13 NOVEMBER 1936, Page 19


SIR,—Dr. Inge asks. " What have your Roman Catholic correspondents to say to the horrible account " of " appalling treatment meted out by Franco's followers to Protestant workers, wherever the insurgents are in power? " I ask your leave to give him an answer.

• 1. As Dr. Inge adduces no evidence save a cutting from the Church of England Newspaper, it is relevant for me to state that, during my editorship (1923-1930) of the Tablet, a paper not lower in reputation than the Church of England Newspaper as a careful collector and fair presenter of foreign news, I built up a staff of trustworthy correspondents in Madrid and other Spanish cities. With several of these I have kept touch during the Civil War. Into the Salamanca, Valladolid and Jerez stories I am able to probe and shall do so. Saragossa; . for well-known reasons, will have to come later.

2. Meanwhile, I give Dr. Inge and your readers a reason why they should require better evidence than an anonymous and ex parte statement before believing the " horrible account." Ever since I can remember, it has been a habit in certain quarters to charge Spanish Catholics with murderous acts towards " Protestant workers " and to evade the onus of proof' by pleading that the witnesses would be persecuted if details sufficient for an enquiry were supplied.

Here is one instance out of dozens directly known to me. In February, 1931—the date is important—the National Bible Society of Scotland circulated these words :

" Again and again, our men are flung into horrible dungeons for the crime of selling that Book of which it ie said ' Every word of Cod is pure.' Violence is also in some cases inflicted:-. Recently, a priest in Spain attempted to bum a eolporteur alive in a char-

coal-burner's oven." • -

I pointed out that " recently in Spain" would not do ; but all . I could get from the Secretary of the Scottish, Society was a,. statement that ," the place was in a wood near Tauste, in thei, Province of Logrofio," and that `,` owing to ,the fact that the colporteur died a little time ago, A was impossible ".to supply exact particulars. The Secretary also admitted that he " had heard the, story from a Protestant worker in.Spain " who was already well known to me for this kind of story.:. e.g., he had stated that a Spanish priest (unnamed) had promised a Spanish widow (unnamed) that he could release from hell the soul of her atheist husband (unnamed) for. the modest sum (named) of £70. Challenged on this tale, its author had run away, making the usual excuse about the danger to his witnesses. The Spanish Ambassador at the Court of St. James's publicly informed the Scottish public that, if the priest accused of trying to burn the colporteur were named and formally charged, the Spanish Crown would pursue him as an inciter to murder, priest or no priest ; but nothing happened. A few weeks later came the downfall of the Spanish Monarchy and the rise of an anti-Catholic Govern- ment. This was the time when the Mayor of a little Spanish town sent to Madrid his famous telegram : " Republic proclaimed ; what are we to do to our cure ? " I therefore reminded the disseminators of the various No-Popery stories that they were now able to give us their evidence without fear ; but in not one case was the challenge accepted nor has it been to this day. By the way, Tauste is not in the, Province of Logroilo.

It seems to follow that if our Protestant brethren were not able to substantiate their ugly stories when 'peace-time con- ditions prevailed and the post offices were working normally, their charges inter arma ought not to be received with un- critical eagerness.

3. The anonymous deponent on whom Dr. Inge relies admits that he has used " Spanish papers" as some of his sources. You, Sir, will have seen Madrid's and Barcelona's journals as published since last. July, and I think you will agree with me that, as chronicles of the insurgents' aims, movements and administrative acts, they are not 'evidence.

4. Perhaps Dr. Inge will be able to give me and many others some information which we have sought in vain. When and where have the Protestant workers in Spain and the British SoeietieS which finance them *protested against the insults to Christianity (not only Catholicism) and the bumings of churches which were to be numbered in hundreds many months before the Civil War began ? Their silence, I suggest, has given so much consent to the Muscovite influence in Spain that the " horrible account's " portraits of them as " purely and simply evangelical " neutrals are Out of drawing.