Archivo Gomá: Documentos De la Guerra Civil

By Callahan, William J. | The Catholic Historical Review, July 2007 | Go to article overview

Archivo Gomá: Documentos De la Guerra Civil


Callahan, William J., The Catholic Historical Review


Archivo Goma: Documentos de la Guerra Civil. Edited by José AndrésGallego and Antón M. Pazos. Vols. 7, 8. (Madrid: Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas. 2005. Pp. 666, 747. Paperback.)

These volumes of the personal archive of Cardinal Isidro Goma y Tomás, archbishop of Toledo and primate of Spain during the Spanish Civil War, cover the four months between August and December of 1937. During this period, the war between the Republic and the Nationalist regime of General Franco continued unabated, although the military balance had begun to tUt toward the rebel armies. It was also during these months that Franco began to lay the institutional and ideological foundations for his "New" Spain, although the precise form that these would take was still far from clear. As the leader of the hierarchy through his position as primate and president of the Committee of Metropolitans, Goma supported the mUitary rising in public without hesitation, but, in private he was apprehensive about the possible emergence of a totalitarian, fascist state and its consequences for the Church.

The documents published, organized chronologically, cover an immense range of topics from the trivial to the important, from the imposition of export duties on olive oil destined for the Vatican to critical questions such as churchstate relations and the strategy the Church required to recover from the mass assassinations of clergy and the destruction of churches in the republican zone. Gomá's personal correspondence reveals a less self-confident figure than his public figure suggested.

Often beset by bouts of poor health, he struggled to meet a multitude of challenges that taxed his energy to the fullest and, at times, left him depressed about the Church's situation in the "New" Spain of the generals.

A substantial portion of the documentation revolves around the effect of the cardinal's celebrated and controversial 1937 Collective Letter to the Catholic bishops of the world. This justification of the rising against the Republic as a defense of Christian civilization produced an outpouring of letters of support from bishops throughout the Catholic world, all reproduced in these volumes. Gomá also worked unceasingly to promote the translation and publication of the letter in as many countries as possible. But, in some respects, he was more concerned with the criticism directed against the letter by clergy and laypeople, especially by Basque priests who supported the political autonomy of the Catholic Basques within the Republic and by progressive Catholic opinion in France. The documentation shows a constant sense of frustration with the refusal of his Catholic critics to accept the premises of the Collective Letter.

The most important contribution of these volumes for historians is that that they reveal in abundant detail the complex and shifting relations between the Church and the Franco regime. Goma maintained an abiding confidence in the general to restore the Church to what he saw as its rightful place within the new order. But he was not naive. For example, although his correspondence was exempt from official censorship, he suspected that the authorities did not always respect the exemption. He recognized that the Church was just one of the interest groups seeking to achieve its objectives within a political system in process of formation and that not ail of them, especiaily the regime's single party, the quasilascist party, the Falange, were disposed to aliow the Church the ample autonomy that it desired, particularly in the fields of education and associational activity. …

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