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Church and state averypoliticalwomancomIn the 1950s and early 1960s, the Venerable Fulton J Sheen not only had his own television shows on American network television and radio but was also a guest on secular shows, one of them being What’s My Line?

No doubt one or two nationally renowned Protestant ministers also appeared on secular programmes. Although alive at the time, I was too young to know.

Today, that happens rarely. The last secular programme which had clergy on from time to time was CNN’s The Larry King Show. Although I am not King’s biggest fan, it is to his credit that he invited the Revd John MacArthur several times as well as priests and rabbis.

It’s unclear whether the strident tone of the Moral Majority’s clergy in the 1970s put an end to inviting men of the cloth on secular shows, but, surely, they do not represent the vast majority of ordained men and women.

Perhaps it is time for producers of secular television and radio programmes to reconsider their moratorium on clergy.

One happy exception to this is France’s RMC radio. The morning current affairs show Les Grandes Gueules (The Big Mouths) has a priest from Poitiers — the Revd Patrice Gourrier — on frequently. He is pastor of Saint-Porchaire Church, which dates from the 11th century.

Père Gourrier adopts an appropriate stance of taking his faith seriously but wearing it lightly. He mixes well with everyone and has a quick wit. On Thursday, April 3, his fellow panellists included an atheist and a conservative homosexual jurist.

The atheist declared herself within seconds after being introduced. Gourrier made a witty riposte and the two conversed during breaks in the show.

Homosexuality also came up in the discussion, specifically around France’s Christian Democratic Party. The jurist, formerly an active party member himself until he came out, said that considering homosexuality as a sin was an archaic stance. Gourrier gently countered that the New Testament tells us that it is an ‘abomination’ and still a sin.

However, he warned against people defining themselves by family values alone. He added that it had become an ‘obsession’ for some French conservative politicians which, he reckoned, would produce ‘interesting psychoanalysis’. As a practicing clinical psychologist, he should know.

Gourrier is intellectually curious and well informed on the issues of the day; he reminds me of priests and Protestant ministers I have known over the years. The world must have millions of clergy around the world just like them. Why don’t the mainstream media invite them on to news shows? Not all would wish to accept, but even a few more would reveal to viewers and listeners that balanced Christianity can be in the world — intelligently — but not of it.

Since Gourrier began his regular appearances on Les Grandes Gueules, he occasionally meets RMC listeners who are travelling through or taking their holidays in or near Poitiers.

For him, attending church is essential. Last year, he deplored the family values marches in Paris which were held on a Sunday: ‘I fear my pews will empty on the protest days. They would do better coming to Mass.’

On April 3, he deplored attacks on women as part of a worrying trend objectifying people instead of viewing them as human beings. He also said that he was appalled by an increase in racial harrassment, which he also sees in Poitiers: ‘What these people don’t realise is that those attacked are not only French but are also doctors and lawyers’.

Gourrier said that it is entirely ‘normal’ for us to gravitate towards those who are most like us: ‘We can tolerate minor differences which add interest but nothing too far out of the norm’. That said, he added, over the past five years, the economic crisis has exacerbated racially-motivated verbal and physical assaults: ‘Sadly, hard times bring out the worst elements of human nature’.

One of the show’s hosts, Olivier Truchot, noted that every racial grouping in France had its part to play, not just French Europeans. The conservative jurist added that another part of the problem was the onslaught of ‘diversity’ messages ‘every day, morning to night — people are fed up’. Another panellist wryly told him, ‘A bit like your homosexual lobby. So there are gays. We don’t need to be told anymore. Please — keep it to yourselves’.

Still, in France, as anywhere else in the West, RMC’s callers lamented that they couldn’t correct certain colleagues without being called a racist by everyone else.

But I digress.

Gourrier’s measured, intelligent discourse, 15 books and his Twitter account are persuading lapsed Catholics to return to the Church.

An article in La Nouvelle Republique tells us that his parishoners avail themselves of printed copies of all his Sunday sermons, which contain flashcodes leading to a video version on Dailymotion.

Gourrier told the paper that a life in the Church and in Poitiers saved him. When he began working, it was as an editor and a publishing house director. He lived comfortably in Paris’s 15th arrondissement. All the same, he felt that he lacked something. He reflected on his childhood when he would go off alone to read the New Testament during lunch at school. He entered seminary at the age of 23 but left, possibly fearing where that life would lead him. In the 1990s, he returned and was ordained at the age of 40 in 2000.

He will be leaving Poitiers this year for health reasons (severe GI-tract problems) and because the diocese is reorganising the parishes. However, he will continue in some capacity with the Church, saying that ‘we need more mission work for priests’.

Meanwhile, Catholics in Poitiers can attend his Sunday Masses — ‘beautiful, traditional’ ones — because, as he explains, ‘people need a well-established ritual’.

Returning to Archbishop Fulton J Sheen, Benedict XVI declared him Venerable in July 2012. In a fascinating article excerpted below, National Catholic Register tells us how mainstream media aided his ministry. Emphases mine:

A consummate communicator, Archbishop Sheen hosted the evening radio program The Catholic Hour for 20 years, and his Emmy award-winning Life Is Worth Living (1951-1957) and The Fulton Sheen Program (1961-1968) became some of the most-watched television shows airing at the time. He authored numerous books and is often referred to as one of the first televangelists.

He harnessed the new media of his day — radio and television — and used those tools to lead others to Christ,” said Msgr. Deptula. “We can look to him to see how to bring the eternal news of Jesus Christ to our modern world.”

As important as his works, Bishop Jenky also noted Archbishop Sheen’s life of holiness.

