A ‘Gigantic Struggle Between Believers and Those Without God’? Catholicism in the Spanish Second Republic, 1931–1939

Richard Ryan

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In Spain today, the place of the Catholic Church and the role of the Catholic faith under the Spanish Second Republic (1931–1939) remain one of the most bitterly contested aspects in recent history and memory. Behind that confrontation is the Catholic Church hierarchy's continued support for a narrative of ‘good versus evil,’ carried over from the 1930s and portraying the Church as a passive and helpless victim of Republican persecution. But as this article shows, far from a confrontation between ‘good and evil’, the Republic was an arena of social change in which debates around religion and the place of the Church became the lens through which larger political, social, and cultural clashes played out. It suggests that historians must begin to pay much more attention to the reality experienced by many Catholics during the 1930s in order to fully understand the complexities of the Second Republic in peacetime and civil war.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)87-99
Number of pages13
JournalReligion Compass
Issue number4
Early online date23 Apr 2015
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2015

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