Journal of Catalan Studies/Revista Internacional de Catalanisme

[Index / Índex]

Serra d'Or and the Liberal Catholic Resistance to Francoism, 1960-65

Eamonn Rodgers,
University of Strathclyde

At first glance, Serra d’Or might seem an unpromising place to look for liberal Catholic resistance to Francoism. Up to end of 1963, it described itself as the ‘Organ de la Confraria de la Mare de Deu de Montserrat’, and throughout the period we are concerned with it incorporated a Butlettí del Santuari, which gave news of the life of the Montserrat community, pilgrimages to the shrine, weddings, and First Communions. The subtitle, however, is misleading. Apart from small local bulletins and newsletters published in Catalan, and occasional articles in Catalan in predominantly Castilian-language journals, Serra d’Or was the only periodical in Catalan circulating throughout Catalan-speaking areas. It therefore had to fulfil multiple roles, reflected in the progressive expansion in size of each number from 36-40 pp. in 1961 to 80 pp. by December 1962. As one would expect, the journal included articles on pastoral theology, which was its main concern. Directly theological articles, however, usually occupied only about 5% of the space, though other matters were discussed from a predominantly Christian perspective. The bulk of each number was made up of articles on literary criticism, world affairs, economics, art and archaeology, cinema, architecture, urban development, housing and industrial design.
   Serra d’Or was therefore unquestionably a quality journal, a fact which was recognised internationally, as shown by the following comment by the French periodical Preuves, quoted in the issue of February 1963: ‘une des meilleures [revues] et des plus libres en Europe...Les problèmes économiques et culturels de l’Espagne y sont évoqués par les meilleurs jeunes écrivains’ (II-63, 2), a view echoed by Masses Ouvrières shortly afterwards (VII-63, 21).(1) Its very distinguished range of contributors reads like a roll-call of either established writers, critics and academic specialists, or a younger generation of intellectuals who would later achieve even greater prestige in their respective fields: they included Joan Triadú, Joaquim Molas, Josep Maria Castellet, Josep Benet, Joan Fuster, Francesc Candel, Jordi Pujol, Miquel Roca and Francesc Vallverdú.
   Furthermore, the composition of the body of contributors reflected a broad ideological pluralism: while few, if any, articles were supplied by right-wingers, it was not expected that contributors should have a religious affiliation. Though many of those who wrote regularly in Serra d’Or could be described as Catholics who were theologically liberal and politically left-of-centre, others proved subsequently to have been members of the clandestine Catalan Communist party, the PSUC. (2) Nevertheless, despite the disclaimer which appeared on the contents page of every number, ‘Els articles publicats a Serra d’Or expressen solament l’opinió de llurs autors’, a consistent editorial policy is discernible, characterised by an international outlook, an openness to dynamism and dialogue in religious matters, and, insofar as this was possible within the constraints of state censorship, a commitment to democracy and freedom of speech.