One of his greatest gifts was his example of prayer, preaching and teaching — especially his prayer before the Eucharist,” said Bishop Jenky. “His life of prayer began as a seminarian. As an associate pastor of a parish in Peoria, he had a huge impact on bringing that parish back to life. He said that miracle came from the time he spent on his knees before the Blessed Sacrament.”

He constantly preached that, even for the most hardworking priest, the most important time would be the time he spends in prayer before the Blessed Sacrament,” said Bishop Jenky. “I can’t speak of anyone who spoke more eloquently about this, and he lived it every day of his life.”

We need more Fulton J Sheens in today’s media — balanced Catholic and Protestant clergy. May God bring them forward. And may secular programme commissioners and producers see the need for inviting them on air.

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Today’s chapter is the final instalment of Bella Dodd’s School of Darkness (1954).  Photos are from the City University of New York Brooklyn’s library and Parish World.

In Chapter 17, Dodd and Bishop Fulton J Sheen discuss the Catholic faith.  I realise that most of my readers are Protestant, however, much of the content here is of general Christian interest about the hope which a belief in Jesus Christ brings.

I read with interest of the Maryknoll priest Fr Keller who wrote the book which helped to bring Dodd back to her childhood faith.  Today, Maryknoll — along with many other religious orders — is very much oriented towards a syncretism of Catholicism and Marxism. I doubt many of them truly bring souls to Christ these days.  That might seem like a harsh statement, but the Maryknoll order has changed dramatically over the past few decades.  I used to read their monthly missions magazine which my parents received until the 1980s, when it got too radical for my mother to read.  She stopped her donations and, with them, the magazine.

For those too young to place Bella Dodd’s conversion in Catholic history, this was pre-Vatican II. The Latin Mass was universal throughout the world. Catholics received Holy Communion kneeling at the altar rail. Also, certain prayers, such as the Angelus, which few Catholics alive today know or learn, were still recited with great reverence every day.

Bella Dodd died in 1969, when the Vietnam War was at its peak.  She had adopted a conservative political philosophy and it would have been interesting to know what she thought about the student and racial protests which characterised the second half of that decade.  At the end of this book, she was optimistic that the young adults she met would continue to embrace the Church, but this certainly started to change by the time she died.  I would also have been interested to know what she thought about the Novus Ordo (New Order!) Mass. I hope that I can ask her one day.

The book is available online free of charge.  Emphases below are mine.

Chapter Seventeen

EARLY IN THE NEW YEAR I went to the office of the Board of Education to see Dr. Jacob Greenberg, then superintendent in charge of personnel, regarding a teacher. In his office I met Mary Riley, his assistant. Since Dr. Greenberg could not see me at once, Miss Riley and I began to talk …

I was somewhat surprised that she would talk to me for I knew that my activities and the doctrine I had spread had been offensive to her. But she was smiling and saying she was sorry they no longer saw me at the Board. I explained that I had been having a lot of trouble.

She knew. “That’s putting it mildly,” she said. “But don’t let anyone stop you, Bella. You still have a lot of friends. We don’t like communism but we do admire one who struggles to help human beings as you always have” …

Some days later a package came from Mary Riley. It contained books and magazines dealing with a variety of things Catholic, such as the medical missions in Africa, the Interracial Councils, and youth shelters. There was also a book by a priest: James Keller’s You Can Change the World.

As I read the title my thoughts went back to Sarah Parks, my teacher at Hunter College, and the books she had given me that had quickened my interest in the communist movement. Those books had been in praise of the change in the world brought about by the Russian Revolution which at the time I had considered an upheaval necessary for the improvement of the social conditions of the Russian people. I knew now that glorification of revolution and destruction of lives in the hope that a better world would rise were fatally wrong. I thought with sadness of Sarah Parks — her bright intelligence wasted because she had no standard to live by, of how in the end she took her own life rather than face its emptiness ...

I could not stop reading the book. I sat there in the quiet of my office and I felt all through me the truth of Father Keller’s saying: “There can be no social regeneration without a personal regeneration.” As I read I felt life flowing back into me, life to myself as a person. Within the Party I had been obliterated except as part of the group. Now, like some Rip Van Winkle, I was awakening from a long sleep …

Not long afterward I was in the Criminal Courts Building defending a youthful offender and I ran into judge Pagnucco, formerly of the District Attorney’s office, who had interrogated me during the Scottoriggio investigation. We talked about the measure of individual responsibility for criminal acts. He mentioned Father Keller’s words on that subject and I said I had heard of him and admired his work. The Judge asked me if I would like to meet the Maryknoll priest.

Next afternoon I met the judge at the office of Godfrey Schmidt, a militant Catholic lawyer, and a teacher at Fordham Law School. I remembered him vividly as the official in the New York State Department of Labor who had prepared the case against Nancy Reed, the girl who had lived at my apartment for a time and whose mother was an owner of the Daily Worker. I thought of the violent campaign the Party had organized against him, the gruesome caricatures of him in the Party-controlled papers, and how they called him “Herr Doktor Schmidt.” Now I listened to Godfrey Schmidt talk of America and its people with obvious sincerity, and I had an overwhelming feeling of shame that I had participated in that campaign of hate.

