Pope May End Relations With Fascist Regime

Chicago Tribune/June 2, 1931

Calls 24 Cardinals Into Conference

Premier Mussolini has dissolved all organizations of Catholic youths in Italy by decree and according to good sources tonight Pope Plus XI is expected to recall the papal nuncio to Rome . It is said the pontiff may even sever diplomatic relations with Italy.

Since the pope regards the concordat at Rome as violated and as he holds this concordat and the Lateran treaty to be inseparable, many observers believe there might arise the question of denunciation of the Roman settlement. This might result in the pope’s returning to the state of “voluntary prisoner” in the Vatican.

Call Off Press Campaign .

This new development followed an order from the Vatican that the editor of the semi-official newspaper Osservatore Romano should discontinue its anti-Fascist editorial campaign and a similar order to editors of fascist papers to stop publishing anti-Catholic editorials.

These orders were issued following a secret two hour meeting which the pope had with 24 cardinals, members of the papal government. The curia was called into special session by the pontiff to consider the Vatican’s policy in the crisis with the Fascist government. Simultaneously Premier Mussolini was consulting his advisers.

Cardinals Back Pope’s Stand

Several of the cardinals were said to have encouraged continuance of the pope’s stand. It was said the pontiff told them he had no desire to break the concordat with Italy, but he wished the Italian government would regard the agreement not as one which could be violated by either party but as an international treaty subject to the regulations of international law. If Italy takes the view, it was said, the Vatican will not think of renouncing the concordat.

Mussolini is said to have signed his decree dissolving the organizations last night and all prefects were immediately charged with its enforcement. This was done quietly by summoning club officers and notifying them of the action.

Basis For Pope’s View.

The decree, which has not yet been published, was announced this evening by means of a short communique, which does not mention Catholic clubs but announces dissolution of those organizations not connected with the Fascist party or its subsidiary, Baillia, for boys .

Article 43 of the concordat, which the Vatican considers is violated by the governments order of dissolution, reads as follows:

“The Italian states recognizes associations affiliated with the Italic Catholic Action, always provided that they pursue their activities in conformity with provisions issued by the holy see outside of any political party and under direct control of the hierarchy of the church, with the sole object of propagating and realizing Catholic principles.”

Adult Groups Untouched.

Several fine points were hidden in the government’s brief report that the dissolution had been effected. The communique specified “juvenile” organizations, indicating that the order did not apply to groups of men and women of the Catholic Action.

For this reason the premier considers his action as technically only closing the juvenile groups which are not affiliated with Fascism and he has been careful not to dissolve the Catholic Action society.

U.S. Playgrounds to Reopen.

The government today decided to permit the reopening of the American Knights of Columbus playgrounds, which were closed last Saturday. The decision was announced at the moment that Edward Hearn, papal count and director of the Knights’ activities in Rome, filed a protest with United States Ambassador John W. Garrett against the closing order.

In his protest Hearn called the closing the clubhouses “unjustified and unjustifiable.” He pointed out that the playgrounds were engaged merely in the physical development of Italian youth, that they did not come under the jurisdiction of Catholic Action, and that they were without political color.

(Source: Chicago Tribune Archives, http://archives.chicagotribune.com/1931/06/02/page/27/article/gov-carltons-race-bill-veto-shocks-his-host)