RUSSIA AND THE VATICAN
It would be a mistake to think that the Vatican has considered Russia to be one of the greatest enemies of the Catholic Church only since that country became Communist. Far from it. Rome regarded Russia with the deepest hostility even when the Czar ruled supreme in that country. But whereas the Vatican's hostility to Soviet Russia was due to its economic, social, political and cultural structure, its hostility to Czarist Russia was mainly a religious antagonism. It was the animosity of one powerful Church, the Roman Catholic, against another powerful and rival Church, the Orthodox Church.
This enmity had existed for centuries, but, owing to the comparative isolation of Orthodox Russia, it had lain dormant except in those Catholic countries on the borders of Russia or whose territories had, on occasion, been subject to Russian occupation.
Towards the end of the last century and during the first decade of the twentieth century the Vatican began to regard Russia with greater interest than before, and started, in fact, to formulate plans for an "eventual conversion of Orthodox Russia to Catholicism." To expatiate on those plans is not the task of this book. It suffices to say that the Vatican was becoming alive to the persecution of the Catholic Church by the Orthodox Church in Russia itself and in Russian-occupied territory. Protests were lodged with the Russian Government and the oppression exercised by the Orthodox Church was denounced to the world.
That the Orthodox Church persecuted the little isles of Catholicism is true enough. It is also true, on the other hand that the Catholic Church persecuted the Orthodox Church whenever she could.
Two characteristics distinguished the two Churches and lent a particular importance to their hostility. In the first place the Orthodox Church was, by comparison, very corrupt and her clergy were ignorant and superstitious. Secondly, and this is equally important, it was a National Church—or, rather, it had been transformed into little more than an adjunct to the military caste and the Czar. It co-operated with those who desired to keep the Russian people on the lowest possible cultural and spiritual level and thereby to secure a continuation of the Czarist régime. It would not be an exaggeration to say that the Orthodox Church had become a powerful instrument of the Czarist régime, and, in turn, the Czarist régime had become a powerful instrument of the Orthodox Church. Each was dependent on the other for a continuation of its rule and for eventual survival. The fall of one would, in fact, have involved the fall of the other.
Although the Catholic Church has always sponsored a centralized and absolute Government, as was that of the Czar, nevertheless it hoped that Czarism might be swept away, in one manner or another. This was not because the Catholic Church was hostile to the Czarist régime itself; but in absolute Czarism the Catholic Church saw the main obstacle to its plans, as being the great supporter of the rival Orthodox Church.
When, in 1905, the Czar was compelled to grant concessions permitting the practice of any religion, the Holy Synod made such religious liberties inaccessible to the Roman Catholic. Thus it was that, on the outbreak of the First World War, the Vatican strove to hamper the alliance existing between Czarist Russia and the other Allies, for in every military or political Russian move the Vatican saw only a move of the Orthodox Church. During the war this attitude became obvious when the Vatican made it understood that the Czarist plan for seizing Constantinople was, perhaps, the greatest factor hindering the consideration of the Papal peace terms.
The Vatican emphasized that, so long as Russia maintained her imperialist claims, the Allies could not find a just basis for peace negotiations. The Vatican could give no benediction to the Western Allies while Russia, Orthodox Russia, remained in the Entente. In the matter of Constantinople the Vatican greatly feared that if that town fell under Russian domination, the Orthodox Church would create there a great centre of the Orthodox Faith, in rivalry with that of Rome.
At that time the Vatican's hostility to Russia was due to the Orthodox Church in the background. Hence the words of Cardinal Gasparri, Secretary of State at the Vatican: "The victory of Czarist Russia, to whom France and England have made so many promises, would constitute for the Vatican a disaster greater than the reformation." ( Cardinal Gasparri to Historian Ferrero.) More than twenty-five years later, in the time of another Secretary of State and another Pope, this sentence of Cardinal Gasparri was repeated over and over again, but on these occasions the reference was to Bolshevism. Thus, when in 1917 the Czarist régime collapsed in utter ruin and was supplanted by Bolshevism, the news was received with great hopes and even rejoicing at the Vatican. In view of what has since happened, this might seem strange: but happen it did. The Vatican rejoiced at the realization of its long hopes. The fall of the Czar involved the fall of Rome's great rival, the Orthodox Church, since Nicholas II was also head of the Russian Church.
It is true that the assumption of power by Bolshevism was not very encouraging; but at that time the Vatican considered Bolshevism to be the lesser of the two evils, especially as the separation of Church and State became at last a reality, under the rule of Kerensky. Although this separation endangered the situation, still it bequeathed religious equality to Russia, which meant that henceforward Catholicism would be on equal terms with the Orthodox Church. Thus there would be opened up to Rome a tremendous vista of religious activity in that vast Russian territory hitherto sealed against the missionary zeal of the Catholic Church. The Vatican during those years was, in fact, seriously contemplating the conversion of the whole country to Rome. Count Sforza, who was in close contact with the Vatican, related that:—
At the Vatican, Bolshevism was at the beginning viewed as a horrible evil undoubtedly, but also as a necessary evil, which might possibly have salutary consequences. The structure of the Russian Church would never have given way so long as Czarism lasted. Among the ruins accumulated by Bolshevism there was room for everything, even for a religious revival in which the influence of the Roman Church might have made itself felt.
Immediately after the First World War the Vatican entered into contact with the Bolsheviks, with the object of reaching an agreement allowing Catholic activities in the new Russia. This was done while, simultaneously, the Catholic Church was fulminating against the ideology and the "acts of terrorism" promoted by Bolshevism throughout Europe, including Russia herself.
But although the Catholic Church was condemning Bolshevism wherever found, it refrained from such comdemnation during negotiations with the Soviet Republic. It tolerated, and even negotiated with, Bolshevism in order to destroy that great religious enemy the Orthodox Church—or rather, after the Revolution, to supplant it permanently.
One of the first great moves of the Vatican was effected through the agency of Mgr. Ropp, Bishop of Vilna, a refugee from Czarist Russia. Mgr. Ropp, in 1920, having established his headquarters in Berlin, summoned numerous meetings of Russian émigrés, including adherents of the Orthodox Church, converted Catholics, Balts, and Germans, with the aim of effecting a union between the Russian Orthodox Church and the Catholic Church. Mgr. Ropp made three demands from the Soviet—permission to return; liberty of conscience in religion and religious education; and the restitution of church edifices and other property to the Church. The Vatican thus expressed its views on this effort: "The moment has arrived propitious for rapprochement, inasmuch as the iron circle of Caesaro- papism, which hermetically closed Russian religious life to all Roman influences, has been broken" (Osservatore Romano).
The Vatican was very hopeful that Bolshevism would not last very long. "Actual political conditions (inside Russia) form a grave obstacle, but this obstacle has a temporary character" (Osservatore Romano). There was open talk of "converting a country of 90,000,000 people to the true religion." Diplomatic negotiations between the Kremlin and the Vatican continued, sometimes openly and sometimes secretly.
The Soviet leaders, meanwhile, were pursuing crafty tactics. Although they assured the Catholic and the Orthodox alike that religion was untrammelled, they started a gigantic anti-religious campaign. To both Churches liberty and privileges were promised, and these promises were extended to Protestant bodies, especially to American Protestants. At that period Soviet Russia, obedient to the dictum "divide and rule," was allowing simultaneously the formation of a large Catholic group, the formation of a powerful Atheistic centre, and the resuscitation of the Orthodox Church. From this last sprang eventually the Soviet-inspired Living Church, with Bishop Vedensky as the first Patriarch, and various powerful Protestant groups. All these were to fight each other in order to save the souls of 90,000,000 Russians.
These diplomatic, political, and religious machinations reached a climax, as far as concerns the Catholic Church, in 1922, during the Conference of Genoa. At a dinner the Bolshevik Minister for Foreign Affairs, Chicherin, and the Archbishop of Genoa toasted each other. They had been discussing the future relationship of the Vatican and Soviet Russia. Chicherin emphasized that any religion had ample scope in Russia, since the Soviet Republic had separated Church and State. But when the Vatican later proposed concrete plans for "Catholicizing Russia" it incurred great difficulties. The moribund Orthodox Church was moribund indeed, but it was not yet dead.
The Vatican next approached the various nations then having representatives at Genoa and sent a Papal messenger bearing a letter from the Secretary of State. This missive asked the Powers not to sign any treaty with Russia unless freedom to practise any religion was guaranteed by it, together with the restoration of all Church property. Meanwhile the Genoa Conference failed—and the Vatican abandoned its plan.
But soon the plan was resumed in Rome. The Papal representative, Mgr. Pizzardo, negotiated with the Bolshevik Minister, Vorowsky, with satisfactory results. The Vatican was allowed to send missionaries into Russia to prepare a great plan for feeding and clothing the population. The first group consisted of eleven priests, who took with them 1,000,000 parcels bearing the inscription: "To the children of Russia from the Pope in Rome." It should be noted that the Vatican had promised Vorowsky to abstain from all "propaganda."
Then the Vatican appointed Father Walsh as head of the Papal relief mission and representative of the Vatican, at the time when the American relief expedition arrived in Moscow. Father Walsh joined forces with Colonel Haskell, chief of the Hoover American Relief Administration. An interminable series of disputes arose between the Soviet Republic and the Catholics, each accusing the other of employing "propaganda."
The "implacable and undisguised enmity" of Father Walsh soon caused difficulties and he became "the chief obstacle to the successful consummation of the Pope's plan for winning Russia to Catholicism" ( Louis Fischer).
This strained relationship reached a climax when fifteen priests were arrested on the charge of having aided the enemy, to wit Catholic Poland, during the war of 1920; and one was sentenced to death.
Father Walsh and the Vatican used every effort to arouse the world against Russia. The Anglican Church sympathized with the Vatican, and finally the protest assumed the form of a concrete menace when the Catholic Polish General, Sikorsky, threatened another invasion. Relations between the Vatican and Moscow were broken off, but both sides tried once more to mend their relationships. A conference was held in Rome between the Soviet representative Jordansky and Father Tacchi-Venturi, the assistant to the head of the Jesuit Order Ledochovski. The conference was without result.
Meanwhile other events had occurred in the international field. A strong Government and a new politico-social ideology created, as it claimed, to fight Bolshevism at home and abroad, had arisen in Italy. That movement was called Fascism. We have already seen how the Catholic Church quickly realized that this movement would be useful to her in fighting Socialism and Bolshevism, and from the beginning supported it, foreseeing, amongst other things, that the significance of Fascism would not be confined to the internal policy of Italy. It soon became clear that international repercussions would follow, and its economic and social ideology would counterbalance the ideology of Bolshevism—this, above all, in view of the fact that powerful elements throughout the world were hostile to the new Russia, and that such hostility was increasing with the passing of the years.
Thus the Vatican, instead of listening to the numerous overtures of the Soviet Republic, developed another plan. This plan sought to utilize the old Czarist Russians on their return to their own country from their present exile abroad. The Church initiated a great drive for their conversion, and by 1924 it had already made numerous converts in Berlin, Paris, Brussels, and elsewhere. When the Soviet Republic again proposed a meeting to the Vatican, the Vatican refused. In the next year, 1925, Chicherin made contact with the Papal nuncio in Berlin, Cardinal Pacelli, to whom he gave guarantees that the Catholic Church, and all other Churches, would have the amplest liberty in Soviet Russia. Chicherin went so far as to give to Pacelli a dossier on ecclesiastical matters containing detailed plans for regulating the appointment of bishops and the education of children. The one point the Soviet Republic demanded from the Vatican was the banning of Polish Catholic priests from Russia.
Once more the Vatican refused compliance and broke off relationships with the Kremlin. It is notable that the Vatican's refusals became increasingly frequent in proportion to the strengthening of Fascism in Italy and the growth of similar movements in other countries.
In 1927, while Fascism, being well established in Italy, promised that Communism and Socialism should be stamped out and that great privileges should be granted to the Church, the Vatican for the last time declared its dissatisfaction with "the Soviet proposals." Since that date there have been no direct communications between the Vatican and Moscow.
By 1930 the Pope was openly condemning Soviet Russia and indicted her before the world. In one of his speeches he declared that if, at the Genoa Conference, the nations had followed his advice not to recognize Soviet Russia unless that country gave guarantees of religious freedom, the world would have been more happily situated. The Pope indicted Russia on account of her religious persecutions, without mentioning the religious persecutions enacted in Catholic Poland against the Orthodox, the Jews, and the Socialists (see the chapter on The Vatican and Poland), and he went so far as to appoint a Special Commission for Russia, by increasing the activities of the Institute of Oriental Studies. Meetings were held in London, Paris, Geneva, Prague, and other towns. This crusade was followed by that of the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Grand Rabbi of France, the National Council of the Free Churches, and similar bodies.
The years 1930-31 saw the world "emotionally roused to war against Soviet Godless Russia."
During the following ten years, from 1930 to 1939-40 (as already seen), the main task of the Vatican was to establish powerful political and military blocs designed to oppose and finally to destroy Bolshevism in its various forms.
The Catholic Church's aim was twofold, and had to be accomplished in two definite stages. First, to encourage and support certain political bodies within the various nations of Europe, directed to the destruction of Socialism and Bolshevism within a given country; and secondly, to support and exploit the diplomatic and political power, and finally the military might, of such groups, later Governments, for the purpose of war against Russia.
Powerful economic, social, and financial forces throughout the world assisted the Vatican in this double purpose, rendering its task infinitely easier. Religious, ethical, economic, social, national, and other factors together formed an efficient bulwark against Bolshevism at home and Bolshevism abroad (Soviet Russia). The same combination, in the brief space of a decade, was able to establish Fascism almost throughout Europe, and thus the way was prepared for the outbreak of the Second World War.
In Italy, by 1930, this was an accomplished fact, while in Germany Nazism also was growing in strength, and, like Italian Fascism, was largely inspired by enmity against Bolshevism and Soviet Russia. By the end of 1933 two great European nations had been transformed into two powerful armed blocks whose internal and external policy was based on their hostility to the U.S.S.R.
But although the hostility of the world to Soviet Russia was still tremendous, there was already a steady, even if slow, recognition of her sincere desire for peace and of her various efforts to co-operate in establishing an international authority charged with the preservation of that peace.
Thus it came about that the League of Nations proposed the admission of Russia, hitherto an outcast from the family of nations, to that Assembly. There were strenuous protests from all over the world; and these protests came mainly from Catholic individuals, Catholic Governments, or Catholic bodies, beginning with the Vatican. Within the League itself the loudest opponents to Russia's admission were the spokesman of Catholic de Valera and the Catholic representative of Austria, where Catholicism had just machine- gunned Vienna's Socialists. With them ranked the Catholic delegate from Switzerland, whose violent speech against Russia's admission was fully reproduced in the Catholic Press and praised by the Osservatore Romano (October 5), which profoundly admired "his nobility of sentiment and rectitude of Christian and civic conscience."
This boycott of Soviet Russia by Catholics at that period was meant to further the grand plan conceived by the Vatican—namely, to enclose her in an iron ring from the West and the East. This policy took concrete shape when finally a powerful Nazi Germany on the one side, and an aggressive Japan on the other, began to draw closer together, chiefly as a result of their common interest in hampering and eventually destroying the Red Colossus.
To show the attitude of the Catholic Church on the matter it should suffice to quote a significant comment of the Catholic Times ( NOVEMBER 23, 1934) :—
In the event of a war between Japan and Russia, Catholics would sympathize with Japan, at least in so far as religion is concerned, so let us beware of any Anglo-American bloc against Japan involving us on the side of Russia.
This at a period when Hitler was voicing his ambition of acquiring the Ukraine, and the Catholic Church was indirectly supporting his claims by loudly proclaiming that no Christian nation should ever dream of helping Russia in the event of an attack upon her by either Germany or Japan. "Let Russia fight its own battle" became the refrain of the Catholic world at this stage, "for the undoing of Godless Sovietism is no evil at all."
This campaign was fought by the Vatican simultaneously on many fronts. For while the Pope was thundering against "Godless" Bolshevism, the Catholic Press was depicting its horrors, first in Mexico and then in Spain, and Vatican diplomacy was busy trying to weaken the ties of friendship and mutual assistance which linked France and Soviet Russia.
This last-named attempt failed, chiefly because France herself turned Red with the formation of the Popular Front. We have already seen the Catholic Church's reaction to this, first in sponsoring various French Fascist movements, and finally in taking part in a vast plot, led by clerical Fascist elements, to bring about the downfall of the Third Republic.
It is worth recalling the sequence of events, for each one was a stepping-stone, not only to the establishment of a dictatorship, but to an ultimate attack on Russia.
The rise of Hitler to power in 1933 was followed, in 1934, by the establishment of a Catholic dictatorship in Austria. In 1935 came Fascist Italy's attack on Abyssinia, which drew Europe's attention away from Hitler's first aggressive moves in the Rhineland. In 1936 Catholic Fascist movements appeared in France, and in the summer of that year Franco began the Civil War in Spain. In 1938 Austria was incorporated into Germany, and in 1939 Czechoslovakia suffered the same fate, the result being the outbreak of the Second World War with the attack on Poland. Practically the whole of Europe had been converted into a Fascist bloc whose fundamental policy was the annihilation of Communism and its incarnation, Soviet Russia. This while Germany, Italy, and Japan solemnly bound themselves, through the Anti-Comintern Pact, to direct their energies against Soviet Russia; and while Japan went from one aggression to another in Asia.
And it should be remembered that in each of these major events the Vatican had played its hand, either directly or indirectly, with the set purpose of stirring forces and countries towards its fixed goal: war on Russia.
We have also seen the activities and anxieties of the Vatican immediately before and after the outbreak of the Second World War, which did not start on the Russian border, as the Vatican had hoped, but between the two Christian countries of Nazi Germany and Catholic Poland; and we know also of the negotiations which went on between the Pope and Hitler, with the latter continually repeating that one day he would attack Russia.
Remembering all this, it might be of interest to glance at a particular stage of that period—namely, beginning with the partition of Poland—and bringing into relief the relationship existing between the Catholic Church and the Soviet Union.
The first blow which the Vatican received directly from Soviet Russia, against whom it had mobilized Europe, occurred when Catholic Poland was jointly occupied by the armies of Nazi Germany and Russia. That occupation in 1939 involved a reality such as the Vatican had never dared to envisage, in that half of Catholic Poland fell under the rule of Atheist Russia. At the close of 1939 over 9,000,000 Catholic Poles were, in fact, under the domination of Moscow.
Such a set-back to the policy of the Vatican acted only as a spur to its activities all over Europe, designed to procure the recovery of Catholic Poland and the final destruction of the U.S.S.R.
We have already seen the part played by the Vatican in the capitulation of Belgium and France in 1940, every action being directed to smoothing the path of Nazi Germany so that it would be possible for that country to attack Russia; the transformation of France, under Pétain; and how, in June 1941, the great news was published to the world that the Soviet Union had at last been attacked.
