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Atheist Russia Shakes The World
How The Wicked Bolsheviks Save Our Christian World
by Joseph McCabe
Edited by E. Haldeman-Julius
The Black International No. 9
- Chapter I – The Vatican Courts Russia For Years
- Chapter II – The Supposed Persecution Of Religion
- Chapter III – The Papal Hymn Of Hate
- Chapter IV – Hitler’s Magnificent Blunder
THE VATICAN COURTS RUSSIA FOR YEARS
On the very morning on which I begin to write this little book the news comes that Japan has attacked America. It completes my case against the Vatican. Its third big friend and ally joins the struggle to destroy all freedom, all enlightenment, all that we most deeply prize in what we call our civilization. The Papacy has still other friends, it is true. It has Vichy France and Franco Spain, those islands of Fascism amidst populations in chains which loathe them. It has Salazar Portugal, Leopold of Belgium, the miserable new Slovakia and Montenegro, and the rats of Eire, Hungary, and Rumania. One hopes it is proud of them. Until today it flattered itself that amongst its loyal friends it numbered nearly all the Republics of South and Central America but this latest outrage on all human decency by one of the big Papal Allies seems to have shaken most of them. The powerful friends of the Vatican are Germany, Italy, and Japan — the most brutalized powers of modern history, the enemies of the human race.
It is not nine months since the Pope gave Matsuoka so gracious an interview at the Vatican that the wily Jap called it “the most beautiful moment of my life” and he put amongst his treasures the gold medal which the Pope gave him. Matsuoka had done more than any other representative of Japan to fool Americans and delay their armament. He is a more unctuous liar than Ribbentrop. Last March, when he was so affectionately received by the Pope, he had just come from interviews with Hitler and Mussolini, in which beyond question the date, if not the manner, of Japan’s intervention must have been discussed. There is here no room for one of those “unauthorized” assurances that the Pope was saddened or depressed or murmured about barbarous outrages. From the audience he went, radiant, to his usual public audience — ten to fifty dollars a head — and said, according to the Osservatore (his own organ) as well as the Italian and German journalists who were present, that he had had “a fine conversation” with Matsuoka. And the unscrupulous Japs went home to join in the concerting of the plot to dupe America to the last moment and fall upon it with all the brutal cunning and treachery which have characterized the greedy enterprises of the Pope’s two other big friends.
Why call the Pope Japan’s ally and friend, your Catholic neighbor may ask, I had better recall for you what I said briefly on the subject in the second book of this series. When in the most fateful hour of this catastrophic development, the rape of Manchuria, the first trial of strength of barbarism against civilization, Japan looked round a hostile world for a friend it found only the Vatican. The new Secretary of State, the present Pope, directed French priests in the East to cooperate with the bandits. I should not think that any decent American Catholic will ask you to believe that the Papacy was merely concerned about the spiritual welfare of the few thousand (or hundred) miserable rice- converts to the Church in Manchuria. Anyhow, it was the beginning of a most edifying friendship. Although there were only 100,000 Catholics in Japan there was soon talk of an exchange of ambassadors between Tokyo and the Vatican City, and just when Japan exposed its own lies about Manchuria by seizing and corrupting other provinces of China the Vatican proudly announced, and the Catholic press everywhere joyously repeated, that that proof of amity between two “civilizations” had been achieved. Since then, as I quoted in the words of a French Catholic, no Japanese of any standing visited Europe without calling to pay his respects to “the Holy Father.”
By what name will this beastly war be known in the history- books of the future? We hope that our great-grandchildren will read of it with amazement in their High Schools as “The Last Great War.” If the men and women of the rising generation who have shuddered at its horrors do not make a life-vow of critical vigilance, if they again trust priests and politicians to prevent the world from drifting into so shameful a surrender to banditry, they are unworthy of the years of sunlight which the chances of life have offered them.
Some think that the title will be “The Most Amazing War in History.” From 1919 onward hundreds of writers thrilled us with gruesome pictures of the super-brutalities of the next war, and for the last ten years at least there cannot have been a doubt in any man’s mind which nations were expected to rain down fire and poison upon peaceful cities and which peoples were to suffer. Yet the aggressive nations openly flaunted their programs of conquest and their plainly named victims went from jazz to swing and let even the weapons of 1918 rot in the fields. When the time came little England declared war with an equipment of 18 good planes, quarter of a million cardboard-coffins, and 40,000,000 gas-masks. France entrusted its fate to naval and military commanders who allow priests to tell them that an appalling national calamity purifies the soul of a people and that no price is too high to pay for the destruction of Communism and Atheism. Then there was the long spell of “cockeyed war” in which profiteers waxed fat. Then, most amazing of all, the great power that every other nation in the world had maligned and every Church cursed entered the arena in which we were supposed to be fighting for Christian civilization and lit it at last with valor and heroism.
Some day historians and military experts will estimate more coldly than we can and more boldly than we dare today what chance the British Empire, even with what we might call the morganatic alliance of America, had of escaping destruction after the appalling betrayal of civilization by France. There will be at least many who will conclude that if Hitler had at that time persevered in his designs against Russia before turning to attack Yugo-Slavia, Greece, and Russia, the issue would have been. . . . Let me, since I am an Englishman, leave it at that.
But the most amazing feature of all is the story of the relations of the Vatican with the Soviet civilization. In all that maelstrom of emotion that agitated the press and peoples of the world when mighty Russia entered the war nothing was more intriguing than the wavering and discordant note of the Catholic press. Even when it was clear, as it must have been to every informed person, that the world’s peril was mightily relieved, if not dissipated, by the accession of this new strength to the forces of good, large numbers of Catholics in every country denounced the idea of employing it, and a certain reserve or hesitation was found throughout the entire Church. You know why. Every Church had attacked Russia for its Atheism and its supposed persecution of religion, but the others had been temperate in comparison with the Church of Rome. Ten years ago it had borrowed and adopted the motto which Voltaire had coined against itself, “Wipe out the Infamous Thing.” We had been reading in Catholic writers for decades that the truculence of that slogan was proof of the essential vulgarity of the irreligious soul, and suddenly, five or six years ago, the gentle voice of Mother Church began its “Wipe out Bolshevism in Russia, Spain, and Mexico.” Even a Catholic writer does not pretend that Voltaire urged men to extinguish the Roman Church in blood. But that is the only possible meaning of the Pope’s slogan. He appealed to “governments.” The German hierarchy appealed to Hitler to let them add their prayers to the thunder of his guns. The American hierarchy appealed to Wall Street, which is believed to have some influence at Washington.
All that is known, but what is your Catholic friend likely to say if you tell him that in what his own (as well as general) literature calls the very worst years of Bolshevik power, the years when priests like Father Walsh, who spent two years in Russia, tell him that bishops and priests were murdered by the hundreds and with sadistic savagery, the Vatican was straining every nerve to court the favor of Lenin and his colleagues? That in the first year of Bolshevik power, the summer of 1918, Russian Catholics held, for the first time in the history of Russia, the most solemn and august of their public processions, with the consecrated host, in the streets of Leningrad, and no one was allowed to molest them?
That is really the most amazing feature of the story of the Vatican and Russia. As long as the Bolsheviks were Bolsheviks — that is to say, as long as Lenin attempted to run the country on Communist lines — and a savage White War and famine did profoundly disturb the normal Socialist psychology — the Papacy was the only power in the world that repeatedly attempted to enter into cordial relations with them. But when the New Economic Policy suspended Communism in Russia, when the passions of the civil war had died down and the stately structure of a new and higher civilization began to rise from its foundations, the Pope began to denounce Bolshevism as the spawn of the devil and call for a crusade to wipe it out in blood!
Yet the evidence for that can be taken entirely from Catholic sources, and any man who has read my account — fully supported by the Catholic Teeling — of the Papal ambition to take over the eastern Churches, will be prepared to accept it. To many, however, it will seem not merely one of those “libels” of which Catholics are taught to complain so pathetically, but a quite impossible suggestion. So let us take this attempt of the Vatican to court the Soviet government during the four or five years when all the rest of the world hated it as our first point.
From the Catholic Teeling (The Pope in Politics), who is no rebel against his Church, I quoted the statement that the Vatican was most eager to capture the Greek and other eastern Churches in order to counterbalance the growth of democratic elements (chiefly American and British) in the Latin Church. He goes on to describe how the destruction of the power of the Greek or Orthodox Church in Russia by the Bolsheviks — in fact, the knowledge that they would very soon achieve this — gave the Papacy a wonderful new outlook for its anti-democratic ambition. By flattering the Bolshevik leaders and thanking them for delivering Russian Pacifists from the tyranny of the Orthodox Church it hoped to take the place of the discredited heads of the old national Church.
The somewhat sympathetic American writer George Seldes (The Vatican) says the same, with a slight difference. He says that the Vatican regarded the rise of the Bolsheviks to power with mixed feelings: a loathing of their economic philosophy and rejoicing — for which he quotes the Osservatore in the splendid opportunity of the Church, Seldes states on the title-page of his book that the historical part of it is taken from a work by two French Catholics, G. London and C. Pichon (Le Vatican et le monde moderns, 1933). He does not explain how 20 small pages of historical matter in the French book have become more than 100 large pages in his own book. Anyhow, he here retouches their text. They simply say that the Papacy rejoiced in the Russian Revolution in so far as it opened out a golden prospect to itself. The talk about the infamy of the Bolshevik philosophy began later. At the time doubtless Rome had just the same idea of Bolshevism but it was prepared to sup with the devil.
