A group of Chicago Catholics have publicly denounced Mgr. Shiel, Auxiliary Bishop of Chicago, for scabbing (in English—blacklegging).
As reported in the CATHOLIC HERALD of January 27, the American Newspaper Guild has called a strike against Hearst newspapers in an effort to get better working conditions. There has been much Catholic support for the strike. Priests have defended the strikers from the pulpits, helped in picketing, addressed strike meetings; and the official Catholic newspaper of the Archdiocese of Chicago, the Chicago New World, has run a campaign in favour of the strike.
But now Mgr. Shiel has caused bewilderment in Chicago by consenting to write a series of articles in the Chicago Evening American, one of the Hearst papers concerned in the strike.
" BUYING A BISHOP" A broadcast has been distributed throughout Chicago calling attention to the Bishop's " scabbery."
The broadcast is signed by twelve Catholics, who give the names of their parishes and of their occupations. These Catholics call themselves the " Serfs of Saint Gregory." They make it clear that they " do not wish to be confused with the Knights of St. Gregory, who frequently are men of far more than ordinary financial resources. . . .
" We are poor workers, all practising Catholics, who have no imprimatur other than that of our collective conscience. . . .
THE FIRST " The Hearst promotion of Mgr. Shiel as a feature writer, coming as it did in the tenth week of the Chicago Hearst Guild Unit strike against the Evening American and the Herald and Examiner, constitutes the first example of Catholic episcopal scabbery in Chicago's history.
" It is the purpose of the Serfs of St. Gregory to publicise this fact so broadly that it will not be duplicated elsewhere nor again in Chicago."
The attack on Hearst, which follows, is savage. The authors state that they never dreamed that he would be able to " purchase a live Catholic Bishop."
" There is not within the sacerdotal organisms of the Roman Catholic Church any established channel for a lay protest on such scandal as episcopal scabbery. . . .
"Priests under his jurisdiction have a solemn vow of obedience to the Bishop. When a Bishop misapplies or utterly prostitutes the prestige of his office these priests are able to fight only through clerical channels which lead to the Bishop himself."
The Serfs ask "all workers, Catholic and non-Catholic, to file protests by telegram, letter, or telephone, against Bishop Shell as a strike breaker."
Judging by letters reaching the CATHOLIC HERALD from American readers, Catholic opinion in the U.S.A. is much divided on the rights and wrongs of this newspaper strike.