Date of Award

Spring 2022

Degree Type




Director of Thesis

Dr. Carol Harrison

First Reader

Dr. Elena Osokina

Second Reader

Dr. Elena Osokina


This thesis examines the roles, ideologies, attitudes, and arguments of American Catholics in debates over the Spanish Civil War from 1936-1939. Although the war only lasted between these years, these debates carried over into WWII as Spain’s neutrality came into question. Specifically, the focus is on how American Catholics grappled with historically unprecedented Spanish anticlericalism, the direct murder of roughly 7000 Catholic clergy and persecution of many more by Spanish Republicans, and why this anticlericalism drove most Catholics into a form of unapologetic pro-Francoism. This research is conducted by careful analysis of both mainstream and Catholic newspapers/journals. Mainstream pro-Republican press is incredibly important as it provides an intensely stark contrast to Catholic arguments. This analysis argues that America’s long and bitter history of anti-Catholicism gave substantial and significant momentum to Catholic pro-Nationalist rhetoric and argumentation. Finally, the conclusions reflect how anti-Catholicism drove Catholic discussions of Spain well into WWII.

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© 2022, Paul Sanders Linker Jr.