Another Catholic writer who candidly describes this early phase is Miss M.A. Almedingen (The Catholic Church in Russia Today, 1923). Her little book is valuable not only because the author is one of those ardent (in the pious sense) virgins who are the treasure of the clergy but because she lived in Russia during these years of courtship. She tells us that the Bolsheviks at once released the head of the Roman Church whom the Tsarists had put in prison — a Pole who had been guilty of political intrigue, be it noted — and lifted all the restrictions which the Tsarists had laid upon Papist activities. It is this same devout Catholic and very truthful lady who tells us that in the summer of 1918 Catholics were allowed to hold, for the first time in Russian history, their sacred Corpus Christi procession, a priest openly carrying what they call the Blessed Sacrament, in the streets of Petrograd and at least one other city. The Bolsheviks actually favored the Roman against the Greek Catholics, and there was, this ideal witness assures us, no interference whatever with their religion until the summer of 1919, nearly two years after Lenin got power, and no “persecution” until three years after that. In 1920, she says, Rome was still so intent upon friendship with the Soviet authorities that bodies of friars waited on the frontiers for the signal to march in and win the Russian people for the Vatican.
I have earlier explained the situation. The Russian Orthodox Church was the largest of the sections into which political developments in the 19th Century had split the old Greek Church. It differed from the Roman in ritual and on one very abstruse point of doctrine (the procession of the Holy Ghost) but most emphatically in rejecting the Pope’s pretensions. That it was, and had always been, very corrupt is agreed. “The Orthodox Church was filthy with corruption and debauchery,” says Seldes (p. 287). The 10,000 monks were “very lax,” says the Catholic Encyclopedia. But most people have read the very characteristic story of St. Rasputin. Any body who carers to look up a copy of The Romance of the Romanoffs which I wrote and published in New York in 1917 will find many piquant pages on church-life. Peter the Great had so open a contempt for it that in the drunken debauches he held with his court he and the men often dressed as monks and his loosest women dressed as nuns. Catherine the Great had hardly less contempt for it. We recognize in every age a decent and religious minority in it but it remained until 1917 so generally corrupt that most educated Russians despised it.
The Bolsheviks had another reason to attack it besides the spectacle of so corrupt a body owning “fabulous wealth,” as the most neutral historians say, and exploiting the ignorant. From the time of the French Revolution it had drawn closer to the autocracy, knowing that they would stand or fall together. Every atrocity of the statesmen and their hirelings who protected the throne of the Tsars was blessed by the Holy Synod, and this continued in the 19th Century. In the last great revolutionary period, 1904-5, the jails of Russia, which were supposed to have a capacity of 107,000, were crammed with 174,000 prisoners, besides 100,000 in the Siberian colonies. These prisoners were to a very large extent young men and women of the university-student class. Thousands — after boldly stitching tabs with their names on their clothes. — went out on the streets to be shot. Hundreds committed suicide or were carried off by epidemics in the fetid jail’s every month. Brutal jailers raped the refined young women in their cells. The press abroad put these horrors in small paragraphs, if they were mentioned at all. The banner-headlines were reserved for the fictitious “Bolshevik atrocities” of a later date. But you will not be surprised that a great debt was inscribed in the memory of the Socialists.
Yet Lenin and his colleagues were content, as long as the clergy kept out of polities, to disestablish the Church, destroy its monopoly, and confiscate the bulk of its superfluous wealth. Beyond that, Miss Armedinger insists, there was no persecution for four or five years, and the complete freedom, and equality of cults, which the Orthodox hierarchy had refused, were warmly welcomed by the Romanists. The Vatican, however, which had from long experience a cynical distrust of argumentative proselytism and a decided preference for the knout, wanted more than freedom. The Orthodox Church had been richer than any section of the Roman Church, which in Russia was exceptionally poor. A very impartial note on the religious situation in Kiesing’s Contemporary Archives (October 18, 1941, p. 4848) says that the monks and higher clergy of the Orthodox Church had a wealth in land alone of $8,500,000,000, and the property, jewels, etc. of their churches and monasteries represented a vast further sum. The Vatican’s dream of taking over this was soon dissipated, as the Bolsheviks more sensibly transferred it to the people of Russia. But it was said, since the census of 1913, that the Orthodox Church had 98,000,000 communicants, and doubtless, since the only difference in doctrine was one that not one Russian in 100,000 could comprehend, a little pressure from the Soviet authorities Would help these millions (mostly illiterate) to see that the Pope was a far holier person than the Orthodox patriarch.
The Bolsheviks had other designs but for a year or two they were not unwilling to see Roman Catholicism, of which they knew very little, replace the Catholicism which they had so much ground to hate. Meantime, however, the White War, in which passions flamed to redness and even conservative writers admit that the Imperialist Russians themselves committed appalling atrocities had broken out. How this led to what is called persecution we shall see in the next chapter, but it is worth noting that we have here a parallel with the French Revolution of a very different kind from that which is usually, and falsely, pressed upon us. Aulard and other leading French historians have shown that Danton and Robespierre, instead of trying to destroy religion, made every effort to maintain the Church but the people overruled them. In much the same way Miss Almedinger, then living in Russia, describes Lenin and his colleagues following a policy of religious freedom and the people impatient of it. The Red guards, she says, frowned on the public Catholic processions of 1918 but did not interfere. In the following year they began to disturb services in the churches and were checked by the authorities, but these did not seriously interfere with religion until 1922, when large numbers of churches were closed and priests arrested.
We shall see why. For the moment let us follow the wooing of the Kremlin by the Vatican. In 1922 the Romanists in Russia, who were now reduced to one or two millions, mostly Poles and Lithuanians, by the formation of the independent republic of Poland, suffered like the Orthodox for having intrigued with the invading Poles and White Russians, and the golden prospect that had opened up in 1917 to the eyes of the Papacy was replaced by a fear that its Church was doomed to total destruction in Russia. The Genoa Conference in 1922, at which the European powers were to meet and come to a friendly agreement with representatives of Russia, the higher interests of trade and the recovery of debts having overruled the world’s repugnance to Atheist Russia, gave the Vatican a new hope. The Archbishop of Genoa was instructed to get in touch with and cultivate Comrade Chicherin.
London and Pichon, whose account is followed by Seldes and Teeling, tell the story. After several futile attempts to meet Chicherin the archbishop got himself placed next to the Russian at a banquet which the king of Italy gave to the delegates and he was as amiable as an Italian prelate knows how to be. He came away with Chicherin’s autograph on his menu, exchanging it for his own. Bear in mind that according to later Catholic literature these Bolsheviks had already slaughtered a thousand bishops and heaven knows how many thousand priests. Doubtless the archbishop sent a roseate account of his success to Rome, but Chicherin was not so simple as the prelate imagined. Russia, disgusted at the hypocritical patronage and greed of the powers, made a separate trade-agreement with Germany, and the conference ended in confusion.
The Vatican still wooed the hated Russians. some men compare it to a blond gold-digger pursuing a wealthy gangster but we will confine ourselves strictly to the facts, as told by Catholic writers. The agents of the Vatican transferred their solicitation to the Russian representative in Rome. The civil war had been followed by a famine in which millions died, and the Pope pressed for permission to help in the work of relief in which many nations cooperated. Even Catholic writers do not go so far as to ask us to admire the generosity of the Vatican in helping the nation which had, it was alleged all over the world, been guilty of an atrocious massacre of priests. The aim was so clearly propaganda that the Russians exacted an agreement that the members of the Vatican relief mission should avoid politics and propaganda before they were allowed to enter the country.
Everyone knows the value of these Catholic promises to refrain from propaganda; when, for instance, you send your children to a nun’s school or an invalid to a Catholic hospital or convalescent home. A priest or nun is bound in conscience to get round that promise. So the American Jesuit Father Walsh, the head of the Vatican mission, set out with a million nice parcels “for the children of Russia from the Pope of Rome.” So Seldes says, but he does not add, as London and Pichon do, that they took also colored photographs of the Pope to stick in their relief-centers; and you can imagine for yourself what answers the Jesuits gave when Russians made inquiries about this picturesque and benevolent gentleman. The Russians found that they were proselytizing and in 1924 conducted them to the frontier. Walsh went back to America and published one of the vilest of the attacks on Russia which were now beginning to gladden the heart of Wall Street. He swept together the wildest and most incredible stories of Bolshevik savagery; and you will find it interesting to remember that these things are supposed to have been perpetrated before or during the two years when the Jesuit was working in Russia in friendly relationship with the Soviet authorities.
Still the Vatican hoped. It chose a French Jesuit, Father D’Herbigny, whom it turned into a bishop to make him more acceptable to the simple Soviet authorities, He and a few others got into Russia and were expelled for intrigue, and the long courtship, which was now clearly hopeless, ended in a Hymn of Hate. D’Herbigny joined the libellers and maybe regarded as the author of the Papal bugle-call for “the extinction of Bolshevism.” It is convenient for Catholics to forget that the Vatican pressed its friendship on Russia during these years when the appalling condition of the country did give rise to a great deal of violence and all the rest of the world was hostile. But the facts I have given are quoted entirely from Catholic sources, and we must not allow them to be concealed. What the Papacy believed about the character of the power with which it sought an alliance did not matter to it. All that it regarded was, as it thought, a new chance of attaining wealth and power. As soon as that chance was definitely lost and Communism and Atheism spread from Russia and threatened the Church’s wealth and power in other countries it turned against Russia and tried to excite a war against It. The fact that Russia was now building up a peaceful and humane civilization did not matter to it. Indeed, the clearer Russia’s peaceful and humane intentions became and the greater its success the more savage the language of the Vatican became. Did I overstate the truth when I said that the first aim of the Black International is the protection and increase, by hook or crook, of its own wealth and power?
THE SUPPOSED PERSECUTION OF RELIGION
When Mr. Roosevelt recently sent Harriman to Moscow to inquire what help Russia required he told his envoy to raise the question of freedom of religion. That fact was stated in many papers and is duly recorded in the Keesing daily summary of the press. Nothing but heavy pressure from the Churches could have induced so broad- minded a statesman as Mr. Roosevelt thus to interfere in the internal affairs of another nation and, by implication, lay down conditions on which he would grant help to a power that was bearing the whole brunt of the attack on civilization; and back of this. pressure of the Churches is, notoriously, the charge that Russia persecutes religion or puts penalties of some sort on those who practice it.
