From Our Own Correspondent
Something in the nature of a milepost in Catholic history in America was passed when Dr. Hiram W. Evans, former Imperial Wizard of the violently antiCatholic Ku Klux Klan, accepted an invitation to the dedication of the co-cathedral of Atlanta, Georgia, extended by Mgr. O'Hara, Bishop of Atlanta.
Dr. Evans, who headed the Klan during one of its most violent and virulent periods just after the World War, accepted Mgr_ O'Hara's invitation with " great pleasure."
Photos of the event show Dr. Evans beaming benevolently at his companions, Cardinal Dougherty, of Philadelphia, the dedicator, and Mgr. O'Hara.
Dr. Evans's presence at the dedication was hailed by an Atlanta minister as " one of the greatest triumphs over intolerance that I have ever seen."
Secular newspapers, which treated the event as a " man bites dog " sensation were not., however, able to describe the arduous and zealous work of Catholic clergy and laymen in Georgia which made such an event possible.
Atlanta, site of the co-cathedral, was once regarded as the unofficial headquarters of Southern Protestant bigotry and intolerance, an attitude
which found expression in the Ku Klux Klan, and was directed against Negroes, Catholics and Jews.
The Klan was the proclaimed defender of "Protestant white supremacy" in the United States, and, by publications and whispered propaganda, vigorously defended the United States "against the Vatican."
Rumours of a threatened invasion of the States by the Pope's fleet, too absurd to receive credence in any respectable community or newspaper, found ready believers in the backwoods of the South.
Believers in the Klan's mad myths were in the habit of examining "Papists" from a safe distance for signs of a tail or horns, or other indications of devilish inclinations.
While anti-Catholic prejudices in the big Southern cities, like Atlanta, did not go to such extremes, still Catholics found widespread ignorance about their faith, and definite and annoying prejudices alive.
The Truth About Catholics
To combat this ignorance, and make life more livable for Catholics in the South, the Laymen's League of Georgia, under the direction of Richard Reid, a veteran Catholic journalist, set out to tell the truth about Catholic belief and practice, and the fruit of their work, or a part of it, may be seen in Dr. Evans's presence at a cathedral dedication.
The Klan, exposed by crusading newspapers, and shaken by the imprisonment of some of its leaders on various grave charges, went into a sharp decline in the early twenties. Of late it is said that the Klan has dropped its racial and religious programme in favour of a programme against Communism.