JULIO A. GONZALO

Professor of Materials Physics at the Universidad Autónoma (Madrid) He worked as Senior Scientist in the PRNC at Brookhaven National Laboratory (1962-1975) He has been professor at the universities of Salamanca, Mayaguez and Río Piedras (Puerto Rico) and Barcelona.

Author of specialized books: Effective Field Approach to Phase Transitions, Solid State Spectroscopies, Ferroelectricity: The Fundamentals Collection, Inflationary Cosmology Revisited, etc.; and various cultural, scientific and vital subjects: Pioneros de la ciencia, En defensa de la vida humana, El fenómeno del ateísmo contemporáneo, etc.

In 2003 he received the Cruz de Alfonso X el Sabio, Encomienda de Caballero.

WHAT EUROPE OWES TO SPAIN [1]

Many years ago in Salamanca I heard Father Fraile, O.P. (author of an excellent book on history of philosophy) saying that the author of the article devoted to Spain in the famous and highly sectarian Enciclopedie (Mason de Menville, if I remember well) had asked himself that question: “What does owe the culture of Europe to Spain?” Don Guillermo Fraile, a very good person, was a little indignant and responded: “Such a question addressed to us, Spaniards, who discovered half the world... not forgetting that the other half was discovered by our brothers the Portuguese.”

“What is Europe?” “What is Spain?” Recently Francisco Rodríguez Adrados gave a very interesting conference in Madrid on the subjet: what is this that we call Spain, and this that we call Europe? With his proverbial erudition, in times at which the substance of what is Spain and what is Europe is under scrutiny.

Spain is one and diverse. She has always been that way. Because of it the separatist tendencies, artificial and anti-historical, lack a future, even if they are apparently successful in the political scene. And I say that they lack a future because as all we know the great majority of Spsniards are "multi-authonomous". Culturally, neither Catalonia, nor the Basque Country, nor Gallicia have contributed anything important to Europe against Spain. Let the separatists say, if they do not agree, who, when and how.

Spain has been always diverse: “even those who came were subjects of the kings of Spain, who will concert the men from Vizcaya with those from Catalonia, so different in province and language? Who will join the Andalusian and the Valentian, and the men from Perpignan and from Cordoba, being so different, and the men from Aragon and from Guipuzcoa, and the Galician with the Castillian (suspecting that he is Portuguese), and the Asturian and the Montaignard with the Navarroan? And so, not all subjects of Spain's royal crown are of the same costumes or of similar languages. [2]

And Europe? Europe is also one and diverse. Less one and much more diverse, undoubtedly, because it is much larger. To the contrary of Spain, which is now menaced by the 'autonomic' irresponsibility of the politicians, form the left and also from the right, Europe, in theory, is in the road to unification. But, being a purely bureaucratic and commercial venture, it appears as a unification without soul, forgetful of its roots, and it is in serious danger of ending badly. The elementary demographic indicators show that the beautiful, rich and prosperous Europe of today lacks of future. In France and Germany, the two countries which are heading the process of unification, it seems that there are today more Muslims that practice their religion than practicing Christians descendants from those who did populate Europe of Gothic cathedrals in Medieval Christendom, the cradle of Europe.

Eighty years ago a great English writer of French origins, Hillaire Belloc, published a book entitled “Europe and the Faith”, as a result of a series of lectures in which with his direct and fierce style, he responded to the following questions: “What was the Roman Empire? What was the role played by the Church in the Empire? How did come out its fall? The beginning of the nations. What was the case of England? The Dark Ages; Medieval Europe; the Reformation; the Defection of England. The book´s thesis is summarized by his author in this words: The Faith is Europe and Europe is the Faith. In fact it is impossible to understand the faith – the faith in Christ – the catholic faith, without understanding what did it make Medieval Christendom, later called Europe. And the European Culture, with its cathedrals, its theatre, its literature, its art, its music, and, very much, its science, is absolutely unintelligible without giving its due to the Christian faith who sustains it. And without the Catholic Church, evidently.

Clearly, the Incarnation, Life, Message, Passion, Death and Resurrection of Jesus Christ, and the Mission entrusted by him to the Twelve, did not circumscribed to the limits of Europe. But the faith which, through Peter and Paul, takes roots in Rome, there suffers persecution and heresy, and suffer for centuries the Muslim assault, propagates later to the five continents from Europe in which Spain and Portugal play a decisive role. And it is necessary to be blind not to see it.

After Marx, Darwin, Nietzsche and Freud, perhaps many Europeans may think today that the Christian faith was the root of Europe is already gone by and that the winds of “progress” carry today Europe in another direction.

Let them be so deceived. Certainly the faith could succumb in Europe, or became residual. But, for the moment, according to all the signs, in Africa, in America and in Asia, it is alive. And even without those signs the Catholic Church still counts with the word of her founder to be alive until the end of the times.

What owes Europe to Spain? It is enough to give a few names of decisive events:

718 – Covadonga

1002 – Calatañazor

1212 – Navas de Tolosa

1492 – Granada, and the discovery of America

1571 – Lepanto

 

1936 – Alcazar de Toledo

 

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[1] Reproduced from “Altar Mayor”, nº 97, Tomo II (Extraordinario, Enero 2001)

[2] Cited by Miguel Ángel Ladero Quesada, taken from “Historia General y Natural de Indias”, lib.II, cap. XIII, Madrid 1851; de Gonzalo Fernández de Oviedo y Valdés.

[3] From “Historia de España”, sexta ed., Madrid, 1950; Marcelino Menéndez y Pelayo. Textos seleccionados por Jorge Vigon.