Most of us know the insincerity of that charge. Russia was feared and hated, until it entered the war because its rapid progress from about 1928 to 1940 discredited two very sacred principles of the British and American press, literature, and politicians. One, the ancient and threadbare charge against Socialism, the really fundamental reason why Russia was treated as an outlaw nation and the truth about it concealed, was the assertion that you cannot make progress without private enterprise or, in the ordinary meaning of the word, capitalism. It would not do to let the people of the world know that Socialist Russia was advancing so rapidly that this most emphatic principle of individualism was completely discredited.
The second principle was that you cannot even maintain an existing civilization without religion; and, since in this respect we are thinking of the ruling or, guiding class of a nation, the principle refers particularly to these. Yet, whatever be the strength of religion in Russia today, which we will discuss later, no one questions or could question that the members of the administration from the Commissars at Moscow to the administrative officials of a small town are all Atheists. These Atheists have achieved in twenty years one of the greatest feats in history in the construction of a civilization. They took over, not a working and fairly solid economy as they Fascists and the Nazis did, but a country that had been reduced to a state of social and cultural chaos, Tsarist Russia had been low in culture and character and, for so large a country with such resources, far from rich. But the three years of the European War, the ensuing two years of the White and the Polish War, and the two years subsequently of famine and disease, had made a wilderness of the vast land. Anyone who does not realize that ought to look into a good annual, like the Annual Register, for 1923 and 1924. It was still a few years before the Communist statesmen could begin serious construction, and I repeat that what they did between 1928 and 1940 is beyond all historical precedents. All the world knows it today.
Hence when American writers so far removed from Communism as John Dewey, Durant, etc. began to assert this fact the anti- Socialist slogan was discredited and criticism, to be plausible, had to be confined to the supposed interference with religion. Here again priests and bankers joined hands, and the most unscrupulous priests of all were the Roman Catholic. Although, particularly in Britain, the charge of persecuting religion was, as we shall see, officially disproved years ago, we must admit that the Church of Rome was not the only offender. The entry of Russia into the war roused the same ecclesiastical fussiness in England as in, America, to which Mr. Roosevelt’s unhappy instruction to Harriman bears witness. The President of the Baptist World Alliance publicly denied Maisky’s claim that religion is, and has been for years, free in Russia. To that we will return but we, at once, recognize one distinction between Protestant and Catholic anti-Communism. The Protestant Churches wanted such diplomatic pressure as their government could bring to bear upon Moscow, but as I have quoted repeatedly in the Pope’s own words, the Vatican wanted Communism extinguished by war.
Some of my readers may occasionally regard my language about that Church, which is treated with profound respect in most papers, as over-emphatic, but candidly, could any man with moderate historical knowledge characterize in milder terms the effrontery of the Vatican’s diatribes against Russia? Hell hath no fury like a Pope’s scorn, of course, but most people do not expect the strident and unreasoning language of a rejected suitor from the heads of any Church, and for the Popes to complain of persecution is simply grotesque. Ever since Europe returned to some degree of mental sanity in the 20th Century the Popes have relied on savage persecution to maintain their power and of the half-million democrats who forfeited their lives for freedom in the 19th Century all but a few hundred were victims of Catholic authorities, lay and clerical acting together.
But there is no need to go into history. In our own day, we have seen repeatedly in this series of books, Rome follows the old policy of persecution wherever it can. We saw that the Catholic Church and authorities of Poland maintained a brutal persecution of the Orthodox Catholics in the Galician Ukraine, indeed of Protestants in Poland itself, from 1919 to 1939. We saw that when Pacelli had traversed South America the most terrible persecution, including torture, broke out everywhere. It followed the seizure of power from the Socialists by the Catholics of Vienna. . . . In short, the policy has been enforced wherever the Vatican had the power to enforce right down to the time, only a few months ago, when the priests of Croatia and Bulgaria fell upon the priests of the Serb Church.
The supreme irony is that, as I have shown until most of my readers must be tired. of it, in its Canon Law today the Church lays down that it “can and must put heretics to death.” Catholics in Britain and America are so keen to prevent this from becoming generally known that it astonishes most people. Only two days ago I had a letter from a businessman asking where he could buy a copy of this Canon Law as, if that is impossible — as it is, for the Vatican Press alone publishes it, and only for priests — whether I could get for him a photostat of the page — there are five or six pages — making the claim! I have not found any priest bold enough to deny it in writing for the non-Catholic public. The modern world rightly laughs at the idea of Roman priests burning heretics, or forcing the police to burn them, in the market-place, but there is here a serious question of principle. The great majority of people in every advanced modern civilization claim freedom to go to church or stay away, to accept a religious creed or reject them all. Why do we tolerate all this fuss about “freedom of religion” from Catholic writers and priests who say they will, wherever they get the power, suppress all freedom of irreligion? Clerical-Fascist power has in our own time fallen truculently upon tens of millions of seceders from the Church in Italy, Spain, Portugal, France, and Latin America, and none are more vehement than these countries in demanding the blood of the Bolsheviks because they put certain mild restriction’s on the propaganda, not the personal practice, of religion!
There is another forgotten aspect which will interest every man who wants honesty even in religious propaganda. I said that one of the first things the Bolsheviks did was to release the head of the Catholic Church in Russia from the jail to which “Holy Russia” of Tsarist days had sent him. This was only a last trace of a bitter persecution of Roman Catholics that the Orthodox Russians had maintained for a century. Catholics now generally suppress the facts — though you may read some account of them in the Catholic Encyclopedia, since it was written before 1920 — in order to be able to represent the “persecution of religion” as a wicked practice introduced into Russia by those terrible Bolsheviks.
In point of fact, such restrictions as the Bolshevik authorities have really laid upon religion, apart from the legal punishment of priests for treason, are trifles in comparison with what the Greek Catholics did to the Latin Catholics in the last century. You will find it amusing to read in the article on Russia in the Catholic Encyclopedia how 70 or 80 years ago Pope Pius IX was using about his brothers in Christ of the Orthodox Church exactly the same abusive language as the Vatican now uses about the Bolsheviks! But what was then done out of religious hatred — we must admit that the chief ground was that the Russian Catholics were then, as now, mostly Poles and political intriguers — was far worse than Catholic’s have suffered in Soviet Russia. Hundreds of priests were hanged and whole communities of nuns were raped and brutally treated. They were stripped and flogged and in some cases burned alive. Young Catholic nuns were put in Orthodox convents, and it was hell. One Orthodox mother-superior took an axe to one of these stubborn Romanist nuns. At one place a number of nuns were put in sacks, and dragged over the surface of lakes in winter, the people cheering from the banks. Monks had to let down their pants and sit on the ice. I really wonder why Father Walsh did not get hold of some of these true stories of 80 years ago and turn them into Bolshevik outrages of 1923 and 1924!
These, things make a mockery of all this modern twaddle about cruel Atheists and sadistic Bolsheviks. And when we examine the stories which are offered us even by writers who pose as experts we find them often grotesque. There is, for instance, a much-consulted history of the early Bolshevik years by Lancelot Lawton (The Russian Revolution, 1927). Most people know only that he was a correspondent in Russia of the Liberal Daily Chronicle and not that — so a Russian official assured me — he married a White Russian. Most of the folk who talk about the horrors of the early years would quote Lawton. Well, here is a specimen of his “history.” He says, “The number of ecclesiastical persons executed from 1917 to 1920 was 8,050, including 1,275 bishops.” How magnanimous of the Vatican to press its friendship upon Russia after such a ghastly slaughter! But if you put together the details given in the Catholic Encyclopedia and its supplement and the last edition of the Encyclopedia Britannica you will be relieved to find that in 1917 there were not more than 80 archbishops and bishops, of both Churches, in Russia, and most of them escaped — the Encyclopedia Britannica describes 15 of them setting up a synod in Belgrade — or went to prison for intrigue with the invaders. It is a nice example of the “historical” basis for the talk about Bolshevik atrocities and persecution of religion.
As far as the Roman Catholics are concerned we may follow Miss Almedinger because she not only lived in Russia at the time but she is so really religious that she won’t lie even in the good cause. She tells us that one Catholic bishop and a number of anonymous Catholics were put to death and admits that they were guilty in Russian law. Bolshevik law was so wicked that it imposed sentence of death on traitors or men who intrigued with and helped the invaders. One of the most impartial histories of the time, J.H. Jackson’s Post-War World (1935, p. 189) says that “no case has been discovered of a priest or anyone else being punished for the practice of religion.” Those words, we shall see presently, are part of the official report of the British ambassador and were read in the British House of Commons by the Foreign Secretary (a vary religious man). The charge has been so discredited that it does not appear in the supplement of the Catholic Encyclopedia which was published after the alleged period of sanguinary persecution, but other Catholic writers sustain throughout the world the tattered legend of Bolshevik atrocities. It is the chief foundation for their gospel of hatred of Russia and their demand (until recently) that other powers should make war upon it.
The period in question is still as obscure as some parts of ancient history, for the confusion was such that few authentic records were kept while the intense passion on both sides gave rise to vast quantities of reckless rumors. There is again a real analogy with the French Revolution — with the true story of the revolution for, as I said, Lenin and Stalin no more interfered with religion for the first few years, beyond disestablishing the corrupt Orthodox Church and nationalizing its superfluous wealth, than the leaders of the French Revolution had done. And in both cases it was hostile invasion and the intrigues of the clergy with the invaders which soured the people and forced the hand of the authorities. After the November Revolution Lenin repudiated the huge foreign debt incurred by the Tsarists, and foreign armies were sent to help the Whites or refugee imperialists. About 300,000 Whites, Poles, Rumanians, Czechs, Japanese, British, American and French entered the distressed and impoverished country for the purpose of destroying the new regime, and there never was a more savage war. As in the French Revolution, again, the refugees told wild stories (as is now definitely proved by French histories) of the number of victims. The Russians say 50,000. Some unprejudiced historians suggest between 100,000 and 200,000. But even so responsible an organ as the London Times gave the figure as 7,700,000 with just such impossible exaggerations in detail as that I quoted from Lawton.
