Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Old Time Family Values In Fascist Catholic Spain Are Ripping Families Apart

I've known about the following story for three or four years.  At least I knew there were accusations in Spain from a trickle of families and children that some Catholic hospitals and orphanages in Spain may have been engaging in child theft for a for profit adoption scam.  It was not a few isolated cases.  Now there is this story from the Toronto Sun. (thanks p2p)  It's been edited for length:

Searching for Spain’s stolen babies

 Mary Vallis - Toronto Sun - 11/08/2011
ZARAGOZA, SPAIN—In November 1974, Luisa Fernanda Marin Valenzuela stood in a doorway at a medical clinic. A male nurse held one arm and a nun held the other. About 36 hours earlier, she had given birth to a baby boy. Far across the room, she could see a tiny baby’s naked body on a table. They told her it was her dead son.

She wanted to get closer, to hold him, to cover his cold skin, perhaps even whisper his chosen name, Antonio. But the nun and nurse refused to let Luisa, who was wracked with grief, move closer to the child. Instead, they led her away.

“She’s going to faint, she’s going to faint,” she remembers them saying as they pulled her back. “Take her home.”

It was the first and only time Luisa saw the baby they said was her son. Thirty-seven years later, she is convinced it wasn’t him. She, like hundreds of other mothers across Spain, believes her child was stolen.

What began as a trickle of revelation about General Francisco Franco’s ideological cleansing by taking children from their parents is now a fully engaged scandal in a country wracked by debt, unemployment and civil unrest. As many as 300,000 babies, Spaniards have been told, were wrested from their mothers between 1960 and 1989 by a network of doctors, midwives, priests and nuns who then sold them to infertile couples for huge sums.

The scandal emerged four years ago, when a dying father revealed to his son, Juan Luis Moreno, that he and a childhood friend, Antonio Barroso, had, in fact, been bought from a priest and a nun for about 200,000 pesetas each in 1969, money that could have bought a small flat. Pesetas were the Spanish currency until 2002.

Nobody knows for sure how many children — and parents — are living false lives. Nearly 1,000 lawsuits have been filed in courts ill-prepared to handle them. And with the scandal has come a stream of shocking details — tiny corpses kept in freezers as decoys to show grieving parents; nuns with million-dollar real estate holdings and caskets exhumed after decades found empty.

Plunged into uncertainty, questioning mothers and children are paying hundreds of euros for their own DNA testing; the results are ripping their families apart

So far, six stolen children have been reunited with their biological families, providing many with hope that their long lost children are alive. It is only now that many have even considered the prospect that they may have been told something other than the truth, including Luisa.

She is 70 now, a mother of nine and grandmother of seven. Remembering those moments long ago, she wipes tears from her eyes again and again.

“You can overcome death. It takes a long time, it’s very painful, but you can overcome it,” she says. “But the uncertainty of not really knowing . . . that really is shattering.”

The stories of the many grieving mothers bear striking similarities. Many were anesthetized during labour. When they awoke, they were told their babies had died. Many never held their babies, or even saw them.
Stolen babies have a long history in Spain. During the reign of General Francisco Franco (1936-1975) tens of thousands of children were stolen, beginning in the 1930s. Children were taken from left-leaning parents and placed with more politically suitable families to protect their “moral education.” Others were taken from single mothers and given to “proper” Catholic homes.

“In Spain, the precedent was really set during the civil war,” said Antonio Lafarga Sábado, Luisa’s husband. “But the weird thing is, it just carried on. It didn’t stop.”

As Spain became a democracy, those with access to newborns appear to have carried on the tradition because the trade was so lucrative. (Some tradition, sighhh.).....

.......The scope is staggering. Barroso (Founder of National Association for Victims of Irregular Adoption) feels he is single-handedly leading the charge for justice. He is tired; dark circles hang beneath his eyes as he explains his frustration.

“It’s shameful that Spain, which likes to presume to be a law-abiding society, one that wants to give the impression of being a democratic, modern society, should have had this going on,” Barroso said. “You basically have to laugh so as not to break out crying.”

When Barroso learned he had been bought, his mother was ill. He surreptitiously swabbed her cheek for DNA tests that proved she was not his biological parent. She eventually confessed that a nun she had befriended did her a favour.

He and Moreno followed the trail to another nun, now 85, and in hospital. The men have visited her several times — hoping she will reveal the names of their real mothers. But she has revealed nothing.

