Joseph Hansen

The Vatican – A Powerhouse
of World Political Reaction

(22 June 1946)

Source: The Militant, Vol. 10 No. 25, 22 June 1946, p. 3.
Transcription/Editing/HTML Markup: 2018 by Einde O’Callaghan.
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The Vatican is becoming increasingly active in political affairs. The Pope made headlines throughout the world with his direct intervention in the Italian and French elections of June 2. Recently Cardinal Spellman raised a political sword in this country to slash at “communism.”

The Catholic hierarchy intervenes in politics under guise of defending “religion” from attack. This subterfuge is false to the core. The question of a man’s own views on the nature of the universe, etc., has not been made a political issue by any of the working class parties. Even the Trotskyists, who base their world outlook on scientific findings, have not made religion a political issue. Responsibility for injecting religion into politics rests squarely with the Vatican.

For hundreds of years the Vatican fought ruthlessly to combine government and religion. The Papacy insisted on state support to the exclusion of other religions. Taxes wrung from the poor people were diverted into its treasuries. The Catholic hierarchy organized widespread persecution of all who advocated separating church and state. Men and women were tortured and burned at the stake for opposing the Vatican on this question.

In most advanced countries the separation of church and state has been achieved. But now the Vatican is fighting from the second line trenches. It is combining religion and politics. Consequently, like any other political organization, the Catholic hierarchy must be held accountable for its position on the burning political issues of the day.

The political record of the Papacy is most sinister and reactionary. The Pope blessed the arms of Franco, the butcher of the Spanish working class and supports this foul dictator to this day.

The Vatican got along very well with Mussolini and worked out a mutually profitable arrangement with him. After the downfall of Mussolini, the Vatican organized its hundreds of thousands of priests and nuns as political shock troops to take the place of the fascist Black Shirts in bolstering Italian reaction. Priests and nuns openly campaigned for the House of Savoy. Armed with lavish funds, they did their utmost as ward heelers to save the hated monarchy. This high-pressure political campaign reached its climax with a speech by the Pope himself carefully timed to hit the voters on the eve of the election. The Pope, in the name of religion, did his utmost to block the republic and save the monarchy which had helped Mussolini to power.

Supports MRP

In France the Catholic hierarchy is up to its neck in the Popular Republican Movement (MRP), a political party organized against the working class. The MRP is fighting tooth and nail to save the capitalist system which plunged France into the Second World War and continues to chain the people in misery. Here again the Pope intervened personally in the elections to call for the defeat of the candidates of the working class parties.

In other European countries, the Papacy is playing a similar role.

Throughout Latin America the Vatican is one of the principal forces in the carries of political reaction. In Argentina, for instance, the Peron regime is closely tied in with the “official religion,” Roman Catholicism. In return for political favors, Peron recently granted special privileges to the Catholics. He banned missionary activity by other religions and set up a “special registry” for them that seriously cripples their activities.

Backs Fascist

In the United States, Father Coughlin, the “radio priest” enjoyed wide support among the hierarchy. Before the war Coughlin set out to organize a native fascist movement in America patterned on the movements of Hitler and Mussolini. Money from mysterious sources poured into his campaign. Coughlin spoke weekly over a wide radio hookup, centering his attack on the labor movement. He published a most expensive magazine Social Justice which sold below cost. Many priests took bundle orders, and distributed the poisonous literature to youths in the parish who were permitted to keep whatever money they got from sales.

Cardinal Spellman has replaced Coughlin as leading political spokesman for the Vatican in America. He is fighting for continuation of President Roosevelt’s line of recognizing the Papal State as a world political power. Spellman wants Washington to recognize the Vatican and send a representative to act as ambassador. When Protestant clergymen protested Truman’s continuing his departure from the traditional policy of separating church and state, Spellman struck at them with most violent language:

“What reason then have these men of religion to make such demands of the President of the United States? Is it the anti-Catholicism of unhooded Klansmen sowing seeds of disunion within our treasured nation?”

The Vatican is utilizing the Catholic hierarchy as a vast international network of political agents in the service of dying capitalism. These robed politicians are trying to keep capitalism from the grave a little longer. In carrying out this reactionary political task they have become the most outspoken defenders of an economic system that can only breed depressions, famine and atomic wars that may wipe out mankind.


Last updated on: 22 December 2018