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Following are the texts of addresses delivered by prominent Catholic spokesmen in the nation-wide broadcast, under the auspices and origination of the Catholic University of America, Washington, carried by the Columbia and National Broadcasting Company chains on Wednesday evening, November 16, protesting against racial and religious persecution:
REV. MAURICE S. SHEEHY
The purpose of this program is to repeat a truth, a timely truth, that man made in the image and likeness of God has an intrinsic dignity which must be respected by governments and by rulers. In a sense, the world is growing smaller every day. Means of communication strengthen the bond of unity of the human race. What happens in Europe, in Asia, in Africa, affects us in America more profoundly than did similar events a century ago.
The world is witnessing a great tragedy in Europe today, and after sober, calm reflection, various groups and leaders of the Catholic Church have sought permission to raise their voices, not in mad hysteria, but in firm indignation against the atrocities visited upon the Jews in Germany. The Catholic, as indeed all Christians, believes in the fatherhood of God and the brotherhood of man. The Catholic likes his Jewish brother, because, as Pope Pius XI has pointed out, we are all spiritual Semites.
We Catholics in America also love the German people, those faithful, patient souls who have suffered much, so much that they preferred any sort of leadership to chaos.
The purpose of this program tonight is appeal particularly to the sentiments of those Christian heads in Germany who have remained true to the Divine Master in hard, cold times.
Our broadcast will begin on the West Coast where Archbishop John J. Mitty will speak; thence to the Midwest where the voice of Bishop Gannon will be heard. Bishop Ireton of Richmond, Va., will speak from Baltimore, and that fearless champion of religious tolerance, former Governor Alfred E. Smith, will address you from New York, and the concluding speaker will be the Rt. Rev. Msgr. Joseph M. Corrigan, rector of the Catholic University of America. The next voice you will hear will be that of Archbishop John J. Mitty, who will speak to you from San Francisco.
ARCHBISHOP JOHN J. MITTY
As Catholics, we have a deep and immediate sympathy with the Jewish men and women who are being lashed by the cruelty of a fierce persecution. They for racial reasons, and we for our religion, are writhing in Germany under the same intolerant power.
We sympathize for another reason. For more than two years our fellow-Catholics have suffered a parallel crucifixion in Spain, and our sympathy for them has largely been in silence. The facts were plain. They are vouched for by the unanimous testimony of the venerable body of Bishops of Spain. They witnessed and lived through horrors which they related in their joint letter to the world.
They told us of the destruction of churches, convents, schools, hospitals, institutions of charity. They saw the flames and the smoking ruins. They saw the artistic and architectural treasures of centuries reduced to ashes by the mad fury of diabolical hatred. They saw thousands of their own priests and innocent, helpless nuns murdered or driven naked like hounded beasts through the streets by crazed mobs, dead to decency and to the least tingle of human feeling. The government meanwhile connived or was incompetent and the fury went on.
We in this country read very little of this monstrous story whose record was written month after month in human blood. Somebody muzzled the correspondents; somebody controlled the cables; somebody closed the columns of our press.
The Mexican story of the long persecution of Catholics is a similar story of the persistent silence of our press and of our singular indifference as a neighboring people. Thank God at last a careless world has wakened up and knowing what is going on across the waters, denounces persecution of race or religion everywhere with one vast united voice that rings round the earth. It is the voice of a better humanity whose latent sense of justice, freedom and fellowship has at last been aroused by a fundamental appeal. These elements of justice, freedom and fellowship are the best in us. But there are other elements that belong to unregenerate human nature and these elements at their worst, when stirred to action, are diabolical. Force is external. It may repress or restrain these diabolical elements, but force cannot cure them. Unregenerate nature needs conversion, and conversion is a function of religion. It is an act of God’s mercy and persuasion.
The Divine Founder of the Christian faith gave us no promise of immunity from suffering in this life. “They have persecuted me; they will also persecute you.” He dealt with persecution in His own way.
He let it spend itself. He became its Victim and when to all human appearance it had conquered, it actually failed. His new life began. The life of His persecutors ended, and their hopes with it.
“They that take the sword shall perish by the sword.” Force is not the way. By all means let us remove the injustice and agony or at least lessen them, if we can. Let us give sympathy and help till the trial be over; but let us not be betrayed by revenge or temper or by any precipitant act put our trust in any form of force.
A few days since, we celebrated the recurrence of Armistice Day. Twenty years ago we laid away our implements of war, but we did little to lay away those inner things of mind and heart by which these weapons were designed and created and set in deadly action; and those creative powers of mind and heart have reasserted themselves again in all their evil, so that in this latest day of civilization the frontiers of every country are studded with all the massed instruments of death, and overhead the sky is black with the buzzards of war waiting for carrion. Here in the United States, thank God, we are at peace.