“She remained absolutely unmoved,” Moreno says. “She said her conscience was at peace. She helped mothers in a disgraceful situation. She had nothing but peaceful thoughts.”

Barroso and Moreno have learned that she owns seven properties, estimating her worth at one million euros (nearly $1.4 million Canadian). One of the properties was inherited and another was donated, but the remaining five appear to be outright purchases.
“How is it possible that a nun with espoused vows of chastity, poverty and obedience should be worth so much money? How has she accrued so much property?” Moreno asks.

The nun has not been charged with any crime. The Roman Catholic Church has not commented........


There are some stories that leave one speechless, wondering how in the world could this sort of thing happenFour years ago this story involved Mr. Barrasso and his brother, and I kind of passed it off thinking they represented an isolated case from the Fascist Franco era.  I guessed wrong.  This 'adoption' thing looks like it was systemic and hugely profitable for the middle men and women and the organizations for which they worked--which meant a lot of Catholic hospitals and adoption agencies.

The rationale, other than the money, is most likely found in the words from the 85 year old nun:
“She remained absolutely unmoved,” Moreno says. “She said her conscience was at peace. She helped mothers in a disgraceful situation. She had nothing but peaceful thoughts.”

Except, all those mothers weren't in a 'disgraceful' situation, unless one considers any pregnancy 'disgraceful' when there are wealthy infertile parents with the 'correct' politics and morals readily available.  For one family, a bundle of joy who will live their lives built on a parental lie, and for another family, a deceptive and ruthless form of infanticide.  And this is pro life?  No, this is fundamentally twisted.  It's a systemic culture of death based on class and ideology.  

We live in fascinating times when all the dark and dirty secrets of our 'cherished' institutions, long held hidden, are now being exposed by the bright light of truth.  In the glare of this light, the options for denial and rationalization are limited.  So, no I am not surprised the Catholic Church in Spain has remained silent.  It would be pretty hard to wax eloquently on the absolute sanctity of life when your past actions clearly state life is more sanctified by wealth, or to demand Catholics defend the sanctity of marriage when those same past actions seem to say some marriages contain more sanctity than others.  

I fail to see how secularism could generate a form of moral relativism any worse than Fascist Catholicism has managed.  It seems the Spanish people themselves are thinking similar thoughts--just like in Ireland, where this same kind of bizarro thinking also held sway in the Magdalene Laundries.  The only difference is the Irish Church somehow failed to see the lucrative potential involved in 'disgraceful pregnancies'.  Or maybe they did and we just don't know about that aspect yet.

On a more hopeful note, check out this article from Jayden Cameron's blog, Gay Mystic.  Things are beginning to move in Austria.


  1. Thanks Colleen. I am really glad you have posted on this as it needs more attention- I only heard about it last week when listening to a late night radio programme on the BBC World Service - as it came hot on the heels of the Danny Avila debacle all I could do was groan and I did not have the energy to post on it.
    The scale of what happened is truly staggering- the BBC mentioned 300,000 cases and said that this was likely to be an underestimate.
    The church was heavily implicated and the fact that it went on well past Franco's era is also a revelation. Dear God in heaven,our church has so many skeletons in its cupboards, I dread to think of the next thing to be revealed.

  2. By the way, on the topic of the Austrian priests, people might like to have a look at Francis Phillips biased article and comments section from the UK Catholic Herald ( which seems to increasingly be a mouthpiece for slavish and orthodox conservative views) last Tuesday on women priests where she asserted that "the arguments for women priests are outdated and the question resolved long ago."

    The Austrian priests survey showed that a large majority were in favour of women priests so putting the Herald's risible article into a much clearer perspective.

    The link is below

    Bravo Austria!!

  3. One wonders how children are born in hospital these days in Spain. Is it more like in the US where the father and perhaps various other family members are allowed to stay with the mother through labor and delivery? If so, is this additional presence an added layer of protection against this sort of baby-stealing? How any woman can say her conscience is clear after participating in stealing babies from their mothers at birth... I don't wish to condemn but I certainly wonder what she sold her soul for that was worth so much.

    The thing is: It didn't happen just in Spain. It's happened in various contexts around the world. The ACLU here in South Dakota is starting an investigation into Native American children being removed from their parents' homes in contravention of Federal law and placed with non-Native American foster parents at an abnormally high rate. And the governor's answer to this announcement? The rough equivalent of 'nothing to see here; move along'.

    Forcefully removing children from their birth families seems to be a fairly human - if not humane - act\experience. I hope and pray that it is not as common an experience as news reports make it seem while knowing that even one case is one too many.

