MADRID — On June 13, two self-described “sextremists” from the radical feminist group FEMEN chained themselves to the Cathedral of the Almudena in Madrid, Spain.

The two women walked into the Cathedral at 9:30 a.m. and approached the main altar.  After shedding their shirts, the women chained themselves to the base of the crucifix and began chanting “abortion is sacred,” among other statements.

FEMEN carefully coordinated a media campaign around the event, tweeting photographs and posting videos of the nude women.

FEMEN was founded in Ukraine but moved its headquarters to Paris, France in August 2013.

In February, the same FEMEN activists assaulted Cardinal Antonio Maria Rouco Varela as he was preparing to celebrate the mass in a Madrid parish.

On Friday, the abortion activists had painted the motto “freedom to abort” on their torso and continued to chant slogans such as “illegal abortion, let's take over the altar” while about a dozen bystanders were quickly evacuated by the police.  Shortly thereafter, the entire Cathedral and its periphery was closed down by the police.

On the back of one of the women was painted “Gallardón Inquisidor” in reference to Spain’s minister of justice, Alberto Ruiz-Gallardón.  Gallardón is seen as the prime mover of an attempt by the Spanish center right party, Partido Popular, to roll back Spain’s abortion-on-demand laws.

The attack on the Cathedral was timed to take place during the final deliberations by the General Council of the Judiciary (GCJ).  On Friday, the GCJ, Spain’s constitutional body that governs the judiciary, voted 10-8 (with three abstentions) in favor of moving ahead with a plan that would limit access to abortion.

Currently, abortion in Spain is paid for by the taxpayers and has almost no meaningful restrictions up to viability.  In 2010, the socialist government of ex-President Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero eliminated almost all restrictions on abortion and declared the killing of a child in the womb to be the mother’s legal “right.”

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FEMEN activists in Spain are more closely linked with anarchists than socialists, nevertheless both socialists and anarchists promote abortion as a “sacred right.”  In this recent Twitter post from FEMEN activists in Spain aimed at increasing their membership in the United States, FEMEN describes itself as “feminist and radical anarchist.”

Radical leftist violence has been escalating in the past year.

In February of last year, Spanish anarchists planted a bomb in the Almudena Cathedral with two pounds of nails and explosives and later, in March, the same anarchists claimed credit for detonating another bomb in the Cathedral of el Pilar in Zaragoza.

Europa Press reported that anarchists from Argentina, where feminist anarchists have also attacked Catholic churches, and other countries have been moving to Europe to incite anticlerical violence.

Spain has a very significant anarchist movement, which at its height in 1936 reached over 1 million members, or approximately 10 percent of the adult population. 

The cornerstone of the Spanish anarchist movement has always been radical anticlericalism, which has often turned violent.  In 1936, at the start of the civil war, the anticlerical campaign known as the Red Terror saw the murder of over 6,000 Catholic clergy and tens of thousands of other people by radical leftists and anarchists.

The Almudena Cathedral building itself bears the scars of Spain’s anarchist past.  Construction for the Cathedral of Almudena in Madrid began in 1883, but had to be suspended during the Spanish civil war (1936-1939) as anarchists and communists defaced and destroyed parts of the building.  The Cathedral was eventually consecrated by St. John Paul II in 1993.

The recent radical and increasingly violent chain of events in Spain’s cathedrals, along with the massive electoral gains of Spain’s radical left at the latest European elections, are causing great concern among Spain’s Catholics.

A statement from the police said the FEMEN abortion activists were being charged with “crimes against religious sentiments” but would be released within a few hours.


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