Father Keller came in with another friend and Mr. Schmidt invited us to lunch together. I looked at the priest in frank appraisal and found myself interested in the harmony and peace of his face and in his keen understanding of the problems facing men and women of our day. As he and the other men discussed various matters, I realized why these three talked so differently from the little groups I had been with at tables like this in the communist movement. Here there was no hatred and no fear. We talked of books and television and of communism too, and Father Keller referred to the latter as “the last stage of an ugly period” …

I found myself returning again and again to that office, impressed with the spiritual quality I found there. On my first visit to the Christopher headquarters a dozen of us were busy in the room when the chimes from the nearby Cathedral rang the noon hour. Everyone stopped working and recited the Angelus. I caught, here and there, remembered words of prayer I had heard long ago. “. . . Behold the handmaid of the Lord,” I heard, and “. . . the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us. ”

I did not know the response and I stood silent. But I was deeply stirred to hear young men and women pausing in their work to pray together, here in the most materialistic city ever raised by a materialistic civilization. And I felt how true of this believing little group were the words: “And dwelt among US” …

Seeing the Christophers at work stirred a memory of the flame I had in my youth, the desire to help those in trouble, the sense of shame at any indignity to a human being. I smiled ruefully in recalling that I had thought the Communists the modern prototype of the early Christians, come to cast greed and selfishness from the world. The Communists too had promised an order and a harmony of life. I knew now that their promises were fraudulent, and that the harmony they promised brought only chaos and death. Yet I knew too that I had to get the difference between the two clear in my own mind before I took any further steps. I had to know, and for myself …

The anti-clericalism which had been a part of my thinking for years dropped from me completely when I watched the lights turned on each morning around the altar of Our Lady of Guadaloupe and when the candles were lighted and I saw the priest offer the Sacrifice. I felt myself inescapably drawn to the altar rail, but I still sat in the darkness of the rear pews as a spectator. I was not ready, I told myself. And I had a dread of dramatic gestures. But as the days went by I knew the sense of strain was leaving me and I began to feel an inner quiet.

I found myself reading, like one who had been starved, books which the Communists and the sophisticated secular world marked taboo or sneered at. I found St. Augustine and the City of God infinitely more life-giving than the defiant modern professors who wrote The City of Man. I found St. Thomas Aquinas and I laughed to remember that all I had learned of St. Thomas was that he was a scholastic philosopher who believed in the deductive method of thinking. Now, as the great storehouse of his wisdom was opened to me, I felt rich beyond all words.

One day at lunch with Godfrey Schmidt I explained that I must learn more about the Faith. As we walked down Park Avenue, he took me into a bookshop and bought me a prayer book. Next day he called me to say that Bishop Sheen was in town and had agreed to see me again. This was like a joyful summons from an old friend.

With Mr. Schmidt I went to East Thirty-eighth Street, to the offices of the Society for the Propagation of the Faith, and rang the bell. Bishop Sheen opened the door himself and I saw the silver cross on his chest, the smile in his eyes, but this time I heard a welcome home in his greeting.

And so I began to receive instructions in the Faith. Something strange was apparent to me in my behavior — I who had generally been skeptical and argumentative now found that I asked few questions. I did not want to waste one precious moment. Week after week I listened to the patient telling of the story of God’s love for man, and of man’s longing for God. I listened to the keen logic and reasoning that have lighted the darkness and overcome the confused doubts of others of my group who had lost the art of reasoned thinking and in its place had put assertive casuistry. I saw how history and fact and logic were inherent in the foundations of the Christian faith.

I listened to the Bishop explaining the words of Jesus Christ, the founding of His Church, the Mystical Body. I felt close now to all who received Communion in all the churches of the world. And I felt the true equality which exists between people of different races and nations when they kneel together at the altar rail — equal before God. And I came to love this Church which made us one

Easter of 1952 was approaching and Bishop Sheen said that I was ready. I had no baptismal record and a letter of inquiry to the town in Italy where I was born produced none, though I was reasonably certain I had been baptized. So it was decided I was to receive conditional baptism.

On April 7th, the anniversary of my mother’s birthday, I was baptized by Bishop Sheen at the font in St. Patrick’s Cathedral. Mary Riley and Louis Pagnucco stood on either side of me. Godfrey Schmidt and a few other friends were with me too.

Afterward Bishop Sheen heard my first confession. He had noted that I was nervous and distraught in making my preparation, for I had to cover the many years in which I had denied the truth. I meditated on the mockery I had made of my marriage; how I had squandered my birthright as a woman; on my twisted relationship with my parents; on the exaggerated pride of my mind; and on the tolerance I had for error. He realized my despair and said comfortingly: “We priests have heard the sins of men many times. Yours are no greater than those of others. Have confidence in God’s mercy.” After hearing my confession he granted absolution. His Pax vobiscum [‘Go in peace’] echoed and reechoed in my heart.

At Mass next morning I received Communion from his hands. And I prayed as I watched the flicker of the sanctuary lamp that the Light that had reclaimed me might reach the ones I loved who still sit in darkness.

It was as if I had been ill for a long time and had awakened refreshed after the fever had gone. I went about my work with a calm that surprised me. I seemed to have acquired a new heart and a new conscience.

Outwardly my life was changed not at all. I still lived in a cold-water flat on a street of tenement houses, but now I could greet my neighbors with no feeling of fear or mistrust. I was never to be lonely again, and when I prayed there was always the Presence of Him I prayed to.

As order and peace of mind returned to my life I was able to face intelligently the difficult ordeal of appearing before governmental agencies and investigating committees. I dreaded hurting individuals who were perhaps as blind as I had been and who were still being used by the conspirators. I dreaded the campaign of personal abuse which would be renewed against me.

Now I formulated and tried to answer three critical questions: Does my country need the information I am called upon to give? Will I be scrupulous in telling the truth? Will I be acting without malice?

