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Bunk, Brian D., 1968-; Pack, Sasha D.; Scott, Carl-Gustaf (ed.) / Nation and conflict in modern Spain: essays in honor of Stanley G. Payne

Bunk, Brian D., 1968-
"A shape note of pugnacity" : conservative youth groups in Spain, 1914-1939,   pp. 15-29 ff.

Page 20

who believed that they had been chosen by God to protect the Church and to
lead Spain 
back to its traditional values.28 Both ACNP and JCE served as developmental
for the conservative political parties of the Republic, proving especially
important in forming 
the leadership of these groups. Young men initially joined JCE before graduating
to mem- 
bership in ACNP, where the political affiliations varied but never included
anyone enrolled in 
a republican, socialist or communist party.29 Perhaps the most famous and
influential mem- 
ber of ACNP during the Republic was Jose Maria Gil Robles who led the Confederacioin
Espahola de DerechasAut6nomas (CEDA) between 1933 and 1936. 
Throughout the 1920s the JCE stressed its role in educating urban, middle-class
in the importance of defending the Catholic faith. The organization studiously
avoided any 
direct political involvement, although many of its members supported the
Primo de Rivera 
regime. Throughout the group's existence, church officials and JCE leaders
tried to limit the 
overt politicization of young people. Nevertheless, along with an emphasis
on Catholic faith, 
the organization celebrated the era of the Catholic Kings and indirectly
promoted the con- 
nection between throne and altar. It was clear that for many in the organization,
the mission 
of the JCE to defend the faith necessarily entailed a political struggle.
Other developments 
highlighted the same connection such as the 1919 ceremony where the king
officially gave 
the nation over to the Sacred Heart of Jesus at Cerro de los Angeles. It
is not surprising that 
devotion to the Sacred Heart increased during the 1920s, precisely at the
moment when the 
JCE was first being formed.30 Under these circumstances the distinction between
and politics evaporated despite the refusal of JCE to declare itself in favor
of any single party. 
In a sense, the JCE remained above party politics while continuing to organize
and mobilize 
cadres of youths dedicated to a conservative ideology that linked defense
of religion with 
defense of the nation.3' Once the heavy hand of the dictatorship was removed,
the JCE 
struggled to maintain its official stance against political involvement.
In the Republic's first 
days, the organization mobilized its adherents to combat anti-clerical legislation
"direct and effective action."'32 As the Republic developed, the
JCE found it increasingly dif- 
ficult to prevent its members from becoming politically active, especially
as the conservative 
political parties stepped up efforts to recruit young people. In addition,
political involvement 
began to be viewed as a lesser evil compared to the possibility of increased
secularization or 
the advent of a revolutionary regime. Even violence could be justified, if
it was practiced in 
defense of the moral and religious values held by the organization.33 Feliciano
Montero sug- 
gests that the attitude of the JCE may have hindered the development of a
Catholic party 
dedicated to Christian democracy.34 In this way the youth of JCE could be
directed to those 
parties who at best held a tepid loyalty to the Republican system and at
worst actively aimed 
to destroy it. Despite its nature as a religious organization rather than
a political group, the 
JCE still employed modern techniques of mass mobilization. Each JCE center
had its own 
flag and in the aftermath of the October 1934 revolt some favored the creation
of a "Civic 
Movement" to aid authorities during times of crisis. In addition, the
organization would be 

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