Page 1, 18th July 1941

18th July 1941
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Page 1, 18th July 1941 — Catholics in America Divided

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Catholics in America Divided

Over the Russian Issue


The reaction of American Catholics to the Russian war is divided, according to our New York correspondent. He states, however, that the general impression is unfavourable and puzzled, and that the cause of isolationists has been helped.

Supporting the British point of view are the fifteen Catholic names (whose statement was published in the Catholic Herald last week), but " they belong to a group, originally twice as numerous," and Bishop Hurley, whose influence is due to his long sojourn in Rome as a prelate of the Papal Secretariate.

In a broadcast on the Columbia network, Mgr. Hurley attacked the " small but noisy" group of Catholic publicists who comfort the Axis Powers.

"The Nazi remains the No. .1 enemy of America," he said. His speech, however, Was described as "totalitarian" in tone.

Elmer Murphy's "Washington Letter," a regular feature of the N.C.W.C. news service, subscribed to by most of the American Catholic press, is non-committal, stating the general Washington opinion :

From Our Own Correspondent


Probably the majority of American Catholics have been unfavourably impressed by the decision of Mr. Churchill and Mr. Roosevelt to help Soviet Russia. About the same percentage of the Catholics was opposed to the United States entering the war: now it is strongly opposed to doing so. One can see that from the Catholic newspapers.

I have not come across one which advocates entry into the war by Josef Stalin's side. Editors, and people who write letters to the editors, are in full accord. A correspondent in the Bronx asks indignantly: " Shall the hard-earned money of American Christians be sent to help godless Soviet Russia under the Lend-Lease Bill?" And a Brooklyn reader remarks that " if the American people had gone into the war to aid the pro-British war-makers, they would now be an ally of Stalin, the sworn enemy of God."

One of the interventionist leaders said: " We shall have to re-orientate ourselves." but the Catholic papers point out that they will not have to re-orientate themselves since they have all along opposed both Nazis and Communists. Quite justified was the boast that " your Catholic paper means more to you now than ever before," now that the war cause of democracy is associated with Moscow absolutism.

VIOLENCE TO OUR FEELINGS The Catholic War Veterans have formally asked the President to reconsider his " expressed intentions to act in the matter of assistance to godless Russia."

At a meeting in Brooklyn, the Rev. Dr. John A. O'Brien, of Notre Dame University, said that, " In asking the American people to turn our weapons against brave little Finland, the one country which has honoured its obligations to America, to maintain on his throne the worst butcher of Christians in the world. Churchill in his broadcast Sunday does violence to thc feelings of our people."

On the other hand, fifteen well-known Catholics advocated American aid for Soviet Russia. They belong to a group, originally about twice as numerous, who have come out several times in unqualified support of the administration. Seven of them are priests, six being of Irish descent. They quote a statement of Bishop Hurley, of St. Augustine, Fla., that Hitler is the Church's enemy number one, and " must be stopped even if that means that we and the Soviet are temporarily on the same side."

On Sunday, July 6, Bishop Hurley broadeast over the Columbia network an address on " Papal pronouncements and American Foreign Policy." Bishop Hurley has been strongly in favour of supporting the administration, and his long experience in the Papal Secretariatc lends his view authority, though he has only recently been made a Bishop. He is a Southerner, where interventionism is strongest.

OSTRICH SCHOOL OF STRATEGY Bishop Hurley attacked the " few Catholic publicists who have been giving expression to views which arc comforting to the Axis powers." This group he characterised as " small but noisy." Its members, he asserted, had " established a. crank school of economies " and were now engaged " in popularising the ostrich school of strayegy."

He maintained that the President alone had the right to make war, and that neither the people nor their Congress had any such


" Certainly not the people," he said, " for they have neither the experience nor access to the facts nor in many cases the understanding which are required. Nor does the Constitution demand it.

" I have an abiding faith in government by the people, but I do not believe that questions of national security in an epoch of crisis should be submitted directly to them. It would be a lumbering process involving fatal delay and fatal leakage of plans to potential enemies.


" Since the Nazi has from the first marked us as his enemy, it is well that we accept that fact, even though it has not yet pleased him to make war upon us. But by his policy of limited objectives, that policy by which he betrayed and enslaved the Continent, he is fast approaching the point of showdown with us. It will be folly if we do not appraise our whole relationship to

the Axis powers from the standpoint of strategy."

Bishop Hurley derided the idea that, since Hitler's attack upon the Soviet, the war had become a " holy crusade against communism." The Nazi remained the No. 1 enemy of America, he declared, and our decisions must be based purely upon strategic considerations.

Drawing a lesson from the plight of England, the Bishop asserted that if to-day Britain was fighting for time with her back against the wall it is because the 10,000,000 Britons who signed a round robin " for peace at almost any price " paralysed the military preparations of the nation.

THOSE FOOLISH BOYS AT OXFORD "And the boys at Oxford," he continued, " not unlike some of our own university men, voted to fight only on their own terms. It is all very well to say that they are now battling heroically for God and country. But it is opportune to recall that it was their stupidity which laid their island open to attack and brought them to the brink of disaster.

" Let us admire the English People In their magnificent penance, but let us not emulate their sin and folly."

Critics of Mgr. Hurley have called his speech totalitarian in toneā€”an interesting example of a critic of democracy coming out so strongly on the side of the Allies.

AMERICA IS ASLEEP Chairman Dies, the Congressman who presides over the anti-Communist Commission, says: " The tragedy is that our people, for the most part, do not appreciate the gravity of the situation, America is asleep.

" The severance of the Soviet-Nazi Alliance will mean that many people who quit the Communists alter the alliance of Germany and Russia was formed will return to their first affection.

" The influence of the Communist Party its America will increase tremendously as a result of the break between Hitler and Stalin. All of those gullibles and fellowtravellers in America who aided the Communist cause prior to the alliance may be expected to resume their activities in behalf of Moscow." Hierarchy and was read in some pulpits last Sunday.

" If the youth movement," the Bishops say, " is to achieve all that we hope for we must not be content to leave it'in the hands of those outside the Church, and perhaps do nothing ourselves more than criticise their well-intentioned efforts; it is essential that the Church throw all its weight into the task, and that priests, teachers, parents, and young people themselves do all they can to solve a problem which concerns the nation so vitally.

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