We have already related the actions of the Vatican from this point onwards, and how, as the Nazi armies advanced, Catholic legions from the various Catholic countries were dispatched to the Russian Front to "fight Bolshevik Russia."
Although things at that time looked very hopeful for Germany, the Vatican was deeply concerned at a possible Allied victory, and could never forget that Soviet Russia was one of the foremost Allies. Thus the Pope made numerous démarches in London and Washington, asking for "assurances that they would not allow Bolshevism to spread and conquer Europe."
During this time Catholic Poland, being on the side of the Allies, was, paradoxically, fighting hand in hand with Soviet Russia against the Nazi enemy. The Catholic Poles were in continuous communication with the Vatican, and the latter continually emphasized to the Allies that Poland would persevere in fighting only if assured that Catholic Poland should never become a prey to Bolshevism.
We have already seen, in the chapters devoted to Germany, what the negotiations were. It suffices to state here that Stalin, in 1942, made several attempts towards a rapprochement with the Vatican, giving guarantees that religion and the freedom of the Catholic Church in Poland would be scrupulously respected. Stalin also assured the Pope that "the present war is not being waged for the expansion of Communism or for the territorial aggrandizement of Russia."
The Vatican, however, rejected all these offers and continued to emphasize to Great Britain and the United States of America "the threat which Soviet Russia constituted, in case of German defeat."
At the same time the Vatican became more and more outspoken and critical of the Allies for allowing Communist propaganda and for permitting their Press to praise "Atheist Russia."
"The Comintern considers the possibility of world-revolution greater than before," reiterated the Vatican. "The Western Nations should beware of such a dangerous ally; Soviet Russia will eventually destroy the structure of the Western Nations. The Western Nations will become ripe for Communism" (extract from Osservatore Romano).
"The Anglo-Saxons have carried the war so far that they are interested in, and sponsoring, Communist propaganda, which will weaken Germany as it did in the last war," was the significant remark of the Papal Secretary of State ( February 2, 1942).
To arouse the Western Allies' horror of Russia, the Vatican gave figures illustrating the treatment of Catholics by Soviet Russia. Thus in 1917 Russia possessed over 46,000 Orthodox churches, 890 monasteries with 52,022 monks, and 50,960 priests. There remained in October 1935 only a few "Communist priests."
During the same period there were, in Russia, 610 Catholic churches, 8 Catholic bishops, and 810 priests. By 1939 there remained only 107 Catholic priests ( Vatican Radio, 1942).
The year 1942 witnessed an event of great importance. Great Britain and Soviet Russia signed a pact, binding the two countries for twenty years.
The Vatican raised further protest in Washington and London, accusing Britain of "having offered Christian Europe to Atheist Moscow." It became outspoken concerning the secret clauses of the pact, and in its immediate circle it was said that by virtue of these secret clauses the Soviet Union "would have political and military control of Europe, in the event of an Allied victory, but nothing had been said about the religious future of the Continent."
To the reproaches of the Allies the Vatican made answer that "nobody can accuse the Pope of alarmism, because it is common knowledge that, ideologically, the Bolsheviks do not recognize Religion, and wherever they put their foot they persecute it."
The Vatican insisted that the Western Allies should make the Pope privy to the secret clauses of the Anglo-Soviet Pact, "in connection with religious freedom." The strange answer was returned that the political and military pact had been signed with the Soviets, but that in connection with religion the Vatican would have to deal directly with the Bolsheviks.
The Vatican accused the Allies of having left out the Catholic Church in the planning of post-war Europe; or rather, of "not having taken measures for safeguarding Christian Catholic Europe from the Bolsheviks."
President Roosevelt advised the Pope to make a direct approach to Stalin, but the Pope refused. Roosevelt then asked Stalin to make overtures to the Pope "in view of the great spiritual influence the Vatican exerts on many territories liberated by the Soviet armies." Stalin once more made proposals, assuring the Vatican of his willingness to come to terms.
Stalin then abolished the Comintern with the design of making things easier for the Vatican and for those Catholic countries and armies fighting alongside the Soviet Republic and the Allies. Political and military reasons, of course, were not without weight. This move was welcomed with sarcasm by the Vatican, which warned the Allies not to trust Russia because that was "a move the better to deceive the Western Powers."
Once more, in the spring of 1943, Stalin made approaches and Roosevelt urged the Vatican to come to terms with Moscow.
In May, June, and July, 1943 the Soviet Republic again contacted the Vatican, desiring to restart "negotiations for a renewal of normal contacts and eventually for starting diplomatic relations."
This time London and Washington, in their official capacity, sponsored the move of Moscow.
Roosevelt and Great Britain gave the Vatican to understand that it was their sincere wish to counterbalance the influence of the Soviet Republic by the "maintenance of a strong bloc of Catholic countries, under the Anglo-American sphere of influence." Spain and Italy were the Catholic countries in view.
In spite of all efforts from Moscow, London, and Washington, in spite even of a personal letter addressed by Stalin to the Pope previous to all these negotiations, the Vatican refused either a discussion or an exchange of representatives.
Meanwhile the Soviet armies were entering vast territories whose populations were wholly or partially Catholics. The greatest of such territories was again Poland. There the Catholic Poles were in a dilemma. They had been liberated from the Nazis by the Soviet armies. Should they welcome the Bolsheviks as liberators? The situation became very difficult for the Poles, for the Western Allies, for Russia, and for the Vatican itself.
Again Stalin, with the support of Roosevelt, approached the Vatican with a view to a final understanding with the Catholic Church. Moscow, indeed, sent a memorandum to the Pope himself, "offering a co-ordinated action between Moscow and the Holy See on post-war organization for the solution of moral and social problems" ( Osservatore Romano, AUGUST 14, 1944).
Stalin reiterated his assurances to the Pope that he would be ready to exchange views, "to facilitate the work of peace," and that "Soviet Russia does not desire to set up any social order by force or violence, but is on the contrary opposed to such measures." The memorandum asserted that "Russia hopes to reach her aims through peaceful channels and in a democratic and peaceful manner."
But the Vatican spurned all these approaches and, at the same time, again attacked Russia, accusing her on this occasion of having betrayed the Poles in the rising of Warsaw. Before the rising the Pope had, in a speech, given moral backing to the Poles, and in a private audience granted to General Sosnokowski had expressed his anxiety concerning the "menace to European civilization from Bolshevism," and his "regretful surprise at the friendship between the Anglo-Saxon Powers and Russia."
During these approaches, and after having repeated that the Catholic Church would find ample scope in Russia, Moscow went so far as to propose a kind of "United Front" between the Vatican and the Soviet, in order to solve the common problems created by the fact that many millions of Catholics were living in territories occupied by the Red armies.
Several of the cardinals at the Vatican, remembering that in Rome there existed an organization called "Pro-Russia," which had been established with the express purpose of converting that country to Catholicism, were in favor of the opening of negotiations, as were the leaders of the above organization, being hopeful that their opportunity had come at last. But, as usual, the Pope rejected the proposal, alleging that he did so because of Russia's persecution of the Poles. Of what did this persecution consist? Simply of the fact that Soviet Russia had countercharged many Poles, who had fought against the Germans, with having turned on the Russians as soon as they had been freed from Nazi domination, averring that Polish soldiers had even organized an underground army with this intent, and, further, that plans were in preparation for the creation of an "anti-Soviet bloc" which would include Britain and even Germany.
That these allegations were no mere invention of the Soviet Government was found out in the following year, when the accusations were proved. At the Moscow trials in June 1945 sixteen Poles, led by General Okulicki, formerly Commander of the Polish Home Army, confessed to having planned an "anti-Soviet bloc, beginning with the period of the Warsaw uprising ( August 1944)."
"A Soviet victory over Germany," Okulicki stated, "will threaten not only the interests of Britain in Europe, but will place all Europe in fear. Britain, taking into consideration her interests on the Continent, will have to mobilize the Powers in Europe against the U.S.S.R. It is clear that we should be in the front row of this anti- Soviet bloc, and it is impossible to conceive this bloc, which will be controlled by Britain, without the participation of Germany."
How much the Vatican knew about this plot, hatched by Catholic Poles while the Soviet armies were in the act of liberating them, it is difficult to state. But the incident, nevertheless, was of the greatest value, for it threw light on activities which were too consonant with the inter-war foreign policy of Catholic Poland, whose chief characteristic had always been relentless hostility towards her great Eastern neighbor. In addition, it gave. the Vatican another excuse for refusing, for the hundredth time, the offer of compromise which, during the previous couple of years, Moscow had been trying to persuade the Pope to accept.
Why did the Catholic Church so persistently refuse to reach agreement with Moscow, in spite of the goodwill shown by the Soviets, the advice and good services of President Roosevelt, the millions of
Catholics who had passed under Soviet rule, and the fact that Red Russia was no longer "persecuting" religion, and remembering, moreover, that, after all, in the years following the First World War the Vatican and the Kremlin had negotiated and had even reached a working compromise on several problems? Was there present some other factor, more important even than that of the Communist ideology and practice, which prevented the Vatican from reaching a satisfactory agreement with Stalin?
Yes; a resurrected and combative Orthodox Church.
In addition to the political, social, and ethical principles involved, a great stumbling-block to some kind of agreement being reached between the Vatican and Soviet Russia was the question of the Orthodox Church.
The Vatican has never lost sight of the revival of the Orthodox Church in Russia, and since its downfall, after the First World War, it has incessantly feared its return. It was therefore with great concern that it saw the Soviet Government grant freedom in religious worship throughout Soviet territory, for it realized that such freedom entailed the resurrection of its ancient enemy, the Orthodox Church, which would become the main opponent of its own missionary plan in that country.
This religious freedom was granted as far back as January 23, 1918. By a decree issued on that day, the citizens of the U.S.S.R. were guaranteed freedom of conscience and of religious worship; but freedom was also granted for the publication of anti-religious propaganda. By the same decree the Orthodox Church was separated from the State, and the school from the Church. All religious organizations were placed on the same level, as private societies. A citizen might profess any religion or no religion at all. This enactment was so thoroughly put in practice that all reference to the religious affiliation of any citizen was deleted from Government acts and documents.
Article 124 of the Constitution reads: "In order to ensure to citizens freedom of conscience, the Church in the U.S.S.R. is separated from the State, and the school from the Church. Freedom of religious worship and freedom of anti-religious propaganda is recognized for all citizens."
Thus every citizen of the Soviet Union was free to choose his religion, to profess any religion he pleased, and futhermore to enjoy all the rights of citizenship irrespective of his religious beliefs. Nobody in Soviet Russia was expected to furnish information as to his religious beliefs on taking up employment or on joining any public organization or society. No distinction was drawn between believers and unbelievers.
Paper was supplied from Government stores for the printing of religious literature.
Of course this complete freedom in the religious field was exploited, during the first years of the Revolution, by all those who had rebelled against the Church as an instrument of obscurantism and of political influence employed by the old régime. Nevertheless, with the passing of time the forces of religious and of anti-religious propaganda became nearly equalized. Although each faction used the freedom according to its belief or unbelief, each began to tolerate the other.
Little by little the Orthodox Church reappeared in the life of Russia. This did not please the Vatican, which, in spite of all disappointments, still entertained hope that one day it might be allowed to "convert Russia to Catholicism." The reappearance of its rival, the Orthodox Church, constituted an obstacle potentially more formidable than all the social and political tenets of Communism.
The Vatican therefore, after all hopes of coming to an agreement with the Kremlin failed, in the years immediately following the First World War—as we saw—started to support anti-Communist movements, such as Fascism, and, as a natural sequence, entered upon a definite and world-wide campaign which, although apparently aimed solely against Communist Russia as such, in reality was also directed against the resurgent Orthodox Church, its ancient foe.
Strangely enough, the Vatican mobilized the Catholic forces of the world against Soviet Russia just when Russia was granting religious equality and liberty to her citizens. It is certainly not edifying to realize that the Catholic Church was intensifying her campaign against Soviet Russia just when the freedom of religion and of the Church was entering into that country's new life; the Vatican was preaching to the world that Soviet Russia must be destroyed "because she persecuted religion."
This campaign reached its climax in the decade preceding the outbreak of the Second World War and was continued throughout that conflict.
During the Spanish Civil War of 1936-9, just when the Soviets were passing further legislation guaranteeing religious freedom, the Vatican initiated a world-wide campaign against Communism in general, and Soviet Russia in particular, on the charge that the Reds persecuted religion.
This while Article 130 of the Stalin Constitution obliged all citizens to observe the Law and to respect the rules of Socialist intercourse, which prohibit any limitation of rights, any form of persecution for religious convictions or insult to religious susceptibilities, and at a time when religious freedom in the Soviet Union was reflected in the unhampered performance of religious services and rites, in the publication of periodicals and other religious literature, and in the existence of seminaries for training the clergy.
When striving to convert Europe into a Fascist bloc, in the hope that Fascism would rule the Continent and the century, the Vatican made it clear that its enmity towards Communism was not inspired by its political doctrines only. There was, in addition, the knowledge that behind the Russian Government stood once more the Orthodox Church. The Vatican, in fact, accused the Orthodox Church of seeking a renewed attachment to the Civil Power in order to further her religious influence; while simultaneously the Soviet Government was accused of reviving the Orthodox Church as a tool for the Government's political ends.
For the Vatican, therefore, the destruction of Bolshevism was not enough; the destruction of the revived Orthodox Church was essential. Thus, in the bargain between Hitler and the Vatican, as we have already demonstrated, it was provided that the Catholic Church should supplant the Orthodox Church throughout the Soviet territories occupied by Germany.
Hitler, needing in his turn the help of Rome, answered that the Vatican would be permitted to convert the Russians to the true faith, but "only through the German Catholic Hierarchy."
It was during these negotiations that the Vatican became strenuous in the field of propaganda dealing with Russian matters. It reorganized and brought up to date the Institution known as "ProRussia," provided it with funds, priests, and propaganda of all kinds. All concerned were advised to "keep ready for the great missionary work of redemption."
While this was going on, the Vatican was awaiting the day when the gates of Soviet Russia would be opened by the impetus of the Nazi armies. To ensure that the Nazis should be victorious the Vatican advised numerous Catholic Fascist Governments, many of whom did not need any encouragement, to provide active help to Nazi Germany for the destruction of the Bolshevik dragon. We have seen that the Vatican refused to sponsor officially a campaign against Russia, fearing the reaction of the Catholics in the Allied countries; but unofficially, activity in advocating that every assistance should be given by all good Catholic countries did not cease for a moment.
As a result, numerous Catholic Fascist countries, or parties, organized anti-Bolshevik legions which, one after another, were dispatched to the Eastern Front to fight side by side with the Nazis, the list being headed by Franco's Catholic Spain, with its Blue Division, followed by Catholic Portugal, Catholic Belgian Rexists, and French Catholic Fascists, with contingents from Holland and elsewhere.
Before and even during this active campaign against Soviet Russia the Soviet Government tried repeatedly to reach an agreement with the Vatican regarding the Catholics who had passed into Soviet jurisdiction in 1939, during the Nazi-Soviet partition of Poland. The intractability of the Vatican, however, made all efforts on the part of Russia futile.
One of the main reasons given by the Vatican for its refusal to treat with Russia, in addition to its mortal enmity to the socio- political principles of Communism, was that "the renewed influence of the Orthodox Church in Poland is putting obstacles before, and persecuting, the Catholic Church in that country" ( Cardinal Lhond, March 1941). The Cardinal Secretary of State of that period declared that "the Holy See, although gravely anxious about the spiritual and material welfare of the Catholics in Poland, is unable to reach any agreement with the Soviet Government, owing also to the revival of the Orthodox Church, whose hostility has never ceased to show itself against the Catholic Church." What was the reason that compelled the Vatican to speak so bluntly about the Orthodox Church?
The fact that the Soviet Government, in order to unify the spiritual and physical resources of the nation and of the Army, had encouraged the Orthodox Church to appeal to the Russian people for the continuation of the fight against Nazism.
The Orthodox Church before the war, although entirely free, was yet in the background. With the advent of war it came quickly into the foreground and exercised an active part in the formation of the front against German invasion. This development was supported by the Soviet Government for two salient reasons; first, because the new Orthodox Church was an agency which united and encouraged the Russian people to fight; and secondly, in view of the continued hostility of the Catholic Church to Russia, it was desired to counter- balance the solid spiritual bloc of Rome with a solid Orthodox bloc. The plan would eventually operate in all countries which housed members of the Orthodox religion.
This second point carried also a long-view policy and entered into the post-war world. At this particular stage, Moscow was leaving nothing to chance. Having seen Catholic Europe converted into a solid anti-Soviet bloc, she prepared to create a similar religious bloc designed to confront Catholicism during and after the Second World War.
It was thanks to such factors that the Orthodox Church began to assume a wider and ever more important influence in Russian affairs, soon becoming a powerful entity with a religious, and indirectly a political, significance. Hence it was inevitable that the Orthodox Church, when inciting the Russian Faithful to fight against the Fascist enemies—that is to say, not only against Hitler, but also against his various allies, the anti-Bolshevik legions provided by Catholic Spain, Portugal, Italy, Catholic France under the sway of Pétain, and such-like—should emphasize that these were Catholic legions enjoying the support of Catholic Rome. The issue, therefore, was not merely a patriotic defence of the Russian Fatherland, but also the annihilation of religious enemies, the Catholics, bent on Russia's destruction.
Accordingly the appeal made by the Orthodox Church from this time onwards struck a political as well as a religious note. Once again, as in pre-Revolution Russia, Church and State became close confederates, and the Church grew in influence. Her voice was heard not in Russia only, but beyond; by none was it heard more loudly than by the Vatican.
The Orthodox Church thus began to organize itself under the aegis of the Soviet Government and became a great national spiritual institution working hand in hand with the Government. This religious institution received an even more official recognition when, in September 1943, a convocation of bishops of the Orthodox Church elected a Patriarch of Moscow and of all the Russias and set up a Holy Synod. In this connection the Soviet Government, in October 1943, appointed a Council for Russian Orthodox Church Affairs to act as a link between the Government and the Patriarch of Moscow and of all the Russias on ecclesiastical matters. The representatives on the Council were to act, in all republics, territories, and regions, as links between the local government authorities and the local religious bodies.
The religious, and especially the political, significance of this move did not escape the notice of the Vatican, and it certainly did not escape that of Hitler, who asked the high prelates hostile to the Soviet régime to declare the election of Moscow "invalid."
Between thirty and fifty prelates, mostly from German-occupied Europe, led by Dr. Serafin Lade, the Metropolitan of Greater Germany who from the very beginning had co-operated with Hitler, assembled in Vienna to discuss the election to the Patriarchal Throne of Moscow. They declared the election invalid, including the excommunications decreed by the Synod of Moscow of all Orthodox prelates opposing the Soviet régime, proclaiming Bolshevism to be irreconcilable with Christianity.
In 1944 the Soviet Government set up a council to deal with the affairs of religious societies other than the Russian Orthodox Church. It was the function of this council to act as a link with such bodies as the Greek Catholics, Mohammedans, Jewish and evangelical bodies, as well as Roman Catholics.