I knew that the information which I had might be of some help in protecting our people. I knew also that honest citizens of our country were uninformed about the nature of Marxism and I recognized now that in the best sense of the word to “inform” means to educate. As avenues of education are blocked and twisted into propaganda by the agents of this conspiracy, my country needed the information I had to give.

But I dreaded the ordeal of testifying, when letters, telephone calls, and post cards of abuse came to me after my first appearance before the Internal Security Committee of the Senate. There was one interesting turn to the abuse: the bulk of it was in biblical terms — “Judas Iscariot,” “thirty pieces of silver,” “dost thou betray” were the most common expressions used. Quite a few quoted from the Gospel of St. Matthew the words telling how Judas Iscariot hanged himself and the writers ended with the exhortation, “Go thou and do likewise.”

Now I saw in true perspective the contribution that the teachers and the schools of America have made to its progress, just as I was sadly aware of the darker picture some of the educators and the educated among us have presented. Justice Jackson has said that it is the paradox of our times that we in modern society need to fear only the educated man. It is very true that what a man does with his knowledge is that which, in one sense, justifies or indicts that education. A glance at the brilliant scientists who served the Hitler regime, and the Soviet scholars who serve the Kremlin, a look at the men indicted for subversion in our own country -all lead us to re-estimate the role of education. We are told that all problems will be solved by more education. But the time has come to ask: “What kind of education?” “Education for what?” One thing has become transparently clear to me: rounded education includes training of the will as much as training of the mind; and mere accumulation of information, without a sound philosophy, is not education.

I saw how meaningless had been my own education, how like a cafeteria of knowledge, without purpose or balance. I was moved by emotion and my education failed to guide me in making sound personal and public decisions. It was not until I met the Communists that I had a standard to live by, and it took me years to find out it was a false standard.

Now I know that a philosophy and movement that devotes itself to improving the condition of the masses of our industrial society cannot be successful if it attempts to force man into the mold of materialism and to despiritualize him by catering only to that part of him which is of this earth. For no matter how often man denies the spirit he will in an unaccountable manner turn and reach out to the Eternal. A longing for God is as natural a heritage of the soul as the heartbeat is of the body. When man tries to repress it, his thinking can only lapse into chaos.

I know that man alone cannot create a heaven on earth. But I am still deeply concerned about my fellow man, and I feel impelled to do what I can against the inhumanity and injustices that threaten his well-being and security. I am aware, too, that if good men fail to so love one another that they will strike vigorously to eliminate social ills, they must be prepared to see the conspirators of revolution seize power by using social maladjustments as a pretext.

I believe that the primary requisite for a sober appraisal of the present challenge of communism is to face it with a clear understanding of what it is. But it cannot be fought in a negative manner. Man must be willing to combat false doctrine with the Truth, and to organize active agency with active agency. Above all there must be a new birth of those moral values that for the past two thousand years have made our civilization a life-giving force

New armies of men are rising, and these are sustained not by the Communist creed but by the credo of Christianity. And I am keenly conscious that only a generation of men so devoted to God that they will heed his command, “Love one another as I have loved you,” can bring peace and order to our world.

End of series

This is the penultimate chapter of School of Darkness (1954).  Bella Dodd discusses her life after the Communist Party expelled her.  She also meets Fulton J Sheen, who was a monsignor at the time.  (The photo is from the Ephemera blog by Jose Pacheco Pereira.)

Before I began excerpting from this book, I ran a few posts about the Communist infiltration of the Church on July 8, July 10 and July 11.  Some of these posts mentioned the Venona Project, the findings of which became available only in 1995.  So, whilst many people — my parents included — suspected further Communist involvement not only in the church but in government and the media, they had little concrete proof at the time after the hearings of the 1940s and early 1950s.  Therefore, it was easy for leftists of various stripes to laugh at them looking for ‘Reds under the beds’.  I was one of them — whilst still at Catholic school, which, perhaps quite innocently, strongly encouraged us students to adopt peace and unity along with left-wing political positions.  I imagine that the same is true in other denominational schools, just as it is in state schools.

Now we know that those who were suspicious were correct.  I would encourage you to read about the Venona Project at the link in the preceding paragraph.  Bella Dodd also discusses people and hearings in the United States after the Second World War.  These links are also worth reading: List of Americans in the Venona Papers, List of Soviet Agents in the United States (look at their various occupations!), American Peace Mobilization, Harry Dexter White, the Institute of Pacific Relations, Owen Lattimore and a left-of-centre apologist who was a Supreme Court Justice, Abe Fortas (not a Communist). Dodd writes about Lattimore and Fortas in this chapter.

Although the American Peace Mobilization was short-lived, those who were alive during the 1960s — 20 years later — will recognise how the United States adopted four of its Five Planks to Defend America and is still doing so:

  1. Defeat Militarism and Regimentation. Repeal Conscription. No M Day for the American people.
  2. Restore the Bill of Rights. Restore free speech, freedom of assembly, freedom of thought. Take special privilege away from the top and give it back to the whole American people.
  3. Stop War Profiteering. Put lives ahead of profits. Put profits last on democracy’s list. What helps democracy helps you.
  4. Guarantee a decent standard of living for all. Work for more social and labor legislation. End discrimination.

On the second point above, remember who is exercising free speech.  They are the same voices trying to silence conservative and libertarian voices.

Now on with the book … It’s available online free of charge.  Emphases below are mine.

Chapter Sixteen

TO THE New York newspapers the story of the expulsion of a woman Communist was merely one more story. It was handled in the routine way. I winced, however, when reputable papers headlined the Communist Party charges and used the words “fascism” and “racism,” even though I knew these words were only quoted from the Party resolution.

