Religion at the Peace Table
In a forceful statement, 1,600 religious leaders of various denominations have protested to President Roosevelt, Prime Minister Churchill, and Premier Stalin against involvement of the democracies in any "deal" in which either the Vatican or any Protestant or Jewish religious organization has part, either as principal or mediator.
Among the signatories to the declaration are such influential names as Dr. John A. Mackay, president of Princeton Theological Seminary ; Dr. Henry N. Wieruan, Divinity School of the University of Chicago ; Dr. Rufus W. Weaver, executive secretary of the Baptist Convention of the District of Columbia ; Bishop Francis J. McConnell, New York resident bishop of the Methodist Episcopal Church; Dr. Edward McNeill Poteat, president of Colgate-Rochester Divinity School; Rev. W. Stanley Rycroft, executive secretary, Committee on Co-operation in Latin America; Pierre van Paasen, author; and Kenneth Leslie, editor of The Protestant. It is a good statement and will exert a much-needed influence. Here it is:
"In making the following declaration we proclaim our feeling of spiritual kinship toward all people who, whether individually or as members of religious establishments, manifest their allegiance to the spirit of the Nazarene.
"Establishments of religion, however widely representative, however exalted, have no place at the council tables of the state.
"For a hundred years or more it has been assumed in all democratic countries that freedom of conscience had become a permanent achievement in human society and would spread with the spread of democracy throughout the entire world. Further, it was assumed that this freedom rested securely on the basic principle of the separation of church and state.
Papal Abstention Cited
During the Papacy's abstention from overt political activity, in the half century between 1870 and 1929, it was blessed on its ecclesiastical side by an extension of its power and influence on a scale unparalleled in any previous age. Its growth was particularly marked in non-Roman Catholic countries, where it enjoyed the most harmonious relations with existing free cultures. It is tragically significant that when, in 1929, the Papacy reentered the political field, it did so in alliance with enemies of those very cultures in which its church had thrived. As a political power it gained its first fatal successes in treaties of friendship with fascist powers. Supporting Mussolini in Italy, Dolfuss and Schuschnigg in Austria, Hitler in Germany, Franco in Spain, and Petain in France, the Papacy has thrown its weight into the scales of the present human struggle on the side of the enemies of democracy.
"We do not believe for one instant that the loyalty of United Nations' soldiers of the Roman Catholic faith had to be purchased by any political dealing with the Vatican. On the contrary, we believe these soldiers, understanding the issue better than the 'statesmen' of their church, will consider such dealing a betrayal 'of what they are fighting for.
"We speak not as churchmen who would interfere in the affairs of state but as men of the state who are also men of the church and desire the freedom of both. In accordance with sound democratic principles- we insist that a church which would link its destiny to that of the state must be kept at arm's length by the state.
"We therefore oppose any attempt under whatever formula to involve the free democratic estates in any deal in which the Vatican State or its representatives, or the representatives of any Protestant or Jewish establishment of religion, has part or place, either as principal or mediator."
Superstition—Pagan vs. Christian
Two special dispatches to the New York Times, appearing in its issue of February Jo, 1945, are of peculiar interest. They deal with superstition. One from Guam, wirelessed by Special Correspondent Robert Trumbull, transmits the remarks of Catholic Bishop Thomas T. Wade, vicar apostolic for the northern Solornons, deploring the "backsliding" of natives to pagan "superstition" under Japanese occupation. When the Japanese occupation of Guam took place, a Spanish bishop and ten American priests were removed, leaving but two native priests, Fathers Calvos and Duenas. Unable to conceal his personal hostility to the Japanese, Father Duenas was beheaded, leaving Father Calvos to carry on alone.
The Bishop took occasion to voice his uneasiness at "the resurgence of native superstitions." He was solaced, however, as he philosophically observed: "As long as the superstition is harmless, it doesn't hurt anybody and we aren't concerned." In the same paper, on another page, is printed the following wireless dispatch :
"Paris, February 9.—Catholic circles learned with gratification tonight that, at the request of the French
episcopate, the Pope has proclaimed Saint Therese of the Child Jesus as second protectress of France. The first is Saint Joan of Arc.
"The papal decision coincides with preparations to bring to Paris at the end of this month the body of Saint Therese in a magnificent reliquary given by Brazilian Catholics. The body will be received in Notre Dame by the French cardinals and archbishops, and will later be moved successively to the principal churches in the capital.
"The basilica in Lisieux where the saint was born and died, was much damaged during the Allies' landing."
Pope Accused of Condoning Nazis
The newly revived Russian Orthodox Church, at the gathering of its leaders in Moscow for the election of a new Patriarch, broadcast a statement over the Moscow radio, accusing the Vatican of condoning Fascism by attempting to excuse Germany for its crimes. The broadcast was recorded by the Federal Communications Commission. It declared that the delegates "lift their voice against the efforts of those, particularly the Vatican, who, attempting in their utterances to absolve Hitler-Germany from responsibility for all the abominable deeds she has committed and pleading for mercy for the Hitlerites who drenched all Europe in the blood of innocent victims, are thereby seeking in our estimation to allow the continued existence on earth after the war of misanthropic, unchristian fascist doctrine and its agents."