Part IX – TFP Founding —
Books, Activities, and Campaigns of Great Repercussion
in the Sixties
Death of Pius XII and
Election of John XXIII
1. Election of John XXIII: How I Got the News
First Blessing "Urbi et Orbi"
remember perfectly the day I received the news of
the election of John XXIII. We were at the Vieira de
Carvalho Street seat listening to radio news on the
death of Pius XII and the election of his successor.
I had a
faint hope they would elect another Pius XII that
would maintain Church affairs more or less on an
point we heard the music of the Vatican Swiss Guard
that precedes the urbi et orbi announcement
of the new Pope’s election. A cardinal came to the
microphone and said: “I announce to you a great joy:
habemus Papam in the person of Angelo Cardinal
Roncalli, who has taken the name John XXIII.”
the Swiss Guard played a new music. And then I had a
hunch of a coming collapse of all traditions.
I knew perfectly well who Cardinal Roncalli was.
I saw everything at once and drank all the
bitterness at that moment.
followed was a very great sadness. The question was
to whether accept this sadness, but potentially it
had already been accepted.
2. The New Pope Announces the Convening of the
January 25, 1959, three months after his election
John XXIII announced his intention to convene a
Council to meet at Saint Peter’s in Rome. It would
be history’s largest.
imagine my chagrin as I learned, later on, that John
XXIII had invited to the Council observers from all
denominations, including from the pro-communist O.C.
(Russian “orthodox” church).
speech of the Council by John XXIII
announcement of the Council’s convening reached me
during a session of Catolicismo’s Seventh
Study Week being held in a now demolished
called Imperial Camargo, located on Angelica
Avenue at the corner with Alameda Barros in São
Sigaud and I were chairing a meeting,
someone behind the table handed me a newspaper
pointing at the news of the convening decree.
this news and then passed the paper under the table
to Dom Sigaud.
read it, and carefully.
told me what he thought at the time: “It’s all
solved: the Holy Father will now set straight all
the bishops’ little heads and the Church’s problem
will be solved.” The Pope was John XXIII.
thought the opposite: “These are the States General
of the Church, the beginning of the Revolution in
to tell him that but noticed I would not find the
I saw the French Revolution, he saw the Reign of
long after that I realized that Dom Mayer and Dom
Sigaud were not studying or preparing for the
Council’s debates. And I separately expressed my
concern to both.
Sigaud I said, “This is an unparalleled opportunity
for us to exercise our apostolate. Now, if Your
Excellency does not study in depth…”
Mayer I remember saying that in a low voice as we
crossed Republic Square in a taxi cab. We were
passing right in front of the Caetano de Campos
they arrived in Rome they were “green” for the
Council and allowed themselves to be completely
subdued by that environment.
Our Secretariat in Rome
In the first
phase of the Council, Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira and the secretariat
of the Catholicism group set up in Rome worked with commitment in
two initiatives of historical scope [see Chapter IX] . In the
picture, Plinio and some members of the secretariat in front of St.
1. Serial Trouble
presence in Rome
during the Council was not a juxtaposition of
pleasure and contentment on the one hand and severe
regrets on the other.
I was saddled with concerns.
stay was so painful to me that when I came back to
São Paulo and stomped the ground I had a sense of
relief: “It’s finally over!”
Because during all this time, within the Council and
therefore within the Church, everything worked out
badly and in the wrong direction.
2. The Shocking Way of Being of Many Bishops
Opening of the Second Vatican
first intention was to always attend the Council’s
sessions because it meant watching the Church in her
greatest pomp, installed with two thousand bishops
in that colossal building of Saint Peter's Basilica,
all with miter and crosier. I could stay there four
to five hours just looking at that protocol and
only went once. And later I did not set foot in the
Basilica except when attending a Mass celebrated by
Bishop Mayer at the altar of Saint Pius X during the
closing of the first phase of the Council.
all leaving Rome and the Mass closed that phase of
activities. Except for that, NO, so saddened I was,
to say no more, over the conduct of the Council.
particularly displeased seeing the bishops arrive at
the sessions on collective transportation rather
Sometimes they came on buses bearing the names of
delle Bambine, Collegio del Sacro Cuore.
bishops would get off the buses and don their habits
right in the square. It was something one could not
brothers" - At the reception for non-Catholic observers, called "separate
brothers"," we see Cardinal Bea (centre), in charge of promoting
christian unity; and orthodox and Protestant observers [Life, Vol.