I braced myself for further attacks from the Party, and they came soon in terms of economic threats. Some of my law practice came from trade-union and Party members, and here action was swift. The union Communists told me there would be no more referrals to me. Party members who were my clients came to my office, some with their new lawyers, to withdraw their pending cases.

Reprisals came, too, in the form of telephone calls, letters, and telegrams of hate and vituperation, many of them from people I did not know. What made me feel desolate were the reprisals from those I had known best, those among the teachers whom I had considered friends. While I was busy with Party work I sometimes thought proudly of my hundreds of friends and how strong were the ties that bound us. Now those bonds were ropes of sand.

What I had failed to understand was that the security I felt in the Party was that of a group and that affection in that strange communist world is never a personal emotion. You were loved or hated on the basis of group acceptance, and emotions were stirred or dulled by propaganda. That propaganda was made by the powerful people at the top. That is why ordinary Communists get along well with their groups: they think and feel together and work toward a common goal.

Even personal friends, some of whom I myself had taken into the Party, were lost to me now, and among them were many of my former students and fellow teachers. If rejection by an individual can cause the emotional destruction which our psychiatrists indicate, it cannot, in some ways, compare with the devastation produced by a group rejection. This, as I learned, is annihilating …

I had always been an independent person and rarely gave my reasons for doing things. Now I wrote letters to people, some of whom had lived in my house or had been frequent guests there, and in whose homes I had been welcome. Those who replied were either abusive or obviously sought to disassociate themselves from me. Two friends replied in one sentence on the back of the letter I had written them only this: “Please do not involve us.” Many did not answer at all …

There is no censorship of reading so close and so comprehensive as that of the Party. I had often seen leaders pull books from shelves in homes and warn members to destroy them.

But I had no desire to read now. The one book I did open was the New Testament which I had never stopped reading even in my days of starkest Party delusion …

The New York Post asked me to write a series of articles on why I had broken with the Communist Party, and made me a generous offer. I agreed. But when I had finished them and read them over I did not want to see them published and found an excuse for refusing the offer. When a weekly magazine made an even more lucrative offer, I refused that, too. There were several reasons for this, as I now realize: one was that I did not trust my own conclusions, and another that I could not bear to hurt people I had known in the Party and for whom I still felt affection. Some I knew were entrapped as surely as I had been …

But I had begun the process of “unbecoming” a Communist … It was a long and painful process, much like that of a polio victim who has to learn to walk all over again. I had to learn to think. I had to learn to love. I had to drain the hate and frenzy from my system. I had to dislodge the self and the pride that had made me arrogant, made me feel that I knew all the answers. I had to learn that I knew nothing. There were many stumbling blocks in this process.

One afternoon in March of that year an old acquaintance, Wellington Roe, came into my office. He breezed in with a broad smile and said he was just passing and had decided to say hello. I thought nothing further of his visit. “Duke,” as we all called him, had been one of the Party’s front candidates in the American Labor Party …

He asked if I had ever known Owen Lattimore. I said I had not. Had I ever known him to be a Party member, he asked, and again I said no. I had heard of him vaguely, I said, as a British agent in the Far East.

A few weeks later Duke walked in again and this time asked if I would be willing to help Professor Lattimore. I replied I did not see how, since I did not know him. He talked of the importance of having all liberals unite to fight reaction wherever it was manifesting itself. This left me unconvinced. I had problems of my own and for once I did not wish to get involved with those of others. But he came again the next day, this time with a man he introduced as Abe Fortas, Lattimore’s attorney. I did not know him, but I had heard of him through mutual friends as a man who often defended civil-service employees faced with loyalty probes.

After a short talk the attorney said he thought he would have to subpoena me in the defense of Lattimore. When he saw my reluctance he asked if I would be willing to give him an affidavit saying that I had not heard of Lattimore while I was a leader in the Communist Party. So I signed an affidavit to that effect, and I thought that was the end of it.

I was naive to think so. A few days later I was served with a subpoena by the Foreign Relations Committee of the Senate. Dumfounded, I called Duke. He said it was no surprise to him. Since he was going to Washington he would be happy to make a reservation for me. He would even rent a typewriter so that I could prepare a statement.

At the hearings I saw Lattimore for the first time. Duke was there too. At a table with Senator Tydings sat Senator Green of Rhode Island, Senator McMahon of Connecticut, Senator Lodge of Massachusetts, and Senator Hickenlooper of Indiana. Back of them sat Senator McCarthy, and next to him Robert Morris, whom I had known as one of the attorneys for the Rapp-Coudert Committee.

I studied the senators before me. I knew that Senator Tydings was related in some way to Joseph Davies, former ambassador to Russia, who had written the friendly Mission to Moscow, and who had been active in Russian War Relief, receiving an award from the Soviet propaganda center in the United States, the Russian Institute. I knew of Senator McMahon’s proposal for sharing our atomic knowledge with Russia. I felt that these men in the seats of power had facts not available to the rest of us, and were going along with the postwar perspective of co-existence with the Soviet Union, a position easy for me to accept since it was much like the communist propaganda during the years of my involvement with the communist world. When Senator Hickenlooper began to throw hostile questions at me I reacted with the hostility of the Communist, and I gave slick, superficial answers, for I did not want to be drawn into what I regarded as a Democratic-Republican fight.

There is no doubt in my mind that on facts of which I had knowledge I told the truth. But when it came to questions of opinion there is no doubt that before the Tydings Committee I still reacted emotionally as a Communist and answered as a Communist. I had broken with the structure of the Party, but was still conditioned by the pattern of its thinking, and still hostile to its opponents.

