To Be Presented To The Foreign Secretary Through Local M.P.s
The Bishops of Britain, says a letter from Cardinal Griffin, Archbishop of Westminster, are calling for public prayers for the release of Archbishop Stepinac and for the signing of a petition in every parish, addressed to Mr. Bevin, the Foreign Secretary, through the local M.P.s. (Full text below.) This is the most notable public ac tion in defence of Archbishop Stepinac since Friday last, when it was announced from Belgrade that the heroic Archbishop had been condemned to 16 years' imprisonment with hard labour for " Crimes against the State."
Meanwhile, from all over the world have come expressions of sympathy for Mgr. Stepinac, indignation at the conduct of the trial, and open protests against the Communist-dictated tyranny which has made it possible. In England reports reach us from many districts and organisations telling of positive action being taken to secure the release of Mgr. Stepinac.
The Cardinal's notice reads: "The following notice is being sent out to the clergy of the Westminster diocese to-day, October
14. Similar notices will be sent out in other dioceses: The Archbishop of Zagreb: We wish prayers to be said publicly in all the churches of the diocese next Sunday, October 20, for the release of the Archbishop who has been most unjustly condemned. We suggest, if no action has already been taken, that a petition be drawn up in every parish and signed by Catholics and nonCatholics alike, asking the Foreign Secretary to intercede for the Archbishop's release. When the petition has been completed it should be forwarded to your local Member of Parliament asking him to place it before the Foreign Secretary.
"The petition should he on the following lines: We the undersigned fervently request the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs to make the strongest representations possible to the Yugoslav Government to secure the immediate release of Archbishop Stepinac of Zagreb '."
It was reporte.d on Monday that the Sacred Congregation of the Council had issued a statement excommunicating all Catholics who "morally or physically contributed to, or were responsible for, the trial of Mgr. Stepinac." Though Agency reports have given grounds for the excommunication, the text of the statement of the Sacred Congregation is awaited before a further statement can be made.