Serving the truth, asking for forgiveness

Jul 25, 2009 | Ecclesiastical News

Basque bishops ask forgiveness for the silence of the Church in view of the death of religious during the Civil War of 1936.
Spain. The three Basque bishops, Miguel Asurmendi (Vitoria), Ricardo Blázquez (Bilbao) and Juan María Uriarte (San Sebastián), on June 11, presided over a joint funeral for 14 priests assassinated in Guipúzcoa between the years 1936 and 1937 by the pro-Franco side. The bishops called this celebration “an act of justice to make amends and reconciliation” to “purify the memory” for the “painful” events of the past, “wrapped in silence for a long time.”

In the homily, jointly prepared by the three bishops, they recalled that during the Civil War more than seventy priests and religious were shot by both sides within the Basque territory, although they underlined that the 14 who were shot by the pro-Franco side did not have a public celebration of funeral rites. They emphasized that “the silence with which the death of these priests has been enveloped in the official means of our church are no longer justifiable or acceptable.”

Among these 14 priests for whom the funeral was offered was the Claretian priest Fr. José Otano Miqueliz. He was born in 1898 and professed in the Congregation in 1915. He was professor and organist in different places. On October 12, 1936 he was arrested and jailed. Early morning of October 23 he was executed with another priest and a group of lay persons, and buried in a common grave without any identification. By the testimony of two Jesuits who attended to them spiritually on those days, we know that they fervently received the sacraments of confession and the Eucharist.

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