Beating the censor

The impact of this policy may be guaged by the hostility it provoked in right-wing circles. One manifestation of Serra d’Or’s internationalism was its frequent reprinting in Catalan of extracts from Informations Catholiques Internationales, which in 1961 published two articles on the state of the Church in Poland, in the course of which it referred to the Catholic organisation Pax, which was the trying to open a dialogue with the Communist regime. Conservative elements in the French Church, under the influence of the Polish hierarchy and emigré Polish Catholics, regarded Pax as virtually a Soviet spy network, and, from 1963, mounted a virulent campaign against Informations Catholiques Internationales because of what they regarded as their excessively sympathetic treatment of the organisation. In July 1964, El Español, in an article entitled ‘La revista Serra d’Or y los progresistas’ (almost invariably a term of abuse in right-wing Spanish journalism), demanded that Serra d’Or clarify its position vis-à-vis Informations Catholiques Internationales, which it described as ‘filocomunista’, a charge which was repeated even more explicitly the following year by El Cruzado Español and ¿Qué Pasa? (3)
   Despite this climate of censorship, whether official or otherwise, Serra d’Or managed to maintain its distinctive liberal intellectual witness. A detailed treatment of the operation of censorship would lie outside the scope of this paper, but we may identify its main lineaments in order to explain how Serra d’Or managed to function so effectively. State censorship, while severe, was less all-pervasive than is sometimes supposed. Complaints about censorship from writers and film-makers were directed not solely, or even perhaps mainly, against its severity, but against its arbitrariness and unpredictability. The most objectionable feature was the lack of clear definition of what was forbidden, which left too much to the whim of the individual censor. Thus, for example, one of the conclusions of the famous 1955 film conference, Conversaciones Cinematográficas de Salamanca, was: ‘Hay que dar mayor autoridad jurídica que determine con claridad los asuntos y temas inabordables’. Equally important was the principle that ‘El dictamen de la precensura debe ser inamovible...sin que haya posibilidad de intervenciones posteriores de cualquier tipo de organismos y organizaciones’. (4)
   This arbitrariness could, however, work to the advantage of the writer or film-maker. Though cuts were made in the script of Luis G. Berlanga’s first film, Bienvenido Mr Marshall (1952), on grounds of alleged sexual explicitness, the political satire passed scrutiny, apparently because Franco (not perhaps the most perceptive of film-critics) had raised no objection after viewing the finished film. (5) As Juan Goytisolo remarked, ‘una incongruencia, arbitrariedad y desorden típicamente hispanos palian lo que en otras latitudes podría haber sido una reglamentación inflexible y prusiana, abriendo huecos y espacios de respiro’. (6) Perhaps the most authoritative statement on the limitations of censorship is the following:

Ante los secretos de la gramática, la habilidad de la alusión, la sutileza de los recursos literarios, las ambivalencias de alguna figura retórica, las segundas intenciones que para el público son perfectamente inteligibles como primera, los trucos de la confección y titulación, el lugar del periódico al que se condena la nota, el comentario, la glosa, la información sugeridas por la autoridad - ardid conocido de los lectores - ; ante el silencio que puede ser tan significativo, ante el mismo elogio, desmesurado ex profeso, la técnica judicial de los tribunales ordinarios puede resultar ineficaz e inadecuada en la mayoría de los casos. (7)

   The freedom, however limited, conferred by these rhetorical subtleties, and by inconsistencies in the application of censorship, was exploited to the limits of safety by Serra d’Or. A typical example is the following apparently innocent item, tucked away in a series of miscellaneous notes, and entitled ‘Joventut i gerontocràcia’:

John F. Kennedy ha estat eligit President dels Estats Units d’Amèrica a l’edat de 43 anys. Setmanes abans, Janio Quadros, d’una edat semblant, era eligit President dels Estats Units del Brasil. Un amic, comentant aquests fets, m’invitava a girar l’esguard entorn nostre, a casa nostra. Ho vaig fer: l’experiència s’ho val i explica moltes coses’ (I-1961, 11). (8)

   Another factor which enabled Serra d’Or to function relatively unmolested was that it relied on ecclesiastical, rather than state approval. As Josep M. Piñol has pointed out, publishers of religious books in Catalan tended increasingly, from the late 1950s on, to bypass government censorship and submit material only to the Church censor. In many of these cases, advantage was taken of a network of personal contacts comparable to that which operated in the state offices. (9) It is true that some of the ecclesiastical censors were even stricter than the state ones, but Serra d’Or enjoyed the additional advantage of being published by a monastic order, which enjoyed a certain measure of independence vis-à-vis the local bishop.