Something, however, happened to me at this hearing. I was at last beginning to see how ignorant I had become, how long since I had read anything except Party literature. I thought of our bookshelves stripped of books questioned by the Party, how when a writer was expelled from the Party his books went, too. I thought of the systematic rewriting of Soviet history, the revaluation, and in some cases the blotting out of any mention of such persons as Trotsky. I thought of the successive purges. Suddenly I too wanted the answers to the questions Senator Hickenlooper was asking and I wanted the truth. I found myself hitting at the duplicity of the Communist Party …

My appearance before the Tydings Committee had served one good purpose: it had renewed my interest in political events, and it had the effect of breaking the spell which had held me. I had at last spoken openly and critically of the Communist Party.

To those who find it difficult to understand how a mind can be imprisoned, my puny indictment of the communist movement before the Tydings Committee may have seemed slight indeed, for I no doubt gave some comfort to the Party by my negative approach. But it takes time to “unbecome” a Communist …

I read the congressional report of the hearings on the Institute of Pacific Affairs. I found I was again able to interpret events. In my time with the Party I had accumulated a large store of information about people and events, and often these had not fitted into the picture presented by the Party to its members. It was as if I held a thousand pieces of a jigsaw puzzle and could not fit them together. It irritated me, but when I thought of the testimony of witnesses before the Congressional Committee, some of whom I had known as Communists, much of the true picture suddenly came into focus. My store of odd pieces was beginning to develop into a recognizable picture.

There had been many things I had not really understood. I had regarded the Communist Party as a poor man’s party, and thought the presence of certain men of wealth within it accidental. I now saw this was no accident. I regarded the Party as a monolithic organization with the leadership in the National Committee and the National Board. Now I saw this was only a facade placed there by the movement to create the illusion of the poor man’s party; it was in reality a device to control the “common man” they so raucously championed.

There were many parts of the puzzle which did not fit into the Party structure. Parallel organizations which I had dimly glimpsed now became more clearly visible, and their connections with the apparatus I knew became apparent. As the war in Korea developed, further illumination came to me …

Now I realized that, with the best motives and a desire to serve the working people of my country, I, and thousands like me, had been led to a betrayal of these very people. I now saw that I had been poised on the side of those who sought the destruction of my own country.

I thought of an answer Pop Mindel, of the Party’s Education Bureau, had once given me in reply to the question whether the Party would oppose the entry of our boys into the Army. I had asked this question at a time when the Communists were conducting a violent campaign for peace, and it seemed reasonable to me to draw pacifist conclusions. Pop Mindel sucked on his pipe and with a knowing look in his eyes said:

“Well, if we keep our members from the Army, then where will our boys learn to use weapons with which to seize power?”

I realized how the Soviets had utilized Spain as a preview of the revolution to come. Now other peoples had become expendable — the Koreans, North and South, the Chinese soldiers, and the American soldiers. I found myself praying, “God, help them all.”

What now became clear to me was the collusion of these two forces: the Communists with their timetable for world control, and certain mercenary forces in the free world bent on making profit from blood. But I was alone with these thoughts and had no opportunity to talk over my conclusions with friends …

Early in the fall of 1950 I went to Washington to argue an immigration appeal. I had planned to return to New York immediately afterward. It was a clear, crisp day, and I walked along Pennsylvania Avenue toward the Capitol. Near the House Office Building I ran into an old friend, Christopher McGrath, the congressional representative of the Twenty-seventh District, the old East Bronx area of my childhood

He asked me if I wanted FBI protection, and I must have shivered noticeably. Though I was afraid, I was reluctant to live that kind of life. He did not press the issue. Instead, he said: “I know you are facing danger, but if you won’t have that protection, I can only pray for your safety.”

He looked at me for a moment as if he wanted to say something else. Then he asked: “Bella, would you like to see a priest?”

Startled by the question, I was amazed at the intensity with which I answered, “Yes, I would.”

“Perhaps we can reach Monsignor Sheen at Catholic University,” he said. Rose put in several calls and an appointment was made for me late that evening at the Monsignor’s home.

I was silent as we drove to Chevy Chase [Maryland]. All the canards against the Catholic Church which I had heard and tolerated, which even by my silence I had approved, were threatening the tiny flame of longing for faith within me. I thought of many things on that ride, of the word “fascist,” used over and over by the communist press in describing the role of the Church in the Spanish Civil War. I also thought of the word “Inquisition” so skillfully used on all occasions. Other terms came to me — reactionary, totalitarian, dogmatic, old-fashioned. For years they had been used to engender fear and hatred in people like me …

The screeching of the brakes brought me back to reality. We had arrived, and my friend was wishing me luck as I got out of the car. I rang the doorbell and was ushered into a small room. While I waited, the struggle within me began again. Had there been an easy exit I would have run out, but in the midst of my turmoil Monsignor Fulton Sheen walked into the room, his silver cross gleaming, a warm smile in his eyes …

Monsignor Sheen put his hand on my shoulder to comfort me. “Don’t worry,” he said. “This thing will pass,” and he led me gently to a little chapel. We both knelt before a statue of Our Lady. I don’t remember praying, but I do remember that the battle within me ceased, my tears were dried, and I was conscious of stillness and peace.

When we left the chapel Monsignor Sheen gave me a rosary. “I will be going to New York next winter,” he said. “Come to me and I’ll give you instructions in the Faith”

On my way to the airport I thought how much he understood. He knew that a nominal Christian with a memory of the Cross can easily be twisted to the purposes of evil by men who masquerade as saviors. I thought how communist leaders achieve their greatest strength and cleverest snare when they use the will to goodness of their members. They stir the emotions with phrases which are only a blurred picture of eternal truths.

