What did they mean by suitable? They meant fascist, government supporters.
From Time magazine –
There appear to be two distinct phases of baby theft that occurred in Spain during the 20th century. The first, which was not only approved by dictator Francisco Franco but also promoted by his government as a means of “improving” the Spanish “race,” was politically inspired. In the years after Franco won Spain’s civil war, he had tens of thousands of former Republicans and other dissidents arrested. The small children of imprisoned women dissidents were sent first to state-run centers or convents, and then reassigned to families whose values better coincided with the regime’s. “The state considered these children in need of re-education,” says University of Barcelona historian Ricard Vinyes, who has written a book on the subject. “It was actually proud of these efforts and would publish the results of how many children had been ‘welcomed’ annually.”
From later in the Time article
Economic and, it seems, spiritual. Many of the women who believe their children were stolen were unmarried at the time, a shocking breach of social norms during the strict years of the Catholic Franco regime. Journalist Natalia Junquera has been investigating the cases for a series that the national newspaper El País is publishing this month. “From what I’ve seen, the most important motive was ideological,” she says. “Nuns and priests who simply decided that the child would be better off with families they trusted than with the ones to which they had been born.” The thefts are believed to have continued into the early 1980s.
The practice started under the Franco regime as a form of social engineering, with babies taken away from known supporters of the left and given to card-carrying fascists, and then was expanded by the church into a moral crusade to remove babies from sinful unmarried mothers and place them with those more worthy in the sight of God. The scale of the operation was breathtaking, with doctors and nuns keeping a stash of frozen, long-dead babies in the morgue to be wheeled out to convince parents that their child, who had been in good health only a few hours earlier, had died. And all over Spain there are countless children’s graves in which coffins containing nothing more than a few stones lie buried.
You could see why the government and the church are so keen for this story to go away; it’s inconceivable that such a massive operation could have continued for so long without the blessing of some at the top of these organisations. As so often, though, it was the individual stories that were the most remarkable: such as Antonio, who discovered he had been been adopted when his father made a deathbed confession; his whole life rewritten in an instant, with little prospect of ever knowing his real identity. Then there was Manoli and her daughter Mar. Manoli had long suspected her son had not died at birth but had been sold for adoption instead, and Mar had become convinced that Randy, an American who was searching for his Spanish family, was her brother. He wasn’t. The DNA test proved negative and three people whose lives had already been broken by both church and state were left just that little bit more broken.
Here’s a 25 minute documentary from Journeyman Pictures – Just click on the title to see the film:
Here are some more articles –
Global Post’s – Spain’s stolen baby scandal
New York Times – Spain Confronts Decades of Pain Over Lost Babies
I would like to have said more about this but frankly I’m awed. Generally speaking this kind of organized evil perpetrated with church support and it had to be from the highest echelons is hard for me to contemplate. What kind of world do we live in where people like these believe that they are practicing Christianity?
- Spanish Franco Regime, Catholic Church Stole And Sold Infants (pinkbananaworld.com)
- The Catholic Church helped steal Spanish babies (politics.ie)
- Religion – Is There Nothing Catholic Priests Will Not Do To Children? (thesecularity.com)
- O They Will Know We Are Christians, There Is No Morality Without Religion, Every Child Deserves a Mother and Father… (slog.thestranger.com)
- The Stolen Babies Of Spain (towleroad.com)
- Spain considers plan to dig up Franco and move his grave (100gf.wordpress.com)
- Last night’s viewing: Alphas, 5*; This World: Spain’s Stolen Babies, BBC2 (independent.co.uk)