolini's and it had already been demonstrated quite clearly to him how weak Mussolini really was.  He knew he couldn't particpate in WWII beyond sending a division to fight in Russia, because he knew he was sitting on top of a population that largely hated him.  If the Axis had won, you would have seen a very different Spain.  As it was, the Socialists came to power (democratically) a mere 7 years after he died.  If Spain was the model Catholic country during his rule, staunchly traditionalist, why did Catholicism collapse so dramatically with his exit?

What you guys need to do is look beyond your calcified 1991 view of geo-politics and look at the actual state of the Spanish people and the Church at the time.  Equating the Popular Front government broadly with Mao Tse Tung is silly. Yes, it was foolish of the Republic to expel the Jesuits and to try to wrest control of public education from the Church in a country that was at least 98% Catholic, but in a country that was at least 98 % Catholic, why was there so much anti-clericalism? The only place the Church was popular among working people was among the small landholders in northern Castille and Navarre.  Franco needed muslim Moorish troops to win his war.  Read about what it was like to be a peasant 'bracero' in Andalucia, half-starved and treated little better than subhuman chattel by wealthy latifundist landlords who had the full support of the Church behind them.  Read what it was like to be a miner in Asturias.  Sad to say, the Catholic Church did not cover itself in glory in the runup to the war or during it's duration.   

Read what prominent cardinals and bishops were saying about Franco and the Nazis during the war.  Fascist echoes have not completely disappeared either. I've been to the Alcazar in Toledo.  As of at least 1985, there  were still plaques on the walls bearing congratulatory messages from Hitler and Mussolini.

To back up Jim's point, in all of these revolutionary conflicts from the mid-19th century to the mid-20th, the sad fact is that the Church was more interested in throwing its support behind those who were in favor of protecting the rights and power of the institution rather than being in solidarity with their own flock.
Jeffrey Connors
8 years 3 months ago

It's not quite accurate to conflate socialism with fascism the way you are doing.  Socialists and Fascists both claimed to be "anti-reactionary" and "anti-bourgeois," but that's about as far as the similarities went.  Fascism was quite fine with capitalism, as long as it was put in service to the State.  The fascist solution to class-struggle was not egalitarianism but for all citizens to subsume their own interests to the service and glory of the State, including religion.  There was nothing egalitarian about fascism.  Out of the ashes of World War I, and from the disillusioned and disgruntled veterans rose the “New Fascist Man,” a man with the willingness to devote his life in sacrifice and service to the state and to the “Fatherland.”  According to Mussolini, even Catholicism was supposed to serve the State.

No dewey-eyed egalitarianism from him here:

The Fascist conception of life is a religious one, in which man is viewed in his immanent relation to a higher law, endowed with an objective will transcending the in­dividual and raising him to conscious membership of a spiritual society. Those who perceive nothing beyond opportunistic considerations in the religious policy of the Fascist regime fail to realize that Fascism is not only a system of government but also and above all a system of thought...

The keystone of the Fascist doctrine is its conception of the State, of its essence, its functions, and its aims. For Fascism the State is absolute, individuals and groups relative. Individuals and groups are admissible in so far as they come within the State...

The Fascist State is not indifferent to religious phenomena in general nor does it maintain an attitude of indif­ference to Roman Catholicism, the special, positive religion of Italians. The State has not got a theology but it has a moral code....

