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Labor Action, 1 August 1949


An Editorial

Cardinal Spellman Does the KKK’s Work


From Labor Action, Vol. 13 No. 31, 1 August 1949, p. 1.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for ETOL.


The cardinal is becoming positively insufferable.

It’s the same cardinal who boasted, a while back, that he was proud to be called a strikebreaker, at the time he was busy breaking the strike of gravediggers in a Catholic cemetery. It’s the Cardinal Spellman who is the head of the church hierarchy in the United States. It’s the cardinal who is on a rampage of denunciation and vilification against anyone (anyone, at least, prominent enough to make the time spent in vilification worth while) who is opposed to financing private religious schools with public money.

It was this Spellman who hurled the cry of “bigot” at the congressman who introduced a bill which did not leave the door open for parochial schools to share in federal aid to education. And now, when Mrs. Roosevelt ventures the opinion that this was the proper thing to do. it is Speliman who, clothed in the vestments of the Lord, has rushed to attack her viciously as “anti-Catholic.” And his subaltern, Msgr. Cartwright, preaching in Washington, accuses her of “secret intolerance.”

We have discussed in Labor Action the arrogance of the Catholic Church’s demand that the government help it to pay for schools which it runs because it wants to give children a sectarian religious education. We have already explained the socialist attitude: we defend to the utmost the right of any religious body to run its own schools, as we would defend the democratic right of any other institution to run its own schools, but a church has no more rights than any other educational or propaganda group in so doing. We are for COMPLETE separation of church and state.

Cardinal Spellman does not have a leg to stand on in making his demand, as indeed Mrs. Roosevelt helped to demonstrate. But the high church bureaucrats are not concerned with logic in this case – not even with the Jesuitical variety. They are evidently trying to put their demand across by a combination of political blackmail (denunciation of a public figure by a cardinal has to be considered in terms of votes), by a moral reign of terror, and screaming vituperation, unaccompanied by the slightest attempt to argue the merits of the question.

And let no one be mistaken: these infamous methods are likely to have their desired effect. Already there is talk of a “compromise” in Congress, under the whiplash of the hierarchy. The first news of it refers only to federal grants for child health, but it is to be seen how far it will go.

We are unalterably opposed to any compromise with the Catholic Church which in any way undermines or weakens the indeed inadequate degree of separation of church and state which obtains now.

It has been pointed out by many that Spellman cannot be considered as really speaking for the majority of Catholics in this country, most of whom for that matter send their children to public schools. He is not speaking in the remotest way about any issue involving religious freedom. He is speaking solely and simply in the interests of the church bureaucracy and of the social aspirations of the hierarchy (which is reactionary to the core in this respect).

It is true that the position taken by the church and even more its reprehensible tactics may really be used for anti-Catholic purposes by bigoted forces which, as everyone knows, do exist in the United States in substantial numbers. While all progressives have to distinguish with the utmost sharpness between the Spellmans and Catholic people as a group, this is all the more reason for Catholics themselves to bring their church dictators to heel.

Spellman is doing a bigger job in fostering real anti-Catholic bigotry than is the Ku Klux Klan. And THAT is possibly the very worst aspect of the whole situation.

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