March 5, 2017

1949. The Catholic Church Escalates Its Fight Against Communism

The Widening Church-State Divide in Germany
Pope Pius XII in 1939 during a mass shortly after his election (source)
Bill Downs

CBS Berlin

July 17, 1949

Today ends the first month of the East-West modus vivendi agreement in Germany arrived at four weeks ago by the Big Four Foreign Ministers in Paris.

It has been a month in which the East-West tension has been eased somewhat. The Berlin rail strike is settled and the Russians are now once again speaking officially to their opposite members on the West side of Berlin. On the debit side, the Soviet authorities have closed down all but one entry point for truck traffic from the West. They imposed and then lifted their "Little Blockade." And all attempts to reach agreement on East-West trade contracts and on currency problems thus far have failed.

In other words, the German problem has become less threatening during this past month of "live and let live" policy, but it is no nearer solution.

It is a comparatively quiet Sunday in Germany. Out in the countryside farmers are beginning to harvest their wheat and other grain crops. There is little sign of the drought that is threatening western and southern Germany, at least in the area around Berlin.

In watching this work in the fields, one again is struck by the fact that the war hit agriculture just as hard as it did Germany's industry. Most of the harvesting is being done by hand. In the fields, wheat is being cut with the scythe and cradle. Women follow the mower, pick up the sheaves of grain, bind them by hand, and stack them. Children follow the women, gleaning the stubble for grain that has fallen. The scenes in Germany's farmland today are almost biblical.

The open warfare developing between the Catholic Church and Communism is having its repercussions in Germany. The Christian Democratic Party newspaper Der Tag this morning charges that the Communist-dominated Socialist Unity Party in the Russian zone has embarked on a campaign against religion, both Protestant and Catholic. The paper says that war-damaged churches are not being rebuilt, but that the churches are being torn down in order to salvage the bricks in them.

There will be special masses throughout the country this afternoon as German Catholics gather to hear a special address directed to Germany by the Pope.

By contrast, the sound of cannon fire can be heard in West Berlin today drifting in from the Russian zone. Soviet troops are reported to be preparing for their summer maneuvers. These maneuvers for the first time will include some 15,000 members of the German People's Police. These police will not participate in combat capacity, but are charged with guarding lines of supply, bridges, factories, and handling traffic.

Otherwise, Germany is quiet today.

This is Bill Downs in Berlin. Now back to CBS in New York.

Bill Downs

CBS Berlin

July 18, 1949

Economic experts of the four occupation powers meet again this afternoon to attempt to work out East-West trade and currency problems and further advance the Paris modus vivendi agreement that today goes into its second month of operation.

One of the problems that is likely to come up today will be the question of reopening northern and southern border crossing points to truck traffic. Russian authorities closed them down ten days ago and are channeling vehicle traffic to and from Berlin only through the Helmstedt crossing point.

Truck drivers coming into Berlin say that German police are stopping them before they get to the city and are confiscating West marks. This morning a large passenger bus was stopped and all the passengers searched for food and West currency.

Otherwise truck traffic is rolling without incident.

Communist attacks on religion in the Soviet zone today has brought into the open a Church-State struggle that thus far in Germany has been kept quiet.

The Russian-licensed press has made two vitriolic attacks in the past few days. The official Soviet Army newspaper Tägliche Rundschau labels the Vatican as a "definite capitalistic power," while the Communist Party paper Neues Deutschland devoted a full page hitting at the Protestants. Lutheran Bishop Otto Dibelius of Berlin was denounced as a "warmonger and an instrument of American aggression."

Today 30,000 Catholics gathered at the Olympic stadium here to hear a special recorded address of Pope Pius and to celebrate the commemorating of his Golden Anniversary as a priest.

The Pope's message made no mention of his recent order excommunicating Communists. He urged German Catholics to endure their hardships and keep faith in God.

The only direct attack made on the East was by one of Berlin's leading Catholic laymen, Professor Emil Dovifat. He urged that Catholics never stop fighting the brutalities and concentration camps of the Soviet zone.

This is Bill Downs in Berlin. Now back to CBS in New York.

Bill Downs

CBS Berlin

July 29, 1949

Word has reached me through a reliable German source that President Truman has personally intervened in the Church-State struggle now being conducted by the Vatican against Communism.

According to this source, Mr. Truman two weeks ago addressed a message to Cardinal Konrad von Preysing in assuring him of official American sympathy in the Catholic struggle against Communism. Mr. Truman also sent the Berlin cardinal his personal good wishes in the Church's fight in divided Germany.

The message is said to have been delivered by Myron Taylor, the President's special representative to the Vatican, who arrived in Berlin on July 12. The message, reported to have been in the form of a letter, was delivered one day before Pope Pius issued his order excommunicating from the Roman Catholic Church any of its members who also embrace Communism. This would indicate that the highest American authorities were advised and approved the Pope's action before it happened.