The Poles continued this war when the other Allies quit, and at a time when the country suffered as no other land has done in modern times, and it would be absurd to doubt that the Catholic clergy and the peasants they controlled did all they could to help them. At one time it looked as if the Poles were likely to win and restore the autocracy of the Church. In any case the vast majority of the Roman Catholics left in Russia after the detachment of provinces to form Poland, Latvia, and Lithuania, were Poles. How many there were no one knows. They were too poor for the Church to organize them. The Catholic Encyclopedia claims 5,000,000 and then talks of dioceses in which there was only one priest to 5,000 or even 10,000 Catholics! There were probably not a million subjects of the Pope then in Russia, and the number today is negligible. It was the heritage of the Orthodox Church for which the Vatican was fighting.
The Orthodox clergy and the few Romanist priests continued to intrigue with Poland and the White refugees abroad, and there were further executions. Any fair-minded man ought to recognize the real character of these after the official verdict given in the British House of Commons. In 1929 some of the religious members of Parliament, under Church pressure, shamelessly ignoring the rule that one country does not interfere in the internal affair’s of another, insisted that the government should inquire into the persecution of religion in Russia. This, it will be remembered, was the year in which the Papacy signed its Concordat with Mussolini, and desperate efforts were made to get Mussolini to forbid the practice of any religion but the Roman in Italy. Severe restrictions were, in fact, put on Protestantism, and the grossest intolerance to seceders from the Church was embodied in the law, with the approval of those Catholics in all countries who continued to talk about Russian persecution of religion. The oracle of American Catholicism, Msgr. Ryan, blandly explained it on the principle that truth has rights but error none!
However, the British government asked its ambassador in Moscow, Sir Esmond Ovey, for a report, and it contained this sentence which was read to the House of Commons by the Foreign Secretary, the pious Henderson — the government was then under that arch-trimmer Ramsay Macdonald, who was at one time a personal friend of mine and a complete Agnostic — on April 23 and reported in the press next day:
“There is no religious persecution in Russia, in the strict sense of the word persecution, and no case has been discovered of a priest or anyone else being punished for practicing religion.”
It is characteristic of the way in which the public is educated by its press in our time, under pressure of Roman Catholicism, that a persecution of the Ukrainians by the Poles on the ground of religion (as well as nationality) was then at its height and only three papers in Britain and America dared refer to it. At the most Russia restricted religious folk to their own premises while in Poland priests opposed to Rome were flogged, grossly insulted, robbed and jailed. But did you hear any outcry about the persecution of religion in Poland or any demand that American or British authorities ought to make an inquiry?
To this official assurance that no priest or anyone had been “punished for practicing religion” could be added the words of a large number of religious leaders, in Russia itself. In a booklet published in America (The Soviet War on Religion, 1930) Mr. Sherwood gives, with exact reference to the date of publication in the Russian press, a number of these admissions. One is signed by three archbishops of the Orthodox Church (p. 27), one by 31 Jewish rabbis, (p. 28), one by a group of Roman Catholic priests, and so on. They insist that there is no persecution, say that the stories of atrocities are “inventions and slanders unworthy of serious peoples attention” and that there is no question even of “pressure” on them, and that there had been general political intrigue on the part of the clergy, especially of the Roman Church. The Catholic priests, admitting this, actually say:
“The dark era of oppression has disappeared without a trace, together with the Tsardom which maintained it, and the star of liberty has begun to shine with its bright radiance on the life of the Catholic Church” (p. 29).
This was in 1927 and refutes the strongest claims of atrocities, which are located before that date. Yet the Vatican not merely encouraged the circulation of those stories in the Catholic Church but actually became more vitriolic in its indictment of Russia after that date; just at the time when its pets (Spain, Portugal, the South American Republics, Italy and Austria) were beginning to enforce a policy of persecution of religion.
Putting aside therefore all stories of execution or outrage on the ground of religion, which are thus disproved by the best authorities, what is the law or practice in regard to religion which, though it ought to be well known at Washington, moves Mr. Roosevelt to raise the question of freedom of religion in such form as to suggest that there is none, or only a restricted liberty, in Russia? The prominence given in the press to the President’s instruction to Mr. Harriman led Keesing’s Contemporary Archives to insert at that date (October 18, 1941, p. 4848) one of its impartial explanatory notes. It speaks of the “corruption” and “fabulous wealth” of the Tsarist Orthodox Church and says that the action taken against its clergy after the Revolution was taken on the ground of “their secular activities rather than religious partisanship.” Whatever the ground no one who knows anything about the old Church will feel surprise that in June 1918 the Church was disestablished, the ecclesiastical property (nearly $4,000,000,000 worth of land) nationalized, religious education excluded from the schools, and missionary activities suppressed. Within these limits every Russian was free to follow his conscience. This was the extent of persecution of religion in the years of the first violent reaction against the foul older era.
It is complained that the Soviet authorities then gave all the unofficial assistance they could to the Atheist League which was rapidly weaning the people from religion. It is rather funny to read this complaint in countries in which the political authorities do everything in their power to help the Churches; and the Soviet authorities were more deeply and sincerely convinced that religion is prejudicial to progress than democratic statesmen are that it is beneficial, to say nothing of the treasonable activities of the Russian clergy. It is complained also that, as time went on a large number of seminaries, monasteries, and churches were closed. In hundreds of instances the churches were converted to more useful purposes at the request of the people who used to frequent them, and political intrigue sufficiently excuses the closing of seminaries and monasteries. The writer of the note in Keesing quaintly says that “in spite of all this” the Orthodox Church counted 98,000,000 communicants and the Roman Church 11,000,000 members, but “the last census,” to which he appeals was taken in 1913!
We will try presently to ascertain how many folk in Russia still belong to the Churches and will continue here to examine this supposedly neutral account. As Russia entered into relations with other countries the zeal against religion was modified. In 1935 the attempt to suppress the celebration of Christmas was dropped, the more violent literature of the Atheist League was withdrawn from the bookstores, and the famous anti-Christian museums, with their caricatures of religion, became respectable museum’s of religion! In 1939 there was, this writer says, a great religious revival, though “not within the framework of the Churches.” How Christian writers love vague phrases like that. In plain English the Churches continued to lose, but there were now large numbers of priests who fought to modernize theology, even to combine Communism with a “new Christianity,” and there was a good deal of fresh discussion of religion. At the outbreak of the war with Germany the government — the Christian Science Monitor announced — suppressed the Atheist paper (Bezboznik).
In other words, the increasing danger from Germany induced the authorities to take various steps which might mitigate the hatred of Russia which the Churches inspired in America and Britain, but the law was not altered, and Mr. Roosevelt seems to have been persuaded that it contained an element of persecution of religion. Senator Smith bluntly put it: “Harriman’s job seems to be to try to get Stalin to join the Church so we can call him brother.” We all understood what it really meant. The representatives of Churches at Washington thought it a good opportunity to get Russian law made more favorable to religion. What is wrong with the law?
As Maisky, speaking to the American Chamber of Commerce in London on September 23, and Lozovsky in Moscow said, its fundamental principle is that all religions are free and equal; which we were always asked to regard as one of the finest achievements of the American Constitution. Let me repeat, as so few seem to realize it, that you will not find that just law and elementary human right conceded in any Roman Catholic country in the world today. Even in Eire and Quebec there is no religious equality, and the more docile to the Vatican Catholic states are, the more of its Canon Law they admit into their legislation, the more intolerant they are. Persecution of religion — any religion that rejects the Pope’s authority — is, we have seen, a first principle of Catholic law and theology. And, though we moderns insist that the non-religious man has the same right to liberty as the members of any Church, the intolerance is in this respect worse than ever. The Vatican’s first excuse for its demand of the extinction of Bolshevism is that the Russians are Atheists.
Maisky later added to his statement of Russian law. The government, which owns all property, puts a building at the disposal of any group of worshipers and charges no rent or taxes. Certainly a queer kind of persecution of religion! The police arrest and the courts punish any who “violate the rights of believers.” Ministers of all religions have just the Same Political and legal rights as other citizens.
To this the President of the Baptist World Alliance made a heated reply, and we may take it that his letter enumerates every respect in which he and his colleagues see the shadow of persecution. Worshipers, he says, must confine their worship to a church. Sunday Schools and religious lesions to children are forbidden. The Churches must have no social gatherings, no lectures, and no libraries. Mr. Rushbrooke might be advised to compare these restrictions on priests with the restrictions on Protestant Churches and Atheists in Catholic lands; and if he replies that Protestants do not do these things the answer is simple. They certainly did in England until, in the 19th Century, the Church of England, which inspired the law. dropped to a minority. We might even raise a question about Baptist tolerance in certain states of America, but it is enough to reflect that Baptists or Methodists were never yet the majority in any country so we must not be too sure what they would or would not do if they had the power.
To sum up the contents of this chapter and give the reader a clear idea on an issue that often confronts him in his reading, there is no truth in the stories that Catholics, Orthodox or Roman, were ever physically persecuted in Russia, that is to say, ever sent to, jail, much less executed, for belonging to a Church or practicing religion. An unknown number of bishops and priests, which in certain cases we have definitely proved to be exaggerated fifteen-fold, were put to death in the dark early years, but the ground was political, and our religious authorities admit that the clergy did quite generally conspire with attempts to subvert the government. We do not blame them when they saw a chance of the restoration of the Church to wealth and power, but it is silly to call this persecution. The law of treason is much the same in every country, and Russia was in such circumstances at the time that a drastic application of the law was essential.