Aggiornamento: Pope John XXIII and the Second Vatican Council

Besides, it was difficult for the state to censor a publication which was reflecting developments in the Church world-wide. Serra d’Or took advantage of this to quote statements from bishops and theologians writing in the new spirit of openness in the years before and during the Second Vatican Council. This new climate was characterised by, inter alia, a concern for social justice, represented especially by Pope John XXIII’S encyclical Mater et Magistra (1961). As an article by Dom Hilari Raguer emphasises (IX-61, 2-4), this document proposed no rigidly applicable formulae, but ‘una sèrie de exigències en el fons de cada un dels sistemes que la moral cristiana no exclou’. In other words, the encyclical requires Christians to seek what is best in secular systems of value, as well as in its own traditional ethical standards. This entails careful and critical thought, to discern how Christians are called to respond to the demands of justice in the world, and also implies that some political systems are incompatible with Christianity.
   Another implication of the encyclical is support for democracy and pluralism. Mater et Magistra approved Catholics’ participation in non-confessional trade unions, and, in general, all forms of co-operation, in pursuit of legitimate ends, with those who did not share the same religious beliefs. A later encyclical, Pacem in Terris (1963), endorsed the right of individuals to choose how to be governed, and to decide what limits to place on the exercise of power. As often occurs in situations of rapid evolution, some contributors to Serra d’Or, especially courageous and visionary members of the Montserrat community such as Dom Jordi Pinell and Dom Gregori Minobis, (10) tended to develop the implications of Papal pronouncements beyond the official position. Commenting, for example, on the imminent general election in Italy (IV-63, 12), Dom Gregori, while generally approving the Vatican’s reservations about right-wing Catholic parties, says ‘l’etiqueta catòlica, la no autoritzada i també l’autoritzada, sobreafegida a un moviment estrictament opinable, en lloc d’afavorir els valors cristians els perjudica i genera molts confusions’. Emboldened by the new climate of discussion, Serra d’Or came closer on occasion to direct comment on the situation in Spain: Manuel de Pedrolo wrote in March 1963 that ‘Es la llibertat que instaura l’ordre, un ordre, i no l’ordre que desencadena o permet l’exercici de la llibertat’ (III-63, 15).
   Freedom of expression was given an enormous boost by Vatican II, not simply in its official conclusions, but because by definition the work of the Council presupposed a climate of free discussion. As Dom Gregori Minobis pointed out, this experience of pluralism was almost more important that the issues being debated (II-63, 13). Freedom of expression had long been one of the principal values defended by Serra d’Or. As early as 1960, in reporting the holding in Santander of the sixth Congress of the Union Internationale de la Presse Catholique, its only comment was that ‘ha estat ocasió de recordar una vegada més la doctrina pontifícia sobre la llibertat de premsa’ (VIII-60, 6). Two years later, Dom Miquel Estradé, in another Montserrat publication, Qüestions de vida cristiana, put the issue very trenchantly: ‘En un país on la premsa catòlica no pot parlar de temes tan vitals...o n’ha de parlar amb una visió oficial, val més que aquesta premsa no es digui catòlica, perquè compromet l’Església, sota el mandat de la qual se sap que actua, i desorienta el poble’ (Quoted II-62, 10).
   The doctrine expounded by John XXIII also had implications for the rights of minorities. Parts of Pacem in Terris referring to this issue were singled out for extended comment in an article by Dom Agustí Vila-Abadal (VI-63, 7-8). The main points emphasised were: the right to self-determination, the obligation of the majority community not only to refrain from suppressing the distinctive culture of the minority but to foster and protect it. As in other matters, Serra d’Or takes a moderate line: it underlines the statements in the document criticising extreme nationalism, and advocating the advantages of openness on the part of the minority to whatever is good in the majority culture.

Strategies of criticism: Serra d’Or and the Spanish state

Despite the encouragement given to open discussion by Papal encyclicals, the scope for direct political comment within Spain was still very limited. Anything which explicitly questioned the basic structure of the state or its political modus operandi was taboo. The virtual silence surrounding the exile of Abbot Escarré, (11) who had come under severe pressure from the regime after giving a highly critical interview to Le Monde, and the total absence of comment on the violent attacks against premises associated with the monastery, (12) are very revealing. But it was still possible to comment on issues like housing, especially in the wake of the floods which struck Catalonia in September 1962, in which an estimated total of about 1,000 people died. This event gave rise to one of the most trenchant and direct statements on the economic structure of Spanish society to appear in Serra d’Or:

Hem emprat el mot exposar, plenament conscients del que dèiem. Car és evident que les persones que construeixen llurs habitatges en les condicions i als llocs esmentats, no ho fan pas per gust, ans al contrari, forçades per les estructures d’una societat, fonamentades en una economia basada en el lucre i l’especulació, en lloc d’ésser-ho en una economia dirigida al servei de la persona humana, i a satisfer, en lloc primeríssim, les necessitats més elementals de tots els ciutadans, com és l’habitatge, per exemple (XI-62, 14).

