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27.8.1953: Concordat with Franco
Franco said, "Lord, accept with goodwill the efforts of this people who have always belonged to you and who has in your name, with great heroism, conquered the enemy of truth in this century. Give me your aid to lead this people into the full freedom of your kingdom, your glory and your Church."

And in fact the Catholic Church of Spain was, with few exceptions, on the side of the insurgents. It was thus with great joy that it watched Franco take power in 1939. The newly ordained pope Pius XII congratulated the victorious dictator Franco with enthusiasm.

Pius XII said, "By lifting our hearts to God we together with your Excellency give thanks for the much desired victory of Catholic Spain. We hope that this precious land, now that peace has finally been attained, will return to the old Catholic traditions that made it so great. We grant your Excellency and the entire noble Spanish people our apostolic blessing."

Besides the military and large estate holdings, the Church remained one of the main pillars of the Franco dictatorship – even when the country was internationally boycotted after the end of World War II. Many countries recalled their ambassadors from Spain and the UN refused to let Spain join the international community.

In light of the Cold War in the early 1950s, however, the boycott began to crumble. The U.S.A. began economic and military negotiations with Spain.

In this situation, the Vatican signed a concordat with the Spanish state in August 1953. The concordat, a type of state contract between the Vatican and the government of a country, regulated political and religious issues such as the boundaries of the dioceses, the choice of persons to fill the bishops’ offices, as well as issues of marital law, education and financial contributions from the government to the Church.

The Church and state made large concessions to each other in the concordat of 1953. The Church received exceptional privileges from the highly religious Franco. The Catholic religion was declared the only religion of the Spanish nation. The Church was given much broader influence in the areas of education, schools and curriculums. Civil marriages were made considerably more difficult, priests and members of the clergy became exempt from normal criminal prosecution.

In return, the dictator was granted the right to appoint bishops, a privilege traditionally reserved for the Spanish monarchy. Franco hoped to ensure the bishops were loyal to the state by appointing candidates who were agreeable to him. He thus hoped to prevent opposition or arousing sympathies with the opposition (such as with the autonomy movements in Basque region or Catalonia).

In contrast to its usual apolitical course, Rome agreed to these concessions as Pius XII saw himself in agreement with Franco’s religious politics. For the dictator, the concordat represented justification on both a domestic and foreign scale. It was as if the Catholic Church was giving its seal of approval to the Spanish government. It was a decisive step in ending the international isolation of the Franco regime.

Following this breakthrough, the U.S.A. joined in a defence and economic alliance with Spain in the fall of 1953. Spain was then accepted into the UN in 1955.
   
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When did Francisco Franco rule Spain?
  Between 1945 and 75
  Between 1936 and 1975
  Between 1939 and 1975
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