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Letter from Escriva to Franco

In the following letter, Opus Dei founder, Escriva, congratulates Spanish dictator Francisco Franco on the union of church and state in Spain. According to Giles Tremlett [1], "Opus Dei's 84,000 members around the world deny [Escriva] actively supported Franco;" however, this document shows that at the very least Escriva admired Franco.

Opus Dei also denies that the organization has a political agenda, and claims that its members have complete freedom as well as personal responsibility for their actions. However, the following quote from Escriva's book The Way, which Alberto Moncada [2] describes as a summary of Escriva's "national catholicism," illustrates how difficult it would be for a member of Opus Dei to reconcile this personal freedom with his counsel:

"Nonsectarianism. Neutrality. Those old myths that always try to seem new. Have you ever bothered to think how absurd it is to leave one's catholicism aside on entering a university, or a professional association, or a scholarly meeting, or Congress, as if you were checking your hat at the door?"[3]


Letter from Josemaría Escrivá de Balaguer
to Francisco Franco, May 23, 1958

The following letter, translated from Spanish (original Spanish text found here) was published in the January-February, 2001 issue of Razón Española (magazine title means Spanish Reason). Copies of this and other letters from Msgr. Escrivá de Balaguer to Franco are kept in the Fundación Nacional Francisco Franco (National Foundation of Francisco Franco) (Marqués de Urquijo, 28, 28008 Madrid, Spain). The originals belong to Generalísimo Franco’s only daughter, Carmen.

To his Excellency Francisco Franco Bahamonde, Head of State of Spain

Your Excellency:

I wish to add my sincerest personal congratulation to the many you have received on the occasion of the promulgation of the Fundamental Principles.

My forced absence from our homeland in service of God and souls, far from weakening my love for Spain, has, if it were possible, increased it. From the perspective of the eternal city of Rome, I have been able to see better than ever the beauty of that especially beloved daughter of the church which is my homeland, which the Lord has so often used as an instrument for the defense and propagation of the holy, Catholic faith in the world.

Although alien to any political activity, I cannot help but rejoice as a priest and Spaniard that the Chief of State’s authoritative voice should proclaim that, “The Spanish nation considers it a badge of honor to accept the law of God according to the one and true doctrine of the Holy Catholic Church, inseparable faith of the national conscience which will inspire its legislation.” It is in fidelity to our people’s Catholic tradition that the best guarantee of success in acts of government, the certainty of a just and lasting peace within the national community, as well as the divine blessing for those holding positions of authority, will always be found.

I ask God our Lord to bestow upon your Excellency with every sort felicity and impart abundant grace to carry out the grave mission entrusted to you.

Please accept, Excellency, the expression of my deepest personal esteem and be assured of my prayers for all your family.

Most devotedly yours in the Lord,
Josemaría Escrivá de Balaguer
Rome, May 23, 1958


References:

[1] "Sainthood beckons for priest linked to Franco: Controversial founder of Opus Dei will becanonised tomorrow," by Giles Tremlett, Madrid, The Guardian, Saturday October 5, 2002.

[2] "Evolution of Opus Dei," by Alberto Moncada. This article was originally published in Spanish as "La Evolucion del Opus Dei en Espana" (Ponencia al VI Congreso Español de Sociología, A Coruña, 1999).

[3] The Way by Josemaria Escriva, founder of Opus Dei.

 

Posted April 24, 2004