As to later years and the present time we frankly admit that the Churches are not free to do what they like in Russia. The restrictions are mild in comparison with the restrictions on religion imposed in Catholic countries, and we very justly resent the practice of calling them persecution and implying that they are something peculiar to Soviet Russia. That is implied in the great majority of reference’s to religion in Russia, and not a word of appreciation is given the Bolsheviks for their introduction of the principle of individual freedom of conscience. The restrictions are that the priests must not impose religious doctrines on children, who can’t argue with their teachers, or do propaganda other than by holding religious services which any person may attend.
Apart from those whose admiration of Russia is so great that we might regard their judgment as biased, Atheists would differ about the propriety of these restrictions. We must, however, at least not judge the Russian authorities in the light of our experience in America. The Russian Church, which alone we need consider since the Roman brand of Catholicism is nearly dead, has been an enemy of the people for a thousand years. It allowed the Tsars and the nobles to keep nearly half a million peasants until 100 years ago in the state of slavery (serfdom) which Europe generally abolished 700 years ago. It supported a corrupt and murderous autocracy until 1917. It continued for the next 10 years to help every attempt to destroy a regime in which, whatever else you may think of it, the wealth produced by the people is shared amongst the people. To me personally it seems that if the Soviet authorities still think it dangerous, they have the right to impose these mild restrictions. Please yourself. They do not care the toss of a coin what you and I think about it. But as a vast amount of evil has been done by the Churches, and most particularly the Vatican, spreading a hatred of Russia, I have had to show that there is no justification for this in any persecution of religion.
THE PAPAL HYMN OF HATE
I invite the readers’ particular attention to the chronological parallel between the successive phases of the Vatican’s attitude to Russia and the developments in that country. I have briefly referred to it but it deserves careful consideration. Until about 1925, when Jesuit Bishop D’Herbigny was still trying to get a foothold in Russia, the Vatican made friendly approaches to the Soviet government. Apart from the futile gesture of the Genoa Conference no other power in the world was so amiable with Russia, and the country itself was in a very miserable condition. Long after that year our papers and novelists, were still serving up pictures of Russians in rags clinging to ramshackle overcrowded cars, sadistic officials of the 0.G.P.U. who had innocent maids waiting in the ante-rooms until they had finished their champagne-orgies, priests boiled in oil or burned in lime, and go on.
During the next ten years the world-hostility to Russia moderated. There was always money for a fiery indictment of the Soviet system, but level-headed men began to see that Russia had got on to a line on which it might travel far. During this indecisive period the Vatican had not much to say about Russia as far as I can ascertain. Locally members of the Black International like the American Jesuit Walsh might inflame sentiment against Russia. Business and financial men were not really very sensitive about outrages of religion. They were more deeply pained by the refusal of the Soviet authorities to pay interest on the Tsarist loans and on British and American investments. But if there were a few million folk who believed Walsh’s stories and helped to swell the feeling against Russia, it was all to the good. Still the Papacy, as I said, was fairly quiet about Russia. In fact, as lite as 1930 the Pope politely summoned the Catholic world, not to agitate for war but to pray fervently for Russia, the consequences of which I cannot discover.
About 1934 what we might broadly call the third phase of Russia’s internal development and relation to other power’s began. Russia had after so many years of bovine prejudice become rather indifferent to the opinion of the outside world but it received a large number of visitors from America and Britain every year, and men and women of very different schools and respected character wrote in high appreciation of its recovery. So neutral an authority as the Statesmen’s Year Book showed that Russia more than doubled its annual production of wealth from 1932 to 1935 — a feat far beyond the achievement of any other country — and there were no rich men to absorb any of it. Duranty has written sympathetic accounts for years to the New York Times, and his volume of articles (Russia Reported, 1934) made a deep impression. In the same year Sherwood Eddy’s Russia Today, written from a different rather conservative angle, confirmed the impression. A lady of the Tsarist family who had settled in America, Countess Skaryatina, still very conservative and religious, had the courage to go to Russia and the honesty to say that the Bolsheviks had made great progress (First to Go Back, 1935). An equally conservative British general, W.H. Waters, also a lover of the old regime, paid a visit and made the same report. Sir Bernard Pares, high British authority on the East and for years a heavy critic of Bolsheviks, now gave a very appreciative account and joined the “Friends of Russia.” He spoke of a “hostile foreign diplomat” in Moscow who grudgingly admitted to him that “the Bolsheviks have won all along the line.” We shall see other equally notable impartial witnesses later.
Naturally, the literature about Russia was very mixed. Some writers expressly catered to the chronic demand for blood-curdling stories of the O.G.P.U. and the poor folk who wept when their icons were torn away from them. Others, with milder prejudice, denounced Russia because it had no political elections of the democratic purity of those of America or because the workers, who a few years ago had been the worst paid and most ignorant in Europe, had not yet risen to the high standard of American workers — not mentioning that there was no unemployment in Russia and the workers had vast free social services and cheap rents in the cities. Typical was the work of Sir W. Citrine, who went with all the prejudice which the British Labor Party still stupidly fostered and poked into tenements to see if the baths all had stoppers, and after traveling hundreds of miles found a woman who seemed no better than she ought to be and something like a slum (such as he could have found within a mile of his house in London).
However, my point here is that as appreciation of Russia grew in the rest of the world the attitude of the Vatican to it became more somber and bitter, Catholic apologists are nothing if not bold but I have not yet heard of one who has asked us to admire the Pope because he was friendly to Russia when the rest of the world was venomous and became critical only when, and in proportion as, it no longer needed friends. We might get near the truth if we remember that the power behind the Pope, the Secretary of State, was changed in 1930. Pacelli, the present Pope, an aristocrat to his toenails, then became the dictator at the Vatican, for the Pope was very old and feeble. We might remember, too, that Pacelli entered, at the end of 1932, into a policy of friendliness to Germans, and Germany was pledged by its, bible, Hitler’s book, to make war sooner or later on Russia.
When precisely the Vatican began to snarl at Russia it is difficult to determine. The Encyclical Quadrazesimo anno of May 15, 1931 makes the earliest reference that I find, and the hand of Pacelli in that vapid manifesto is clear. It is a recommendation of the Corporative State to all Catholic countries; in fact, to the whole world, as the Pope ingenuously remarks that the truth on even the social and economic order can come only from Rome. How journalists ever stoop to praise these Papal utterances on Social questions puzzles me. They are like the ideas of a Baptist preacher in Tennessee blinded with those of Thomas Aquinas and almost lost in a jelly of Latin verbiage. There is, as I have already explained, no English translation of this Encyclical, because it approves — indeed imposes — such restrictions on capitalism and private enterprise as are provided in Mussolini’s Corporative State, which industrialists in America who are assured by Catholic writers that their “freedom of the individual is thoroughly Catholic, detest almost as much as Socialism.
The Pope tells the world, with quite an air of profundity and originality, that Socialism has split into moderate Socialism and Communism. As we saw, and it may be convenient to repeat, he answers the question, on which, he says, Rome has often been consulted, whether a Catholic can be a Socialist by saying that “Socialism, as long as it remains real Socialism . . . cannot be reconciled with the teaching of the Catholic Church.” He insists that “religious Socialism or Christian Socialism is a contradiction in terms,” and he winds up by saying that “no genuine Socialist can be a good Catholic.” That is another reason why the Encyclical is not translated into English. It might prevent Catholic writers for the workers from continuing to say, as they do, that the Church has never condemned Socialism; while Catholic writer’s for the wealthy, like Ryan, tell them that the Church regards any attack on private ownership as a sin.
However, the Pope is still more drastic when he passes on to Communism. It is too “impious” to consider. When it gets power it shrinks from nothing “however atrocious and inhuman.” As Russia was the only country in which it had power this was pointed enough, but the Pope goes on to speak of “the massacres (strange) and ruin it has brought upon Eastern Europe and Asia.” There may be earlier pronouncements on Russian atrocities for all I know but this is ten years old. A Jesuit writer quotes from the British Communist Daily Worker an account of a meeting in the offices of that paper on December 30, 1932 which passed a valiant resolution to attack religion “considering that the clergy of all creeds and denominations are, with religion as their pretext, following the lead of the Pope in his call for a crusade against the U.S.S.R.” They resolved:
“. . . to organize an unflinching resistance to every variety of religious attack . . . to vindicate the policy of the U.S.S.R. in regard to religion and the Churches against all and every attack . . . to urge the complete separation of Church and State and the complete exclusion of religion from the school,” and so on.
Communists must feel like biting the carpet when they reflect how they abandoned that attitude. A few years later, when I was writing my Militant Atheist — perhaps the most congenial work I ever did — a member of the staff of the Daily Worker asked me to call at the office, making a definite appointment, to see him as he edited a column of the Dally Worker with that title and would like to cooperate. I called — and saw none but the editors who explained that they had changed their policy and no longer thought it of any importance to attack the Churches.
It was a mistake even of Moscow to drop the criticism of religion while adhering slavishly to everything else that Marx had said. American and British Communists, on whom they relied for information, told them that the bitter hostility to them would cease if they quit criticizing religion. One or two influential cleric’s like the Dean of Canterbury had taken to patronizing Russia, and publishers (skeptics) who felt that Rationalism checked trade added their persuasion. In May 1938 the Communist International published in England for America and Britain, had an article which would, if there were any truth in superstition, have made Marx turn in his grave. I am quoting the Jesuit Ryder at the Cambridge Summer School of Russian Studies in 1938. The article, headed “The Revolutionary Proletariat and the Catholic Masses,” recommends the policy of conciliating Catholics and Protestants. The Soviet Union, it claimed, was “realizing the ideals of Christianity,” and Communists must “not ignore the more than 400,000,000 Catholics of the world”; which is 50,000,000 more than the more optimistic Catholics claim and double the true figure. The writer poured scorn on “the Left phrasemongers” who attack the policy of “the outstretched hand” and, by a tour de force, said that “we come forward in the defense of religion against the Fascist persecution of believers” yet had not the least idea of deviating from the teaching of Marx! We recognize the accents of the American and British Communists, who were at that time offering cooperation to the Catholic Church. Now there is “a smile on the face of the tiger.” The blood of Communists reddens the earth in Catholic Austria, Slovakia, Croatia, Spain, Portugal, Vichy France, Italy, Brazil, Peru, etc. etc.