The Fascist loves his neighbor, but the word neighbor “does not stand for some vague and unseizable conception. Love of one's neighbor does not exclude necessary educational severity; still less does it exclude differentiation and rank. Fascism will have nothing to do with universal embraces; as a member of the community of nations it looks other peoples straight in the eyes; it is vigilant and on its guard; it follows others in all their manifestations and notes any changes in their interests; and it does not allow itself to be deceived by mutable and fallacious appearances.
8 years 3 months ago
Jeff Connonrs,
You are making my case.  The strategy of the left is to say socialism is good, excuse the excesses of communism and its variants and to portray those who oppose socialism and its variants as somehow bad.  One of the tactics is to call anything that is against progressivism as fascists or right wing.  That is absurd since fascists were most definitely left wing and was a form of socialism and was once the darlings of the progressives and the left.  Fascism is just one form of progressiveness in retrospect they do not like because it fought communism for supremacy in the left wing agendas of government and in Hitler's form was extremely anti Jewish.  Just as a note I do not read, watch or consider what Glenn Beck says or does.  One exception is that in the last week there has been a discussion of his ideas on liberation theology on two other posts here and I watched a show of his on youtube which discussed it.  You seem to know what he says so you must watch him much more than I do.
I do not say that Mussolini's and Hitler's government were communist but communism is not the only form of leftist government.  Both Mussolini and Hitler were men of the left.  Because Hitler had very extreme nationalist views does not erase what National Socialism was.  Mussolini started out as a communist and died as one and what he did in between was just his personal version of trying to make a socialist utopia work.  Hitler had a different socialist utopia in mind but his form of government was one of the left too.  They were both in essence government control of everything for the so called people.  So to call them right is absurd.  There is nothing in any of them that was right in the original sense of the word or in any sense today.  To call fascism right wing is to just try to associate it with who the communist opposed and that has always been a farce and it continues today.  The Italian and German fascist governments were very short lived experiments because the war brought both of them to a quick close.  We got rid of two poisonous experiments but an even bigger one remained.
Socialism is control of the means of production by the state and in fact that is what communism, Mussolini's Italy and Hitler's Germany was about and the fact that Mussolini was a communist all along says it louder than anything.   They were all interested in a form of government that oppressed the people by promising to overthrow the tyranny of a stratified society and eventually an economic utopia.  Hitler actually delivered quicker than anyone on this as Germany was fully employed by the late 30's but it was because of a war effort but the people didn't care because they were eating, employed and enjoying life.  Who was more egalitarian is a mute question.  None of them were ever truly egalitarian.
Now in the particular case of Spain, there were essentially two oppressive sides fighting each other.  Both from what I understand were socialistic in the sense that they wanted to control the means of production and distribution in the society through the state.  That was what the Falange was about.  Both were brutal.  One favored the Catholic Church and one wanted to suppress religion.  They were just two mad dogs fighting over the same bone.
This post is about a movie of a Catholic saint but it quickly morphed into rhetoric of painting him as an enemy of the people by associating him with fascism.  I find this trick played again and again by people trying to offer their form of socialism as a solution.  Fascism is and was a form of socialism.  It differed from communism in several ways but it was just another toxic social policy of the left of which there seems there is an endless supply.   Franco was just another misguided man of the left but to somehow paint his opposition as heroic because he also was brutal was as I said, a joke.

8 years 3 months ago
Jeff Connors,

Theodore Roosevelt ran for president on the Progressive Party.  You ought to read his platform and find out who his associates were.  In 1912 he was a very different man than who he was in 1900.  Taft was scared of Roosevelt and did not want to run in 1912 but only ran to prevent Roosevelt from becoming president again.  Essentially handing the presidency to Wilson who was also a progressive and a racist and in then formed a government over the next 8 years that was one of the most reprehensible in the history of the country.  But this is off topic so that is enough.
Jeffrey Connors
8 years 3 months ago

Speaking as someone whose father earned a Silver Star fighting Chinese communists in Korea, I take some umbrage to the implication that I don't take communism seriously, but in this discussion and in the liberation theology threads, communism has been waved like a bloody shirt to cloud the real issues at hand.  Speaking of tactics, it was a tactic of McCarthyites to label the people who recognized the violent ambitions of Hitler in Spain as "premature anti-fascists."

The Spanish Republic in 1936 was an alphabet soup of political parties and interests, but you and Brett keep ignoring the fact that it was a democratically elected govenment.  The Popular Front government had many factions within it but the dominant one, probably more so than the Socialists, classical liberals, Communists and Trotskyites, were the Anarchists of the CNT/FAI.

