Monday, October 6, 2008

Wlodimir (Vladimir) Ledochowski: "The Pope is Mad!"

The American Jesuits by Raymond A. Schroth

Pp 129-130

In 1938, as La Farge concluded a fact finding tour of Western Europe, including Germany and Czechoslovakia, Pope Pius XI stunned him by calling him to a secret meeting at Castel Gandolfo. La Farge had sent him a copy of his new book, Interracial Justice; now the pope wanted him, “as if you yourself were the Pope” to write an encyclical on racism and fascism, including anti-Semitism. When LaFarge informed Ledochowski, the general exclaimed, “The Pope is Mad!” afraid that a condemnation of Germany would strengthen Stalin. For three months LaFarge assisted by a German priest-economist, settled in the Paris residence of the Jesuit magazine Etudes and, pushing himself to the point of collapse, wrote he encyclical.

Called Human Generis Unitas, the first 75 pages, written by his coauthor Father Gustav Gundlach, repeated ideas from previous encyclinals on the unity of the human race. La Farge’s 50 pages on totalitarianism, racism, and anti-Semitism were sharper. He condemned Nazism as contrary to natural law, and concerning the United States, condemning lynching and the public distinctions based upon race. Although he said racial segregation caused harm, he backed off from an absolute condemnation, allowing for “social separations” where “brotherly love and prudence” might require it. Anti-Semitism, he said, was “totally at variance with the true spirit of the Catholic Church.” But he worried about “misguided” Jews who were attracted to communism.

On September 20, for personal reasons that are not clear, LaFarge delivered the manuscript not to Pius XI but to Ledochowski, who sat on it for months, in effect suppressing it; and there is no evidence Pius XI even saw it before he died on February 10, 1939. When Pius XII issued Summi Pontificatus (the Unity of Human Society) in October, LaFarge looked in vain for his ideas on racism. The best he cold ger was the greeting to blacks in Sertium Lactitiac.,M1

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