In so far as Moscow was involved in this change of policy, chiefly owing to false information from Britain and America, we have an extraordinary situation. The change was carried out just at the time when the Vatican was inflaming Catholic sentiment against Russia all over the world and beginning to call for war upon Russia; and the change brought about no modification whatever of the world-cry of “persecution of religion in Russia.” What moved the papacy to enter upon this more bitter and more dangerous campaign? I say more dangerous because it would be difficult to exaggerate the profit to the Axis of this Papal preaching of hatred of Russia in every Catholic land and amongst the Catholics of all countries.
The reasons given by the Vatican, as in the above Encyclical, are puerile. In speaking of the “massacres” — it is interesting that in his Latin text Pacelli uses just the word which the Pope put on his gold medal of triumph at the time of the St. Bartholomew Massacre — which the Bolsheviks committed he endorses the wild legends and lies which I have disproved from Catholic writers. As to their having brought “ruin” upon the land, the Pope, granting him sincerity, seems to have been as crudely ignorant of Russian affairs as a nun in a Quebec convent. By 1931 the Bolsheviks had saved Russia from the real ruin which the White War (zealously supported by the two Churches) had brought upon Russia and were rapidly restoring prosperity and creating one of the finest educational and social services in the world.
His attacks in 1936 and his broadcasts to Spain in 1939 — in fact, all his characterizations of Bolshevism in his appeals for war from 1935 onward — are just as childish. I quoted elsewhere the address of Pius XI to Spanish refugees in 1936, in, which he plainly invited the destruction of Bolshevism “from Russia to China, from Mexico to South America.” The reference to South America is cool, as Pacelli, who clearly wrote the address, had just got Communism violently destroyed in nearly every republic. But the whole diatribe is fatuous. Everywhere, the Pope says, there is “a satanic preparation” for the work of “subverting established orders of every kind” and “attacking every institution, human and divine.” At that very time, philosophers like Professor Dewey, Liberal individualists like Sir Ernest Simon (brother of Sir John Simon), and a few clerics like the Dean of Canterbury were describing to the public how Russia was creating a new social order which in its care for children, women, and the mass of the people, had no equal in history.
We may make allowance for the real ignorance of Pacelli and the Vatican. They never even try to get accurate information about movements or bodies which are offensive to them on religious grounds. They see everything through a red haze of professional piety. But there is deliberate policy behind it all. By 1935 Japan had got the innocent western powers to support Chiang Kai-shek in his costly campaign to crush Communism in China and smooth the way for Japan itself. Hitler and Mussolini were wondering how they could get the same powers to overlook their proposed intervention in Spain. Hitler was repeating in public speeches that the noble German race must have the Ukraine. Wall Street wanted a good pretext for stirring the country to attack Mexico. Labor and Socialist movements everywhere were to be encouraged in their tragic policy of attacking and disowning Communists so as to prevent the formation of a Popular Front until it was too late. This sacred fury against Bolshevism was one of the Vatican’s greatest contributions to the preparation of the world for the onslaught of barbarism.
But, you may ask, is it possible that the Pope, the Black International which forced his slogan upon the Catholic masses (which do not read encyclical’s) in every country, and the Catholic press which made “the extinction of Bolshevism” as familiar to Catholics as “Heil Hitler” is to Germans and … “Mussolini solo” to Italians, realized what they were doing?
You can analyze that for yourself. There is, of course, no documentary evidence beyond the very plain evidence that the Papacy blessed the rebellion and the intervention of Italy and Germany in Spain and just as plainly wanted war on Russia. It must seem equally certain to anyone who knows the ecclesiastical mind that the Vatican and the Black International in America wanted war for the annexation of Mexico. The Knights of Columbus, who may be considered unconsecrated members of the Black International, made open offers of alliance with Wall Street and called for intervention in Mexico. Whether the Pope and the unscrupulous Italian branch of the Black International knew in advance of the war upon the western democracies we have considered in other booklets. As I there said, so objective a review as the Annual Record gives it as commonly received information, that Ribbentrop told the Pope in April that the Germans would be in Paris in June and in London in August. As to the main body of Catholics who chanted the anti-Bolshevik slogan, they were probably as hazy about what they meant as the average German is about the pure Aryan sharing the world with a race of Mongolian-Malayan mongrels.
One of the most ironic features of it all, if there is any room for irony in considering the colossal tragedy, is that Russia, the irreligion of which is blamed by the Vatican for all the world’s troubles, is more religious than Great Britain or than France was before Vichy.
The question how many of the people of Russia are still religious has been raised innumerable times, and it has invariably been answered with all the slovenliness and inconsistency that are characteristic of such discussions. Generally the writers spoke of “atheistic Russia” as if it were a phenomenally irreligious country, but when they recollected that religion was supposed to be indestructible or when the plain evidence (which we have seen) that there is no persecution of religion and any few dozen men and women can get a building from the government for worship was produced the writers gave us pictures of crowds packing the churches on festivals. As long as there was some dead cat to fling at Russia — like the common misrepresentation of the trials, and executions of leading Russians for treason — we were reminded that the governing body is solidly atheistic, and when some reputable author testified that the social service is the most generous and most humane in the world we were told Russia is still far more religious than is commonly supposed.
On one point there is no controversy. The officials, from those in the smallest town to Stalin, are all Atheists. The Communist party governs Russia — hence the stupidity of calling Stalin a dictator like Hitler and Mussolini — and all its members are Atheists. These officials determine the form and institutions of the state. The mass of the people produce the wealth, of course, and in that sense create the state, but these atheist officials direct the distribution of it and are responsible for all social legislation. They have given a form to the state which now elicits the admiration of writers of every class. They have lifted the average Russian character high above the level at which it was in the religious Tsarist days, — when atheism was confined to a relatively small minority, with no influence on the state, in the cities. This unquestionable truth is one of the chief reasons why the clergy hate or fear it, and why the worst discredited libels of it are still in circulation. Russia — the creative part of Russia — has not merely disproved the common claim that a state decays when atheism spreads. It has shown that the reality is the exact opposite.
The question what proportion of the mass of the people are still Christians is, therefore, of no importance, but you will find it amusing to assure your neighbor whose idea of Russia is taken from the press that it is much more religious than Great Britain. The Church of England a few year’s ago appointed a committee to inquire carefully how many people in England go to church or are in any definite sense Christians. They reported, and the leaders of other Churches agreed: 10 percent in London and 20 percent in the rest of England. This — a total of 8,000,000 or 9,000,000 in 42,000,000 — fairly agrees with the statistic’s of membership annually published by the Churches, and these are always optimistic. There is evidence that the Churches put the figure of churchgoers too high but let us accept them here. Between three-fourths and four-fifths of the people of Great Britain are not Christians. It was the same in France, and Vichy has made only a superficial compulsory change. In America the Churches claim 55 percent of the people, but we know what these claims are worth. Allowing for the Bible Belt and the greater wealth and business organizations of the Churches in America we should expect a higher proportion of churchgoers: say, two-thirds of the total population.
It follows that Russia is, on the best available estimates, as religious as the United States and much more religious than Great Britain or France! The best gauge is Yaroslavsky, the able and accomplished leader of the Atheist League. He has several times estimated that about one-third of the people in the Soviet Union are still Christians. The Jesuit Ryder, speaking at the Cambridge Summer School of Russian States, said, that this mean’s 30,000,000 and is a ridiculous under-estimate. It is his jesuitical arithmetic that is ridiculous. One-third of the population means nearly 60,000,000. But notice what follows. If you call Yaroslavsky’s estimate too small you must mean that more than a third are still Christians, or a far higher proportion than in Great Britain and France, and probably America. On any estimate Russia is more religious than Great Britain. Now that it is smashing Germany the clergy begin to say: We always thought so.
Maisky, addressing the American Chamber of Commerce in London on September 23, 1941, gave some figures which seem at first sight to show that Yaroslavsky greatly over-estimated instead of under- estimating the number of believer’s. He quoted an official statement that on June 1, 1941, there were 8,338 churches, mosques, and synagogues in the Union, and 30,000 registered religious societies (or, as we should say, parishes) of 20 or more person’s. But there must be here a serious misprint as to the number of churches. Considering that there are about 10,000,000 Jews and Romanists and 14,000,000 Moslem in the Soviet Union besides members of the Orthodox Church the error is apparent. Great Britain has more than 40,000 churches and chapels to less than 10,000,000 churchgoers. America has 200,000 religious organizations (organized units or parishes) to less than 50,000,000 church-goers. If the figure of 8,000 churches, mostly in villages, in Russia were correct we should have to allow more than 7,000 worshipers to a church to make even 60,000,000. As I have no access to the Soviet official announcement (on August 15, 1941) I have to leave the matter open, but we may reflect that if the figure of 30,000 parishes is correct it suggests less than 60,000,000 worshipers.
We do better to follow the estimate of Yaroslavsky, who has no interest in exaggerating the number of churchgoers, and we may reflect that the change from the solid orthodoxy of the overwhelming mass of the people less than thirty years ago means that Atheism spread more rapidly between 1920 and 1940 than any religion in history ever spread in 100 years; indeed forty or fifty times as rapidly as Christianity spread in the first 250 years of its career. We might also invite the attention of some of our modern skeptics to the fact that it was mainly effected by pointing out the absurdity of the current belief and the monstrous history of the Orthodox Black International. Their is no religious revival in recent years but there is evidence that suggests that the extraordinarily rapid progress of Atheism has been slowed. This is in part due to the fact that education has won nearly all but the hard core of stubborn old folk — though it is remarkable how thousands of villages including nearly all their old folk quit the Church and demanded that the chapel be converted into a library or debating club — and in part to the clergy of what calls itself the New Church and turns the older Christian teaching inside out. It is, however, clear that the discouragement by the government of the methods of the Atheist League, which made a very extensive use of ridicule and direct satirical attack, has retarded the spread of Atheism.