   Serra d’Or’s critics could not fault the journal on this occasion for focussing attention on Catalan concerns, for the problem is clearly presented as an all-Spain one: some 90% of the victims were poor immigrants, whose living conditions prior to the disaster are described with an unmistakable undercurrent of anger: many earned as little as 36 ptas. a day, and could only afford to live in shanty-towns because the cheapness of the land was related to its unsuitability for building. When a second episode of flooding occurred in November, Serra d’Or returned to the attack, directing attention to abuses committed by landlords in poor areas inhabited by immigrants from Murcia. In defiance of the prohibition on converting old houses into multiple dwellings, some owners had even constructed huts in the patio: in one such building 21 families lived, paying rents which varied between 75 pesetas a month and 500: ‘No especifico les condicions d’higiene, ja que era una cosa que no tenia nom’ (II-63, 23-4).
   As well as comment on immediate emergencies caused by natural disasters, expressions of cultural nationalism were also tolerated, within certain limits. It is true that the use of Catalan in official circles, educational establishments and the media was actively discriminated against: Manuel de Pedrolo recalled in 1963 how in the mid-1950s an invitation to give an interview on local radio was withdrawn because he insisted that it be conducted in Catalan, a request which was interpreted as ‘political’ (VI-63, 12). At least as much discrimination, however, was practised by private bodies and by the Church: Joan Fuster reported that in a fee-paying girls’ school in Valencia province, a notice was displayed saying ‘Prohibido hablar en dialecto’. He also reports a conversation with a priest who taught in a seminary in Valencia, who explained that students were made to speak Castilian because they would eventually preach in that language (XII-62, 27).
   This situation, however, was regarded as absurd precisely because of the vitality of Catalan cultural life. Between 1946 and 1963, Editorial Selecta published nearly 400 volumes (VIII/IX-63, 36). Pedrolo remarks:

La marxa de la cultura catalana no s’ha interromput, en són mostra suficient, ara per ara, la publicació cada dia en augment de llibres, la proliferació de conferències, l’interès de la gent jove pel seu propi idioma, els estudis que el nostre passat suscita, l’entusiasme per les manifestacions de caràcter folklòric, el ressorgiment de la poesia, de la novel·la, àdhuc del teatre a despit de les aparences (VI-63, 12). (13)

The repressive apparatus of the state was unable to cope with the volume of production in Catalan, or with the quiet determination of the community to express itself in the way which was natural to it. Besides, the regime wanted from 1962, when the first approach was made to the EEC, to present a more acceptable face to the world, including organisations like UNESCO. Serra d’Or was therefore a show-case for this cultural activity.
   Though the scope for direct comment on immediate concerns was limited, indirect criticism could be levelled more subtly at the Spanish state by, for example, discussing human rights abuses elsewhere. The issue of August 1960 contains an article devoted to a declaration of the bishops of the Dominican Republic against civil rights abuses by the Trujillo regime. The justification for singling out a remote island is that ‘No ens cal sinó mirar a l’entorn nostre. Les violències i els abusos es multipliquen.’ The context makes it clear that this is meant to have world-wide application, but its relevance to Spain would not have been lost on readers. (14) Even more pointed implications are contained in a letter from native Angolan priests (quoted from Informations Catholiques Internationales), protesting at the silence of their bishops in the face of the treatment they (the priests) have received at the hands of the Portuguese authorities. The explanation is simple: the bishops are muzzled by the concordat with the Portuguese state, and by their own Portuguese nationalism (III-63, 14).
   Serra d’Or’s concern for freedom of expression extended to questioning the official attitude of the Church authorities towards adventurous writers like Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, the subject of a Monitum from the Holy Office in June 1962. This episode is a particularly good example of the political finesse with which Serra d’Or judged precisely how far it could go along the path of outspokenness. While tactfully (and tactically) recognising that the Holy Office was within its rights in drawing attention to ‘errors i ambigüitats’ in Teilhard’s work, Serra d’Or defended him on grounds that