Now, it's difficult to imagine a group of people more anti-statist and anti-government than anarchists... I'm not sure of how you define the left/right political divide, but it seems to fall along the lines of statism vs. non-statism.  Following that through, can we say that in their extreme libertarianism the anarchists were the real right-wingers in the Spanish Civil War, and that the Catholic CEDA Party headed up by Gil Robles and Calvo Sotelo as the true left-wingers?  Robles said in front of his Catholic Party supporters:

We must reconquer Spain.... We must give Spain a true unity, a new spirit, a totalitarian polity. .. . It is necessary now to defeat socialism inexorably. We must found a new state, purge the fatherland of judaizing Freemasons.... We must proceed to a new state and this imposes duties and sacrifices. What does it matter if we have to shed blood! ... We need full power and that is what we demand.... To realize this ideal we are not going to waste time with archaic forms. Democracy is not an end but a means to the conquest of the new state. When the time comes, either parliament submits or we will eliminate it.

This is all relevant to a film about Msgr Escriva, because this "saint" wrote a laudatory letter to Francisco Franco and petitioned his government for a title of nobility, a very strange thing for a saint to do.
8 years 3 months ago
Mr. Connors,
I suggest you read the wikipedia discussion of anarchist. 
There is apparently a lot of strains of it but essentially they hung out with the communist, syndicalists and socialists.  One of Mussolini's lovers, was a anarchist intellectual writer who thought he was the future of socialism in Italy.  To call anarchist right in the libertarian sense is not even close to accurate but a major distortion.  Why would you do such a thing?
I know little of Father Escriva's biography or Opus Dei and this thread has made me curious.  All I was doing was reflecting on the typical tactics of the left and how they discredit anyone they do not like for some reason.  This site is rampant in such approaches.  Which I find very troubling for a Catholic site. There is no balance here, no insight from the editors with frequent shallow, one sided posts that contain ad hominems.  Opposed to that is a handful of commenters who challenge the choir.
I never ignored that the Republicans were elected.  I never said that Franco was a laudable man.  If the choice is two evils, then one in the short run has to choose.  My point is that Franco and the those labeled fascists and the socialists are all just examples of the left in an internal dog fight with each other.  The right in the old sense, stratified family oligarchies, or in the modern sense, free enterprise, are just not part of this picture.  They were not even on the sidelines in this war.  They just were not there.

8 years 3 months ago
I do not watch Glenn Beck, either - but I assume this was a jab at the intelligence of those who do.

In any case, to call the anarchist groups of the government "right wing" is patently absurd.  These groups - just like the socialist parties were essentially anti-traditionalist - they wanted to wipe all the traditions and loyalities of the masses out of existence.  They wanted to transform man, so to speak. 

They, like the socialist, were utopians.

Jeff, it is amusing that you essentially look to associate all of the negative attribues of "fascism" a la Hitler to the likes of Franco, yet you are strident in your opposition to the connection of the tactic and goals of the socialist and utopian coalition.  Would the Republic become a replica of the Soviet Union?  We will never know; however, based on their tactics against historical institutions of Spain, the anti-clerical violence (7,000 priests and religious killed), and their loyalities to the communist cause there is a rather good chance that it would have acted in a similar manner once in power.  After all, the Soviet Union and China had very little in common by way of culture or history - however, both socialist regimes killed millions of their own citizens in the name of technocratic progress.  The same was perhaps likely in Spain if the Republic retained and expanded its destructive power.

As for attacking a "democratic" government - if there are abuses of power and the government tramples on the wishes and traditions of the people, then we all know that the people are permitted to rise up and absolve that government to form a new one.  Unless, that is, you disagree with the democratic theory of Locke.

The anti-Catholic leftist crowd love to sight abuse of power by the Church - and, of course, in any instiution such things occure, but to say that the massacres were "deserved" is outrageous.  Especially, when these same people look to ignore the rabid/anti-human nature of the communist ideology of power or excuse the actions of radicals around the world in seeking to "liberate" men from their chains, while actually destroying whole peoples.

Jeff does not like pointing out the sweeping ideological stakes of such events because it shows the ugly end result of a political gnostic mindset that is still popular today.  Of course the civil war was complicated and, no, Franco was not an ideal leader to say the least; however, he was better than the alternative.