53, No. 18, November 2, 1962]
same thing happened as they exited from the
sessions: they would take off their habits in a
hurry at the church lobby because they had to get
back in time for lunch at the school. So they did
everything running, and playing around.
3. Disagreeable Presence of Greek-Schismatic Bishops
greater displeasure, as I explained, was caused by
the presence of Greek- schismatic bishops in a
were seven or eight popes with those black
hats, moustaches shaped like threads, shining and
malevolent black eyes.
said nothing but paid attention on everything.
word, they were representatives of the Kremlin,
slaves of Communist atheism, and yet they were there
with all the bishops of the Earth.
4. Dom Sigaud, Dom Mayer, and the “Coetus”
rented a seat in a very nice neighborhood of Rome
called Parioli. There we had a large house and many
from our group were housed in it.
Societas Verbi Divini institute, a missionary organization operating
in 33 countries, a group of Bishops relaxes with Scoth and Cognac [Life,
Vol. 59, No. 25, December 17, 1965]
Mayer came to this seat every afternoon and
participated in a daily meeting we held, which
consisted of two parts.
first part was about what had happened at the
plenary of the Council, and the other part covered
the work of the right-wing Coetus:
what plans did it have, how their implementation had
worked out that day, and what were the plans for the
following day. As such it was something very
interesting and the reason why we were there.
would also tell funny things that had taken place
during the session. For example, he said that inside
the Basilica they had set up several small snack
bars for the bishops to eat or drink coffee, tea, a
soft drink or a quick snack.
“bar” in Hebrew means “son of”, the bishops began to
call those places Bar Jonah (son of Jonas),
Barabbas... There they would joke around and mock
one another in a way that absolutely did not
correspond to their responsibility in a Universal
would finally get tired and return to the assembly
to take part in the discussions...
discussions, of course, were completely controlled
by the Vatican. Anyone who did anything outside the
guidelines would expose himself to be severely
reprimanded. So the bishops toed the line.
Coetus’ right-wing prelates would make plans but
would later absurdly allow themselves to be
was a whole series of facts like that.
suggested to Dom Sigaud and Dom Mayer to take such
and such attitude, but they gave it no importance. A
hotel concierge had as much influence over the
Council as we did. And that after we had spent a
huge — but huge! — sum to be present and in some way
act on the Council.
5. Sabotaged at a Press Conference: Too
right- and left-wing laymen were invited to hold
press conferences for journalists and politicians on
points they wanted to be informed about.
Father Ralph Wiltgen, SVD
meetings were scheduled to take place at a convent
of the Divine Word Fathers, the religious
congregation to which Dom Sigaud belonged.
also called to those meetings. And I went there.
German Father of the Divine Word, who had much
sympathy for us, welcomed me very well: he was a
great friend of Dom Sigaud’s. His name was Father
priest told me:
“According to the schedule, it is now your turn to
hold a conference. Let’s go to the press room, as
people are already waiting.”
go in a priest shows up, asking:
Professor Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira, from São
not have to speak. Why would he need to speak?”
it just like that, with that brutality!
priest friend courteously replied:
on the list of invitees. There is no reason for him
not to speak.”
No! He’s very outdated, very conservative. Isn’t
there a way to get him off?”
Ralph Wiltgen said:
there is no way! Professor, please take the chair as
they’re already waiting for you.”
held a press conference with men I hardly knew who
they were. Everything was poorly arranged.
the conference was over, one of those priests told
relieved from other conferences. There was a mistake
and your name is not on the list.”