The new Russian Orthodox Church became more and more prominent in the nation's affairs. Orthodox clergy received official decorations from the Government, notably a group of Orthodox priests from Moscow and Tula in 1944.
The Church, in turn, organized politico-religious ceremonies of public prayer to God for help, for the protection of Soviet Russia and for the defeat of her enemies. "The Russian clergy will not cease to offer prayers for the victory of Russian arms." The support of the clergy was promised by the Church to the "Soviet Fatherland." "The entire Russian Church will serve its beloved Fatherland with all its strength in the difficult days of war and in the days of prosperity to come."
The Orthodox Church went even farther, and, in 1944, when it was seen that Nazi Germany would be defeated and that Russia was emerging as one of the great military Powers of the world, the head of the Orthodox Church declared that he "considered Stalin as the God-chosen head of Holy Russia." These were the words of Mgr. Alexis, who had just succeeded the Metropolitan Sergius as Patriarch of the U.S.S.R., written in a letter addressed to the Soviet Government in May 1944, thus echoing the declaration of Pius XI that "Mussolini was the man sent by Divine Providence."
Meanwhile the Soviet Government, desiring even closer co-operation with the Orthodox Church, attached the chairman of the Council for Affairs of the Orthodox Church to the Council of Peoples' Commissars of the U.S.S.R. ( 1944).
A journal of the Moscow Patriarchate was sponsored by the Government.
Next, to encourage Orthodox believers, the head of the Soviet Council for Orthodox Affairs reiterated on many occasions that all who wished to open churches and to muster congregations were permitted to do so. Any persons in Soviet Russia might ask for a church, and churches were given free provided a congregation existed.
[After the Second World War ( January 1946), according to Fr. Leopold Braun, who had lived in Russia during the preceding twelve years, "two-thirds of the people of Russia, 150,000,000 souls, were believers in God"; while anyone wanting to become a priest could do so—witness ArchbishopSergei, of the Russian Orthodox Church, who, during a speech in which he described Stalin as one of the outstanding protectors of religion, made the following statement: "Anybody who wants to become a priest in Russia can do so. There is no interference whatsoever.... The Communist Party is very co-operative" (August 1946). In 1946 there were 22,000 Russian Catholics in Moscow, and 30,000 in Leningrad.]
By 1944 a theological school had already been established in Moscow.
In the town of Zagorsk a seminary was opened, supported by the believers. The students, besides receiving a theological education, were trained on a scientific basis, and to this the Orthodox Church agreed.
With the passing of time the Orthodox Church assumed gradually the rôle it had played in pre-Revolution Russia. The Metropolitan of Leningrad, in a message to religious believers, declared in 1944: "Our Orthodox Church has ever shared her people's destiny. With them she has borne their trials and rejoiced in their successes. She will not desert her people to-day." And when, finally, Germany was defeated, the same dignitary declared: "The Orthodox Church did not pray in vain; God's blessing gave victorious force to the Russian arms."
This ever-closer co-operation of Church and State culminated in an officially recognized Congress of the Russian Church, held at the end of 1944 in Moscow. This Conference was pregnant with meaning. The Orthodox Church met, in fact, to issue an invitation to all other Churches having a Christian basis to form a union with itself. Thus would be created a great religious bloc, not only within the Soviet Union, but extending outside it to include the Orthodox Church in Greece, the Near East, Africa, and elsewhere.
The Conference was held in November 1944, in Moscow, and thirty-nine bishops took part. It sent invitations and proposals for the formation of a huge spiritual bloc to the Oecumenical Patriarch and Archbishop of Constantinople, to Alexander III, Patriarch of Antioch and all the East; to Cristophoros, Patriarch of Alexandria; to Timothy, Patriarch of Jerusalem; and to Callistratus, Catholicos of Georgia.
Behind the renewed vigor of the resurrected Synod of Moscow since its intimate co-operation with the Soviet Government, the aim of restoring Russia's traditional rôle as protector of Orthodox Christianity throughout Russia, the Near East, and in Eastern Europe, became every day more apparent.
Soviet Russia was not only taking the rôle of Czarist Russia of former days, but was going farther, in her sponsoring of the Orthodox Church. She desired to unite the Orthodox and other Churches under one head as a counterblast to Catholicism.
In the following year, 1945, this policy of forming a huge spiritual bloc, under the headship of the Patriarch of Moscow, began to give results, of which a few significant examples may be quoted. As a first-fruit of the Conference there arrived in Moscow a delegation of Ruthenian clergy bringing a letter from the Archbishop of Chust requesting admission to the jurisdiction of the Patriarchate of Moscow. Hitherto the Church of Ruthenia had been attached to the Serbian Patriarchate, which now gave its consent for transference of the Ruthenian Church to the spiritual leadership of the Patriarch of Moscow. The Serbian Patriarchate went farther than this and actually put itself under the spiritual jurisdiction of Moscow.
The Polish Orthodox Church made the same request and sent the Polish Orthodox Metropolitan of Lvov to Moscow on a like mission. This was likewise a very significant act, as the Orthodox Church in Poland had hitherto been an independent body, having its own Patriarch.
Further, the Oecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople sent a delegation to Moscow and an agreement was reached by which the Patriarch of Moscow was recognized as the supreme leader of the great spiritual bloc under the Soviet aegis.
Now the Orthodox Church became largely preoccupied with the interchange of interests and tidings with other religious bodies, especially with such great Protestant Churches as the Church of England. Invitations were sent to various English Protestant dignitaries to visit Moscow, and Orthodox religious leaders visited Great Britain in 1945 as guests of the Protestant leaders of that country.
The Patriarch of Moscow in person set out on an extensive tour of the East to visit various Christian communities. In June 1945 the Patriarch announced in Cairo: "My visit aims at renewing once more the spiritual ties which have always united the Orthodox Churches."
A few months before, in February 1945, the Russian Orthodox Assembly had sat in Moscow, under the presidency of the Metropolitan of Leningrad and Novgorod, to elect a Patriarch. Forty-five delegates from all over the Soviet Union were in attendance. With them were representatives of the Orthodox Church throughout the world, including the Metropolitan Benjamin of New York, Alexander III, Patriarch of Antioch, Archbishop Benjamin, Patriarch of Constantinople, Patriarch Cristophoros of Alexandria, and the Patriarch Timothy of Jerusalem.
No wonder that the Vatican observed the ever-growing influence of the resurrected Orthodox Church with dismay. Such feelings were not limited to the precincts of the Vatican only, but were shared, in much lesser degree, by Washington and even by London, both the United States of America and Great Britain being inclined to see in the moves of the Orthodox Church, not only a spiritual revival in the Soviet world, but also a potential spiritual instrument to be used for the political interests of Soviet Russia in Eastern Europe, in other parts of the world, and, above all, in the Near East.
Thus once more the interests of the Vatican, of the United States of America, and of Great Britain were running parallel, notwithstanding the fact that although their ultimate goal was the same, all three saw the matter from a different point of view.
Unlike the Vatican, such great Powers as the United States of America and Great Britain regarded the revival and the growing influence of the Orthodox Church, both within and without the confines of Russia, merely from a political point of view. Their concern in the matter was made known to the Soviet Government. They pointed out that the anxiety caused by the increasing activity of the Orthodox Church was hampering the harmonious relations of the Allies. It would be a source of embarrassment in the necessary co- operation of the post-war world.
Roosevelt once tried to influence the Soviet Government to search for, at least, a modus vivendi between Russia and the Vatican. The Soviet Government answered that it was more than ready to do so. As the Vatican continued in its refusal to negotiate with Russia, the Soviet Government, aided by America, went so far as to employ an "unofficial emissary" to render the approach easier. Thus it was that an American-Polish priest, Father Orlemansky, was invited to Moscow, where he had long conferences with Stalin. Orlemansky was charged to offer, on behalf of Russia, liberal terms to the Catholic Church. He received assurances, for conveyance to the American State Department, that Soviet Russia was more than ready to co-operate with the Vatican in the settlement of religious disputes. He was assured that the Kremlin was ready to start negotiations with the Vatican on the questions of religious freedom and on the status of the Catholic Church in territories occupied by Russian armies.
Father Orlemansky returned to America with these proposals, which President Roosevelt begged the Pope to accept. Hopes were entertained in Catholic circles that, at last, some agreement would be reached. The Catholic papers, although notorious for their rabid anti-Soviet spirit, wrote that perhaps the Vatican and the Kremlin after all might work together, each in order to safeguard its own interests.
"Wherever there is a body of Catholics in a geographical area, it is to be presumed that the Holy See will endeavor to establish such relations of convenience, with its rules, as will enable it to maintain their spiritual and material interests. This is quite irrespective of the nature of the régime and commits the Holy Father to no condonation of it" ( The Universe, AUGUST 18, 1944). "We have always recognized, therefore, that the unchanging condemnation of Atheistic Communism need not compel Rome to leave any Catholics who may be incorporated in the Soviet Union unprotected" ( The Universe, AUGUST 18, 1944).
But the Pope once more refused and rejected all offers. Father Orlemansky, on his return, was immediately suspended from his priestly functions—an act which, in the Catholic world as well as in Washington, was taken "as a Vatican rebuff to Stalin's peace offer."
The advance of the Soviet armies and the immensity of the territories they occupied, with the defeat of Germany obviously in sight, rendered the problem doubly urgent. Accordingly Roosevelt again tried to influence the Vatican. As late as March 1945, only two months before the collapse of Germany, he sent his personal envoy, Mr. Flynn, to Moscow and thence to Rome. Mr. Flynn carried a renewed peace offer from Stalin, once again to meet with rejection from the Vatican.
Meanwhile the Soviet Government, certain of the unbounded hostility of the Vatican, had not ceased its support of the Orthodox Church. The Catholic Church was already preparing to sponsor the revival of semi-Fascist movements, as in Italy, with a view to the post-war world. Therefore the Soviet Government made it clear that it would support the anti-Roman plans of the Orthodox Church. Church and State were to work in the fullest concord against the machinations of their political as well as their religious and spiritual enemy.
This policy had been assuming greater prominence ever since 1944, when the Orthodox Church began to display ever-increasing hostility to the Vatican, accusing it of enmity towards Soviet Russia and the Orthodox Church.
These attacks, owing to their nature and the quarter from which they originated, were very ominous. It was very significant that the Orthodox Church felt sufficiently strong and united to launch them; and it was especially significant that they very often coincided with the onslaughts of the Soviet Government, which employed such official organs as Pravda and Izvestia to accuse the Vatican of a Fascist and anti-Soviet policy.
We illustrate a few of these attacks, appearing in rapid succession towards the end of the war and after the cessation of hostilities.
In January and February of 1944 the Patriarch of the Russian Orthodox Church, in conjunction with other high dignitaries visiting Moscow, published a statement accusing the Vatican of affording protection to Nazi Germany. The statement, significantly addressed to the people "of the world," and not only to the people of Russia, said:—
Bearing in mind the present international situation, we are raising our voices against the efforts of those, and especially of the Vatican, who are trying to safeguard the Hitlerite Germany from the responsibility for all her crimes and calling for mercy for the Hitlerites ... who want, in this way, to leave on the earth after the war a Fascist, man-hating, anti-Christian teaching and its propagators (published in the Soviet papers in the first week of February 1944).
This attack by the Orthodox Church was followed by an attack in Izvestia, broadcast by Radio Moscow:—
The Vatican has adopted an attitude of direct support of Fascism. The inglorious part played by the Vatican in Hitler and Mussolini's Spanish adventure is common knowledge, while silence was maintained by the Vatican when Italy attacked France in June 1940. Franco is the Vatican's pet, and Franco's Spain is the image of the clerical State's post-war Europe.
A few months later the Orthodox Church charged the Catholic Church full tilt and denied the authority of the Pope in the religious field, stating that the Pope held no commission to represent Christ. The challenge was delivered by the Patriarch Sergei, head of the Orthodox Church, in the Moscow Bulletin of APRIL 1944. The Patriarch's statement not only shows that the Orthodox Church, led by the revived Holy Synod, remains faithful to the old tradition of Orthodoxy and is working in close touch with the Soviet Government, but also, and especially, its high political significance is demonstrated. It shows that the Holy Synod and the Kremlin are working hand in hand; and this is proved by the fact that the doctrinal attack of the Orthodox Church is reinforced once more by a political attack on the Vatican, published in Izvestia. The Patriarch's statement is entitled, " Does a Vicar of Christ exist in the Church?"
In the Patriarchal view the mystical marriage between Christ and His Church renders the existence of an intermediary Vicar of Christ on earth altogether inconceivable.... The Gospel teaches us that Our Lord Jesus, while quitting the world bodily, had no thought whatever of handing over His Church to the care of anyone else. . . He sent His Apostles and their successors, the Orthodox bishops, that they may preach the Gospel and lead the Faithful....
This attack was received with concern at the Vatican, as well as at Washington and in London, on account of its political significance. The Catholic Press all over the world, not excluding the British and American Press, protested. In this they saw only the Bolshevik monster, bolstered by their great enemy the Orthodox Church. The matter was rendered even more serious, in the eyes of the Vatican, by the fact that Anglican England manifested solidarity with that new philo-Bolshevik institution, the Holy Synod. Moreover, the chorus of Anglican approval of the Patriarch's words was echoed by the United States of America.
An English religious personality, the Archbishop of York, was prominent on this occasion, declaring that he "manifested his admiration for the Muscovite Patriarch's challenge to the Vicar of Christ on Earth." The Archbishop added: "The Russian Church, as the Anglican, has repudiated the affirmation of the Roman Church about the 'status' of the Pope."
A few months before the end, in Europe, of the Second World War, the prelates of the Orthodox Churches attended a General Assembly of the Orthodox Church in Moscow ( February 1945). They then issued another appeal to the world, strongly criticizing the Vatican for its attitude towards the coming peace. Their appeal began thus:—
The representatives of the Orthodox Churches attending the General Assembly of the Russian Orthodox Church held in Moscow . . . lift their voices against the efforts of those, and particularly of the Vatican, ... who are attempting to absolve Hitler's Germany from responsibility for all the abominable deeds she has committed . . . and are seeking to allow the continued existence on earth, after the war, of the unchristian Fascist doctrine and its agents.
Replying to these attacks, the Osservatore Romano answered:—
The Pope is the Universal Father, who, on June 12, 1939, said: "We have before our eyes the Russia of yesterday, of to-day, and of to-morrow. That Russia for which we never cease to pray, and ask prayers for, and in which we fervently believe."
But the Pope, at a private audience, referring to the attacks of Soviet Russia and the Orthodox Church against the Vatican, said:—
There is nobody who does not see in this episode one of the most sinister shadows cast by the present conflict on the future fate of civilization (Digest 1362.52. A25).
However, the most significant remark made concerning the relations of the Vatican and the Orthodox Church came from the acting Secretary of State, who at the end of the Second World War declared:—
We must pray God for guidance in this overwhelming time. One event above all would give sound hope of securing a lasting solution of the world's difficulties of to-day, the conversion of Russia to the Faith ( April 28, 1945).
A few weeks earlier President Roosevelt had died. The immediate result of his loss, as far as relations between the Vatican and Moscow were concerned, was a visible and speedy deterioration of the already shaky intercourse between the Pope and Stalin. The Polish question, more acute since the liberation of Poland from Nazi Germany, aggravated matters. This was due to the Soviet Government sponsoring a provisional Government in Lublin, in substitution for the reactionary Catholic Polish Government in London, whose activities (it was disclosed a month after the end of the war) were mainly directed to preparations for sabotaging Left-wing movements and all those Polish political forces which, at home, were trying to establish a true friendship with Russia.
Great Britain and the United States, after some hesitation and in spite of protests from the Vatican, gave recognition to the new Polish Government and disavowed the exiled Government in London. The latter lost no time in publicly appealing to the Pope to find for it a new asylum, either in French Catholic Canada or in Catholic Ireland, from which to continue its work. Pope, cardinals, and bishops spoke against the "arbitrary action" of Moscow, denouncing Soviet Russia, Communism, and the new injustice committed against "Catholic Poland," while the Catholic Press all over the world continued for months to add vituperation to insult against that ally who had so greatly helped to win the war.
Then, with the collapse of Japan and the gradual gearing up of the tired nations from war to peace, the Vatican and its Hierarchy, with all the world-wide machinery at their disposal, turned their attention to the political life of the victors as well as of the defeated. Catholic parties dashed into the political arena in Italy, France, Belgium, Austria, and Germany, once again shouting the old slogans against Atheist Bolshevism, Soviet Russia, and all those forces working for the destruction of Christian civilization.
It was the beginning of a new chapter to the same old story: the mortal enmity of the Catholic Church towards Communism and its political embodiment—the U.S.S.R. How could it be otherwise? The political and social history of Europe between the two world wars revolved, as far as our study is concerned, around the relentless struggle between the religious and moral principles taught by the Catholic Church, and the social, economic, and political system advocated by Socialism.
It was this open and hidden conflict of contrasting ideologies which, in unison with forces of various natures and elements hostile to one another, and with economic, national, and other factors, contributed and greatly helped to drive great and small countries, and finally the whole of Europe and the world, into the abyss of a global war. We have seen, country by country, how enmity towards the Socialist ideology and hatred against Russia have been amongst the main motives which have moved mighty forces, and how the rôle of the Catholic Church has been to direct these forces towards the annihilation of Socialist ideals and the destruction of Russia.
[During the Second World War Russia lost at least 6,000,000, and possibly as many as 15,000,000, dead and wounded—anywhere from twenty to fifty times the losses suffered by her Allies (Collier's, June 29, 1946).]
Now we have encountered another cause which has contributed, and will continue to contribute, to the hostility which the Catholic Church entertains against the U.S.S.R.—namely, the resurrected Orthodox Church.
If Soviet Russia incurred such odium from the Vatican during the period between the two world wars owing to that country having adopted the hated Socialist ideology, how much greater will it be now that the Vatican's Orthodox rival has come to fight by the side of Moscow? and if the Catholic Church, through its unceasing exertions, succeeded in arraigning mighty social and political currents against Red Russia when the latter was comparatively weak, snubbed by the world and sponsoring simply an inimical economic system, that is from 1917 until 1939, what will it not try to do to a Red Russia emerging victorious—indeed, the second greatest Power in the post-Second-World-War period—and who, in addition to upholding her Socialist ideology and helping to spread it to other nations, at the same time counter-opposes to the centre of Catholicism, Rome, the centre of Orthodoxy, Moscow, thus continuing the fight, not on one, but on two fronts: the political and the religious?
The answer to that was given long before the war ended, first with the intrigues in Italy, the fall of Mussolini, the creation of Catholic parties everywhere, the renewed energy of political Catholicism which has suddenly re-emerged in a combative and trenchant spirit, to shape the social and political life of the nations and the world in the future. And from the symptoms already visible, there can be but one forecast: that the renewal of an ancient struggle and the resumption of an unfinished fight may once again greatly contribute to leading mankind to a third world catastrophe.
