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The FBI and the Catholic Church, 19351962

The FBI and the Catholic Church, 19351962

Copyright Date: 2009
Pages: 352
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    The FBI and the Catholic Church, 19351962
    Book Description:

    During his long tenure as director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, J. Edgar Hoover made no secret of his high regard for the Catholic faith. Though himself a Protestant, he shared with Catholicism a set of values and a vision of the world, grounded in certain assumptions about the way things ought to be in a wellordered society. The Church reciprocated Hoover’s admiration, establishing the basis for a working alliance between two powerful and influential American institutions. Steve Rosswurm explores the history of that relationship from the turbulent 1930s to the 1960s, when growing Catholic opposition to the Vietnam War led Hoover to distance himself from the Church. Drawing on a vast range of sources, including thousands of pages of previously classified FBI files, Rosswurm pursues his investigation along two parallel tracks. First, he looks at the joint war waged by Hoover and the Catholic hierarchy against forces considered threats to their organizations, values, and nation. Second, he examines how each pursued its own institutional interests with the help of the other. While opposition to communism was a preoccupation of both institutions, it was not the only passion they shared, according to Rosswurm. Even more important, perhaps, was their fervent commitment to upholding traditional gender roles, particularly the prerogatives of patriarchal authority. When women and men carried out their assigned obligations, they believed, society ran smoothly; when they did not, chaos ensued. Organized topically, The FBI and the Catholic Church, 1935–1962 looks not only at the shared values and interests of the two institutions, but also at the personal relationships between Hoover and his agents and some of the most influential Catholic prelates of the time. Rosswurm discusses the role played by Edward A. Tamm, the FBI’s highestranking Catholic, in forging the alliance; the story behind Father John Cronin’s 1945 report on the dangers of communism; the spying conducted by Father Edward Conway S.J. on behalf of the FBI while treasurer of the National Committee for Atomic Information; and Monsignor Charles Owen Rice’s FBIaided battle against communists within the CIO.

    eISBN: 978-1-61376-038-3
    Subjects: History, Political Science

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
    (pp. ix-xiv)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. 1-8)

    There “is no group,” the Archdiocese of Baltimore’sCatholic Reviewargued in 1942, that held J. Edgar Hoover (1895–1972), director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, in “higher esteem” than U.S. Catholics. Six years laterNovena Notes, the publication of the enormously popular Our Sorrowful Mother devotion, noted that Hoover was so respected by Catholics that he might as well have been a “Catholic priest or bishop.” In 1952 Anne Tansey, inOur Catholic Messenger, wrote that it was quite understandable that many believed Hoover was a Catholic. John Patrick Gillese, inThe Magnificat, a widely read Marian publication,...

  5. CHAPTER 1 The Creation of a Catholic Protestant and Protestant Catholics
    (pp. 9-52)

    It must have been a pretty heady experience for the 120 Holy Cross men who heard J. Edgar Hoover’s commencement address that warm June day in 1944. Few of them, after all, had spent much time outside the Catholic ghetto in which they had been born. Beyond that world of family, school, and parish, though, they knew—either firsthand or through others’ stories—that there was much Protestant dislike, even hostility, toward them and their fellow Catholics. Hoover’s mere acceptance of the invitation from Holy Cross did much, at least momentarily, to counteract that enmity. His talk went much further,...

  6. CHAPTER 2 The Boss’s Bishops
    (pp. 53-96)

    John Cardinal O’Hara, C.S.C. (1888–1960), spent most of his childhood in Peru, Indiana, a small farming town in the Fort Wayne diocese. After his father was appointed American consul to Uruguay in 1905, O’Hara lived with his family in South America for three years. Entering Notre Dame in 1909, he received his B.A. there and then joined the Congregation of the Holy Cross. Ordained in 1916, he went on to become Notre Dame’s prefect of religion, dean of the College of Commerce, then vice president of the university and president from 1934 to 1939. During World War II O’Hara...

  7. CHAPTER 3 Assistant to the Director Edward Tamm and His Chicago Connections
    (pp. 97-132)

    It was America’s first postwar Eucharistic Congress. Honoring the Real Presence of Jesus Christ and celebrating the centennial of the Diocese of Buffalo, it began September 21 and concluded September 25, 1947. Among its highlights were the opening and closing pontifical Masses, attended by 15,000 and 20,000, respectively; the meeting for workingmen, with 42,000 present; and Monsignor Fulton J. Sheen’s speech before an audience of 20,000. About 200,000 came to the congress’s closing ceremonies, where Francis Cardinal Spellman presided over the benediction.

    “Sectional meetings” were scattered through the four days. These gatherings, seventeen in all, brought together Catholics with similar...

  8. CHAPTER 4 Father John F. Cronin and the Bishops’ Report on Communism
    (pp. 133-179)

    Father John Cronin, S.S. (1908–1994), was as significant to his church’s anti-Communist activities as it was to the anti-Communism movement as a whole. After a bruising two-year battle with Communists in the Baltimore shipyards, he persuaded the U.S. Catholic hierarchy to finance a year-long study of subversion, which resulted in his “The Problem of American Communism in 1945: Facts and Recommendations.” That document, known as the bishops’ report, was a Trojan horse inside which was hidden Cronin, who as a result became an assistant director of the Social Action Department of the National Catholic Welfare Conference in February 1946....

  9. CHAPTER 5 A Jesuit Informant: Father Edward A. Conway, S.J., and the National Committee for Atomic Information
    (pp. 180-225)

    The hearings that resulted in the well-publicized decision not to renew Robert Oppenheimer’s security clearance began on April 12, 1954. A week or so into them Father Edward A. Conway, S.J. (1902–1965), wrote a brief memo to his superior: Conway wanted him to know that he had played a part in the prehistory of the drama going on at the Atomic Energy Commission. “In view of the excitement over Dr. J. Robert Oppenheimer and the atomic scientists,” Conway began, “the attached memorandum may be of interest.” Prepared for Archbishop Samuel Stritch of Chicago, the Jesuit explained, and presented orally...

  10. CHAPTER 6 Anti-Communism in the CIO: Monsignor Charles Owen Rice and the FBI
    (pp. 226-274)

    Might haunt him from the grave if I get the chance,” wrote Monsignor Charles Owen Rice (1908–2005), referring to me, in his contribution to a symposium on his writings that I organized. There was good reason for Rice to feel this way: I had interviewed him in 1986, published an essay in which he figured prominently in 1992, and planned the 1999 symposium. During that same time I also had given several scholarly papers in which he was discussed and another, at a conference organized by the Pennsylvania Labor History Society, entirely devoted to an assessment of his career.¹...

  11. Afterword
    (pp. 275-278)

    Father Hugh Calkins, O.S.M., who wrote two weekly columns—“Lights and Shadows” and “Two Worlds”—for theNovena Notesin the 1940s and 1950s, found little good in the world around him. A member, as were two brothers and two nephews, of the Servites, or Friar Servants of Mary, who oversaw the enormously popular Our Lady of Sorrows Friday night ritual, Calkins railed constantly at secular evils. Sexual politics particularly concerned him. In one sense his writings, especially in the 1940s, might be seen as an unending jeremiad against Americans’ misuse of the body. He firmly believed, moreover, in a...

    (pp. 279-282)
  13. NOTES
    (pp. 283-324)
  14. Index
    (pp. 325-330)
  15. Back Matter
    (pp. 331-332)