  4. What can one say to this theft of children from their mothers? What kind of people do this sort of thing? I can't even come up with the words yet to describe what I am feeling right now.

    I am officially an ex-Catholic is all I can muster to say right now.

    That nun should be tarred and feathered, all her assets taken away and the proceeds going to the mothers whose children were stolen from them.

    The Bishops have something to do with this too, as well some in the Vatican. What a disgrace and horror!

    Mother F.

  5. Phil, I had the same thought about 'so many skeletons'. I think there's a whole lot more to come. I say this because our single celibate hierarchy is way too vested in the 'Family Values' agenda at the expense of virtually any other meaningful topic. Flip this concern around and it's about trying to save themselves behind the smokescreen of trying to save the family. That's why these hideous stories, like the one unfolding in Spain, are so critical. They give lie to all that clerical concern.

  6. Veronica, you bet the fact women are no longer routinely put under during pregnancy and the husband is allowed to be present has put a stop to this kind of thing--at least for most women. I wouldn't be surprised if young unmarried women still fall under the radar in some instances.

    I've written in the past about both the Boarding School policy and the hideous experience of Native children in some State foster care systems. The State of Washington is particularly horrific in that the prevalence of Native children dieing in foster care is five times higher than any other grouping of children.

  7. Mother, my daughter was talking about this story this morning and she said the thing that is so disgusting to her is that most of the money exchanged seems to have stayed in private hands. Which is why I have trouble believing the nun in the story is entirely at 'peace'--unless she's a sociopath.

  8. "Children were taken from left-leaning parents and placed with more politically suitable families to protect their “moral education.” Others were taken from single mothers and given to “proper” Catholic homes."

    To "protect their moral education" is the reason for stealing children from their mothers. Honest to God, this is almost unbelievable to resort to the immoral in the act of being immoral and believing that would cause the protection of what is moral!! It is complete insanity!!!

    First, the mother's were educated with a LIE that their baby died.
    Second, the mother's were educated in their religion to not LIE.
    Third, the nuns LIED.
    Fourth, the nuns lived a LIE.
    There is nothing moral at all about this to protect.

    If this sort of thing went on in Spain, where else did this go on and where else is this going on now perhaps?

    To LIE and STEAL babies from "left leaning parents" to "more politically suitable parents." As IF it is SUITABLE to steal babies from their mothers and LIE to them and tell them their child DIED!!!!

    And the children who grew up in families that LIED to them from the start. What utter disregard and disrespect for these children. The lesson learned is that their Church has failed them, failed their families and separated them.

    Oh, Jesus, Mary and Joseph PROTECT US from Evil.

    The Church should be shut down, boarded up, closed for good. It is spiritually and morally bankrupt. I can understand how violence towards the Church could easily happen.

    Mother F.

  9. That money was exchanged at all, I find horrific. People are willing to buy and sell human beings. This is commercialized slavery.

    If money had not been exchanged, then a clearer case could be made that no matter how horrible in fact, people were acting out conscience for the good of the children. The poor, perhaps un-wed mother has 1 less mouth to feed and the baby goes into a home with more material goods thus having a chance at a better life. I don't agree that it is a good idea, but I could at least see how a person could be tempted and could rationalize the act.

    But money changing hands? No. That's just plain turning humans into slaves. Which is no sin or disgrace for the slave. What it says for the people selling/buying slaves or the society that allows it is something else altogether.

  10. Colleen, I'm starting to believe that there are a lot of people who are at "peace" with themselves because they are content with being sociopaths.

    Very scary situation because in addition to this they spread the lie and make it acceptable in the culture to promote this evil as a good.

    Mother F.

  11. Veronica, the more I think about this, the more I see it as a form of commercial pseudo infanticide on one hand, and slave trade on the other.

    I can't get my head around the fact mothers were told their babies had died. How could you lie to a mother about something this profound? Who were these people that they could set up such a sick and twisted charade?

  12. Mother, it's the $$$$$ that puts a lie to the whole thing. The rest of the rationalizations are just window dressing for true believers.

  13. Exactly, Colleen, I am having the same difficulty!!! How could anyone lie to a mother & tell them their child DIED - That mother who has just given birth to their child, who carried their baby to term, dreamt of what their child might look like and be, suffered through all the labor pains, prepared a place for that child in their heart and in their life and in their family and their home. Who were these people who did this and lied and said their baby died? That is the question.