In my rejection of the wisdom and truth which the Church has preserved, and which she has used to establish the harmony and order set forth by Christ, I had set myself adrift on an uncharted sea with no compass. I and others like me grasped with relief the fake certitude offered by the materialists and accepted this program which had been made even more attractive because they appealed for “sacrifice for our brothers.” Meaningless and empty I learned are such phrases as “the brotherhood of man” unless they have the solid foundation of belief in God’s Fatherhood …

Christmas, 1950, was approaching, an I again my loneliness was intensified. I was now living in a furnished room on Broadway at Seventy-fifth Street and still shuttling from my room to my office and back again every day and night.

On Christmas Eve, Clotilda and Jim McClure, who had lived at my house on Lexington Avenue and who had kept in touch with me and worried about me, called and urged me to spend the evening with them. After I sold my home they had had a miserable time finding accommodations. Harlem and its unspeakable housing situation was a cruel wilderness cheating the patient and undemanding. The McClures had moved to a one-room apartment on 118th Street where the rent of the decontrolled apartment was fantastic for what it offered. But Jim and Clo made no apologies for their home, for they knew how I grieved at their predicament …

After we had eaten, Jim opened his well-worn Bible and read a few of the psalms and then Clo read several. As I listened to their warm, rich voices sounding the great phrases I saw that they were pouring their own present longings into these Songs of David, and I realized why the prayers of the Negro people are never saccharine or bitter. Jim handed me the book and said: “Here, woman, now you read us something.”

I leafed through the pages until I found the one I wanted. I began to read the wonderful phrases of the Eighth Psalm:

“For I will behold the heavens, the works of Thy fingers … What is man that Thou art mindful of him? … Thou hast made him a little less than the angels … Thou hast subjected all things under his feet…. Lord, our Lord, how admirable is Thy name in all the earth.”

For a few moments after I had finished no one spoke. I handed the Bible back to Jim. Clo poured another cup of coffee for me. Then I said I was tired and ought to get home since it was almost eleven o’clock. I promised I would come again soon, and Jim walked with me to the Madison Avenue bus and wished me a “Merry Christmas” …

I have no recollection of leaving the bus at Thirty-fourth Street or of walking along that street to the west side. My next recollection is of finding myself in a church. The church, I learned later, was St. Francis of Assisi ...

Services had begun. From the choir came the hymns of Christmas. Three priests in white vestments took part in the ancient ritual. The bell rang three deep notes; the people were on their knees in adoration. I looked at the faces etched in the soft light, faces reverent and thankful.

It came to me as I stood there that here about me were the masses I had sought through the years, the people I loved and wanted to serve. Here was what I had sought so vainly in the Communist Party, the true brotherhood of all men. Here were men and women of all races and ages and social conditions cemented by their love for God. Here was a brotherhood of man with meaning.

Now I prayed. “God help me. God help me,” I repeated over and over.

That night, after Midnight Mass was over, I walked the streets for hours before I returned to my rooming house. I noted no one of those who passed me. I was alone as I had been for so long. But within me was a warm glow of hope. I knew that I was traveling closer and closer to home, guided by the Star.

Tomorrow: Chapter Seventeen

In 2003, Toby Westerman wrote an article for International News Analysis (INA) Today ‘Infiltration of the Catholic Church?’ — which traced Communist activities within it.

Non-Catholics will also be edified by reading the excerpts which follow, emphases mine.

An affidavit recently obtained by INA Today attributes the Catholic Church’s present state of collapse to a calculated attack beginning decades ago, with initial successes appearing in the 1960s.

The affidavit affirms that Communist Party organizer and high Party official, Bella Dodd, made public statements during the decade of the 1960s declaring that the Catholic priesthood was infiltrated by numerous Communist agents, whose mission was “to destroy the Catholic Church from within.”

As Westerman notes, Dodd published a book called School of Darkness, now available online, which will appear in my next few posts so that you can see from the inside exactly how Communists work in American institutions, primarily state schools.

The Communists drummed Dodd out of the Party.  She eventually rediscovered her Catholic faith, which she embraced for the remainder of her life.  She died in 1969.  This is what she testified, much like what Agent AA-1025 wrote:

“In the late 1920’s and 1930’s, directives were sent from Moscow to all Communist Party organizations. In order to destroy the Catholic Church from within, party members were to be planted in seminaries and within diocesan organizations,” Dodd stated according to the affidavit.

“I, myself, put some 1,200 men in Catholic seminaries,” Dodd publicly declared.

Dodd did not include these remarks concerning her activities directed against the Catholic Church in her book, which was first published in 1954, leading some to question whether the remarks were actually made.

However, as we saw yesterday, the Catholic philosopher Alice von Hildebrand corroborated Dodd’s testimony through this affadavit, which Paul and Johnine Leininger provided.

When contacted by INA Today, Mrs. Johnine Leininger stated that there were others who could also verify that Dodd made the statements regarding infiltration into Catholic seminaries.

Dr. von Hildebrand told INA Today that Dodd had earlier refrained from detailing Communist efforts to undermine the Catholic priesthood at the request of Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen, the individual responsible for bringing Dodd back into the Church.

Why Archbishop Sheen would have requested such a suppression of information is unclear.  However, Vatican II talks were no doubt either underway or about to begin, therefore, he might not have wished to jeopardise his position.  It would have been interesting to see what would have happened if he had encouraged Dodd to make all her knowledge about the Church public earlier.  The Catholic Church might never have seen Vatican II and could have been in a stronger, purer state today.  Who knows?