But are we, when we are willing to spend billions for what we call preparedness? How long will our peace last? Peace comes out of order; order out of law; law out of justice and justice is a virtue. It is eternal, a habit disposing the just man constantly to render to every other man what is his due. So we come back to the intelligence and the will to the inner sanctuary of the soul.
We need the sound development of both; we need knowledge, we need virtue. We are not beyond outbursts of violence and persecution in our own land. We have had the experience of Know-nothingism, the A.P.A. and the Ku Klux Klan. There are large masses of our population who have come to us from foreign lands, bringing with them the ideas and customs and traditions and prejudices of the countries that gave them birth. These and other large classes of our population may not impossibly be stirred up to frenzy and violence and propaganda, by the fanatic appeals of the agitators. All class feeling has in it the dangerous element that sets one man against another.
It may be hostile feeling against race or religion or economic conditions. Let us honestly search our own hearts and if we find this evil thing there, do our best in all our dealings with our fellowmen, in all the relations of life, to root it out of our being. Only by a more even justice, only by a wider sense of fellowship, only by a fuller life of brotherhood, can we integrate all our people into a nation that shall realize the vision of our founding fathers, a nation resting in security and peace on the eternal principles of immorality and religion. Justice exalteth a nation, sin maketh a nation miserable.
Ladies and Gentlemen: As a Catholic Bishop, I am not unacquainted with persecution. My own people in many nations and ages have felt the hard heel of powerful, brutal, political leaders. Persecution, like a crawling serpent, has raised its loathsome head in every age and among almost every race of men to the horror and paralyzing fright of those who look on.
All students of history have read about these dark periods of persecution. Passed in their examinations on such dismal chapters and then quickly dismissed the horrifying and sickening thoughts as common to some dark period of history, never to be experienced again in our so-called enlightened age.
Alas, in our very hour of existence on this old earth we, the most civilized, free and cultured, are forced to look with burning shame and indignation on scenes of mob madness, protected rowdyism and racial and religious persecution which compares in stark horror to many of the infamous persecutions of the past history.
There appears to have broken through the veneer of modern civilization a connected series of violent, cruel hates which modern dictators inflict without mercy or shame on their helpless victims. Chronologically, the whole sickening mess started with Lenin and his dreamy, political economy known as Russian communism. The first light of hope and intelligence to appear since then has been the move by Christian European statesmen to isolate Russian communism from the councils of Europe. A few years ago, the world had settled down to an epoch of peace. When and where did this horrible thing of persecution first appear?
Let us look at the record? In our arc of life, this horrible specter of persecution broke out first of all with the advent of Lenin of Russia and his bloody persecution of the hundred million faithful of the Greek Orthodox Church of Russia, and any others who professed a faith in God. The horrible thing jumped from Russia to Mexico, where we have witnessed ten years of subtle, systematic persecution of faithful people.
The horrible thing then leaped into Spain and the record shows many thousands sacrificed their lives and property on account of the religion they professed.
And now the horrible thing has broken loose in Germany where the Jewish people, a small helpless minority, less than 1 percent of the population, are subjected to the fierce passions of the mobs, the harsh, unjust decree of dictators, and the almost total loss of civic and moral rights. In the face of such injustice toward the Jews of Germany, I express my revulsion, disgust and grief. As a Catholic Bishop, however, I may express the thought that persecution suffered for justice’s sake, bears no mark of shame or dishonor. On the contrary, great churches and noble nations reared their temples and cities on the blood of martyrs. The most imperishable characters of history have lived and are great because they suffered for their ideals and rights.
The Jewish people must turn to God in their hour of sorrow. Comfort and strength are found in prayer, and the sympathy and respect and support of their fellow citizens to stand up with them in protest. To share their grief, I accept as a privilege and an honor.
Tonight we speak not with bitterness but with sadness. The world is shocked. Our sense of justice is outraged by the persecution of the Jew in Germany. If the voice of us humans, made in the image of the Creator, made to be free, were silent, there would be room to fear that the inanimate creation itself would be permitted to harass us not less than those who call forth our deserved condemnation. Attempt to rule Him our, as some do, there is still a god of justice. Nationalism or no nationalism, we are first members of the human family.
We speak with sadness for the desecration of our nature by the few who have risen to lord it over the many, and for the degradation to which an insensate mob can descend who, because of these same rulers, like not to have God either in knowledge or in their conscience. The exaltation of racism to near deification begins its usual course. Destruction of its fancied enemies before it develops its own destruction. There has been an ascending grade of injustices, political reprisal, concentration camps, religious persecution, calumny, purges, obliteration of speech and press, exile and expropriation.
Expropriation! How the story of the ages is repeated here! The wealth of its victims for the sake of its subjects. God save the mark. On the tombstone of Nazism will be inscribed, “Surfeited with power and loot.” Only little less sympathy do we accord the mass of German people. Kept in ignorance and in fear, for then in the minds of many must be the thought, “Whose turn would be the next?” It would be our furthest thought to condemn the German people.