Here is a quote from the pro Republican Daily Telegraph correspondent, Cedric Salter, to sum up things up:

"On my way down into town I passed a burning church.  The flames had only caught at on e end of the building and I pushed my way into the entrance.  Flames were licking up round the alter, on which stood two beautiful wrought silver candlesticks gleaming through the clouds of black smoke.  From the high carved stone pulpit an elderly priest swung very slowly to and fro by his sickeningly elongated neck.  He had offered resistance, a guardia told me, when they had seized the Sacred Wafer and hurled it into the flames, and had died cursing them.  Around the walls the pale painted faces of the Saints slowly distorted into nightmare grimaces as the heat melted the wax of which they were made."

"Lower down, just aboce the British consulate, a crowd had formed outside the entrance to a convent.  I went in with them, and found a long wall lined with coffins from which the lids had been stripped.  The poor, century-old bodies of the nuns blackening in the hot sun.  Fresh coffins were being excavated from the convent burial ground and a peseta was bing charged for the hire of a long stick with which to strike of insult with unnameable obscenities these sightless, shrunken relics.  A charnel-house stench and my own sick horror drove me back into the street."
Stanley Kopacz
8 years 3 months ago
In China, free enterprise and totalitarianism seem to get along quite well.  Dictatorships and free enterprise seem to seek each other out.  The leaking of work from the united states seems to indicate a gradient that shows democracy and free enterprise, in its most psychopathic, unregulated form, are not quite the perfect marriage.  We have put dicatators like the Shah in place of democratically elected leaders like Mossadegh because it was better for someone's profit taking from exploiting the local resources. 
Jeffrey Connors
8 years 3 months ago
And I'm being accused of ad-hominem?

I'm not a socialist, but I don't consider democratically-elected socialism to be nearly as dangerous or as evil as fascism, no....  Brett, you have no way of knowing "what would have happened."  That's all baseless supposition on your part.

Brett, I'm glad I amuse you but you seem a little bit confused about gnosticism.  Gnosticism errs by excessively denigrating the importance of the flesh and the material world in favor of the purely spiritual.  To accuse those who are as interested in justice on this earth as well as the world to come shouldn't be accused of gnosticism.  The ones who should be more rightly accused of gnosticism are those who expect nothing in this world, see no manifestation of the Kingdom of God in this world, and who focus merely on the heaven to be found in the next world... like yourself.

Your justification at your baptism infused you with transformative grace.  St Paul tells you that you are a new creation.  We are to be the Salt of the Earth, and to make the Kingdom of God manifest through our example until Jesus returns, but to you, to try to work for the justice in this world demanded by God throughout the scriptures and assure the dowtrodden that they are not human refuse who should just learn their place  is hopelessly utopian.  Out comes the cry of "Marxism!"  Out comes the cry "You hate the Church!"  Actually, we love the Church, and want her to stop making the same mistakes she's made in the past and is loathe to admit.

So, the political right is now the City of God and the political left is the City of the Devil, however you guys are amorphously defining your left/right divide as it suits your own whims and prejudices?  My example on anarchism was meant tongue-in-cheek, to question your opinion on just what constitutes left and what constitutes right.

No one in the 1930s and 1940s. not even our military generals who fought against it, considered fascism to be a left-wing movement.  This Orwellian double-speak is the kind of revisionism being foisted by extreme libertarians and neo-conservative Republicans whose real sense of ethics come more from Ayn Rand than they do from Jesus.  That's the kind of nonsense what allows them to identify a rather centrist Democrat like Obama a "socialist."

If JR doesn't like the tone on this blog, he can try out the vast majority of them that are conservative and traditionalist sounding boards for people who cloak their secular politics in terms of faith.  A lot of Americans these days are letting their faith be informed and shaped by their personal secular politics rather than having their politics shaped and informed by their faith... There are things about the latter that can be dangerous, to be sure, but the former is never a good thing.

