SIR—Your correspondent who fastens on the fact that I omitted the "Father " on one of the eight occasions on which 1 relerred to " Father Coughlin " should have assumed that this solitary exception was an accident, instead of advertising the weakness of his case by pouncing on such a trivial point.
Fr. Coughlin was rebuked by the Vatican fur denouncing Mr. Roosevelt as the "scab President," but his followers seem to think that it is impious for those who belong to the groups whom hc hat attacked to criticise this
holy priest. " You must remember," an American priest remarked to me, " that you must expect vituperation if you attack Fr. Coughlin. Fr. Coughlin may vilify the ralers of your country but it is grossly improper for any Englishman to criticise Fr. Coughlin."
My interview with Fr. Coughlin was not private. Again and again I reminded him that I had come in search of an interview for publication. I base my charge of untruthfulness on hie published writings, and in particular on the fact that even his champions are defenceless against concrete accusations. Corporal Gillick should read the case for the defence, which is also but accidentally the case for the prosecution. An Answer to Father Coughlin's Critics by Father Coughlin's Friends.
On November 20, 1938, Fr. Coughlin said in a radio address: " In our possession we have a copy of the official White Paper issued by the English War Cabinet in 1919. This official paper prints the names of the Jewish bankers, Kuhn, Loeb and Company, of New York, among those who helped to finance the Russian Revolution and Communism." Two sentences and two falsehoods. neither of which Fr. Coughlin's• champions could defend, for Fr. Coughlin did not leave the White Paper in his possession, when challenged to produce it, and when it was finally unearthed, the White Paper did not contain the names of Kuhn, Loeb and Co.
Corporal Gillick suggests that " a priest who went through years of hard study " must be a better judge of morals than " a layman who has just become acquainted with the true faith," but I did not have to wait for my reception into the Church to learn that it is wrong to lie.
Why, then, asks Corporal Gillick, do the authorities tolerate Fr. Coughlin ? have many scores of friends in America who though not Catholics are friendly to the Church, and who have asked me the same question as Corporal Gillick. They, too, are puzzled to explain how a priest, notorious for his lack of charity to his opponents, the coarseness of his invective and his contempt for truth is not restrained by the Hierarchy.
Fr. Coughlin became famous through broadcasting the famous encyclicals on Social Justice. Like Trotsky, Laski, Priestley, and Negrin, he is a great champion of the underprivileged. lie did good work in this early period and helped to convince many of the workers that the Church is not allied with the rich. Had he been suppressed at a later stage, the underprivileged would have argued that the Bishops had been nobbled by the Jews and capitalists. Many of them arc arguing like that to-day.
His Bishop, Bishop Gallagher, wars heckled on this point at a meeting of American Bishops. He rounded on his most vocal critic and said, " If Fr. Coughlin was in your diocese what would you do ?" "Oh in that case I,
urn, ah well. . . I would ah, urn." " That's what l'd do," replied the Bishop. I•
His present Bishop forbade him to write or to speak over the radio without submitting writing or script to censorship. Fr. Coughlin gave him a private signed statement that he was not responsible for Social Justice. in spite of the fact that his readers believed that he wrote or inspired all the editorials, After Peail Harbour Social Justice was suppressed for its unpatriotic activities. Fr. Coughling stated publicly that he accepted full responsibility for all its contents, whereupon I am told that his Bishop published his former signed statement.
did not compare Fr. Coughlin with
Goebbels. I chose my words with care. 14 compared their controversial methods for reasons given in some detail in my book And the Floods Came.
Let those who defend Fr. Coughlin not evade the case for the prosecution. Let his champions explain his gross manipulation of the Lansing telegram, quoted in my last letter. and the radio falsehoods quoted in thi,s letter. Let them read, if they have not read it, " The Shrine of the Silver Dollar." and explain, if they can, why this terrible attack on the means by which this champion of the poor acquired his wealth did not provoke a libel action.
I have lent my copy of this book to the Editor of this paper, and I invite him to ;tate whether my judgment is too severe. I shall present the book to the Catholic Library in Wilfrid Street, where it will be available to those who arc interested.
Fr. Coughlin will be a power in the future. He is alleged to have said, "1 am in the tomb, but I shall rise again."
Even those who are unimpressed by a comparison which does not exhibit the virtue of humility in an exaggerated degree, may well believe that Fr. Coughlin has a future. The fact that anti-Semitism is denied any sort of outlet in the American press, that this problem cannot be ventilated, insures a great popularity for any man who attacks the Jews. And when we add that Fr. Coughlin not only attacks the Jews but also the British it is clear that he is a force to be reckoned with.
I write as I do not because he has attacked England, but because it is a common accusation against Catholics that we care too little for truth. I believe this charge to be false, but it is painful to me to find Catholics defending a priest who has been convicted so often of such irresponsible falsehoods.
It it not because I am lacking in respect for the priesthood but because I have a great reverence for it that I have moved to protest against any suggestion that Tim CATHOLIC. HERALD is a champion of Fr. Coughlin.
May I add that I fully agree that Fr. Coughlin did fine work in his earlier days. To make known the great Encyclicals was his vocation, but—like the young tnan in the parable — " he turned sorrowfully away, for he had great obsessions."
[Arnold Lunn again seems to imply that this paper is a champion of Fr. Coughlin—solely on the fact that we criticised a generally anti-Catholic paper for comparing this priest with Streicher and his paper with Der Stuerrner. Our fob in these controversies is to be chairman and let the truth emerge through argument. We are .vending all these letters to Fr. Coughlin himself, and we hope he will enlighten our readers by a reply. We do not think it legitimate to hemp to the conclusion that because Fr. Coughlin did not answer The Shrine of the Silver Dollar, he is unable to do so.—ED., C. }1.1