My individual protest, your individual protest, our mutual feeling of sympathy for those persecuted and outraged by the autocrats of Europe, will not change instantly the present issue, but the combined condemnation of all those who love freedom and justice throughout the world will channel itself into a flood of righteous indignation that will sweep away the barriers of censorship and will reach the minds and consciences of the rank and file of the German and Jew alike, and justice shall prevail.
ALFRED E. SMITH
The civilized world stands shocked at the recent news coming from Germany and quite naturally is asking some questions. Can it be possible that Germany, after producing some of the world’s greatest scientists, writers, physicians and statesmen, is becoming a barren nation, intellectually, culturally and scientifically? Can it be possible that the rank and file of the German people desire to set back the hands of the clock of progress to the dark ages? Can it be possible that there are not restricting influences in the German official family? Can it be possible that nobody in a position of authority cares about public opinion throughout the civilized world?
If this is possible, then all we can say is that Germany has fallen from her high position in the family of nations into the hands of a band of ruffians. If that be true, what about the future of Germany? When the officials fall out among themselves, it will be infinitely worse for the German people than it will be for the Jews or for any other minority.
Can it be possible that 90 percent of the population of Germany which is Christian is turning its back on our Divine Lord? Who taught them to love their neighbor as themselves if they are to have eternal life with Him in His kingdom beyond the grave? German officials cannot blame the mob for outrageous assaults on persons and property, the protection of which is the highest function of government.
What would happen if the mob turned on the officials? We all know the answer. The army would shoot them down. Furthermore, we all know that the German officials can stop this cruel assault on their own people and on civilization at large at any time that they want to do it. Thank God for the United States of America. Our Ambassador is on his way home and our President spoke for the whole nation when he said the news of the last few days from Germany has deeply shocked public opinion in the United States.
I myself could scarcely believe that such things could occur in a twentieth century civilization. How true, how true.
Let us express the fond hope that Almighty God, in His wisdom and in His mercy, will put the German people back on the right path.
MSGR. JOSEPH M. CORRIGAN
I quote our Holy Father, Pope Pius XI: “The Catholic is necessarily the champion of true human rights and the defender of true human liberties.
“It is in the name of God Himself that he cries out against any civic philosophy which would degrade man to the position of a soulless pawn in a sordid game of power and prestige or set him at the throat of his fellows in a blind, brutish class struggle for existence.”
These words were publicly read as part of the Pope’s letter of greeting at the opening ceremonies of the Catholic University of America, and also published and editorially praised on scores of newspapers throughout the land. Today, scarcely more than a month after their public utterance, men of goodwill stand amazed and aghast as witnesses to the cold and merciless brutality of a persecution hardly, if ever indeed, equaled since earlier blood-lusting paganism martyred Christians for their faith in God. Where, in the light of the fury of inhumanity raging in Germany, we may well ask ourselves, where is the tolerance of our vaunted advance in civilization? Where the brotherhood of man, enjoined by divine command? Where the Christianity that once reigned in that Christian nation?
Yet this same allegory of ruthless oppression is not willed by the German nation, nor by the German people. It is willed by the mad lust for personal power of men who are to be numbered with those who in the virile phrase, I think, of Carlisle, have damned themselves to immortality on the page of authentic history. Today that power clamps its iron grasp upon a hapless, helpless, already shackled people. Tomorrow, unless we protest with all the vigor of right, and perhaps despite our most insistent protest, its wrath may again spew out to engulf other groups, other peoples, other faiths.
In well-considered words, the President of the United States yesterday recorded the deep shock of public opinion in this country at the news from Germany, saying further that he himself could scarcely believe such things could occur in a twentieth century civilization. Others before us have raised the powerful voice of American conviction in protest.
Others after us will swell the volume. It is well that they do so. The world should not forget nor cease to protest with earnest sincerity and growing vigor until it be cleansed of the poisonous cancer even now gnawing at the very vitals of organized society and just government. Here is a program of action. We appeal to all Catholics and to all of other faiths who are listening tonight to send up a holocaust of prayer for those oppressed in Germany and in other parts of the world in this time of great trial.
Every normal man cherishes a sense of justice. Passion for justice is passion for life itself. The messages you have heard tonight from Archbishop Mitty of San Francisco, from Bishop Gannon of Erie, from Bishop Ireton of Richmond, from Governor Smith and from Msgr. Corrigan, rector of the Catholic University of America, have made articulate the indignation of Catholics of America over the injustices heaped upon the Jewish people in Germany. Our hearts may be heavy with grief tonight, but we still trust in God, the God worshipped both by Jew and by Christian, and we would conclude this program with a prayer for the Jewish people, found in the Book of Psalms:
“May the Lord hear thee in time of trial, may the name of the God of Jacob protect thee; may He send thee help from the sanctuary and defend thee out of Zion. May He be mindful of all thy offering and may thy sacrifice be acceptable. May he grant thee thy heart’s desire and fulfill all thy plan.”