Spanish Martyrs Beatified By Church Despite Civil War Franco Controversy

The Catholic Church's biggest ever mass beatification of 522 martyrs has caused an uproar in Spain, with some groups accusing the church of "committing a political act of pro-Franco affirmation."

Francisco Franco's dictatorship lasted from 1939 until his death in 1975, and he took power after the bloody Spanish Civil War. The martyrs were victims of the forces that opposed Franco, which is why the umbrella association of dozens of groups supporting Franco-era victims are opposed to the beatification.

The Spanish Catholic Church called the 522 people being beatified as "martyrs of the 20th century of Spain," though Pope Francis said in a speech that they were "martyrs killed for their faith during the Spanish Civil War," according to The Telegraph.

AFP reports that The Platform for a Truth Commission said in a letter, "You should know that the Catholic Church backed Franco's military uprising against the Spanish Republic in 1936."

Some progressive sections of the Spanish Catholic Church have added their voices to those oppressing the beatifications, urging the Church to avoid reopening the wounds of the past.

In a video message to those gathered in Tarragona, Spain, for the beatification ceremony, Pope Francis declared, “The holy fathers say, ‘let’s imitate the martyrs!’ One must always die a little in order to leave ourselves, our selfishness, our well-being, our laziness, our sadness, and open ourselves to God, and to others, especially to those who need it the most.”