Al cristià, avui, li manquen síntesis doctrinals de tota la seva realitat. Síntesis vigoroses, globals, que abracin la seva religiositat marcada per la trascendència, però que al mateix temps abracin l’evolució i el progrés d’un món material, i les inquietuds intel·lectuals, científiques, polítiques, sociològiques i artístiques dels homes (X-62, 13).

In attempting such a synthesis, Teilhard stands in the tradition of the great synthesisers of the past, such as Aquinas and Augustine. With rare courage, Serra d’Or also pointed out, perfectly correctly, that a Monitum was not a condemnation or a suppression but merely a warning to pastors and educators of the young.

Strategies of dialogue: Serra d’Or and the secular world

The terms in which Serra d’Or couches its defence of Teilhard illustrate another feature of its characteristic ethos, which may best be described as ‘humanism’. Whereas Catholic publications have not, traditionally, encouraged their readers to engage with the secular world except on the cautious terms dictated by the hierarchy, Serra d’Or, well before the promulgation of the Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World, (15) and in the spirit of Pope John’s encyclicals, was advocating an attitude of co-operation and openness towards all institutions which, whatever their ideological presuppositions, were in practice working for a more humane social order. An article in the August 1961 issue, ‘Cultura, vida i cristianisme’, has as one of its subheadings ‘Salvem valors humans’, which could be taken as a summing-up of this attitude, which covered a wide spectrum, ranging from a religiously-inspired desire to seek spiritual values in all aspects of human culture to a more politically-orientated advocacy of dialogue with Marxism.
   This article is a good example of the theological wing of this spectrum of opinion, represented here by Dom Jordi Pinell, one of the most liberal of the clerical contributors to the journal:

...hem de saber estimar el cristianisme també en allò que té de valor humà, amb drets indiscutibles entre els valors humans, que hem de defensar gelosament davant aquells qui no ens el voldran admetre sinó com a valor humà.
El cristianisme no es pot limitar a informar la cultura de manera que la cultura el glorifiqui com un pedestal servil. Tampoc no ha de llançar-s’hi febrosament a conquierir-hi un lloc només per evitar que així hom digui menys blasfèmies des de la novel·la, el cinema, la filosofia, la política. Hi ha una força reveladora de Déu en la cultura humana, que el cristianisme ha de redimir (8-61, 3). (16)

   A logical extension of this attitude is the willingness to contemplate a working alliance, for certain purposes, with social forces traditionally considered a-religious or anti-religious. Thus the following statement from Témoignage Chrétien is quoted with approval as an example of the ‘progressisme cristià’ of that journal: ‘ tenim les mateixes opinions sobre determinats fets concrets, no veiem per què no hauríem de mirar la possibilitat de treballar, entre altres, amb els comunistes’ (7-64, 9). Though in countries like France and Italy the Church and the Communists were competing for the same constituency, there is little evidence here of a crude proselytising intention, but rather of a genuine desire to find common ground for dialogue. This tendency is of long standing, for as early as 1961, Serra d’Or quoted from an article by the liberal Catholic journalist Georges Hourdin, in which, while recognising that the Cuban revolution had taken an atheistic direction, he spoke glowingly of the changes which had taken place, and concluded, ‘no podrem pas evitar la implantació del comunisme en el món, si al mateix temps no ajudem Fidel Castro a continuar la seva obra d’alliberament econòmic i la seva obra de justícia social’ (VII-61, 5).
   In part, this stance was encouraged by the advocacy, in Pope John XXIII’s encyclical Mater et Magistra, of ‘socialisation’, which stopped well short of support of socialism, but which nevertheless shifted the balance of emphasis away from individual moral responsibility for exercising charity, towards greater acceptance of collective action and state direction. Serra d’Or, characteristically ready to take such hints further than their author intended, used this new emphasis as the springboard for some highly critical reflections on oligarchic, state-directed economic planning (implicitly aimed at the Plan de Estabilización and the Opus Dei technocrats responsible for it), in the course of which it held up Tito’s Jugoslavia as a model of ‘socialització de la propietat de béns productius, autogovern popular, planificació elaborada per indicació social i executada coactivament però flexiblement’ (XII-62, 17).