    If there is a war to wage it would be to find out who these people were and bring them to justice. Did the people who paid money for these babies know the babies were stolen?

    Mary and Jesus weep.

    Mother F.

  14. Oh, correction, the mothers were put to sleep, so the mother did not experience all the labor pains.

    Mother F.

  15. Part of the rationalization, perhaps? These women 'ought' to have put their children up for adoption. But since they didn't and we know what is best for the child...

    I know that faced with putting my child up for adoption, I'm not sure that I could - even if I knew I had little or no possibility of providing for that child myself. It would be terrible for me to wonder for the rest of my life how my child had fared. Every single report of child abuse would weigh on me more than they already do for fear that it is in fact my child and I had failed in my duty to protect. In this respect, I consider it might be easier for me if my child had died - then I KNOW I can consign that child to God's loving care. I can trust God; I can NOT trust human beings to the same degree.

    Of course with money changing hands, it is then a simple matter. There is only one way in which that mother - whose child has been forcibly taken - won't spend time and effort looking for her child. And that is for her to believe her child has died. The perpetrators don't have to face the mother's power at all. Cowards that they are.

  16. This story has bothered me all day long. I am glad Colleen was able to provide her forum here for discussion.

    Although it was on the front page of the Toronto Star the story isn't exactly "news". The BBC documentary aired some time earlier and there were articles in the NYT and on Huffington Post about two weeks ago. I was able to find a source for the hour long documentary which you can watch here:


    It is a heartbreaking story, much more complex than the newspaper report. One critic says that there couldn't possibly be 300,000 babies over 50 years but my rough calculations, based upon birth rate statistics, show it is possible that about 1% of live births might have resulted in "adoption"/abduction.

    The Spanish RC church refuses to comment and the Spanish government refuses to appoint some sort of truth and reconciliation body as has been done in Argentina and Chile.

    One of Canada's great shames has been the mistreatment of native peoples by removing children from their families and putting them in residential schools. The Anglican Church has apologized for its role in the destruction of first nations communities, the damage to children who were required to attend the residential schools and to humanity for its egregious offenses in this matter.


    In 2009 the Pope has expressed his sorrow for the RC church's role in the operation of residential schools.


    Other RC "apologies" appeared earlier:

    "Already in 1991, Canadian Catholic Bishops and leaders of men and women religious communities had issued a statement that "We are sorry and deeply regret the pain, suffering and alienation that so many experienced" at the Residential Schools."


    I am really upset that the Vatican is so influenced by the Franco Fascist Catholics from Spain, including Opus Dei. At least the Canadian Catholic Bishops recognized "various types of abuse experienced at some residential schools have moved us to a profound examination of conscience as a Church."

    Additional information:



  17. I'm still waiting for some recognition from the US Church for it's complicity in the US Boarding School cultural genocide--and the Anglicans, Mormons, and Presbyterians etc.

    The Helena Diocese has recently been given notice of three different law suits involving over 100 Natives for abuse suffered in Montana missions and residential schools. Most of it was under the Jesuits and Ursuline orders so it's hard to know how this will all play out. The Jebs Northwest Provincial have already paid out a boatload for some of the predators also named in the Montana suits.

    Maybe the Black Sheep Dog living up there in Whitefish has some advice for Bishop Thomas on how to handle abuse allegations. :)

  18. Kolcoch,

    Would you have any sources in Spanish about this scandal? I can do Spanish and would like to read more from inside Spain itself.


  19. This is much like what happened in Argentina, where the military government kidnapped and murdered a number of young men and women in the 1970s and early 1980s, claiming they were subversives. The women who were pregnant were kept in secret prisons until they gave birth, and were then murdered. The military members who kidnapped the mothers then adopted them out to military families or other families. There are about 200 or so children missing, a few died at birth, but about 100 of them have been discovered so far through DNA testing.

  20. Searcher, I think the best Spanish language place to start is here: http://anadir.es/
    ANADIR is the organization started by Mr Barrasso.

    Kathy, for me the issue which takes the Spanish thing beyond Argentina is not just the raw numbers, but the fact it went on well after Franco was no longer on the scene. In other words it passed beyond ideology and directly into human trafficking. In either case, it's all sick.

  21. This is all such terribly saddening stuff to hear. It is so barbaric.

    Mother F.

  22. This is the link to the programme from BBC Radio World Service. It's 25 minutes long and well worth a listen.

    I don't know how long it will be available for.