Ralph Wiltgen later wrote a celebrated book whose
title at first seems extravagant but is fully
appropriate: The Rhine flows Into the Tiber.
those rivers geographically do not meet, it was a
way of saying that the theological and philosophical
ideas of the worst German modernists were widely
represented among the Council’s theologians and
philosophers, and therefore those ideas held great
Two Historic Petitions
Left Unheeded: Consecration of Russia
And Condemnation of Communism
1. Genesis of the Petition to Consecrate Russia to
the Immaculate Heart of Mary
were two historical initiatives to which we
earnestly committed ourselves, both also boycotted
during the Council. The first was a request that
Russia be consecrated to the Immaculate Heart of
Mary, and the second that the Council issue a
condemnation of communism.
second [initiative of the secretariat], Dom Sigaud delivers to Paul
VI the petition of 510 Prelates (78 countries), who begged the Pope
to consecrate Russia to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. This petition
echoed the express request of Our Lady, until today mysteriously not
the former, the idea was born of a conversation,
which should be recorded in the annals of our
history, maintained with Dom Sigaud and Dom Mayer in
a living room at the Morro Alto farmhouse in Amparo.
had the opportunity of expounding to the two bishops
how it was highly advisable to promote that plea for
the consecration of Russia according to the message
Lucia had said that consecration was one of the
conditions the Virgin Mary had set in order to ward
off the threat of punishment hanging over the world.
And Our Lady had established certain conditions for
the consecration to be valid.
The consecrations of the world and “of the
peoples of Russia” to the Immaculate Heart of
Mary that Pius XII made in 1942 and 1952 did not
meet the conditions Our Lady requested.
this in books published about the subject. And I
also heard it personally from the Archbishop of
Coimbra, Most Rev. Ernesto Sena de Oliveira,
custodian of Sister Lucia. He stated that, according
to Sister Lucia, those consecrations did not fulfil
what had been requested. One also sees this
statement in a letter from Sister Lucia herself to
her Jesuit confessor, Father José Aparicio, who lent
me her letter: it said that the request had not been
bishops having accepted our suggestion, Dr. Castillo
carefully studied the whole issue to indicate how
the consecration should be made in order for our our
petition to meet all the requirements necessary to
do the will of Our Lady.
Dom Mayer and Dom Sigaud were the promoters, among
the Council Fathers, of the famous petition asking
the Holy Father to consecrate Russia to the
Immaculate Heart of Mary.
in the history of Fatima this extremely important
event took place: two bishops of the Catholic Church
arose and obtained the signatures of another 510
bishops asking for that consecration.
request was not granted, Our Lady’s will was not
history recorded that one movement, Catolicismo’s,
was sensitive to the voice of Fatima. And through
two bishops that movement made the possible and the
impossible to have Our Lady’s voice resound within
the Council in an official and highly prestigious
2. Petition to Condemn Communism Intensely Resonates
the Morro Alto Farm, Dom Sigaud, Bishop Mayer and I
set the theme of the petition to condemn communism,
later signed by 213 Council Fathers from 54
petition contained a number of theses from the book,
Revolution and Counter-Revolution that would
seldom be heard from bishops’ lips. Many of those
theses were posited as grounds for the petition to
have communism condemned.
3. Condemning Communism Would Hinder Ecumenism with
Catholicism on the first [initiative of the Secretariat]: petition
of 213 Conciliar Fathers (54 countries) for the Council to condemn
socialism and communism, and which would be scandalously boycotted
by the Secretariat of the Council, omitting condemnation of the
greatest heresie of the twentieth century.
was the petition’s goal?
Second Vatican Council was numerically the largest
council in history. Never had so many bishops
gathered in a council. It would be extremely
important that it made a condemnation of communism.
until that date the Church’s position was manifested
in a complete condemnation of communist doctrine, a
prohibition to all Catholics to read communist books
(without proper license), join a communist party, or
help maintain or expand communist organizations
through any form of support.
the limpid rigidity of this attitude was never
expressed with greater coherence and strength than
in the famous decree of July 1, 1949, approved by
Pius XII, in which the Holy Office declared
excommunicated and apostates from the Catholic faith
all those who profess, defend or disseminate the
new circumstances, a formal condemnation of the
communist doctrine by the Council would have been a
huge obstacle to ecumenical relations evidently
being prepared with communist countries.
