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When Cardinal Mundelein of Chicago disavowed Father Coughlin's addresses in their connection with the Catholic Church last Sunday, he clearly drew the line between the political and religious activities of the Radio Priest. This announcement that he is no longer "authorized to speak for the Catholic Church" and that his views "do not represent the doctrine or sentiments of the Church" is constructive and laudable, and will open the way for further action to stop expressions of opinion that are obnoxious both to Catholics and to the country as a whole.
No longer can the "Social Justice" masthead proudly flaunt the caption "by permission of his Ecclesiastical Superior"; no longer will it be possible for thinking people to construe criticism of Father Coughlin as criticism of the Catholic Church. Those who persist in contributing to the Social Justice Publishing Company, which in turn pays for the Father's weekly broadcasts, should realize that their money is financing not a religious but a political campaign.
When the Priest of the Shrine of the Little Flower justifies the present German persecution with the theory that Jewish oppression "has only followed after the Christians were first persecuted"; when he bursts forth in unreasoning attacks upon "communists" and "money changers";--then he is violating all that either the Catholic Church or American democracy have stood for. Tolerance today has become of paramount importance, and both church and state must make sure of its preservation and strengthening.
Cardinal Mundelein has taken the first step. The Catholic Church should go further. In spite of all that cardinals or bishops may say, much of the public will not divorce Father Coughlin from the Church and his opinions will gain weight because of his position there. Since he cannot, according to Catholic tradition, be either deposed or excommunicated for his political actions, his Bishop or the Vatican should subject him to such ecclesiastical discipline that his radio addresses and his publications will be terminated.
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