THE VATICAN AND THE UNITED STATES
The Catholic Church is deeply affected by the apocalyptic events which have shaken Europe since the opening of the twentieth century and by the prospect of a future even more convulsed than the past. Enormous losses in membership and the increasing strength and daring of its mortal enemies have compelled it to look Westwards. Here Catholicism seeks new fields in which to consolidate and expand as compensation for its weakened position in bankrupt Europe.
This process, which had already begun in the opening years of the present century, was greatly accelerated during and after the First World War, and received a tremendous impetus particularly during the Second World War.
The Vatican has given more and more attention to the young and flourishing Church in the Americas, from which it has already greatly benefited. Its gains are not local only, nor exclusively in the religious field. They extend beyond America and to spheres with which at first sight the Catholic Church appears to have little or no concern.
The Vatican, in fact, is eager to transform the Americas into a solid Catholic Continent, to counterbalance the already half-lost Continent of Europe. If this statement sounds exaggerated it should be remembered that we are dealing with an institution accustomed to carrying out its plans, not in terms of countries and years or even generations alone, but in terms of continents and centuries.
Long-range policies usually escape the notice of those who are preoccupied with more immediate issues, but it is possible to observe the Vatican's plans in the Western hemisphere developing under our very eyes. The increased tempo of the Catholic Church's activities in the Americas and the success it has already achieved in that continent are more than remarkable. This success, however, is due, not only to the energy with which the Catholic Church has undertaken its task, but also, to a very great extent, to the fact that general economic, social, and cultural conditions are infinitely more stable than in Europe. This favors the plans of the Church, which has begun to be regarded by many as a stabilizing factor and a barrier against the revolutionary spirit of the age.
Such affinity of outlook and interests is not only to be found in those parts of the Continent which the Catholic Church has spiritually ruled for centuries—such as Central and South America—but has begun to penetrate and influence the attitude of Protestant North America as well. For it is there that the Catholic Church has directed its main activities for a generation and is still striving to conquer. The United States of America has become the key to the policy of the Vatican, not only with regard to the American Continent, but in relation to the whole world.
The policy of the Vatican, which for centuries was based on alliance with Catholic countries in Europe, now has been shifted to the West. The Vatican, forseeing the disaster impending over Europe, has been preparing for the creation of a new Catholic world in the Americas on which it will be able to rely for the secular support it needs.
For such a policy to succeed it is necessary for the Vatican, not only to exercise spiritual dominion over South and Central America, but also to capture as completely as possible the fountainhead of American dynamism—namely, the United States of America. The United States of America, being the most powerful, wealthy, and active country in the Western hemisphere, has quickly become the undisputed leader of the American countries; and even before the Second World War it was obviously destined to be one of the most powerful countries, if not the most powerful country, in the world.
In view of this the Vatican, during the last generation, has concentrated its main efforts on making progress in the United States of America. By so doing it has followed the rule which has guided its policy throughout the centuries—namely, to ally itself with powerful secular nations.
The activity of the Vatican in relation to the United States of America becomes even more interesting when one considers that North America is a Protestant country. Catholics have formed only a very small minority, and powerful forces of a religious character are aligned against the incursion of Catholicism in that country.
What was the position of the Catholic Church before this new Vatican policy was put into operation—and what is it now? How does the Catholic Church intend to tighten its hold over a great Protestant country? And, above all, what is the Catholic Church's influence in social and political matters and how far has its hold affected the course of the United States of America's foreign policy before and during the Second World War?
When Washington took command of the Continental Army, Catholicism had only one Church (in Philadelphia); while Protestant America had a yearly celebration on "Pope's Day" (November 5), during which the Pope's image was ceremoniously burned at the stake ( 1775).
On the entry of the United States of America into the Second World War ( 1941) the Catholic Church owned or controlled a network of churches, schools, hospitals, and newspapers spreading from the Atlantic to the Pacific coast. It had become the biggest, most compact and powerful religious denomination in the United States. The American President deemed it necessary to keep an "official personal" envoy at the Vatican, besides having scores of private envoys journeying backwards and forwards between Washington and Rome as the situation required. All this had happened within the period of just over a century and a half. The feat as such is remarkable, and becomes even more so when one considers the influence that the Catholic Church has begun to exercise on the life of the nation as a whole.
What contributed most to the numerical increase of Catholicism was the mass emigration from Europe which occurred at the close of the last century and the beginning of the twentieth century. It was at that period that the Catholic Church gained most in strength and spread all over the States. The following figures give an idea of the enormous numerical gains made by Catholicism only through immigration: Between 1881 and 1890 the American Catholic Church acquired over 1,250,000 new members; from 1891 to the close of the century another 1,225,000; and between 1901 and 1910 the figure was well over 2,316,000. In the brief space of three decades Catholicism had been strengthened by almost 5,000,000 new members through immigration alone.
Parallel with this numerical increase the establishment of churches and all other religious, social, and cultural branches kept step with the demands of the new Catholic populations. Their efficient supervision required a proportionately expanding hierarchical machinery.
The Vatican, already watching the progress of the American Church, was not slow in creating the necessary ruling bodies, represented by arch-dioceses, which in 1911 rose to 16, while bishoprics were brought to 40. Religious, semi-religious, and lay institutions grew everywhere with the same rapidity. Within thirty years, for instance, Orders for women, consisting mainly of small diocesan organizations, reached the figure of 250. The activities of some were nation-wide, such as the Ursuline, whose members were mainly concerned with educational work, the Sisters of Charity, and so on. Similar Orders for men grew all over the country, although they were not so numerous or varied; the principal and most active of them all was that of the Jesuits.
All these factors contributed to a steady increase of the Catholic population in the United States of America. By 1890 it had already grown to 8,909,000; in 1900 it had become 12,041,000; during the following decade it reached 16,336,000; in 1920 approximately 20,000,000 (18.76 per cent.); in 1930 approximately 23,000,000; and by the end of the Second World War it had passed the 24,000,000 mark (in 1946 being 24,402,124, Official Catholic Directory).
The educational work of the Catholic Church in the States during this period and in the following decades grew in proportion. By 1921 the Catholic Church was already conducting 24 standard colleges for women and 43 for men, 309 normal training schools, 6,550 elementary schools, and 1,552 high schools; the total attendance at these establishments exceeding 2,000,000.
This increase in the numerical strength of American Catholics and their hierarchical machinery did not stop there, but continued to soar upwards, gaining great impetus with the entry of the United States of America into the Second World War. By the end of hostilities ( 1945) the American Hierarchy was made up of: 1 cardinal, 22 archbishops, 136 bishops, and about 39,000 priests; while the Catholic Church controlled over 14,500 parishes and numerous seminaries, where well over 21,600 students were being prepared for priesthood. The number of monks was 6,700, and of nuns 38,000, while Religious Orders included 6,721 Brothers and 139,218 Sisters, of whom 61,916 nuns were engaged in works other than teaching. (In 1946 Pope Pius XII created four additional American cardinals.)
In the field of general education the Catholic Church has made even greater strides. In the years immediately following the First World War there were not sufficient high schools in the United States of America to deserve a separate report or an official directory, but by 1934 there were 966 Catholic schools, with 158,352 pupils; by 1943 1,522 schools, with 472,474 pupils; and by 1944 the Catholic Church was providing the teaching staff (mainly nuns) for 7,647 parochial schools, with 2,048,723 pupils. In 1945 the Catholic Church owned, controlled, and supervised a grand total of 11,075 educational establishments, giving Catholic instruction to 3,205,804 young people (an increase of 167,948 pupils over the preceding year).
No branch of education escapes the attention of Catholicism. It meets the needs of the youngest elementary pupils, the pupils at parochial and secondary schools, and the students at Catholic colleges and universities (769, in addition to the 193 seminaries).
American youth is cared for by the Catholic Church, not only in schools, but also outside them. For that purpose societies and organizations of all kinds have been established. Bishops and others concerned with such activities are provided with a National Catholic Youth Council consisting of the leaders of the diocesan youth councils. Other important bodies are the two Catholic student institutions, the Newman Club Federation and the National Federation of Catholic College Students, with more than 600 clubs. The Boy Scouts are supervised by a special committee of bishops.
Once the young people have reached manhood or womanhood, the Catholic Church provides for their needs through the National Council of Catholic Men and the National Council of Catholic Women. These Councils have set up thousands of parish groups, each responsible to its respective bishop, whom they are ready to help in his various religious and non-religious undertakings. The building up of high schools, strengthening the Legion of Decency, sustaining the "Catholic Hour" and similar programmes on national radio networks, and so on, constitute the duties of the Councils.
The Catholic Church, which has also set itself to control the field of charitable institutions, has made similar striking progress in this direction and in the same period set up 726 hospitals.
During the Second World War the Catholic Church did not abandon its work amongst the troops, but built up a Catholic army of chaplains which, from a mere 60 before Pearl Harbor, rose to 4,300 by 1945, Mgr. Spellman having been appointed "Military Vicar of Army and Navy Chaplains" as early as 1940.
The average number of Americans received yearly into the fold of the Catholic Church is about 85,000. Within a single year, 1944, 90,822 American citizens became Catholics, and during the years of the Second World War the Church gained a total of 543,970 converts.
With figures like these it is no wonder that the Catholic Church, within the brief period of 150 years ( 1790 to 1945), has increased the number of its American members from 30,000 to over 24,000,000 (including Alaska and the Hawaiian Islands—see Catholic Directory, 1945).
The efficiency and success of all these nation-wide and manifold activities of the Catholic Church are due in part to the zeal with which Catholics work for the maintenance and spreading of the Faith. Not less important are factors of a purely spiritual and administrative character. The most notable of these are without doubt the Catholics' singleness of purpose, unity, and discipline, and last, but not least, the powerful nation-wide organization which directs the innumerable activities of the Catholic Church in the United States of America—namely, the National Catholic Welfare Conference. This organization was created during the First World War to deal with problems affecting the interests of the Church in the United States of America, and appeared under the name of the National Catholic War Council. It was subsequently known as the National Catholic Welfare Council, and finally as the National Catholic Welfare Conference. In it the American Hierarchy has almost unchallenged sway, although theoretically its power is of a purely advisory nature.
The N.C.W.C. has come to be the factotum of the Catholic Church, and on its driving force the expansion of Catholicism depends.
In addition to the various activities of a charitable, cultural, and educational character at which we have just glanced, the N.C.W.C. is responsible for the efficiency of another instrument for the furtherance of American Catholicism—namely, the Catholic Press.
In 1942 the Catholic Church in the United States of America had 332 Church publications, with a total circulation of 8,925,665. These comprised papers of all descriptions, including 125 weeklies, 127 monthly magazines, and 7 daily newspapers. Within the brief period of ten years, up to the end of the Second World War, the circulation of Catholic papers increased by over 2,500,000—or nearly 35 per cent.
All these papers are in close touch with the Press Department of the N.C.W.C. This Department describes itself as the "International Catholic news-gathering and distributing agency founded and controlled by the Catholic archbishops and bishops of the United States of America." It is ruled by journalists skilful in their profession, and maintains correspondents in all the most important towns of the United States of America and the rest of the world, collecting news items from all five continents, which are then distributed all over the country and treated from the angle best suited to the interests of Catholicism. The N.C.W.C. Press Department during the Second World War forwarded between 60,000 and 70,000 words a week to about 190 publishers; and in 1942 it claimed to be serving 437 Catholic publications in the United States of America and other countries.
Many of these Catholic papers had a good circulation at the end of the Second World War. To cite only a few:—
Catholic Missions, 530,000.
The Messenger of the Sacred Heart, 260,000.
The Young Catholic Messenger, 420,000.
Our Sunday Visitor, 480,000.
Sales of Catholic pamphlets in the United States of America by 1946 approximated 25,000,000 a year. In spite of war conditions, 650 new titles were published between 1942 and 1946, many attaining "best-seller" status with a sale of 100,000 copies each. The Paulist
Press leads, its sales totalling 5,967,782. More than 10,500,000 people in 1946 bought the 367 publications of the American Catholic Press. In the three preceding years thirty-five publications were launched and 1,500,000 subscribers gained. There were four Catholic dailies in foreign languages.
In addition to serving papers in the United States of America, the N.C.W.C. also serves Catholic papers abroad, especially in Central and South America. Its Noticias Catolicas, for instance, go to all four daily papers of Mexico City.
Besides the N.C.W.C., the Church controls the Press through the Catholic Press Association, which is a Conference bringing together hundreds of publishers and editors, arranging for advertising the Catholic Press, reducing costs, encouraging Catholic outlook and Catholic journalists, and so on.
The Catholic Press, whose largest circulation is in parish papers, reaches all cultural and political strata. Chief among such papers are the Jesuit weekly America, The Commonweal, the Catholic World (published by Paulists), and the Inter-racial Review, which is said to be the most influential with regard to racial problems.
The last-mentioned journal attempted to deal with the question of the Negroes, who at the end of the Second World War constituted one-tenth of the American population (13,000,000). During the decade preceding Pearl Harbor the Catholic Church had started a drive for the conversion of this minority, and, although it made no remarkable progress (300,000 in 1945, as compared with the 5,600,000 acknowledging Protestant denominations), the attempt is worthy of notice.
Hostility had existed in the past between Negroes and Catholic minorities consisting mainly of immigrants who competed with the cheap Negro labor. This began to disappear with the stabilization of the economic life of the country and with the rebellion of the Negroes against discrimination by Protestant society and the Protestant Churches.
With the passing of the years the Negro has tried with increasing success to fight back at all those forces which endeavor to keep him a second-class citizen. The Catholic Church, by preaching racial equality and the right of the Negro to be on a par with men of other races, will one day be able to swing to her side that minority— with the racial, social, economic, and political repercussions which would automatically follow.
The Catholic Church's main instrument for the conversion of Negroes is its usual one—namely, education. Thousands of nuns are engaged exclusively in teaching Negro children.
Almost one-tenth of the 85,000 American citizens who are annually converted to Catholicism are Negroes. In the period between 1928 and 1940 the average per year was about 5,000, but during the war that figure greatly increased, the major gains being in urban centres, such as New York, Chicago, Philadelphia, Detroit, and Baltimore.
During the Second World War the Catholic Church made great strides in its missionary work, and the number of priests devoting their full time to Negro conversion was 150 times greater than it was fifteen years before Pearl Harbor. Religious Orders for women assigned to work amongst Negroes were 72, with almost 2,000 nuns, while religious Orders for men during the same period increased from 9 to 22. Most prominent of these Orders were those of the Josephite Fathers, founded in 1871, the Society of the Holy Ghost, the Divine Word, the Redemptorists, the Jesuits, the Benedictines; and for women the Oblates of Mary Immaculate, an Order for Negro women, and the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament.
The Catholic Church runs a university for Negroes, the St. Xavier University; and while in 1941 only ten Catholic institutions of higher learning admitted Negroes, in 1945 more than a hundred had opened their doors to them, as well as opening and encouraging on a large scale the priesthood for Negro youths.
By the end of the Second World War the Catholic Church in America, although it had prepared the machinery for the conversion of the Negroes, had by no means seriously embarked on the work, feeling it was premature. But on the day it deems opportune it will start a full drive in the racial field and without doubt will make great inroads. This particularly in view of the fact that about 8,000,000 Negroes claim affiliation with no religious denomination.
We must remember that the Catholic Church thinks in terms of centuries, and that, having a long-range policy, it prepares its machinery long before it intends to use it. One of the great moves of the Catholic Church to convert America to Catholicism will be its efforts to win over the American Negro to the Catholic Church. Significant activities in this field were already taking place before and during the Second World War, and increased with the end of hostilities. To quote only two: the work of the Inter-racial Review, as already mentioned, in the sphere of propaganda, and the activities of the Catholic Inter-racial Council in the field of practical endeavor.
In addition to all these activities, the Catholic Church, again through the formidable organization of the N.C.W.C., interests itself in social questions and the problems of labor.
The task of the N.C.W.C. is to drill into the Catholic and non- Catholic population the social teachings of the Church in the controversial economic-social sphere, by endorsing all that the various Popes have said on the subject, based on the proclamations of Pope Leo XIII. Thus questions dealing with the family, just wages, private property, social security, labor organizations, and so on, are propagated as seen and taught by the Catholic Church. This teaching in the hard field of practical politics boils down to the advocacy of the Corporate State, as attempted by European Fascism, and hostility to Socialism and, above all, Communism.
The N.C.W.C. specializes in this important work through a "Catholic Conference on Industrial Problems," which organizes discussions on current social issues—conferences which have been rightly described as "travelling universities." From 1922 to 1945 more than a hundred of these conferences were held in the principal industrial cities, sponsored by churches, labor leaders, professors in economics, and the like.
The Catholic Church also began a drive to train its Hierarchy in social problems. To this end the American Hierarchy organized "Priests' Summer Schools of Social Action" and Congresses such as the National Catholic Congress on Social Action, held in Milwaukee in 1938 and in Cleveland the following year, the first being attended by 35 bishops, 750 priests, and thousands of laymen.
Such activity is aimed at two great goals: the penetration by Catholics of the economic-social field of America, and the gaining of influence amongst workers and capitalists alike in order to fight the menace of Socialism and Communism.
To achieve both these aims the Catholic Hierarchy again employs the N.C.W.C., whose first great organized and open attack against Communism was launched in 1937, when its Social Department made a detailed survey of Communism in the United States of America. It was followed by each diocese setting up a committee of priests to follow the progress of Communism and to report their findings to the N.C.W.C. Catholic Schools, Catholic workers, professors, etc., had the task of passing on any news of Communist activities and were kept supplied with anti-Red pamphlets, books, and films, while the most brilliant priests were sent to the Catholic University of Washington to become experts in social science. The Catholic Press was flooded by anti-Communist advertisements and articles, while Catholic workers and students were continually warned not to co-operate with the Reds.
This campaign was not merely theoretical, but entered the sphere of Labor itself; and also, in 1937, a special organization to fight Communism was created with the blessing of Cardinal Hayes of New York, and the Association of Catholic Trade Unionists was set up to carry the war of Catholicism into the very unions.
In addition to this Association there were many others bent on the same task, such as the Conservative Catholic Labor Alliance and the Pacifist Catholic Workers Group.
Another field in which the Catholic Church exerts a disproportionate influence is that of the screen.
In view of the immense importance that the screen has assumed in modern society, it has been one of the primary goals of the Catholic Church, particularly of the American Catholic Church, to control, either directly or indirectly, an industry whose power to influence the masses it is generally agreed is unequalled.