Furthermore, you know little about Msgr Escriva, stop going off-topic on the thread.  In his quest for a title of nobility, he showed (in my apparently execrable opinion) a spectacular failure to interiorize the gospels.  St Francis of Assisi, a real saint, did the exact opposite, literally stripping off any pretensions to title or nobility.
8 years 3 months ago
This is my final comment here, the last word is yours. 

What zeal liberals have in the pursuit of justice.  What passion and what certainty!

However, what if your lucidity about the nature of justice is incorrect?  Who are you to judge the human life or the life of Escriva considering your fallen state?

This is the mark of a true modern gnostic: the certainty that their side is on the side of justice and that the opposition side serves only injustice.  This is the hallmark of liberal antipathy against groups ranging from Opus Dei to the Tea Party: i.e. vilification in the name of compassion and "justice."  (our republicans are guilty of similar tactics)

In the burning desire for social justice, liberals disregard their own acts of injustice; the ends justify the means.  This was the hallmark of Communism.

In any case, the description of gnosticism that you provide is woefully lacking as it describes a mystical account of the phenonom rather than its social/political incarnation.  The modern gnostic (marx, hegel, hobbes) battles against the "evil" world and its structures in order to bring about his own, and others, salvation.  What is gnosis?  Knowledge.  And this knowledge is to be used create a new world on earth led by the gnostic (read technocrat). 

According to Eric Voegelin in "Science, Politics and Gnosticism" - "Philosophy springs from the love of being; it is man's loving endeavor to perceive the order of being and attune himself to it.  Gnosis desires dominon over being; in order to seize control of being the gnostic constructs his system." 

Being alienated in the world, the gnostic (i.e. socialist, or liberal, or neo conservative) seeks to transform it through elite knowledge.  However, this transformation can only be achieved by denying the essential nature of man (superbia, pride of life or original sin) and, usually, by the denial of the transcendent (as was the case for communisim). 

"Thus, the utopia of More is possible only by leaving sin out of his account of human nature - which More know was an impossible, hence utopian, even if subsequent utopians have not.  Hobbes sustains his system in Leviathan by occluding reality and denying any summum bonum, relying instead upon the summum malum of violent death as his first princliple. Hegel's system is contrived only by the game of dialectic, the unfolding of sonsciousness to the end of history in the identity of the human logos and divine Logos in the person of Hegel himself."

Finally, "the naure of a thing cannot be changed; whoever tries to "alter" its nature destroys the thing.  Man cannot transform himself into superman; the attempt to creat superman is an attempt to murder man."

So, the problem is not trying for justice or aid to one's neighbors, the problem is the attempt by socialist to transform man through government and various other systems into superman. 

The church sees men as they are and helps them on their pilgrimage to God through charity, education and, most importantly, the sacraments - the socialist or corperatist (fascist) tries to change the world by making men into something they are not - by making us into gods or supermen...  Funny how the current president does the same: "we are the ones we have been waiting for!"

Finally, here is the idea of justice expained by Eve Tushnet, a Jewish convert to Catholicism:

"It played so strongly on the need for justice, which is something I was totally convinced of, in part because of having a very left wing Jewish upbringing where justice is kind of a buzz word, but usually used in terms of getting the bad guys — the other people. And I was convinced that that was great and necessary, but was also sort of thinking, but, well, what if I’m the bad guy? What does justice require from me? And to hear that what it requires from you is that you participate in Christ’s death on the cross was like, oh, that’s not something I would have thought of, but seemed to acknowledge both the impossibility of my making full amends or reconciliation for what I had done wrong, and yet nonetheless giving me something I could do. It was part of what led me into getting baptized."

That is reality of justice - we are all guilty.  Only Christ and reconscile justice and love.
Jeffrey Connors
8 years 3 months ago
This is the mark of a true modern gnostic: the certainty that their side is on the side of justice and that the opposition side serves only injustice. 

And how convenient a club to use to in order to label your political opponents as evil.

I seek my definition of gnosticism in how the Church has always understood it, not how Eric Voegelin decides to use it for a social/political incarnation.  And the faithful Jews I know acknowledge God's insistence to let justice flow down like water.  God demands more than charity.

