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On 10/9/2019 at 6:08 PM, Ser Scot A Ellison said:

The Spanish Civil War is a hole in my historical knowledge.  Why were Republicans killing Roman Catholic priests?

As SeanF says, it was only the radical elements within the republican side that targeted Catholic priests.

The Republican government was weak, a coalition composed of many parties with diverging interests. The fact that there were anarchists in the government is telling enough. Once the military had rebelled, the government's actual control of the country crumbled, and each zone was in command of a different faction. This was one of the main reasons why the republican side lost the war. While the fascists focused their efforts under a single command, the republicans were a bunch of factions that often fought among them for primacy. In Barcelona, the communists and the anarchists openly engaged in street battles, and once the communists had won, the Stalinists purged the Trotskyst faction and murdered their leaders. All this in the midst of the war and while the enemy armies were advancing.

As to why the most radical groups targeted priests, the Catholic church hierarchy had been a vocal opponent of the Republican government. Not only because they were natural adversaries with the communist and anarchist parties of the government, but also because the government took some controversial anti-Catholic measures (such as forbidding clerics to engage in teaching activities). Once the war started, some Catholic bishops from the fascist-controlled zones openly supported them, with dire consequences for the priests living in areas under Republican control that were seen by some as an hostile group.

Edited by The hairy bear

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