One would like to draw the attention of those very superior Rationalists of our day who say that ridicule of religion “defeats its own end” to this phenomenal success of such methods during 10 or 15 years. The Russian Atheists did not, of course, fail to follow up their first direct assault on religious belief with solid scientific and historical information. The cultural change in Russia is not less remarkable than the economic. The gross general ignorance and illiteracy of Tsarist Russia was many shades worse by 1923, after four years of war and famine. Yet by 1936 the country had 164,081 schools besides 1,797 factory schools, 2,572 technical schools, 716 workers colleges, 595 higher schools and universities, and 794 institutions for scientific research. More than 10,000 newspapers and 2,100 magazines (700,000,000 copies) circulated. In 1935 the output of books was 42,700, and the 53,380 free libraries, largely in villages, contained more than 100,000,000 books. Upon this vast and finely selected literature the Atheist propagandist drew, and he was welcomed in the 71,770 clubs (57,700 in the villages) where the favorite entertainment was a serious debate. As the government adheres to its law that religious doctrines shall not be taught to children, who must be left to consider religion when they have at least a moderate capacity to see through fallacy and resent mere dogmatism, the young generation has for the far greater part definitely abandoned religion. A very short account of the cultural as well as economic development will be found in my booklet Economic Gains of the Soviet Union (1937) in the A B C Library of Living Knowledge.
This is what the Pope calls destroying the very foundation’s of the social order: this is one line of the real program of national life which our press until Russia became our ally habitually coupled with the gross greed-programs of Germany, Italy, and Japan as “the four totalitarian powers.” Russia never received and never sought to gain a single rouble by the labor of the people outside its own Soviet Union, but there were few papers in the world which, until we so urgently needed its help, did not class it with the three powers which openly boasted they were going to dominate and exploit most of the earth. Russia gave better conditions to women (see Prof. Susan W. Kingsbury and Prof Mildred Fairchild’s Factory, Family, and Women in the Soviet Union, 1935) than any other nation, while Germany and Italy, and the Pope’s new subjects states told woman to sacrifice all their hard-won rights and confine themselves to cooking and bearing future soldiers. Russia gave more sympathetic conditions to children (see Playtime in Russia by Ethel Manning and others, 1935) than any other country, allowing no distinction of class, giving all a two-month vacation with entertainments or tours provided every summer, and providing special theaters (three in Moscow) and parks (26 in Moscow) for them; while Germany and Italy brutalized their lives and minds with militarism. Russia encouraged the mass of the workers to enjoy art as no other country did, while in Germany and Italy art was starved and all culture debased.
This was the civilization which the Pope taught the Catholics of the world to curse and demand war against, and the more it shed the imperfections due to its recent rise from chaos, the more it won recognition for its splendid social ideals, the more bitterly he attacked it, and the more stridently the Black International broadcast his sentiments in every land. Is the complete collapse of his Church in Russia enough to explain this? Is his failure to get the billions of dollars and millions of members of the Orthodox Church, the explanation? No, he hates Russia because it was showing the world that you could not merely build a civilization without priests but you could build a far finer, juster, more peaceful and more humane civilization. He hate’s Russia because from it there spread, as far as China and Indo-China in the east and as far as Peru and Chile in the west, that formidable Wave of Atheism which I described in the second booklet of this series: because it was in Roman Catholic countries particularly that it was effective since Papal doctrine and history were as vulnerable as those of Orthodox Russia.
Some may say that a churchman, if his creed is sincere and deeply felt, is bound to regard a spread of Atheism as a great evil and may be understood even when he thinks war to prevent the spread a lesser evil. There is no need for a profane person like myself to discuss that question or to try to determine whether the Pope really believes (as half the clergy do not) and deeply feels the peculiar teaching of his Church about man and his destiny. We ask a simple question: Why didn’t he say so? Why need he give as the pretext for his demand of war upon Russia every lie about Bolshevik atrocities and persecution of religion that was current in capitalist literature? Why did he assure the millions of ignorant Catholics whom he wanted to inflame that the Bolsheviks were out to destroy the moral and social order, to advocate cruelty and violence, when it was easy for any man, to say nothing of a billion-dollar international organization, to find out that Russia, with its magnificent and complete resources, had no more reason for war than the United States and was building a far finer social order than that of the United States? And remember that we are not here dealing with the Pope alone. We are considering the action of a world-wide Black International that is saturated with skepticism and hypocrisy and keener on dollars than harps.
That is answer enough for most people but (we may go further. We moderns — by which I mean the majority of the men and women who live in the cities of the world and have shed the limitations of village-life — will not have our affairs ruled or dictated by men, however sincere they may be, who act on the myth that there is another world that is far more important to men than this in which we find ourselves. Whatever be the truth about religion this life and the control of this life are secularized, We turn aside from nothing fair and pleasant that it offers us because some of our less-instructed neighbors think they see flames of hell reflected from below the horizon or discern ghostly battlements of some weird sort of heaven high above. And the clergy so far know this that they plead that Atheism injures us in this life. We are always open to argument but we resent lies. The clerical case for hatred of Russia on human grounds is based upon a mass of demonstrable lies. Its real basis is, as ever, the primary aim of the Black International: wealth and power.
HITLER’S MAGNIFICENT BLUNDER
In September 1934 it was proposed to admit Soviet Russia to the League of Nations. Nazi Germany, with Mein Kampf (the brigand’s guide) for its standard, had been retained in it. Japan had not been expelled for its sordid violation of the League’s principles. Italy was an honored member although it made no secret of its glorification of war and aggression. But the proposal to admit Russia horrified and brought a shower of insults from the representatives of various nations; and these outraged folk were subjects of the Pope, and the Vatican warmly approved their conduct.
The attack on Russia was led by the Swiss Motta, a representative of the nation that has always been loudest in praise of peace — which is very profitable at Geneva — and is now making much wealth by manufacturing the more delicate mechanisms of German planes, tanks, and submarines and selling food to Germany while its neighbors starve. At that time, perhaps, not even a member of the middle-class that rules or misrules the Swiss would have made this disgraceful attack on a progressive and peace-loving civilization that could have taught Switzerland a higher idealism but Motta, from the small Italian part of the country, was a zealous Catholic; and that he acted for the Church is shown by the Vatican comment on his vituperative speech in the Osservatore Romano (quoted with approval in the British Catholic Universe, October 5, 1934):
“Mr. Motta faced the problem of the admission of Russia with a clarity of vision, a nobility of sentiment, and a rectitude of Christian and civil conscience that finds a profound echo in the hearts of all, for whom justice and right are still the unshakable bases of civil society.”
Nobility of sentiment! The man was striking the first note of that Hymn of Hate which the Vatican would soon urge upon Catholics everywhere; the stupid chant that was to prevent, or help to prevent, a cordial world-alliance against the bandits when the crisis came, the chant that was pleasant music in the ears of Hitler, Mussolini, and Matsuoka. The Vatican organ rejoiced that ten states at Geneva opposed the admission of Russia or pointedly abstained from voting for it, and we see Catholic influence in the whole group. Holland voted against, and the press recorded that this was due to Catholic influence in the cabinet. De Valera’s representative and Schuschnigg of Austria attacked Russia as virulently as Motta but did not vote.
Two months before this Nazi Germany had shocked the world with the mass-murder of prominent men, including Catholics, which is called the Blood Purge. Did any Catholic orator or power, or the Vatican, call it to account at the tribunal of civilization? Oh, no; just then the Vatican was trying hard to persuade Hitler to observe the Concordat and Catholic German bishops were flattering him to his teeth. Two months after the Geneva meeting Japan, probably encouraged by this outburst, threatened Russia, and there was talk of war. What did Catholics say to that? Here is a specimen, from the Catholic Times, November 3, 1934:
“The Japanese are not anti-God. They have brought freedom from persecution to our missionaries in Manchuria and adjacent parts of China. They have consented to their settlers in Brazil being instructed in the Catholic faith, and, while they dream of influencing the world by the spread of Buddhism, they give freedom of worship to their own Catholic nationals. In the event of a war between Japan and Russia Catholics would sympathize with Japan, at least in so far as religion is concerned, so let us beware of an Anglo-American bloc against Japan involving us on the side of Russia.”
There you have the pure Papal note, the accents of the Vatican oracle Japan is “not anti-God” — as a matter of fact, its ruling class is almost as solidly Atheistic as the Russian — while Russia is, and Japan has made small concession’s in the interest of the Roman Church. So defend Japan and libel Russia in the Catholic press of all lands. In that very year, 1934, Upton Close (J.W. Hall) plainly exposed to America in his Challenge, with full documentary evidence, that Japan was conquest-mad and had removed the last shred of disguise from its greedy plan to monopolize Eastern Asia and drive out all Christians, particularly Americans. And because it hypocritically made promises to the Pope, Catholics must be used as its agents in Britain and America to obscure the mind of those countries in regard to its aims and divert them into hatred of Russia.
A few months later the same Catholic press went further in its deadly work (Catholic Times, April, 1935):
“Disarmament is dead . . . We can, nevertheless, have thirty years’ peace in Western Europe if France, Germany, Italy, and Great Britain concentrate on Western Europe and its needs. We cannot have agreement about Russia, since Germany has lifted the veil which hides her ambitions. She wants the Ukraine. Few Catholics in this country will approve a war against Russia, bad as her record is, but fewer still will be happy if our alliances draw us into a war in defense of the Godless. Russia must safeguard her own interests. We are not concerned to uphold her. The wretched Franco-German quarrel can be composed if France is willing to leave Russia to her devices. If France insists on allying herself with the Soviet, she should be told that Great Britain will have no part with her … We must choose between two evils, and Russia’s possible loss of the Ukraine is a much less evil than war-fires all over Europe, whilst many would say that the undoing of Godless Sovietism is no evil at all.”
