An archivist at Catholic University is prepared to turn conventional wisdom on its ear with the discovery of a unique recording of a televised Catholic protest against Nazis as early as 1938.
The generally accepted view for years has been that U.S. Catholics and the American Catholic Church itself had not paid much attention to Germany’s pre-war persecution of the Jews. But the recording showed Catholic moral outrage on behalf of jews just nine days after “Kristallnacht” (Nov. 9, 1938) when more than 30,000 Jewish men were rounded up for concentration camps and thousands more killed outright. This recording was amazing evidence of compassion not indifference.
CUA’s 27-minute broadcast went over the nation’s airwaves just six days after the violence abated, on Nov. 16, 1938.
According to Catholic University’s website:
The recording carried the trademark crackle and static of a 1930s radio broadcast. The announcer spoke in the mellifluous baritone of the radio personalities of that age. He explained what the listening audience was about to hear: a live national broadcast from the CUA campus, carried by both the Columbia Broadcasting System (CBS) and the National Broadcasting Company (NBC), featuring several prominent members of the clergy and a well-known former governor, patched in from their respective locations across the country. The announcer then introduced Rev. Maurice S. Sheehy, head of the university’s Department of Religious Education, who was the broadcast’s organizer. His voice, though grave, possessed the theatrical quality of a moving Sunday sermon.
“The world is witnessing a great tragedy in Europe today,” Father Sheehy began, “and after sober, calm reflection, various groups and leaders of the Catholic Church have sought permission to raise their voices, not in mad hysteria, but in firm indignation against the atrocities visited upon the Jews in Germany…”
This is a great and welcome addition to the pages of history.