Although at its inception the Church did not take much notice of this new industry, with the passing of time it grew increasingly interested, an interest which finally culminated in the Pope himself taking the unprecedented step of writing an Encyclical on the subject (Vigilante Cura, issued July 2nd, 1936, by Pope Pius XI). The Church, having realized the power of the film to influence the millions for bad or for good had determined to intervene, because, as Pius XI put it, "the motion picture with its direct propaganda assumes a position of commanding influence." In his letter the Pope advised Catholics to see that the screen be inspired by Christian principles, to watch what was seen by the public, stating that it was their duty to have a say in the production of such a new medium and when possible to boycott films, individuals and organizations which did not conform to the tenets of the Church. Indeed, Pius XI went even further, declaring that it would be a good thing if the whole film industry were inspired (read controlled) by the Catholic Church. "The problem of the production of moral films would be solved radically if it were possible for us to have the production wholly inspired by the principles of Christian (read Catholic) morality," Pius XI asserted.
Such directives came from the Vatican at a period when in the United States Catholic organizations were already hanging like invisible Damocles' swords over every Hollywood studio, and the most important of which, the Legion of Decency, was warmly praised by the Pope himself: "Because of your vigilance and because of the pressure which has been brought to bear by public opinion, the motion picture has shown improvement." ( Vigilante Cura.)
Although previous to the issue of this Encyclical Catholic pressure on the film industry was considerable, after the Pope's injunction it became even stronger, until nowadays there is hardly an individual in the whole of the film world who before planning a new production does not first reckon with Catholic approval or displeasure.
How can a religious body like the Catholic Church exert such power over an industry which at first glance has not the slightest affinity with religion?
In the same way as it does in the case of the Press or other similar means of public information or entertainment which deal directly with the masses: that is mainly through public pressure.
As early as 1927 such pressure had already become so considerable that certain producers made it a point to submit scripts to the National Catholic Welfare Conference for approval of ideas and scenes.
This custom, although unpopular, spread with the growing of the main Catholic organization which more than any other had set out to censor the film industry from coast to coast, namely the Legion of Decency, which assumed that name in 1930. In that same year the Production Code was written and presented to the Association of Motion Picture Producers by the Rev. Daniel A. Lord, S. J. and Martin Quigley. The Code was meant to advise producers what to film and what not to film, what would be approved by the Catholic Church and what the Catholic Church would boycott.
This Catholic incursion into the film industry received further impetus when three years later the Papal representative summoned American Catholics "to united and vigorous campaign for the purifi cation of the screen, which has become a deadly menace to morals." (Most Rev. G. Cicognani, in his capacity as a representative of the Pope. October 1, 1933.)
The heavy machinery of boycott and threats was put into action with more vigor than before. Millions throughout the States signed the Legion of Decency pledge: "In the name of the Father, and the Son and the Holy Ghost . . . as a member of the Legion of Decency I pledge myself to remain away from them (films disapproved by the Church). I promise further to stay away altogether from places of amusement which show them as a matter of policy."
When, in addition to the rather stringent censorship through which every American film had to be subjected by the Legion, the Catholic Bishops followed the instructions of the Pope to the effect that besides the censorship of the Legion of Decency they should set up special reviewing boards in their own diocese so that "they may even censor films which are admitted to the general list (or the Legion of Decency approved list)," Hollywood became scared.
Will Hays announced that the Production Code (which until then had not been taken very seriously by the studios) would become a moral guide, and, later, took the unprecedented step of reporting to the Pope that he, Hays, thought as Pius XI did; indeed that "he found himself in accord with the Pope's views on the morals of modern movies."
Since the second World War, Catholic pressure has increased a hundredfold. Film producers who are not careful can get into trouble through being ignorant of certain moral teachings of the Catholic Church; those concerning marriage, for instance, which caused Mgr. McClafferty, Executive Seretary of the Legion of Decency, to declare: "the light of the screen as a death ray of disintegration . . . is attacking the family ... by pictures which treat marriage lightly, which solve marital troubles through divorce." ( Detroit, September 1946.)
At the conference at which he said this, 700 women representatives of more than 500 Catholic High Schools, colleges and universities in 30 states attended, pledging themselves to combat films which do not conform to Catholic teachings.
There are occasions when the Legion of Decency openly condemns certain films before or during production, thus involving the film company and actors in serious financial losses. This occurred when the Catholic Church, through the American Legion of Decency, " condemned" the $4,000,000 film " Forever Amber."
Following this " condemned" rating by the Legion, numerous Bishops throughout the States denounced the film. As a result, "some who booked the film already are reported asking to be left out of their contracts," as Variety reported ( DECEMBER 1947). After earning more than $200,000 in the first fortnight of showing, "the film receipts have fallen off considerably, due to the Church ban." 20th Century Fox Company had to make an appeal to the United States of America Hierarchy, who insisted on certain specific conditions by which Catholic morals could be respected. The Company had to submit to changes willed by the Legion of Decency in order to lift the film out of the "condemned" list. Not only had the film company to appeal to the Catholic Tribunal to revise the film according to Catholic dicta, but the President of the Corporation, Mr. Spyros Skouras, had to apologize for earlier statements by Fox executives criticizing the Legion for condemning the picture.
Thus a great Film Corporation had to submit before a tribunal set up by the Catholic Church, sitting above the Courts of the United States of America, judging, condemning and dictating, not according to the laws of the country, but the tenets of a Church which, thanks to the power of its organizations, can impose its standards upon, and therefore indirectly influence, the non-Catholic population of the country.
The Fox case was not the only one. It was preceded and followed by several others no less remarkable. To quote a similar case: during this same period the Loew Company followed up the Hollywood sacking of the ten alleged Communist writers, directors and producers by banning Chaplin's most brilliant film, " Monsieur Verdoux," from its 225 cinemas in the United States after a protest by the Catholic War Veterans that Chaplin's "background is un-American" and that "he does not love the United States of America." Shortly before this, the Catholic Legion of Decency forced the temporary withholding of "The Black Narcissus," a British film, on the ground that it was a reflection on Catholic Nuns.
The Catholic Church, however, does not confine its activities to condemning the motion picture industry. It has been able to deepen its influence in Hollywood and elsewhere to such an extent that in the years following the Second World War, Protestant United States of America saw, not without bewilderment, one Catholic film after another appear in quick succession on her screens.
In 1946 plans were laid in Hollywood for the production of 52 educational Catholic films a year for schools and parish halls, under the direction of Fr. Louis Gales. Since then various projects have taken shape in Hollywood and in influential American financial circles.
The Catholic Church has set out to capture the screens of the globe. Hence the tremendous efforts of the American Hierarchy to exert increasingly heavy pressure upon the motion pictures of America; the American motion picture industry is the paramount supplier of films to the 90,000 cinemas of the World ( 1949).
As in various other spheres, the Catholic incursion into the American film industry has increased to an alarming degree. Its penetration is due not only to its zeal to control a powerful machinery of entertainment the better to spread its spiritual influence, but to the co-operation of millions of American Catholics who are tirelessly working for the success of their Church.
And when it is remembered that large organizations such as the Knights of Columbus with its 650,000 members, the Catholic War Veterans, who in 1946 began a nation-wide campaign to increase their membership to 4,000,000, the National Council of Catholic Men, Catholic Trade Unions, the National Council of Catholic Women with more than 5,000,000 members, the Senior Catholic Daughters of America, Catholic students, and so on are all working in unison at the bidding of the American Hierarchy, it is not difficult to guess how a religious body like the Catholic Church, although still a minority, can already exert a disproportionate influence upon motion pictures, one of the greatest industries of Protestant America.
In addition to the film industry, the Catholic Church has also made great strides in the direct and indirect influencing of other instruments of public entertainment, education and information, such as the stage, the advertising business, etc.
The increasing power of the Catholic Church in practically every department of life has made it a very adventurous task for anyone to disregard discretion or prudence in the publishing world. One could quote innumerable cases when national dailies have had to water down and very often to leave out altogether some item of news simply to avoid arousing the wrath of the Catholic Hierarchy.
Pressure on the press is exerted more often than is believed through the boycotting of advertisements, as in the well known case of David Smart when "the Catholic Hierarchy scared the shirt off his back with a boycott of his whisky advertisers in Ken and Esquire" before the Second World War. ( George Seldes, The Catholic Crisis.) With the passing of the years, such instances have occurred with alarming frequency.
The same methods are employed with publishers of books, most of whom, before even considering a manuscript, try to guess in what light it will be judged by the Catholic Church, which besides "paralyzing" and killing a book can indirectly hit back at the publishing house by forbidding thousands of booksellers to offer the work; to accept any other by the same author or by the same publishers; by withdrawing or refusing acceptance of advertisements; by publicly condemning certain types of literature; by promoting wars on "bad books," like the one initiated in 1942 by the publication of a radio talk given by Cardinal Spellman, and later on led by the New York Journal American and supported by leaders and societies of all faiths; and by hundreds of such sundry devices often involving anyone thus boycotted in serious financial losses.
These activities, although perhaps not as spectacular as those connected with the screen, yet are bound to have profound repercussions on the life of the average citizen of the United States of America, particularly when in addition to such negative Catholic pressure one remembers the ramifications of the Catholic, or Catholic sympathizing, press and the vast machinery of the N.C.W.C.
Catholicism in the United States of America also owes its progress to another factor, which, although not so well known, is greatly responsible for Catholic influence—namely, the fact that the majority of the Catholic population live in urban centres. It should be remembered that it is chiefly through the urban population that religious, cultural, social, and political changes are effected, and that it is the urban masses who exert decisive influence on issues of national importance.
The Catholics' numerical strength and the fact of their living mainly in urban centres have made of them a force of considerable account, with which every politician, from the town attorney to the Presidential Candidate, must reckon.
The great strength of Catholicism in the United States of America and the progress it has made there in the twentieth century, as compared with that of the other 256 recognized religious denominations which have tried to convert America to their faith, is due largely to the fact that the Catholic Church in America is united into one solid bloc, and that all its forces are directed to the one goal—namely, to make America a Catholic country.
This unity and definite purpose has, first, made the Catholic Church the largest of all religious bodies in America; in 1945 Catholicism stood foremost in the number of its church members in thirty-eight out of the fifty largest American towns. Secondly, this unity has given birth to a peculiar brand of Catholicism known as "American Catholicism," which was first snubbed by the Vatican, then tolerated, and finally encouraged in the form in which it stands to-day.
The man who gave organized impetus to the unification of American Catholics was Father Hecker, who in the last century maintained that in order to make progress in the United States of America the Catholic Church must make itself American. Father Hecker fought against the tendency of that period among Catholic immigrants to create their own churches with their own national bishops speaking their own languages, thus forming innumerable Catholic bodies within the Catholic Church of America.
As an illustration of what that meant, as lately as 1929, in the City of Chicago alone, there existed 124 English Catholic churches, 38 Polish, 35 German, 12 Italian, 10 Slovakian, 8 Bohemian, 9 Lithuanian, 5 French, 4 Croatian, and 8 of other nationalities, making a total of 253.
Had this tendency been allowed to grow, Catholicism, in spite of its religious unity, would have split its effort, and consequently, like the Protestant denominations, would have remained a comparatively obscure body in the United States of America. But the spiritual and administrative unification of Catholicism and the effort of making the Catholic Church "American" produced another factor of great importance: it gave birth to a new brand of Catholicism peculiar to the United States of America. This was noticed as early as 1870, when Europeans began to state that "Catholicism in the United States has about it an American air" ( M. Houtin).
At the beginning of the twentieth century the characteristics of American Catholicism were already well marked. The most important of these were the American tendency to give "the active virtues in Christianity predominance over the passive"; and secondly, to show a preference for "individual inspiration to the eternal magisterium of the Church to concede everything to non-Catholics, while passing over certain truths in silence if necessary as a measure of prudence" (Premoli, 1889). This tendency was very important, for it greatly influenced the attitude of American Catholics towards the teachings of the Catholic Church in social and, above all, political problems.
These, in fact, instead of being the intractable and insoluble problems which they were in Europe, were treated with a liberality and breadth of mind which no Catholic would have dared to dream of in Europe. This allowed American Catholics to co-operate with the Protestants and to live without invoking, in the religious, social, and political fields, that extremism which was the source of much bitterness elsewhere.
American Catholicism came to the foreground of the political life of the country on a grand scale during the election for the Presidency in 1928, when Governor Smith, the Catholic candidate, issued his "credo," which became that of approximately 95 per cent. of American Catholics. In answer to factions whose slogan was, "We do not want the Pope in the White House," and especially in answer to those honest Americans who began to ask themselves whether, after all, anyone could be at the same time both a loyal American and a devout Catholic, Alfred E. Smith, after having stated that American Catholics, for whom at that moment he spoke, accepted the separation of Church and State, made this pronouncement:—
I summarize my creed as an American Catholic. I believe in the worship of God according to the faith and practice of the Roman Catholic Church. I recognize no power in the institution of my Church to interfere with the operation of the Constitution of the United States or the enforcement of the Law of the land. I believe in absolute freedom of conscience for all men and equality of all Churches ... in the absolute separation of Church and State...."
This was something new in the history of Catholicism in that the great bulk of American Catholics, as already indicated, as well as a good portion of the Hierarchy, openly supported Smith. Yet their Church clearly teaches that "the State ought not to be separated from the Church," and that no Catholic can really believe in equality of religions for the simple reason that Catholicism is the only true religion. All others, it is claimed, are false and therefore ought not to be treated on a par with the Catholic Church, and all Catholics must follow the teachings of the Pope. This means they cannot support true democracy, complete freedom of the Press, and similar doctrines.
This American attitude had shaken the Vatican for several decades. When finally it was enunciated, and, what is more, supported by the American Church, the conservative Vatican, although jolted, nevertheless deemed it a wise policy not to restrain this new Catholicism too openly. Some degree of recognition was allowed to this unheard- of freedom, this independence of thought. But that American Catholicism should indicate what the Church ought to teach instead of accepting what the Church actually teaches was considered a very dangerous tendency.
What made the Vatican slacken its doctrinal rigidity as it would never dream of doing for any European nation? Its plan to make of the United States of America a direct and indirect instrument to be employed to further Catholicism within and outside that country. The Vatican became aware that to impose its rigid principles too dogmatically on the American Church would contrast too much with the Liberalism, independence, and general concept of life in America. To do so would alienate not only non-Catholics, but also many American Catholics. It was therefore decided to allow the authority and doctrines of the Catholic Church to be submitted to a process of transformation which would modify the conservative European Catholicism into a Liberal and progressive American Catholicism.
By permitting the American Hierarchy to organize itself and be to a great extent independent of Rome in matters of administering and propagating Catholicism, and by allowing Catholics to treat their opponents with that freedom which is the basis of the American way of life, the Vatican rightly thought that it would make it easier for the American Faithful to execute their task of furthering Catholic principles, ethics, and influence.
So far the Vatican has proved right and has succeeded in its first important steps. How far it will allow American Catholicism to alienate itself from the traditional Catholicism of Europe it is difficult to say. A great deal will depend on the progress made in the United States of America, on the social and political trend of the world, and, above all, on the gravity of the earthquakes which will continue to shake Europe more than other continents in the years to come.
To whatever lengths the Vatican may go in trying to harmonize its spirit with modern society, and however much freedom it may give to American Catholicism, it is nevertheless certain that it will not alter its fundamental aim by an inch. It will not modify its basic hostility towards the real democratic freedom of society so radically alien to its own doctrines. The indulgence shown towards American Catholicism is merely a tactical manoeuvre, spreading over a whole continent and embracing decades, if not centuries, to enable the Catholic Church the better to conquer the land.
It should be borne in mind that, notwithstanding its progress and the influence it has already achieved, the Catholic Church in the United States of America, although a powerful minority, is still a minority when confronted by the compact opposition of all the other religious denominations and their cultural, social, and political derivatives. The Catholic Church, therefore, must be careful not to show its real nature too soon or too openly, lest it should alarm the opposition.
Yet in spite of the main principle guiding the Vatican, American Catholicism has already dared to show its true character and aims with regard to both the domestic social and political life of the United States of America and American foreign policy. In fact it has already attempted to do there what it has done for centuries in the Old World—namely, to shape society according to its social principles and direct or make use of the political power of a great secular nation to further the religious interests of the Catholic Church abroad. This in spite of the fact that its manoeuvres have been carried out in a still overwhelmingly Protestant country.
We have already seen what the global policy of the Vatican is with regard to society in general, and how the Vatican has meddled with the social and political life of nations to shape them according to its doctrines. Our examination of European politics should have made this amply clear. The aims of the Vatican in America are the same as its aims in Europe, the only difference being in the tactics it adopts to reach them.
The fundamental characteristics of the Church's principles with regard to modern society are that they sponsor Authoritarianism and are diametrically opposed to the principles of social and political democracy. The whole policy of the Vatican since the beginning of the twentieth century has been directed, through its own efforts, but above all in alliance with non-spiritual movements, to hamper the way of nations. Hence its direct and indirect interference in the political life of Europe and its support of dictatorships.
In America, before the outbreak of the Second World War, the Catholic Church, having the same aims as in Europe, thought itself strong enough to raise its head a little and hesitantly show what it really wanted.
The ultimate aims of the Catholic Church in America are very clearly set out in an official book, stamped with the entire approval of the Pope, studied as a text in Catholic universities, and written by the head of the Social Action Department of the National Catholic Welfare Conference. ( "The State and the Church", by Mgr. J. A. Ryan and M. F. X. Millar, republished 1940 as Catholic Principles of Politics.) It explicitly states that as there exists only one true religion, Catholicism, the Catholic Church must establish itself as the State Church in the United States of America. This in accordance with the fundamental doctrine of the Popes "that the State must not only have care for religion, but must recognize the true religion" ( Leo XIII). In short, Catholicism must be made to prevail and eventually eliminate all other religions. This has as its authority the encyclical written by Pope Leo XIII, called Catholicity in the United States, in which the American separation of Church and State is condemned.
What, then, should happen to American principles of liberty of conscience, of the individual, of religion, of opinion, and all those other aspects of freedom that are now an integral part of American life? And to take a particular sphere of society, the religious, what would happen if Catholicism assumed power?
Since all religions, with the exception of Catholicism, are false, they cannot be allowed to pervert those who are in the fold of the Catholic Church. Hence all other religious denominations in the United States of America "might" be allowed to profess their faith and to worship only if such worship is "carried on within the family circle or in such inconspicuous manner as to be an occasion neither for scandal nor of perversion to the Faithful...."
Thus a Catholic United States of America would limit, and eventually even forbid, the practice of religious freedom, which automatically takes the Church into the cultural, social, and finally polit ical, fields. This is based on the Catholic doctrine that "since no rational end is promoted by the dissemination of false doctrine, there exists no right to indulge in this practice." Why? Simply because the Pope states, and the leader of the American Catholics declares, that "error has not the same rights as truth."
As the reader will have inferred, the Catholic Church would like simply to shape the free United States of America on the same model as the Catholic States of Franco's Spain, Pétain's France, Mgr. Tiso's Czechoslovakia—not to mention Mussolini's Italy when he was not disputing with the Vatican on religious questions.