The process of Communist infiltration into Catholic seminaries, which Dodd described in her public talks, would have been part of a larger plan called “Outstretched Hand.”

Communist Party archives in Moscow confirm the existence of operation “Outstretched Hand,” and define its goals, according to Herbert Romerstein, author of the seminal work on Soviet espionage in the United States before, during, and after WWII, “The Venona Secrets”

One document in Moscow’s Soviet archives reveals that the Communist Party had infiltrated several influential Catholic organizations, including the Holy Name Society, the largest parish-oriented Catholic men’s group, which is devoted to increasing reverence for the name of God and to good works in the Church and in society in general. A Holy Name Society chapter exists in almost every Catholic parish in the U.S.

The “Party comrade” operated in a key parish which provided “leadership” and shaped “the policies of most of the reactionary and anti-Communist campaigns that are now developing in the Catholic world,” according to the Soviet file.

Romerstein also recounts in The Venona Secrets that the staff of the Catholic anti-Communist publication entitled Wisdom, produced by a priest of the Paulist order, was infiltrated, and unknowingly employed two Communist agents in influential positions.

The Party boasted that one of their agents was “widely known to be a conservative in Irish circles,” and was a staff correspondent for Wisdom. Romerstein identified the Party member and Soviet agent as Jeremiah F. O’Carroll, who, in 1930, was the president of the Irish Emergency Relief organization.

Although O’Carroll was identified as a spy in 1938, he remained listed as a staff correspondent for Wisdom at least until March 1939.

The second Soviet agent who worked for Wisdom remains unknown to this day.

In many ways, the struggle traditionalists have against Modernism in the Church is no different from that which conservatives have politically against leftists (e.g. Democratic Party, Socialist Party).

When it happens in one’s own ranks, however, many understandably greet news with disbelief or rationalisation: ‘He must have a reason for saying that.  Maybe he’s right.’  This reaction is what subversive instigators wish to elicit.  The conservative then starts to doubt what he has been brought up to believe.  Alternatively, he believes the words of a sleeper agent.  In either case, his beliefs become discredited and compromised.

At the end of Westerman’s article, we find out more about how sleeper agents amongst our clergy work:

Leininger described these priests as “sleepers,” a term designating individuals or groups who carry out their espionage function only at a selected time. Before becoming active, the “sleeper” will refrain from any espionage or subversive functions.

Dodd’s infiltrators — those who lost or never actually held the Catholic faith — would have been the mentors of the present generation of Catholic priests and bishops

Tomorrow: Excerpts from Bella Dodd’s School of Darkness

Where to begin?  The most important item here in a serious vein is that evidence of two miracles attributed to the late Bishop Fulton J Sheen were sent to the Vatican for verification, The New York Times reported earlier this month.  If verified, the late bishop would be beatified.  A third miracle would allow him to be canonised, formally becoming a saint in the Roman Catholic Church.

Like his younger contemporary, Billy Graham, Bishop Sheen appealed to an ecumenical cross-section of the American public.  He even had his own weekly prime-time television programme, which millions watched.  Imagine doing that nowadays — it would never happen.  He wrote many books and was an inspiration to many families, Catholic and Protestant.  Just see what those commenting on the Anglican site Titus One Nine say.

Bishop Sheen was once a guest on the American version of ‘What’s My Line?’  I remember this show as being instrumental in my falling in love with New York, which was still the heart of television at the time.  (Gee, how old am I?)  That show was the most sophisticated, interesting game show (if you can call it that) ever produced.  Here is Bishop Sheen’s segment as the mystery celebrity guest:

As The Anchoress says here, watch how Bishop Sheen signs his name on the board when entering:

I was touched and a little amused to watch Sheen, in his perfect Catholic-school penmanship begin his signature with JMJ. That’s one of those odd things Catholics used to do – put a cross, or the initials of Jesus, Mary and Joseph at the top of anything they were about to write. It was a small act, but one packed with meaning. It said, in essence, ‘Let my communication be worthy of Your Holy Names’.

Not only that, but watch how he puts a cross at the end of his name. 

Please watch the four-minute ‘What’s My Line?’ segment and see if you don’t wax nostalgically for the old days.  I remember the show from the early 1960s, when I would have been three.  It was the best television show ever.  I was probably the only kid on my block who knew who Bennett Cerf, Arlene Francis, Dorothy Kilgallen and John Daly were.  Everyone was so polite — and they had a wide variety of people appearing from all social classes and occupations.

The Anchoress says:

My son Buster watches old movies, and sometimes he’ll send me a clip like the one above, and he’ll write something like this -which is from an old email- ‘I was born in the wrong era. I want to have lived back then, when there were manners, and men and women had expectations from each other, and people dressed up a little to travel, or to conduct business, and no adult would dream of wearing the same clothes as his 8 year old son.’

Buster wants the era of It Happened One Night and The Philadelphia Story. That sounds romantic on its surface -and like him I do tire of seeing men in their 40’s dressed like perpetual boys, down to the jeans and baseball caps- but there is no going back. There is never a going back. Not in travel, not in politics, not in life. Do-overs only exist on video tape.

It is a shame, though, that our more ‘open’ world is in some ways so very closed-minded. The tide of secularism has made it unthinkable that a Catholic bishop -or for that matter, any religious figure- would be invited to participate in such a show as What’s My Line?; outside of news programs, you won’t see a Catholic bishop on television, except on ‘Catholic’ TV.

Totally agree with her and Buster, although I rather hope she is wrong about ‘no going back’.  (At around the same time this show aired, I, too, knew a Buster.)  We’re more segregated than ever and less mannered than I could have ever imagined.

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