As the British National Newspaper Library, the finest in Europe, has been bombed and burned out of existence by the Germans, I cannot verify the three quotations I have just given. I take them from Miss E. Moore’s No Friend of Democracy (1941) and I know the author as a very careful and conscientious student of these matters.
This passage is a typical specimen of the slavery of the Catholic press to the Vatican and its Policy of judging all international events from the single viewpoint of the interest of the Church while professing to consult the interest of the race. The statement that few Catholic will approve of war against Russia might seem to be written in defiance of the Pope’s demand for a crusade against that country, but the paper itself repeatedly echoed the cry for “the extinction of Bolshevism,” and the last words of the above passage are plain enough. Not “many” but all Catholics, as the writer knew, would rejoice at “the undoing of Godless Sovietism.” Notice, incidentally how carefully these Catholic writers avoid the word Socialism. They know that large numbers of Irish workers in Britain — these workers of Irish birth or descent are the main body of “English” Romanism — belong to the Labor Party, and this in rare moments of courage calls itself Socialist.
But the chief point is that this interpreter of Papal wishes to the people of England emphatically advocates a national policy which would be very acceptable to Hitler and was, in so far as it was followed by Chamberlain and Halifax, most disastrous to Europe. Russia was the one great European power that sincerely proposed general disarmament. When its appeal was unheeded it was the one power that began to devote a colossal part of its national resources, which were very badly needed for social reconstruction and education, to preparation for war. Thus in 1936, when British statesmen were beginning to doubt the Baldwin policy of do-nothing, Great Britain spent less than a fourth of its budget-revenue on armaments and the United States one-tenth. But Soviet Russia set aside one-fifth (20 billion out of 100 billion rubles) of its total annual income — for in that country the government-revenue represents practically the whole of the wealth produced — to defense-measures, and it increased the sum every year until nearly a third of the entire wealth produced in the country was devoted to preparing for the barbarous and clearly-foreseen onslaught of Nazism.
What an ally Russia would have been from 1936 onward, and what a different course of events in Europe might have followed! It must be left to the historians of the future to say if a sincere and dynamic alliance of Russia, Britain, France Czecho-Slovakia, and Poland would not have intimidated Germany and Italy from that piecemeal aggressive program upon which they entered. To me it seems certain. But the Vatican and the Black International and the Catholic press in every country did all in their power to prevent it. Had the United States realized that Japan was one of the bandit powers — had the press freely and fully informed the people of the open boast of Japanese politicians, military and naval men, and editors, and told how highly colored models of the destruction of the American fleet were exhibited to the public in Japanese cities five or six years ago — and joined the alliance, not in the interest of Europe but its own interest, it probably never would have known the vile treachery it has now experienced, for the people themselves would have demanded adequate armament. But the Vatican, the whole Roman Church, was opposed. There must be no alliance with Bolshevism.
Could there be a more terrible demonstration of the evil of the sacerdotal viewpoint, the folly of listening to the Black International on human affairs? At that time, 1936, the leading powers were stirring from their criminal lethargy and beginning to expand their armament-budgets. The League of Nations published a statement that the world spent about $5,000,000,006 in that year on armament, I have shown (What War and Militarism Cost) that it spent something like $15,000,000,000, and one-third of this sum was, according to the best experts, spent by Germany. What Japan and Italy spent we do not know. No one trusts their figures. And the two richest powers in the world, the two at which the great conspiracy was chiefly aimed, America and Britain, spent (together) one half the sum that Germany did. Russia alone spent something like the sum that Germany did, though unlike Germany and Italy, it did not starve or suppress its social services to find the money but maintained and developed them.
What guidance did the Papacy and its local agents give the world? It bleated biennially about peace and between Christmas and Easter cried for war on Communism in China, Spain, Mexico, and Russia, above all Russia. It maintained its diplomatic alliance with Germany, Italy, and Japan but spat poison whenever Russia was mentioned. Its hierarchy flattered the ruler’s of the three aggressive, fully treacherous, and debauched bandit-states and told the British and French people that they would have “thirty years peace” if they would continue to outlaw Russia and trust Germany, Italy, and Japan! What hilarious scenes there must have been behind closed doors in Berlin, Rome, and Tokyo!
Russia patiently, perhaps cynically, bore the hostility which the Catholic Church and other interests fostered against it. It is needless for me to observe that the Vatican was not the only libellous enemy of Russia, but its share in the conspiracy is, on account of its claim of lofty and disinterested idealism, in an entirely different category from the share of bankers, industrialists, and politicians. I am, however, not concerned with finding adjectives to hurl at the Church of Rome. I am content to establish facts. And if it is not a fact that Rome contributed mightily until 1941 to that contempt and ostracism of Russia which rendered vast service to the Axis and did incalculable harm to the race we may as well doubt that the earth is a globe.
So persistent and emphatic was this teaching of the Vatican, especially during the fateful six or seven years before 1941, that the Catholic world was paralyzed when at length Hitler made his splendid blunder and attacked Russia. Less than a year earlier the Papal Hymn of Hate had been more strident than ever. There were many of us who, imperfectly informed by the press, felt our admiration of Russia chilled when it seized part of Finland and the little Baltic states. But we did not use the vituperative language of the Pope’s organ, the Osservatore Romano, the paper that had not said a word about outrages like those in China, Abyssinia, Albania, Czecho-Slovakia, Norway, Denmark, Yugo-Slavia, Greece, and, even Belgium and France, for which even a liar could not plead, as we now see Russia could truthfully plead, an essential piece of defense against an openly-declared aggressor. The Vatican, in its paper, not only completely ignored Russia’s reasons but wallowed in irony and invective as if this were the first aggression in modern Europe.
There is an amusing Paragraph in Stephen Graham’s News Letter (1940) reproducing the language of the Osservatore when the Russian troops took back the Ukrainian and White Russian provinces. The Papal organ shuddered to recall the atrocities committed by the Russian troops in 1918. The soldiers were then Orthodox Catholics almost to a man, and the Osservatore trembles to think what will happen now that they are Atheists. And in the next paragraph Stephen Graham, a strict member of the Church of England, gives this report of an Englishman who Saw the Russian troops enter Asthenia:
“The fears proved to be groundless. The discipline is extremely severe, and cases are known when soldiers were shot by the political commissars for the slightest breach of discipline.”
The religious mind is weird and wonderful. Stephen Graham actually goes on to reflect that this contrast of 1918 and 1940 suggests that “the atheist soldiers of 1918” were now extinct and the Russians were generally Christians! Not for a moment do I suggest that atheist soldiers never commit outrages, but what are we to think of a Papal newspaper that sheds tears over the fictitious outrage’s of atheist soldiers — I earlier quoted the Vatican radio (January 22, 1940) bemoaning the “infamy of all kinds” perpetrated by the Russian troops in Poland and has not a word to say when we get positive Proof that the German soldiers perpetrated real infamies and savagery in Russia?
Here again it is not a question of the Pope or the Vatican alone. The Black International everywhere repeated the cry of Russian atrocities (made in Germany). In an address by Cardinal Hinsely published recently in a work titled The Bond of Peace we read of his “deep indignation” at “the enslavement of more than eleven million inhabitants of the Polish state by Soviet Russia.” He talks of a “treacherous attack from behind” and the “Bolshevist horror,” and says that these “Poles,” as he calls them, are “reliably reported to be suffering from those persecutions which had made our generation the era of unparalleled martyrdom.” Perhaps we should not expect a cardinal, even if he does pose as an oracle on world-affairs, to know that Ukrainians and White Russians are not Poles, but is he really ignorant that the “unparalleled martyrdom” that these millions, of members of the Orthodox Church suffered was inflicted by the Catholic Poles, had been going on for 20 years, and was at once stopped by the Russians?
Now, as I have earlier quoted, there are signs of a most brazen repudiation of the Hymn of Hate which the Papacy has had the Catholic world chant from Montreal to Syria for the last six or seven years. Catholics boast that they are in a better position than Protestants in that they have one clear authoritative, unwavering voice to guide them. It sounds like a dictatorship of the Hitler sort. The truth is, however, that Rome speaks to them in five or six different voices, and one can blandly repudiate the other when it goes wrong. The only thing which they cannot repudiate is the infallible or ex cathedra utterances of the Pope — but he never makes any. The Pope has several voices — in conversations, addresses, sermons, allocations, encyclicals, etc. Then he has, in the second line a daily paper and a radio. In the third line he has prelates and Catholic ambassadors, agents, etc., who can repeat conversations with him. On this third line we now have Myron C. Taylor whispering that the Pope always recognized in private a vast distinction between the naughtiness of the Nazis and that of the Bolsheviks. Nazi wickedness is foul and unspeakable — though he never cared to say so. Bolshevik wickedness is just virtue without a Catholic foundation — though he has a hundred times called it foul and unspeakable.
The latest audacity attributed to Mr. Taylor, solemnly cabled to a London daily by its American correspondent, is this gem:
“The general belief here is that important Washington-Vatican- London-Moscow negotiations are in progress and that they are directed towards the consolidation of the Christian front against Nazism throughout the world.”
If we allow the Church of Rome to put over a maneuver of that kind after its ten years of monstrous libel and vituperation of Russia we have learned nothing by the terrible experience through which we are passing. The Papacy could not hope to have any success with it if it did not believe that we still have, unchanged, the mentality with which we indolently contemplated the greediest and most unscrupulous bandits of all time equipping themselves to loot the world. There is no change in Russia. It is as atheistic as ever. The change is in its critics. They have been compelled to acknowledge that out of the horrible miseducated Tsarist Russia, further demoralized by six years of war and two of terrible famine and disease, the “Godless Bolsheviks,” as the Catholic press still called them only six month’s ago, have created the greatest civilization of our time; that the magnificent spirit of the atheistic Russian people is in as stark a contrast as is conceivable to the cowardice, evasiveness, tortuousness, and self- seeking of the Black International that poisoned the world against them.