The Catholic Church is not only implanting such ideas into the minds of the select few. Its spiritual "Shock Troops," namely the Jesuits, had begun before the war openly to attack the democratic institutions of the United States of America. Suffice it to quote two typical utterances:—
How we Catholics have loathed and despised this . . . civilization which is now called democracy.... To-day, American Catholics are being asked to shed their blood for that particular kind of secularist civilization which they have heroically repudiated for four centuries ( America— MAY 17, 1941).
And, as if that were not enough, the same publication dared to foretell social revolution within the United States of America, as follows:—
The Christian (that is, Catholic) revolution will begin when we decide to cut loose from the existing social order, rather than be buried with it (idem).
Such plans, although carried out in Europe, would have seemed fantastic to an American; yet they were being carefully prepared by the Catholic Church within the United States of America itself before the thunderbolt of Pearl Harbor.
The Vatican being a master in the art of chicanery, naturally did not officially sponsor these plans. It continued to woo democracy and all else that is dear to the American masses, while at the same time preparing a tiny minority of its Faithful, led by a priest, Father Coughlin. In view of what Father Coughlin preached, wrote, and broadcast, it should be remembered that he had the tacit approval of the American Hierarchy, for "any priest who writes articles in daily papers or periodicals without the permission of his own bishop contravenes Canon 1386 of the Code of Canon Law."
Father Coughlin had thousands of readers of his paper Social Justice, and millions of listeners to his broadcasts. What did he preach? He simply preached the kind of Authoritarianism which was then so successful in Catholic Europe, combined with a mixture of Fascism and Nazism harmonized to a certain extent to suit American society and temperament.
But Father Coughlin, besides preaching, also acted. His tactics were not those employed by the European sponsors of Authoritarianism, Catholic or otherwise, for he bore in mind that the country in question was the United States of America. Yet they did remind one of similar and successful moves in Europe.
Father Coughlin, in fact, tried to use non-Catholic elements which nevertheless had in common with Catholicism and with him the same hatred of certain things and the same goals in social and political matters. By skillful manœuvering he managed to secure a majority control, 80 per cent, of "America First," an organization formed mainly by super-nationalist elements and business magnates.
Father Coughlin and the leaders of this movement had already made plans to transform "America First" by amalgamation of its members with the millions of his radio followers, into a mighty political party. In imitation of European Fascism they went so far at this early stage as to organize a kind of private army, which was screened behind the formation of the "Christian Front." It was to have been the herald of Coughlin's "Christian Revolution."
Sports clubs were set up in many parts of the United States of America. The peculiarity of these clubs was their resemblance to quasi-military movements and the military drilling of their members. The nature of the movement made the American authorities suspicious; Father Coughlin's paper, Social Justice, was banned as "seditious," while many sporting clubs of the "Christian Front" were raided (e.g., Brooklyn Sporting Club of the Christian Front, on February 13, 1940).
On more than one occasion Father Coughlin stated that he would seek power, even by violent means; as, for instance, when he declared: "Rest assured we will fight you, Franco's way" ( Social Justice, quoted by J. Carlson). Furthermore, he even dared to predict, at the outbreak of the Second World War, that he would be in power within the next decade:—
We predict that ... the National-Socialists of America, organized under that or some other name, eventually will take control of the Government on this Continent.... We predict, lastly, the end of Democracy in America.... (Father Coughlin, in Social Justice, September 1, 1939).
Could there be a more outspoken hint of what Father Couglin and his non-Catholic associates would do if they had the opportunity to develop their plan? And what would that mean if the situation should turn in their favor? We have seen how Fascism began and developed in Europe, and this gives us our answer: the result would be simply an American version of European Fascism.
Naturally, the Catholic Church in the United States of America could not support this campaign too openly. It was in its interest even to disown Father Couglin at times, when it did not want to endanger its penetration in American Society through its schools, charitable institutions, the Press, and so on. And yet there is no doubt that the Catholic Church watched Father Couglin's work with great sympathy, and that secretly it supported him and even blessed him. A few typical instances will suffice to prove this.
In 1936 Bishop Gallagher, Coughlin's superior, on his return from a visit to the Vatican, made so that he could discuss, with the Pope, Coughlin's activities, declared: "FatherCoughlin is an outstanding priest, and his voice ... is the voice of God...."
In 1941 a Franciscan compared Father Coughlin to a "Second Christ" (New York, July 29, 1941), and in the following year Catholic prelates asked openly for Coughlin's return, so that he might organize his revolution: "The days are coming when this country will need a Coughlin and need him badly. We must get strong and keep organized for that day" (Father Edward Brophy, a "Christian Front" leader, June 1942).
All this while, in the background, leaders of the American Hierarchy itself were often sympathizers with Fascism. Such, for instance, were Cardinal Hayes of New York, decorated four times by Mussolini, and Cardinal O'Connell, who called Mussolini "that genius given to Italy by God."
By 1941 " America First" and Father Coughlin had about 15,000,000 followers and sympathizers.
Pearl Harbor put an abrupt end to all this. But the first moves, which were kept quiet until the war storm passed, and until new circumstances favored them, were already clear when the atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki struck the knock-out blow at Japan.
The portents of textbooks in the Catholic universities, of American cardinals being decorated by Mussolini, of Father Coughlin and his "Christian Front," may, perhaps, seem small when compared with the immense activities carried out by the Catholic Church in the United States of America; for instance, through its N.C.W.C. Nevertheless, they are very significant and demonstrate that, should Catholicism continue its growth in the years to come, it will be a powerful influence, ready to steer the destiny of the United States of America towards a path in all probability alien to the tradition and spirit of the American people.
Meanwhile the Catholic Church in the United States of America is waiting for the time to come when it may emerge more openly with its real aims. It has been carrying on with more subtle tactics its policy of employing its already remarkable influence in that country in order to achieve goals in the internal and, above all, in the external fields. To put it more bluntly, it is using the power of the United States of America to further its policy in various parts of the world.
This might sound rather startling, but in reality it is not so. Without searching for doubtful instances, let us remember two remarkable occurrences, the first of which took place in the decade immediately following the First World War, when revolution broke out in Mexico. It happened that the external agencies which found themselves endangered by the new Government were the Catholic Church and the great American oil concerns. Both wielded great influence in the internal affairs of Mexico through their economic power, controlled in the one case from Rome and in the other from the United States of America.
The programme of the new Mexican Government was to limit the influence of the Church by undermining it in the economic, social, cultural, and political fields, and to expropriate the oil concern owned and controlled by American firms. It therefore found itself confronted by two powerful enemies, which, although so alien the one to the other, became allies.
The Catholic Church, besides starting an armed revolution and inciting Mexican Catholics to assassinate the Mexican President, aroused the 20,000,000 Catholics in the United States of America against their neighbors, and the American Hierarchy at the same time openly asked for American intervention in Mexico. This request, of course, was backed by the powerful oil concern, and it so nearly succeeded that the United States of America went so far as to mobilize a considerable part of its Air Force on the border of Mexico (see following chapter).
The second and more recent case occurred during the Spanish Civil War.
We have already seen the part played by the Vatican in that tragedy. When the war first broke out, in July 1936, the main concern of the Vatican was to procure as much help for the Catholic rebels as possible and to deprive the Republicans of such help. That Hitler and Mussolini sent soldiers and guns to Franco, that France closed her frontier, that Tory England helped the rebels with her hypocritical non-intervention formula, was not enough to satisfy the Vatican.
The help sent to the Republicans by Russia was ridiculously inadequate and was made even less effective by difficulties of communication and by the iron ring of the Western Powers, who were determined that the Republicans should not be helped. The only place still open to the Spanish Government was the United States market.
It became a matter of the utmost importance that this last hope of the Republic should be dashed. As neither Mussolini nor Hitler, for obvious reasons, could ask Washington to close the door, this task was undertaken by the Vatican, which, using the full machinery of the Catholic Church within the United States, started one of the most unscrupulous slander and hatred campaigns on record. This it conducted through its Press, radio, pulpits, and schools; and, by appealing directly and openly to President Roosevelt, it managed to get what it wanted.
At this stage it would not be amiss to glance at the close relationship that existed between President Roosevelt and the Vatican, for we have already seen how important this relationship was to become throughout the Second World War.
The Pope and the President had several aims in common, and each could help the other in his respective field. The Vatican was taking the initial steps to get the United States of America's support in the eventuality of a European war, in the background of which loomed Bolshevik Russia, while Roosevelt at that time wanted to capture the Catholic Vote in the next Presidential election and the Vatican's support of his policy of unification for the American Continent. More remotely he desired the Vatican's support and influence in the political cauldron of Europe, especially in the event of war.
It was against this background that the Vatican began to act in the autumn of 1936 by sending the Pope's Secretary of State, Cardinal Pacelli, on a visit to the States. Strangely enough, the visit coincided with the election. Cardinal Pacelli arrived in New York on October 9, 1936, and, after spending a couple of weeks in the East, he made a whirlwind trip to the Middle and Far West, visiting Chicago, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Cincinnati, etc. He was back in New York on November 1. After Roosevelt was re-elected, on November 6, he had lunch with him at Hyde Park.
What the visit of the Papal Secretary meant to the American Hierarchy, with its tremendous machinery of newspapers and the N.C.W.C., at election time, is obvious. This, it should be noticed by way of contrast, while Father Coughlin was advising Americans that if they could not unseat Roosevelt with the ballot they should oust him with bullets.
Pacelli and Roosevelt, after the election, discussed the main points: the help that the United States of America should give indirectly to the Vatican to crush the Spanish Republic, under the formula of neutrality, and the establishment of diplomatic relations between the Vatican and Washington. Secret negotiations were begun between Pius XI and Roosevelt, and continued until 1939, without any concrete result. Then, on June 16, 1939, the Rome Correspondent of the New York Times sent a dispatch from the Vatican, declaring that "steps to bring relations between the Holy See and the United States on a normal diplomatic footing are expected to be taken soon by Pope Pius XII [who, meanwhile, had succeeded Pius XI]."
On July 29, 1939, Cardinal Enrico Gasparri arrived in New York and spent three days with Archbishop Spellman, his mission being to prepare "the juridical status for the possible opening of diplo matic relations between the State Department and the Holy See" (New York Times, July 29, 1939).
The great difficulty which prevented the establishment of regular diplomatic relations between the Vatican and the White House was that Roosevelt could not send a regular ambassador to the Vatican, while the Vatican could not send a nuncio to Washington, without submitting the plan to Congress. However, Roosevelt found a more compromising man in Pius XII, and a way was soon found by which Congress could be overstepped and the United States could have its ambassador. In December 1939 the United States, which officially had ignored the Vatican since 1867, established diplomatic connections with it by appointing Mr. Myron Taylor the first personal ambassador of President Roosevelt to the Pope. This was accomplished without any serious stir in Protestant United States, and the move was favored by the belief that, thanks to the parallel efforts of the Pope and the President, Italy had been kept out of the war.
Mr. Taylor was a millionaire, a high Episcopalian, an intimate friend of both Roosevelt and Pius XII, and an admirer of Fascism. He was thus accepted by Protestants, Catholics, the White House, the Vatican, and Mussolini. For it had not been forgotten that on November 5, 1936, Taylor had declared that "the whole world has been forced to admire the successes of Premier Mussolini in disciplining the nation," and had expressed his approval of the occupation of Ethiopia: "To-day a new Italian Empire faces the future and assumes its responsibilities as guardian and administrator of a backward people of 10,000,000 souls" (New York Times, November 6, 1936).
That was the beginning of the diplomatic-political relations of the Vatican and Washington, which lasted until the death of President Roosevelt ( April 1945) and practically until the end of the Second World War.
We saw this relationship at work when dealing with Italy, Germany, and Russia, through the frequent scurrying across the Atlantic of Mr. Sumner Welles, Mr. Taylor, Mgr. Spellman, Mr. Titman, and Mr. Flynn, all of whom, as occasion demanded, acted as "unofficial" ambassadors to the Holy See.
The affinity of common interests in numerous domestic and foreign spheres fostered this close relationship. The rôle the Vatican could play during hostilities as an intermediary between all the belligerents, and the prestige it could exercise in many countries, constituted the strength of Catholicism, on the one hand; while, on the other hand, economic, financial, and political advantages were the assets of the United States. These forces, which impelled the two Powers to follow parallel policies, productive to both partners and enhancing the already great influence of Rome, both within and without the United States, made the Catholic-American co-operation so intimate that, as an ex-Ambassador to the Vatican put it, "few people in Europe were aware of the union which was functioning on a spiritual level between the two forces which were represented in the United States and the Holy See and which ... were co-ordinated in each instance that justified joint action." (Mr. François Charles Roux, former French Ambassador to the Holy See. Revue de Paris, September 1946.)
With the coming of a new President and the cessation of hostilities, this relationship was practically unaltered. The personal representative of the President to the Vatican, explained in 1939 "as a temporary measure made necessary by war," with the dawn of peace remained there, on the ground that besides being of importance during hostilities, he "would be equally useful in the future." He would, therefore, continue indefinitely in his mission, which would end, "not this year, probably not next year, but at some time or other; in fact, only when peace reigns all over the whole world." ( President Truman to the Protestant Ministers who asked him to withdraw his special envoy to the Vatican, June 1946.)
After this declaration had created a deep sense of uneasiness throughout the country, and influential sections had described Mr. Taylor's appointment as "preferential treatment of one Church over another," had called for a Congressional investigation into "the financing, authorization and responsibilities" of Mr. Taylor's mission, and had expressed resentment of the fact that the President, by maintaining the semi-official relationship with the Vatican, violated "our cherished American doctrine separating Church from State," a White House statement announced that Mr. Taylor would be returning to Rome on a visit not exceeding thirty days, "to resume discussions on matters of importance with the Pope" ( 28th November, 1946).
In the following year, Pope and President exchanged letters overtly acknowledging an unofficial alliance, the like of which not even the most sanguine imagination would have dared to visualize only a short decade before.
Whereas Truman—in a missive which his personal envoy presented to Pius XII in August 1947—pledged the resources of the United States to help the Pope and "all the forces striving for a moral world" to restore order and to secure an enduring peace "which can be built only upon Christian principles," the Head of the Catholic Church assured the President that the United States of America would receive "wholehearted co-operation from God's Church," which championed "the individual against despotic rule ... laboring man against oppression . . . religion against persecution," adding that as "social injustices . . . are a very useful and effective weapon in the hands of those who are bent on destroying all the good that civilization has brought to man ... it is for all sincere lovers of the great human family to unite in wresting those weapons from their hands." (Letter sent by Pope Pius XII to President Truman, August 1947.)
A few days later the Pope, speaking from a golden throne in the middle of St. Peter's Square, warned 100,000 members of the Catholic Action League (one of the Vatican's main weapons in the struggle to resist the growth of Communism in Italy) against "those who are bent on destroying civilization." Before the menace of the Communists, affirmed the Pope, heavy duties pressed upon every Catholic, indeed upon every man, duties which called for conscientious fulfillment often entailing acts of true heroism. The time for reflection was past, and the time for action had come. (See London "Times," September 7, 1947.)
Although during the Second World War she had not fully realized it, the United States of America now discovered that the Vatican, besides being the "world's best listening post" from which more could be learned about the currents and cross-currents of international affairs than from any State Department in the world, was also a most powerful ally in the "cold war" which East and West, supposedly at peace, were waging against one another.
It was a time when responsible United States leaders were talking of the situation as extremely grave, when hints of a lightning preventive atomic war against Soviet Russia seemed to be more than mere rumors.
At the Vatican ominous plans had been carefully laid down. Primates in the various countries behind the Iron Curtain were warned to prepare for the establishment of Catholic or Right-wing Governments on the approaching downfall of the Communist regimes—as one of them, Cardinal Mindszenty, openly declared during his trial two years later. During that trial in Budapest, Cardinal Mindszenty, Primate of Hungary, admitted that he had asked for American and British intervention "to get rid of an unbearable cruelty, terror and oppression," but had always prayed against the coming of a third World War. Nonetheless he agreed that he had calculated "that such a war might come." (London "Times," 5.2.1949.)
The atomic blitzkrieg did not take place. The "cold war" was its sinister substitute. But the probability that a shooting war might burst upon the world in the near future made the mission of the Presidential personal envoy to the Vatican more necessary and impellent than ever before.
From then onwards relations between the United States of America and the Vatican, owing to the increasing identification of mutual interests in certain areas of the world—e.g. Eastern Europe— and the necessity of supporting or combating certain political movements either with dollar loans or with encyclicals, became so close that they were soon transformed into a real and proper tacit alliance, the like of which was without precedent in the annals of American history.
This strange political bedfellowship was made possible, in addition to the above reasons, by the realization on the part of both partners that neither alone could hope successfully to crush the Red Dragon. For the one, while providing moral weapons, could not supply atomic bombs; and the other, while bursting with immense war potential, was unable to distill the spiritual stamina morally to justify an anti-Bolshevist crusade that would plunge mankind into a third bloodbath.
If Communism, which in numerous parts of the world had crystallized into political systems whilst in others it was still in a fluid state, was to be successfully combated, it had to be fought simultaneously on two well defined fronts: the material and the spiritual; hence the necessity of employing moral as well as physical weapons.
As the United States of America, notwithstanding her immense financial and industrial resources, could not seriously contemplate the wiping out of the Communist ideology should she succeed in crushing Soviet Russia, so neither could the Vatican, with its 400- million Catholics, hope to combat an armed conglomeration of dictatorships holding in their grip one sixth of the Earth and a third of Europe. It was inevitable, therefore, that the United States of America, which could oppose them with the weight of steel and of standing armies, and the Vatican, having at its disposal a world- wide moral boycott strong enough to stir millions with deep conviction, should become necessary to one another.
It followed, therefore, that as in 1939 previous to the outbreak of the Second World War Roosevelt had deemed it useful to maintain a personal envoy at the Vatican, in 1949, Truman could do no less than his predecessor. The United States of America, in a tacit acknowledgment that democratic principles were not sufficient to give the necessary fire to its crusade, had turned to the Vatican for a whipping-up of organized antagonism on the moral side.
Within a decade the American-Catholic honeymoon had produced what the Church had so fervently waited for, particularly since the disappearance of Nazism: the shining sword of an American St. George making ready to slay the Red Dragon. The United States of America had become the arsenal of the Catholic Church.
Paradoxically enough, one of the factors most responsible for the gathering momentum of the Catholic Church in the United States was the spread of Communism which during the last twenty years has done more to strengthen Catholicism in the United States of America than practically anything else since the great Catholic immigrations of the last century.
The bogey of Communism, which during the last thirty years had served so well in world politics, has proved to be no less useful to the Vatican's efforts to break down the anti-Catholic front inside the United States of America.
