Page 2, 20th April 1951

20th April 1951
Page 2
Page 2, 20th April 1951 — THE CHURCH AND SLAVERY

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Organisations: Beaufort Court
Locations: Surrey, Charleston


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A Reply to Mr. Arnold Lunn

Sir,-In your issue Of September 2, 1949, you published a list of fourteen factual errors made by Mr. Arnold Lunn, with detailed references to Mr. Lunn's books and to the authorities quoted by me. Mr. Lunn has at last written to you (April 6, 1951) to explain that he has been unable to spare the time necessary to check the accuracy of my criticisms. He had, however, submitted his case to ,'a learned historian and theologian" and now agrees that " one or two" of his statements (unspecified) were incorrect. Concerning the other twelve or thirteen errors he has apparently not yet made up his mind,, but he has no difficulty in deciding that I am wrong, and blandly expresses his surprise that I have not written to you to confess that some of my criticisms (unspecified) " were obviously at fault." But he does not accept hia historian's verdict or quote from his letter. If he did so he would have to admit that on several points where there is no possibility of qualification or compromise, he says simply, " Mr.

Walsh is correct." But not once does he say, " Mr. Lunn is correct."

The historian disagrees definitely with me on only one issue the interpretation of Pope Gregory XVI's letter. De Nigritarum Com Thereto. My opinion is based on that of Bishop John England. first Bishop of Charleston, U.S.A. Having discussed the matter with the other Bishops of the slave-holding States of the U.S.A., and with His Holiness Pope Gregory himself, he bad no hesitation in stating that Pope Gregory's letter condemned the traffic in negroes but did not condemn slavery, as for example, it existed in the U.S.A. where there were still millions of negro slaves. (Letters 1 and 2 of his "Letters to the Hon. John Forsyth." 1840.) He went on to prove, in the whole series of letters, that the Church had never condemned slavery.

On four points Mr. Lunn's correspondent had no information or no access to my authorities, and it is regrettable that amongst these is the most important question Of all: "Is it true that the Popes were slave owners until the end of the 18th century?" I have been unable to find reason to doubt the reliability of Fr. Guglielmotti, of whom Pastor speaks highly and whose work was printed by the Vatican Press; and I am .bound to admit that a careful study of the first nine books of his "Storia della Marina Pontificia " has convinced me of the truth of the statement. And it is obvious that as long as the Popes themselves' were slave-owners they could not have condemned slavery.

In his final paragraph Mr. Lunn, " still in the mountains." makes

another appeal for help. Meanwhile his books are still being sold with no indication whatever that on the subject of slavery they are completely unreliable.

Moues Weems.

28 Beaufort Court, Ham, Richmond, Surrey.

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