Speaking out: 1964-65

Such formulations are characterised by a certain blandness, for neither in the two-part article on ‘Problemes d’una democràcia econòmica’, from which the above quotation is taken (November and December 1962), nor in one on economic development in China (October 1961) is there any clear recognition that certain methods of achieving economic progress entail a high political price in terms of human rights. This may partly be due to the political sympathies of certain contributors, but may also be ascribable to the theoretical nature of the problems being discussed. When more concrete and immediate issues are commented on, the tone can be noticeably more sharp-edged. One of the most striking articles in this whole period 1960-65 (XII-62, 20-24) describes the building by voluntary labour of a social centre in one of the most deprived shanty-town areas in Barcelona, Can Tunis. The nucleus of the original population consisted of those evicted from the port area more than thirty years before, who were allowed (‘quina generositat!’, remarks the author, Francesc Candel) to take the rubble of their demolished dwellings with them to rebuild elsewhere. Candel is quite outspoken about where he thinks the blame for this situation lies:

Els dirigents del Port Franc han estat, doncs, els qui han contribuit a la creació d’aquest suburbi, d’aquest gran poble de barraques, on l’home viu d’una manera indecorosa, injusta i, per què no ho direm, inhumana (XII-62, 21).

Those who took part in the work of building the centre had to cope with seeing their half-completed building demolished by officialdom, but doggedly resumed the task, showing what the main instigator, the local pharmacist Elías Ortiz, called ‘la presa de consciència d’aquella veïnat’.
   This degree of outspokenness on immediate political issues (as distinct from indirect comment, or explicit reference to clearly-recognised social problems like those caused by the 1962 floods, referred to above), is relatively rare in the first half of the period we are studying, but becomes more evident in late 1964 and throughout 1965. In an article on the candidature of the right-wing Senator Barry Goldwater for the U.S. Presidency, the Washington correspondent of La Vanguardia, Angel Zúñiga, is criticised by name for glossing over the more sinister aspects of Goldwater’s political views, such as his voting against the Civil Rights Bill (IX-64, 19). This direct attack on the editorial line of another publication from within Spain suggests that Serra d’Or was no longer content to confine itself to suggesting remote parallels with the situation within the Peninsula, but was courageously taking an explicit stand on national issues. Thus a review of the Catalan translation of Pope John XXIII’s Diary of a Soul refers to ‘l’integrisme de casa nostra, que deu ésser un dels més endarrerits, minoritaris i desintegrats del món’ (XI-64, 77).
   This tendency gathers momentum throughout 1965. In May, Candel published another harrowing description of conditions in the shanty-towns, on this occasion, significantly, at the request of the inhabitants. The criticism of official indifference and neglect, and the support of the residents’ claims for decent accommodation, is now more explicit than ever:

La unió fa la força, i aquests veïns estan units. Ells volen casa, pis: pisos com els que fa el ‘Patronato de la vivienda’, fent-los pagar un acompte no massa abusiu. A nosaltres ens sembla que no poden ésser més raonables, sobretot si partim de la base que tenen dret a habitatge de franc, baldament només sigui per les calamitats passades i les que encara passen (V-65, 72-3).