Most of the Protestant Churches, which even in comparatively normal times, owing to their disunity, unco-ordinated efforts and lack of vision, are at a chronic disadvantage when dealing with the Catholic Church, with the resurgence of the "Red menace" at home and abroad have been mesmerised by the anti-Bolshevist rôle which the Vatican has been playing so prominently in world politics as a partner of the United States of America. This to such an extent that to-day one sees Protestant leaders and Protestant papers ap prove of the political activities of the Catholic Church; indeed, support the Vatican both in the domestic and foreign politics, in the mistaken notion that the Vatican's fight is their fight, that the Catholic Church is the foremost champion of Christianity against an anti-Christian ideology, seemingly unaware that Catholicism is making formidable breaches within their own ranks and is quietly attempting to step into their place.
What twenty years ago any Protestant would have regarded an utter impossibility, now is looked upon with indifference and even approval by influential sections of American Protestantism.
It is true that when compared to the nationwide Protestant disapproval this is of little account, yet it is of ominous portent that the Catholic Church has finally achieved what it has so persistently attempted for decades: to split the anti-Catholic front of American Protestantism, to divide its opponents; indeed, to rally to its side influential sections and individuals of the opposite field, to be welcomed as an ally in the very midst of Protestantism, until recently the most powerful obstacle to its incursion in the life of the United States of America.
Constantinople was not sacked because the Turks had battered her mighty walls. It fell because of a small breach in the rear which the Byzantines had hardly noticed, engrossed as they were in repelling the massive attack of the 200,000 troops of Mohamet II from whom they expected their ruin to come.
The Catholic Church's achievements do not end here. Besides having aligned itself with Protestant United States in world politics and having succeeded in lulling a considerable part of the opposition, it is quickening its pace to Americanize itself the better to Catholicize America.
Its Hierarchy has been expanded, allowed more freedom than any Hierarchy outside the United States of America. New American Cardinals have been created ( 1946); American Bishops have multiplied, seminaries have increased, American saints are being raised to the Altar ( Mother Cabrini, 1946); or their causes, some of which were introduced forty years ago, now are suddenly speeded up to give the American masses their American born saints. (The Pope himself in July 1947 promoted the canonization cause of Mother Elizabeth Ann Seton, American born mother of five and, after the death of her husband, founder and first superior in the United
States of the Sisters of Charity. If the cause succeeds, Mother Seton will become the first saint to be born in America, as Frances Cabrini, was born in Italy and became a naturalized American.) Members of the American Hierarchy are posted with unparalleled frequency to positions of eminence and responsibility, not only in America but also abroad. (Election in Paris of Fr. William Slattery of Baltimore, as Superior General of the Vincentians, breaks a tradition of four centuries. The post has always been held by a Frenchman, July 1947. Fr. John Mix, born in Chicago, elected Superior General of the Congregation of the Resurrection of Our Lord Jesus Christ, July 1947. Mother Mary Vera of Cleveland, Ohio, elected Superior General of the Sisters of Notre Dame, January 1947.) Indeed, American Cardinals are confidants and personal friends of the Pope and their weight in the central administration of the Vatican is increasing with the passing of time. Americans are taking up the reins of the Catholic Church in America, abroad and in Rome, the better, when the time is ripe, to take over a Catholic America.The Vatican, having set out to conquer, although always true to a carefully studied grand strategy, is a master of tactics. The interplay of social and political currents and countercurrents everywhere consequently is indefatigably used to carry out in quickened tempo its penetration in the affairs of the United States of America and of the rest of the world.
Its campaign for the ultimate conquest of the United States of America is conducted simultaneously along four main lines:
a. Alliance with the United States of America in the struggle against world Communism.
b. The lulling of Protestant opposition within the United States of America by use of the Communist bogey. The assumption of the rôle of the first and foremost Christian Knight against the Red Dragon. The attempt to obtain the support of certain sections of the non-Catholic Churches.
c. Intensification of the process of Americanizing Catholicism inside and outside America.
d. Unobtrusive efforts to batter certain clauses in the political structure of the United States of America, the modification of some of which would ultimately give the Catholic Church a privileged status vis-à-vis other Churches.
With reference to the last, two indicators more than anything else show where the Catholic Church is concentrating its attack: Protestantism's softening to the idea of a permanent unofficial representative to the Vatican; and the Catholic Church's attempt to assail the Constitution of the United States of America. Although it is perilous to assume the mantle of a prophet, yet it is not improbable that the "temporary measures" initiated by Roosevelt may grow into a "permanent feature" of the State Department.
On the day the United States of America has an Ambassador to the Vatican, the Vatican will be entitled to have a representative in Washington who will officially address the President on behalf not only of Vatican City, an independent miniature State, but of the Roman Catholic citizens of the United States, and furthermore on behalf of the 400 million Roman Catholics all over the world. It would be as if Moscow's Ambassador accredited to Washington were entitled legally to represent, besides the Government of Soviet Russia, American Communists and indeed all Communists abroad.
What would this mean? That the Constitution of the United States of America would crumble to the ground and that the separation of the State from the Church would be gone forever. (It is noteworthy that a Pope's broadcast dealing with false and true democracy has been incorporated in the Congressional Record, 1946. Senator James Murray of Montana, on proposing its insertion, remarked: "Those who have criticized this message... should be sure that in criticizing its contents they do not also criticize some of the fundamental tenets of American Democracy.")
This is not mere speculation. The Catholic Church has already taken the first cautious yet bold steps along this new, dangerous road. In the autumn of 1948, the Roman Catholic Hierarchy of America issued a long statement calmly making public their determination to amend one of the most fundamental concepts of American Government, to work "peacefully, patiently and perseveringly" for the revision of what it considers the Supreme Court's "ominously extensive interpretation" of the First Amendment. Their chief point at issue was unmistakably propounded: Was or was not the First Amendment, prohibiting Congress from making laws "respecting an establishment of religion," intended to reach and to maintain a separation of Church and State? In their attempts at interpreting what was in the minds of the framers of the Constitu -tion, the Catholic Hierarchy wrote off as a "misleading metaphor" Jefferson's sentence regarding "the wall of separation between Church and State," going even further by suggesting that the phrase can be clarified by the words of the Amendment itself.
To reach the end of a thousand-miles-long journey, as the Chinese proverb says, one begins with a first small step.
The Catholic Church in the United States has travelled far since the days in the 18th Century when its 30,000 members were considered almost social outcasts. At its present pace, increase, and growing weight, not many years will go by before no single department of American life will not be directly or indirectly influenced by the Catholic Church. Catholicism in the United States, being on the increase in geometrical proportion, is geometrically seeping through the economic, social, moral, educational and political life of the country.
[Three in every 16 Americans is a Catholic ( 1949). About 43 Negroes became Catholics in the United States every day during 1946. Catholics represent about one-fourth of the entire Indian population of the United States. America's most Catholic cities are: Boston, leading with 75.3 per cent Catholic population, New Orleans 66 per cent, Providence 56.7, Syracuse 53.5, Jersey City 53.2, Buffalo 52, Detroit 47.2, Chicago 40.8, Philadelphia 29.5, and New York only 22.6 per cent.]
If the Catholic Church can exercise such a remarkable influence now, when, although a formidable unit, it is still a minority, what will be its power a few decades hence?
The increase of the United States of America's stature in world politics will increase the stature of American Catholicism. An increased American Catholicism will mean growing Catholic pressure on the internal structure of American society.
How much of such pressure will the fast-disintegrating Protestant Churches stand? For how long would the Constitution be left unaltered and the separation of Church and State be allowed to remain one of the fundamental pillars of the United States?
If, parallel to this, American Catholic pressure should continue to grow also within the secretive walls of the Vatican itself, so that out of the coming Conclaves there should emerge the first of the American Popes, how soon would the Catholic Church conquer America?
[As far back as 1945 there were rumors that Mgr. Spellman might be Papal Secretary of State (Vatican Radio, 16.6.1945). Since the nomination of more American Cardinals, certain Vatican circles do not "exclude" the possibility of an "American Pope."]
We live in a century where many seemingly impossible speculations have already become pulsating realities. In the past the Catholic Church has performed miracles. Will it still be able to perform one in this our twentieth century, and transform the United States into a Catholic America?
THE VATICAN, LATIN AMERICA, JAPAN, AND CHINA
The importance of the close friendship between the Vatican and the White House is greatly magnified when one turns one's eyes south- wards, to Central and South America. There, in contrast to the case of the United States of America, the Catholic Church does not set out to conquer, at it has already converted Central and South American countries into a solid Catholic bloc, the lives of individuals as well as of the various States conforming to the ethics and practice of Catholicism.
But, apart from the fact that in Central and South America the Catholic Church is the supreme force around which life revolves, these areas are important in the eyes of the Vatican as instruments which strengthen its bargaining power in the international field of politics. This became especially true with regard to the Vatican and the United States of America before and during the Second World War. In the years before the war one of the most cherished external policies of President Roosevelt was the creation of a compact Pan-American bloc, comprising the North, Central, and South American peoples. This would present a common front to non-American Powers agreed on a continental policy directed towards safeguarding the general security of all the American na -tions. Such a policy may have been pursued merely because it to a great extent guaranteed the security of the United States of America; but whether Roosevelt set himself the task of strengthening the moral position of the United States of America as leader of the Americas, or whether he was motivated by a genuine desire to unite the American nations for their common benefit, is immaterial to the relationship between the Vatican and the Americas. The fact remains that, in carrying out this policy, President Roosevelt realized that the friendship of the Vatican was essential if he was to rally the Central and South American countries to his project.
The success of his "Good Neighbor" policy depended upon the amount of support he could get from the Pope. This was thoroughly discussed when the Papal Representative, Cardinal Pacelli, visited Roosevelt in 1936, for, besides the other issues we have already mentioned, both the President and the Cardinal wanted to determine how far they could co-operate in the international sphere. As the Vatican at that time was pursuing a policy of establishing Authoritarianism wherever it could, especially in countries where the majority of the population was Catholic, this policy not only covered Europe, but extended to the American Continent and included Central and South America.
It was no mere coincidence that before the war in Spain broke out, the Vatican sent Cardinal Pacelli in 1934 on a triumphant tour of South America. After his departure from these countries the immediate effect was a visible strengthening of Authoritarianism. Catholic Fascist movements based on the Italian model emerged, and Catholic religious and lay advocates of the Corporate State became vociferous. A more intensive campaign was launched against the common enemy of civil and religious power—the Socialist ideology in its various degrees.
These were the heydays of the joint promotion of Fascist-Catholic Authoritarianism which seemed destined to characterize the century.
The White House, although in disagreement with the Catholic Church's support of this tendency in Latin America, closed an eye to it, provided it could obtain the Vatican's co-operation in persuading Latin America to favor the United States of America's "Good Neighbor" policy. In return the United States of America would comply with the Vatican's wish to deprive the Spanish Republic of necessary armaments (as already seen). Further, as the Vatican had influenced the Catholic vote in the Presidential election and would eventually advise the American Hierarchy to support Roosevelt's administration, the United States of America would do everything possible to re-establish diplomatic relations with Rome.
The Vatican kept the influence it could exercise in Latin America in the balance when dealing with Roosevelt, not only before, but also during, the war. Before the United States of America's entry into the conflict, and while the Vatican was counting on a Fascist victory, the most vociferous elements in the whole American Continent in their hostility towards any move to help the democracies were the Catholics. They were amongst the most obdurate Isolationists, and after Russia was attacked ( June 1941) they became the bitterest enemies of Roosevelt's policy owing to their (and naturally the Vatican's) hatred of the Atheistic Soviets.
When, however, success no longer followed the Fascist dictatorships, and it became evident who the victors would be, Latin America, although still bitter about the Anglo-American partnership with Russia, fell quickly into line with Roosevelt's policy. This compliance was shown by the forming of a united Western hemisphere, by declaring war on the Axis, and by sending help in food, money, and men to the Allies. Not only the natural desire to side with the victor, but also pressure from the Vatican, persuaded the Latin nations to take such a step. This increased the bargaining power of the Vatican with the United States, which the Pope wanted to influence to follow a given course with the other Western democracies in their policy towards Soviet Russia and the settlement of a post- war social and political order in Europe.
Latin America, seen from this point of view, was, and still is, a great instrument in the global policy of the Vatican—an instrument which has been employed for definite political reasons, not only on the occasion just mentioned, but also in numerous earlier instances, such as the one already given, when during the Abyssinian War the Vatican greatly influenced the Latin-American Republics, at the League of Nations, to vote for measures which would not impede Mussolini from prosecuting his attack on Ethiopia, or when, during the Spanish Civil War, Rome exerted all its influence to paralyse the Spanish Republic.
The extent to which the Vatican can influence Latin America, at first seeming impossible, is the logical sequence of the repercussions which an overpowering spiritual authority can exercise on ethical, social, and political matters. We have seen this process at work in practically all the events which we have so far examined in this book. We have witnessed it in several countries of Europe where only a minority of the population are active Catholics and where Governments were openly hostile to the Catholic Church.
If, in spite of hostility, the Catholic Church, for good or for evil, can influence the internal and external policies of these countries, how much easier it must be for it to wield political power where it has ruled and continues to rule practically unchallenged! For it must be remembered that Latin America is pervaded from top to bottom with the spirit and ethics of the Catholic Church. Except for a small minority, the whole population of a Latin-American Republic is born, is nurtured, and dies, in an atmosphere of Catholicism. Even those who do not practise the religion cannot escape the effects of a society in which the Catholic Church permeates all strata, from the economic to the cultural, from the social to the political.
Whether the widespread illiteracy which still pervades Latin America is due mainly to the Catholic Church or to other causes, we cannot tell. The fact remains, however, that in South America there is more illiteracy than in any other region inhabited by a white race.
To quote only a few figures: At the outbreak of the Second World War ( 1939) Europe and the U.S.S.R., which still had enormous backward areas, had about 8 per cent illiteracy. Japan, which less than a century before had been one of the most illiterate countries, by 1935 had the lowest percentage of illiteracy in the whole world—namely, 1 per cent. In contrast to this, their neighbors, where Catholicism had been prominent for centuries—namely, the Philippines—still had 35 per cent illiteracy, while Mexico, one of the most progressive Latin-American countries, had to cope with 45 per cent illiteracy, in spite of the enormous efforts of her Government. Brazil, the largest South American country, in 1939 had more than 60 per cent, coming third in illiteracy to the Netherlands East Indies, with 97 per cent, and British India with 90 per cent.
In this state of affairs the Church is allied with those elements of a social and economic nature whose interest it is to maintain the status quo as long as possible—or at least with as little change as possible. An illiterate populace gives tremendous force to Catholi cism, enabling it to dominate the internal and external conduct of Latin America as a whole.
Although Latin America is completely under the spell of the Catholic Church, this does not mean that there are no forces which work against its spiritual dominion. On the contrary, more than one explosion has taken place in which the hostile forces involved gave no quarter to their enemies. The leading country against the dominion of the Catholic Church in Latin America has been, and still is, Mexico. There the Church, which for centuries exercised a stranglehold on all forms of life, was compelled, in the decades between the two world wars, to take a less prominent part and to confine its activities to the purely religious field. Its monopoly in education and culture, and its enormous wealth, were forcibly taken from it. The Mexican progressive forces, in fact, did exactly what the Spanish Republic did a few years later. As in the case of Spain, the Catholic Church reacted by starting a most destructive Civil War, which tore the country for several years, marking the third decade of this century ( 1920-30) with risings, mutinies, sand assassinations, engineered by Catholic generals, priests, and laymen against the legal Governments, some members of religious Orders going so far as to incite lay Catholics to kill the head of the Republic, an incitement which bore fruit when a most devout member of the Church, after direct instigation by the Mother Superior of a Convent, murdered the Mexican President, General Alvaro Obregon ( July 17, 1928); while in the foreign field the Church did not hesitate to invoke the intervention of the United States of America.
[The new President had been elected on July 1, 1928. He was murdered the day following his declaration that the Church had to be blamed for the Civil War. Ex-President Calles himself went to question the murderer, who declared that he was made to take the President's life by "Christ our Lord, in order that religion may prevail in Mexico." To numerous American press men the murderer stated: "I killed General Obregon because he was the instigator of the persecution of the Catholic Church." At his trial he confessed that the Mother Superior of the Convent of Espirito Santo had "inspired" his crime.]
The influence of the American Hierarchy and the pressure of the American oil companies expropriated by the Mexican Government together were so strong that at one moment the United States of America seriously considered intervening, under the pretext of annual manoeuvres at the Mexican border, and war correspondents were warned to be in readiness. The alliance of the Catholic Church and the North American oil concerns, both of whom had great wealth to defend in Mexican territory, almost succeeded. This campaign continued, although with less virulence and good luck, until the first term of President Roosevelt.
The Vatican's attempts to enlist foreign secular help to crush the Mexican Secular Government were in vain, as Roosevelt was convinced that he could not interfere in the internal affairs of Mexico without alarming the already suspicious Latin-American countries and thus imperilling his "Good Neighbor" policy. Accordingly the Vatican, on the return of Cardinal Pacelli from his American tour in 1936, resorted to the only means left—the initiation of a Catholic authoritarian political movement in Mexico.
The movement came into the open in 1937, under the name of La Union Nacional Sinarquista, later called Sinarquism. It was a mixture of Catholic dictatorship on the model of Franco's, of Fascism, Nazism, and the Ku-Klux-Klan. It had a sixteen-point program. It openly declared war on democracy and all other enemies of the Catholic Churoh, and had as its main object the restoration of the Catholic Church to its former power.
Its members were mostly devout Catholics, amongst whom were priests and even bishops, and it was soon recognized as "the most dangerous Fascist movement in Latin America"—so much so that even Catholic papers declared that "if Sinarquism succeeded in its purpose of increasing its numbers considerably, there is real danger of civil war" (The Commonweal and Catholic Herald, August 4, 1944). By 1943-4 it was reckoned that it had between a million and one and a half million members.
The movement, it should be noted, sprang up at the same time as Father Coughlin was preparing the ground for a similar movement in the United States of America. Simultaneously, in practically all the other Latin-American countries, Fascist and semi-Fascist movements were being created in imitation of their European counterparts; and the Civil War in Spain was proceeding on its fateful course.
This Totalitarianism, unlike that which had previously characterized Latin-American political life, had taken definite shape and an ideological formula with startling abruptness. The sudden wave of
Catholic-Fascist Authoritarianism sweeping Latin America from South to North was no mere coincidence; it was but the extension of the policy which the Vatican had been pursuing in Europe.
This system of Catholic Totalitarianism, extending from the Argentine to the United States of America, was to render great service to the Vatican's world policy before, and above all during, the Second World War. For all these countries, being under the same central spiritual direction, had to support a given policy—namely, that promulgated by the Vatican. Thus, as before the war, the policy of Catholic American Authoritarianism was one of sympathy with the Fascist countries of Europe, so with the outbreak of the war their affinity with Fascism increased. Their help did not remain only theoretical, but passed into the field of practical politics.
The Catholic Church, during the first two years of the Second World War, supported Fascism and thus directly and indirectly saw to it that forces outside Europe—in this case in the Americas—did not impede the establishment of an authoritarian Europe. To achieve this purpose it managed in such a way that those American elements which wanted to help the Western democracies should not fulfill their aims.
