By a C.H. Reporter
That the Pope's historic broadcast to Fdtima pilgrims last October, when he consecrated the
Church and the world to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, has been construed in Portugal as a gesture of friendship to the vigorously anti-Nazi Cardinal Patriarch Cerejeira of Lisbon is borne out in conversations I have just had with the Rev. Joseph Crowley, Ph.D., just back from Lisbon, where for several years he has been Procurator of the English College.
The Holy Father's personal sympathy with the Cardinal, who fearlessly withstands the antagonism of German agents in Portugal, is well known. said Fr. Crowley. But this feeling has been cynically abused by pro-Germans who have tried to injurethe Church by making out that the Pope has been taking political sides. Thus, while the Pope, in choosing the occasion of the pilgrimage to Fatima last year in order to make the consecration of the world to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, gave especial pleasure to the Cardinal and to Portuguese Catholics, the Germans spread the story that the Holy Father wished through this action to show his political support for the Allied cause.
REFERENCE TO RUSSIA
The cynics went a step further. The reference to Russia in the consecration prayer wis taken to imply a blessing on Russian arms, and matters came to a climax when in June of this year the German-owned illustrated Portuguese paper Esplu;ra published an amazing article by Alfredo Pimento, a Portuguese columnist who is highly paid by the Germans and who poses as a representative of Catholic opinion in the country.
He then criticised the various Papal statements made on the persecution of the Church in Germany. denying that the Church was suffering in that country, and that the German bishops had ever said so.
A particularly stupid blunder of the writer's was to declare that the Pope's pro-Russian sympathies in qiis war were revealed in his having instructed the prayers after Low Mass to be offered for the victory of Soviet arms and for the conversion of that country.
" The Pope is influenced by the antiNazis," said the columnist. Pimenta was promptly taken to task by the official Catholic paper Novidades, which while saying that it was " absurd that the Pope should ask for prayers for a Russian victory," went on to give the correct background to the instructions relating to the prayers after Low Mass. As it pointed out, the instruction was given by the present Pope's predecessor many years before the outbreak of the actual war, in 1930 in fact. They are offered, as all Catholics know, for Russia's conversion.
A certain rebellious spirit was noticeable among a small element of Lisbon Catholics in consequence, and the Cardinal intervened. Three weeks ago, in fact, he issued an official 300-word document refuting Pimento's self-given right to speak for Catholics, condemning his statements as false, and warning Catholics that his writings were dangerous to Catholic mentality.
EXCITEMENT AT FEVER PITCH The excitement, however, still continues at fever pitch, Fr. Crowley told me. and a further instance of clumsy German attempts to preserve the little that remains of the fast diminishing sympathy of some Portuguese Catholics for Nazi aims became apparent after the recent heavy Allied raids on Germany and on Rome. The German colony decided to organise a propaganda gesture by arranging for a Requiem Mass for the " 10,000 victims in the " destruction by bombing of the cathedrals of Berlin and Cologne and the Basilica of .San Lorenzo--in:. Rome." It would be held in the Sao Domingo Church in Lisbon, said the announcement, and all Christians were invited. • Friends of Fr. Crowley's, and they were many, came to see him in protest. He told them that you cannot prevent Masses being said for the dead, but he added that if there were suspicion of motives the Cardinal Patriarch, no doubt, would know how to deal with the situation.
The sequel was that when all the congregation had entered the church for the Requiem, and Mass was about to begin. the parish priest mounted the pulpit and announced that the Mass would be offered for " all those who have died in the war."
FATIMA AND FASCISM We went on to talk about Fatima itself,.a shrine which he knows very well and to which he has led numerous pilgrimages. " I am a believer in its spiritual values," remarked Fr. Crowley, who appeared, however, to be noncommittal regarding the many wonderful things that are being claimed for the shrine. " The problem," he said, " is extremely complex from the critical point of view. and I would prefer not to give .an. opinion. yet." When I asked him about the fall of Fascism, Dr. Crowley said that many educated Portuguese were worried by what they thought was an unsporting spirit in the B.B.C. comments. It sounded more like the political technique they had grown sick of from some other countries. They thought it would have been much better to keep a dignified silence once the man was no longer in a position to do any damage.