   A comparable outspokenness is found in Dom Miquel Estradé’s outraged reaction to comments made by a Madrid Catholic weekly (which, however, he does not name: there were still limits to what was tolerated) on leading progressive churchmen. Of Fr. Yves Congar, O.P., the article, as quoted by Estradé, said ‘el P. Congar, destacado líder del progresismo, puso el grito en la estratosfera (no decimos en el Cielo porque no cree en él)’, and went on to refer to Cardinals Gerlier and Feltin, ‘a quien el diablo habrá dado ya a estas horas su merecido’. Estradé’s reaction leaves no room for doubt:

En boca d’una criatura, o d’un irresponsable, no estranya res: judicis, insults, tot son raons. Pero és molt gros que això sigui dit d’un cristià - i home consagrat, encara! - per un altre cristià; i a sang freda! (VIII-65, 10).

   But perhaps the most significant manifestation of this increased explicitness about sensitive subjects is the series of articles and book-reviews on recent Catalan history which appeared in the summer of 1965. In the July issue, Ambrosi Carrion recalled his experiences in the Ateneu Enciclopèdic Popular, which, prior to the Civil War, had helped young working-class men to educate themselves, at a time when public libraries were only open during the working day. The Ateneu also encouraged an adventurous climate of debate, which often caused its activities to be suppressed by the authorities (VII-65, 43-45). In August, two important books, Albert Balcells’s El sindicalisme a Barcelona (1916-1923) and Josep Benet’s Maragall davant la Setmana tràgica, were reviewed respectively by Jordi Pujol and Josep M. Piñol. Pujol took the somewhat risky step of underlining the fact that the only figure to emerge with any credit from the history of the labour movement in Catalonia was Salvador Seguí, (17) one of the leaders of the Anarchist C.N.T. Piñol, for his part, is concerned to emphasise the lessons that the events of 1909, and Maragall’s reaction to them, more radical than is conventionally supposed, carry for the present-day reader:

De poc ens serviria, doncs, aquesta obra, si ens acontentàvem de captar únicament una visió més justa d’aquella conjuntura històrica...en el nostre món concret en certa manera som encara en una cruïlla semblant (VIII-65, 15).


The relaxation of the intellectual atmosphere of the Franco regime in the mid-1960s, implied in this more vigorous exercise of free speech, was undoubtedly relative and uneven. In addition, it proved to be shortlived. Though 1966 saw the enactment of Fraga Iribarne’s Ley de Prensa, it also saw the tightening of police repression, as the regime entered on its final phase of crisis. In March a gathering of students and academics at the Capuchin friary in Sarrià was besieged by the security forces, who invaded the building, in defiance of the Concordat of 1953. (18) In May a peaceful march of priests and religious to deliver a letter of protest to police headquarters over the treatment of an imprisoned student was broken up with considerable violence. Some of those arrested were later tried by the Tribunal de Orden Público, established in 1963. The more liberal members of Catholic Action organisations were removed by the hierarchy, and the movement considerably weakened. (19)
   The effect of these events on liberal Catholicism in Spain in general, on Catalan liberal Catholicism in particular, and on the editorial policies and style of Serra d’Or, awaits further investigation. There can be no doubt, however, that during the period 1960-65, Serra d’Or made a distinctive contribution to Catalan cultural and intellectual life, and to the liberal Catholic resistence to Francoism. By encouraging an international outlook in Catalonia, it not only combatted any possible tendency to respond to internal factors in an inward-looking way, but by raising readers’ awareness of current developments in other countries, it fostered a questioning attitude towards the institutions of the Spanish state, and directed attention towards models of peaceful change which kept alive hope for the future. Conversely, it provided a distinctively Catalan perspective on world affairs, and judged international issues from within a tradition of sober and realistic liberalism. Needless to say, it fostered pride in Catalan cultural achievements, and thereby helped to overcome possible defeatism about linguistic and cultural discrimination. Above all, by its political finesse in gauging exactly the limits of outspokenness it represents a sophisticated attempt to take advantage of the brief relative liberalisation of regime before the repression of the late 1960s and early 1970s.