I am neither an Objectivist nor a Calvinist.  We are not totally depraved.  We are fallen, not depraved, especially after we have been made adopted heirs in Christ.

You must be aware of course, that there are papal encyclicals appreciative of corporatism.  Militant atheists like Hitchens have used it as a cudgel against us,

As for that scourge of collectivism, that champion of laissez-faire capitalism and atheism, Ayn Rand, here is what she said about Catholicism, among other complimentray things.

Today, Catholicism and communism may well cooperate, on the premise that they will fight each other for power later, but must first destroy their common enemy, the individual, by forcing mankind to unite to form one neck-ready for one leash. [Rand, CUI, p. 316.],_Objectivism,_and_Religion_(Part_1_of_4).shtml

8 years 3 months ago
I did not call anyone "depraved," my friend, I said that we were fallen.

Justice must be tempered by love - esp. considering our state - this is something most liberals do not see.  They call for a vengeful justice to eliminate the retrograde "enemies of change and compassion."

As I said, liberal lucidity regarding injustice or hypocrisy in the world tends to blind them to their own capacity for evil.

PS- I am no fan of Rand, either.  And here is that interview with Eve:
8 years 3 months ago
PPS - corporatism is to be tempered under the principle of subsidiarity.

The centralization of power/economics that has occured in this country under both Dems and Repubs - or the centralization that was a hallmark of 20th century socialism - is an affront to Catholic principles and undermines the dignity of man.

OK - now I am done ;)
8 years 3 months ago
''And I'm being accused of ad-hominem?''
No that comment was aimed at the authors here.  I should have been clearer in my writing.  It was not meant for any of the commenters though some frequently engage in it as some of the authors do.  The most egregious author has left but while greatly reduced it still exists in some of the other author's posts.  Some authors are outstanding so this is not a blanket comment.
''If JR doesn't like the tone on this blog, he can try out the vast majority of them that are conservative and traditionalist sounding boards for people who cloak their secular politics in terms of faith.''
I am a graduate of a Jesuit college and have taught at another one.  My only reason for being here is that this is a Jesuit run site.  I would think that one would welcome discussion that is not one sided, that is how one learns.  I have already learned some things about Father Escriva and am anxious to see the movie when it comes out next spring.  I will even pay movie theater prices instead of waiting for the DVD to be distributed on Netflix.
My politics flow from my faith not the other way around.  As far as being traditional, I accept what the Church has taught for the last 2000 years.  Are there people here who don't?

Sean Gallagher
8 years 3 months ago
While the discussion here about the meaning of the Spanish Civil War and its relevance for today is interesting and important, this post was originally about a movie that will feature, to a large extent, the life of St. Josemaria Escriva during that conflict.

Some have argued in this comment box that it appears to be a "puff piece."  If they have seen an advance showing of the movie, they very well may have grounds to make such an argument.  If they have not, then this movie trailer isn't going to help that much. As trailers go, it's fairly short and, compared to most trailers today, hides much of what's going to happen in the movie.

Unless you've seen the film already, I'd withold judgment on it.  Otherwise, you may just very well just be revealing your biases about the subject of the film.
8 years 3 months ago
The reason I wondered if it would be a puff piece was that I'd read in a news article about the movie thatit was  ....  <I>initiated by a member of Opus Dei, is partly produced and financed by the group’s members and has enlisted an Opus Dei priest to consult on the set." </I> .....
Sean Gallagher
8 years 3 months ago
I've read similar accounts.  The fact you bring up doesn't necessarily mean that it will be a puff piece.  In an account of the making of the movie, Roland Joffe, who wrote the movie's screenplay, said he "had creative freedom over the project."

If the movie's backers are in some way connected to Opus Dei and Joffe did indeed have freedom to make the movie as he wished, this would only be in harmony with the high value that Opus Dei, as an organization, places on the freedom of the individual, which some critics either question or are not aware of.

Oh, and by the way, I found an updated trailer of the movie, which is more revealing than the one on this post-and it has less drums in it...  Here's a link to it:


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