An Isolationist campaign was started throughout the Western hemisphere, the main purpose of which was to let Europe solve its own problems. It was believed that, as Nazism and Fascism had the upper hand, they would win the war. This American Isolationism, which was to a certain extent natural enough, was advocated by various sections of Latin and North American society very little concerned with religion, and was enormously strengthened by the weight of the Catholic Church.
In fact, the case for American Isolationism was expounded by Catholics—this not only in Latin America, but significantly enough in the United States of America as well. Catholicism became the very backbone of Isolationism. Suffice it to give a few examples.
The Jesuit magazine America, on JULY 19, 1940, amongst other things, declared:
Is it the fixed purpose of the President ... to bring this country into an undeclared war against Germany and Italy? As the Archbishop of Cincinnati has said, we have no moral justification for making war against nations.... It is no part of our duty to prepare armaments to be used in England's aid.
The center of Catholic Isolationism was Father Coughlin, who, talking about Nazi Germany, said:
Perhaps, nothing is greater proof of the rottenness of the "empire-system" than that one single unified, clean-living people, fired by an ideal to liberate the world once and for all from an orientalist gold-debt slave system of finance, can march tireless over nation after nation, and bring two great empires to their knees.
He went even farther, and in Social Justice declared:
Great Britain is doomed and should be doomed. There is no danger of Hitler threatening the United States. We should build armaments for the purpose of crushing Soviet Russia, in co-operation with the Christian Totalitarian States: Italy, Germany, Spain, and Portugal (quoted by League of Human Rights Bulletin, Cleveland, Ohio).
This, in a nutshell, was the main purpose of American Isolationism —whether of the North or South American brand—as supported by Catholic extremists. The American Hierarchy, at a time when Hitler was marching from one military success to another, raised the slogan "Leave Europe to God," and several dignitaries, including Monsignor Duffy, of Buffalo, went so far as to declare that if the United States of America should ever become an ally of Soviet Russia they would publicly ask Catholic soldiers to refuse to fight.
In the United States of America this sort of Isolationism was silenced by Pearl Harbor in December 1941, but in Latin America it persisted until almost the very end of the war. It diminished only after the Vatican had openly sided with the Western Powers and when the United States of America brought pressure to bear upon the South American States, which by the end of 1944, or spring of 1945, hastened to declare war on the Axis.
With the defeat of Fascism in Europe, Catholic Authoritarianism in the Americas, although not so blatant as in the heyday of Mussolini and Hitler, was, nevertheless, as active as ever. This especially with regard to Latin America, where the various Fascist and semi- Fascist movements, subdued for only a short while, openly resumed their activities, in unison with the last citadel of Catholic Fascism in Europe—namely, Franco's Spain.
We have already mentioned the plan for the creation of a Latin bloc under the aegis of Hitler's New Order. The heir of such a plan during the last years of the Second World War automatically became Spanish Fascism, which, incidentally, had entertained similar ideas since its very creation. This scheme was mainly directed to Latin America, and in the dawn of peace it once more became active. The impetus it received was not drawn from native sources alone, but from the great idea of a Spanish-Latin bloc, linked and directed by the Iberian Fascism of Franco.
The chief plan of this surviving Fascism in Latin America was that of merging all Nazi-Fascist-Falangist movements throughout Central and South America. This activity was carried out mainly through Franco's Falange Exterior and the various other diplomatic and cultural organizations in America, whose task became that of linking the Spanish Falange, the Portuguese Legiao in the Iberian Peninsula, and the Latin Fascist movements in America. The Falange in Cuba, for instance, was linked up with Mexican Sinarquismo and with the coups d'état which in Argentina, and then in Brazil, followed the end of the Second World War.
In the last-named country President Vargas was thrown out of office by General Goes Monteiro, who, during the war, was so openly pro-Nazi Germany and so keen a supporter of Fascism that when Brazil finally joined the Allies he had to "resign" from the post of Commander-in-Chief of the Brazilian Army.
To show how the Vatican was behind this trend in Brazil, suffice it to say that it went so far as to excommunicate a Catholic bishop:
I was excommunicated [said the Bishop] for my exposure of the Hispanidad movement in the Brazilian See and in other American countries. Hispanidad is the Falange in action.
In the organization were representatives of the Spanish and Portuguese Fascist Parties, the Legião and the Falange. The leader of the organization in Brazil was Ramon Cuesta, the Spanish Ambassador, who directed all Falangist activities in South America from Rio de Janeiro. Cuesta maintained contact with the whole of America, organizing a movement aimed at the creation of Franco's Iberian "Empire." Political Imperialism is trying to survive in the Americas under the leadership of the Vatican and Franco. (Mgr. C. Duarte Costa, Rio de Janeiro, July 1945.)
Spanish-Catholic-South American Fascism had the control of a string of seven important and a dozen minor newspapers in Havana, Bogota, Quito, Mexico City, Santiago, Caracas, and Panama City.
By October 1945 the "Latin bloc" had started to move as a well- organized Catholic Fascist movement, closely linking continent with continent. In the years following the Second World War the Catholicity of Latin America was stressed more energetically than ever before both by the Church and by the various Governments, with the result that the Vatican's influence continued to grow rapidly. This caused Catholic social doctrines supporting Authoritarianism to be embodied in the legislation of the countries concerned. The following examples are typical: The Brazilian Parliament decreed that a speech delivered in Rio de Janeiro in 1934 by Pius XII, when Papal delegate, should be written on a bronze plaque and affixed to the wall of the Chamber ( September, 1946). The new Constitution of Brazil officially made Catholicism the State religion, at the same time prohibiting divorce and making it compulsory that the name of God be invoked in the preamble of the Constitution (August— September 1946). The new President of Colombia, immediately after his election, hastened to express his "determination" to govern only according to the principles of the Papal encyclicals ( August 1946)—the same principles, the reader should remember, as had been adopted by Mussolini, Franco, Salazar, and other Fascist dictators.
What was the intention of all this plotting to unite Catholic Spain, Portugal, and all the Central and South American countries into a racial, religious, and linguistic authoritarian unit? Was it meant as a reaction to the predominance of Protestant United States of America in the Western hemisphere, of England and, above all, Soviet Russia in Europe? Or was it but the first step in the post-Second- World-War period leading to the resurrection of a pugnacious Fascism? Only the future will tell. The fact that it existed and that it became so active immediately after Fascism was defeated in Europe shows that the real motive behind it all was that the Vatican had resumed in earnest its great plan of organizing Catholic Authoritarianism in the Western hemisphere to counterbalance, in due time, a revolutionary Europe.
It is evident. therefore, that the Catholic Church, by directing a given political trend towards an international issue—e.g., the Abyssinian War, Spanish Civil War, and Second World War—can influence the course of events on a continental, indeed on a global, scale and exert pressure on great countries which consider it useful to align the Church's friendship on their side.
In this case the Vatican had at its disposal, for use as an instru -ment in world and domestic policy within more than one country, all the Catholic Churches on the American Continent. These it employed to bargain with Roosevelt in the attempt to keep the United States of America and Latin America out of the war and to make the Allies check Soviet Russia and Communism in Europe. In short, the Vatican steered American Catholicism on a set path in order to strengthen its policy in Europe against Soviet Russia, and against the spreading of the Socialist ideology while at the same time supporting Right-wing Authoritarianism wherever possible.
South and Central America, however, would lose much of their importance as Catholic countries and, above all, as bargaining weight used by the Vatican in the field of international politics if they were not guided by the leading country of the American Continent, the United States of America. For the United States of America has all the appearances of maintaining its position as one of the most powerful countries—if not of becoming the most powerful country—of the world.
As economic and financial strength automatically import political strength, it is easy to see that the dominating Church in the United States of America would greatly benefit abroad by the immense prestige of an all-powerful nation. This, in turn, would make it easier for that Church to further its spiritual interest. The Vatican designs to conquer the United States of America, not only as such, but also as the leader of the Americas and the potential leader of American Catholicism.
When contemplating the strides being made by the Catholic Church in the United States of America, and keeping in mind this scheme embracing the whole Continent, it is easy to see the important place of Latin America. Latin America will simply reinforce the dynamism of United States of America Catholicism. This, in turn, will impart vitality to the rather easy-going Catholicism of South America by introducing not merely a North American Catholic policy, but a Continental American Catholic policy to confront interContinental issues. That is the real pivot on which the Vatican's policy towards the United States of America revolves.
By creating a powerful Catholicism within the United States of America aiming eventually to conquer the country, the Catholic Church is attempting to align the whole American Continent in a powerful Catholic bloc, to counter-oppose not only a semi-Atheist and revolutionary Europe, but also a fermenting and restless Asia. For it is there that the two great forces, economic and ideological, ultimately will clash. These forces, represented in the eyes of the Catholic Church by Soviet Russia and Communism on the one hand, and by the Western Powers, led by the United States of America, on the other hand, had already begun an unofficial war decades before the outbreak of the two world wars.
The conflict in the years to come will assume a more acute form, and as the Vatican has great interests in Asia, it follows that it will befriend any Power hostile to Russia and Communism. This long- range policy has been slowly unfolding itself, especially since the beginning of the post-Second World War, and has been based on friendship with an expanding United States of America.
The Vatican's policy in Asia, although based on the furtherance of Catholicism, was strongly influenced, in the period between the two world wars, by the general policy of the Catholic Church in Europe. It favored any individual, movement, or nation ready to make an alliance with it and to grant it privileges and help in fighting the common enemy—Bolshevism.
This policy was initiated in Asia in the years following the First World War, when the Catholic Church, which previously had merely tried to expand, looked for non-religious Allies to cope with the Red bogy it had already encountered in Europe. For the geographical proximity of Soviet Russia to such huge human conglomerations as Japan, China, and India, and the awakening of the Asiatic people to the spreading Bolshevik ideology, had begun to alarm the various elements whose interests lay in the checking of such a danger.
The nation which above all others could become a useful partner to the Catholic Church was Japan. This owing to the following factors. First, Japan was an independent country, capable of an independent domestic and foreign policy. Secondly, it was clear that Japan intended to expand over China, where the Vatican had interests to protect. Thirdly, Japan was the natural enemy of Russia, especially since the Red Revolution.
This last factor was of paramount importance to the creation of good relations between the Vatican and Japan, for it meant that both, dreading the same enemy—the one for racial, economic, and political, the other for ideological and religious, reasons—had common ground on which to collaborate in Asia.
Such collaboration began when, following Japan's first aggression in Manchuria in 1931, the Vatican noticed with pleasure that the Japanese in the newly occupied territories were making it their chief task ruthlessly to stamp out Bolshevism. This was of the greatest importance from the Vatican's viewpoint, for the existence of Chinese Communist bands roaming about chaotic China had meanwhile brought the Bolshevik menace in Asia nearer than ever.
From that time onwards the Vatican's intercourse with Japan— which officially dated back as far as 1919, when an Apostolic Delegation was first created in Tokyo—became more and more cordial, especially since the Japanese territorial expansion and the consolidation of that peculiar brand of Japanese Authoritarianism at home.
It may have been coincidence, but it should be noted that the relationship between the Vatican and Japan became closer at the beginning of the fourth decade of the century, when Fascism and Nazism were consolidating themselves in Europe and the Pope had begun his first great campaign against Bolshevism, and Japan set about liquidating the Liberal and democratic forces in Japan itself, while committing its first aggression against Manchuria.
This friendship continued to improve, especially when a full-scale war began, in 1936, between Japan and China and the Japanese gained control of vast regions in its neighbor's country. It was strengthened when Nazi Germany and Japan drew up an intercontinental plan and signed the Anti-Comintern Pact ( 1936), thanks to which the arch-enemy of both—namely, Soviet Russia—was closed in from the East and the West by these two formidable countries.
In the eyes of the Catholic Church, Japan was to be the Germany of the East, the destroyer of Bolshevism in Asia and the mortal enemy of Soviet Russia.
Japan was not slow in realizing the usefulness of the Catholic Church, and when she overran vast Chinese territories she gave promises to respect Catholic missions and even grant them privileges when possible.
The Catholic Church, on the other hand, to ingratiate herself with the Japanese overlords, went very far, even in matters of religious and moral principles. Such an attitude was most remarkable, especially when the Japanese rulers, to enhance the Authoritarianism of a country ready to declare war on the West, passed a law declaring that all Japanese subjects had to pay homage to the Mikado. This naturally affected the 120,000 Catholics in Japan, and the Vatican at first objected to it, stating that is was contrary to the doctrines of Catholicism. But its protests were short-lived and it soon consented, having forgotten the early Christians who died just because they refused to obey laws such as this one.
When the Second World War broke out the Vatican and Japan drew still closer, for the Catholic Church was hoping that the policy of the Anti-Comintern Pact would at last yield results. But when Hitler struck against Russia the joy of the Vatican was only half what it might have been; for Japan, instead of attacking from the East, as had been hoped, followed a plan of her own and hit at Pearl Harbor, thus drawing the United States of America into the war.
The Vatican, however, making the best of the situation, was soon consoled by the incredible advances of Japan in the East. It seemed as if, after all, the partners of the Anti-Comintern Pact would win the war. By 1942 Hitler was at the gates of Moscow, Leningrad, and Stalingrad, while Japan had occupied Singapore, Hong Kong, and overrun immense territories.
It was at this moment, when Nazi Germany and Japan seemed victorious, Russia prostrated, and the Western Powers on the brink of defeat, that the Vatican established diplomatic relations with Tokyo ( March 1942). "The establishment of friendly relations and of direct contact between Japan and the Vatican assumes a particular significance," declared, at that time, the Japanese Foreign Minister. The "particular significance" was duly noticed in Washington and Moscow. On representations from President Roosevelt the Vatican pointed out that the Catholic Church had its spiritual interests to consider. Many Catholic soldiers had fallen prisoners, numerous Catholic missions were in territories occupied by the Japanese, and the Philippines were more than 9 per cent Catholic. Above all, the Vatican was neutral; therefore its duty was to improve the already excellent relationship which had existed during the previous ten years (that is, since the first Japanese attack on Manchuria, 1931).
One of the main reasons for the continual scurrying of Myron Taylor to the Vatican was the intimate friendship between Rome and Tokyo, and more than once the otherwise cordial relationship of Pius XII and Roosevelt was marred by this fact. Such was the case, for instance, when Portugal was on the brink of declaring war on Japan because the latter had refused to evacuate Timor ( October 1943), and the Vatican exercised its influence on Catholic Salazar and persuaded him to remain neutral. This impeded the plans of the Allies, who anxiously awaited Portuguese participation because of the naval bases which her entry would have put at their disposal for fighting the serious menace of the "U"-boats. As a compromise, Salazar leased the Azores to the Western Powers, after Roosevelt had brought pressure to bear upon Portugal through the Vatican.
Japan, as promised, treated the Catholic Church with special consideration as regards its missions. To quote a typical instance, while Protestants were interned or imprisoned, Catholic priests and nuns were left free and even helped. In 1944, in the Philippines alone, there were 528 Protestant missionaries interned, 130 in China, and 10 in Japan (Presbyterian Church Times, October 28, 1944), while, to quote the magazine America, of JANUARY 8, 1944: "Eighty per cent to 90 per cent of our priests, nuns, and brothers (Catholics) in the Orient have remained at their posts. Their number is about 7,500. The remaining 10 per cent, most of them American, were allowed to return home in safety."
But the eventual defeat in the West spelled defeat in the East. Nazi Germany's capitulation meant Japan's capitulation. Left alone, battered by the power of the United States of America, shattered by the first atomic bomb which pulverized Hiroshima, then attacked by Soviet Russia ( August 9, 1945), she finally sued for peace.
The bastion against Bolshevism and Soviet Russia, which the Vatican had hoped would save Asia, had crumbled in the East as the bastion of Nazi Germany had fallen a few months before in the West. The failure of a policy on two continents completed the failure of the Vatican's world policy. So far as the rather strained relationship between the Vatican and China is concerned, ironically enough it became more cordial after Rome had established diplomatic relations with Japan, this chiefly due to the fact that the Chinese Government, as soon as the Vatican-Tokyo exchange of diplomats was effected, took steps to see that regular diplomatic contacts should likewise be established between her and Rome.
The Vatican put forward endless objections, which, however, were overruled when the American Hierarchy, and, above all, Washington, pointed out that it would be in the general interests of the Catholic Church in China and in the United States of America to incur the momentary displeasure of Japan by exchanging representatives with Chunking. It was thus that in June 1942 the first Chinese Minister was appointed to the Vatican. Although this was done more to appease the United States of America than for anything else ( China, in the eyes of the Vatican, being merely a part of the great policy it was conducting with regard to Germany in Europe and Japan in Asia), the possibility of a German-Japanese defeat played no mean part in the Vatican's decision to take such a step. For the Catholic Church had to consider the interests of well over 3,000,000 Catholics scattered in Chinese regions and of a comparatively flourishing young Church which, by the end of the Second World War, comprised 4,000 priests, 12,000 sisters and brothers, and a lay staff of about 100,000, made up mainly of teachers, doctors, and catechists.
Moreover, the Vatican, after the First World War, had begun a drive to establish a native hierarchy, and by the end of the Second World War had succeeded in assigning to various Chinese dioceses more native bishops than there were in any other non-Western country. Such a policy, which it had adopted with regard to its missions in Africa and Asia—namely, the creation of native hierarchies and priesthoods—assumed particular meaning in China. It was thought that thereby not only could the brand of "foreign" as applied to the Catholic Church be overcome, but the spreading of the Bolshevik ideology amongst the Chinese masses, and even Chinese Christians, could best be combated. This was one of the common grounds on which the Vatican and Chiang-Kai-shek reached an early understanding, although considerations of a more far-reaching policy in Asia prevented a closer relationship between the Catholic Church and the Chinese Government.
With the turning tide of war, however, the Vatican and Chiang- Kai-shek co-operated even more closely, and the former—once it was certain that there was no hope of a Japanese victory—began ostensibly to court the Chinese Generalissimo. This, not only to safeguard the Church's interests in China, but, above all, because, with the disappearance of the anti-Communist Japanese Army, the only instrument left in Asia for checking Bolshevism was the Chinese Army under Chiang-Kai-shek. [These friendly relations were consolidated by the Pope's official appointment of a Papal nuncio to China ( July 1946).]
It was thus that with the final defeat of Japan the Catholic Church found itself on friendly terms with the Chinese Government, which, long before the Japanese armies in China had officially surrendered, began a grand-scale campaign against the Chinese Communist armies in the north.
Such was the policy which, in addition to fitting in harmoniously with the general plan of the Vatican and running parallel with that of the United States of America, linked, in a bond of common interest of national, economic, and religious character, the Chinese Government of Chiang-Kai-shek, the United States of America, with her great commercial interests in Asia, and the Catholic Church, bent on safeguarding its spiritual conquests; all three being united in checking, and eventually attempting to destroy, the menace of an ideology inimical to their interests.
[ Continue to Ch. 20 ]