4. The Holy See’s Pact of Silence on Communism
XXIII invited to the Council observers of all
faiths, including the pro-communist O.C.
with Vitalij Borovoj and Vladimir Kotljarov, two observers of the
Russian Orthodox church who participated in the Vatican Council II
[30 Giorni, edition in English, DOCUMENT edition no. 08 - 2004 ]
occasion, as was largely commented on the grapevine,
the condition the O.C. imposed to deign accept the
invitation was that any attack on communism at the
Council’s Assembly be forbidden and that Vatican II
refrain from saying anything against it.
that was the commitment the Holy See made in order
to have Russian observers come to the Council.
The non-condemnation of communism opened the way for
possible negotiations between the Soviet State and
the Vatican, and between the Russian “Orthodox”
Church and Rome.
time, an imperious command circulated among the
Council Fathers and also laity closest to the
Council: They could write and publish any articles
they wanted but never say a word against communism
or encourage anyone to do so.
ban was not official but only unofficial because
Paul VI did not want to make public that he had made
other words, on that paramount opportunity the
Church had chosen not to speak out against the
greatest heresy of our times. And this cast the
Church into a truly senseless position: a Council is
convened, a heresy is threatening to swallow the
Church, and the Church makes a commitment to not
speak against that heresy.
5. A Petition: The Only Possible Strategy to Try and
Break that Agreement
the Holy See accepted the commitment to not discuss
the issue of communism, the only way to get around
that word of order would be to organize, based on
the series of doctrinal and historical reasons
contained in our petition, a collection of
signatures asking that a condemnation of communism
be put to a floor vote.
Representatives of the Russian Orthodox Church
certainly would warn the Holy See in advance:
learned about this petition from the conservative
bishops’ wing. If they take this ahead, we’re
out for the Holy See would be to tell those
commitment has been made and therefore the Holy
Father wants you to withdraw this petition.”
happened, and if the members of the conservative
wing were willing to take matters all the way to
their logical conclusion, they should say:
conscience does not allow us to do that. Your
Holiness, if you want, remove us from the Council,
but we beg you to state the reason for it.”
that been done, the history of the Council, of the
Church and of the world today would be altogether
is no use claiming they lacked enough members to do
Council, the conservative coetus consisted of
about 30 archbishops and bishops (including
Archbishop Sigaud, Bishop Mayer, Archbishop Marcel
Lefebvre), out of a total of about two thousand five
hundred archbishops and bishops.
would thirty be needed: If only two did that (Dom
Sigaud and Dom Mayer, for example), they would have
turned the rudder of history around.
6. A Totally Irregular Procedure Blocked the
Forwarding of the Petition
of all this, I to Dom Sigaud and Dom Mayer to make a
petition to have communism condemned. So they asked
me to unofficially draft for them a motion to that
effect. And I wrote that motion.
petition was signed by 213 cardinals, archbishops
and bishops from 46 nations. And it was presented
within the proper deadline for the necessary
time went by and there was no response.
7. New Petition against Communism Sabotaged
fourth and final session (started September 14,
1965), the Coetus made a new petition — this
time with 435 signatures of Council Fathers from 86
of the Council’s internal bureacracy the new
document had to pass by the desk of Monsignor
Glorieux. He was a monsignor like so many others in
the Vatican. I am almost sure that at that time he
was not a bishop. He might have been made one later
because of the great “service” rendered to the
He is the in charge of processing the document.
Monsignor Glorieux did not act on it at all.
Sigaud and Archbishop Lefebvre went to see him. And
they asked him how the petition was doing.
Willebrands accompanied by Metropolitan Nikodim on the last day of
the Second Vatican Council. The Metz Pact has been respected.
Communism was not condemned, nor even mentioned, in the official
documents of the Council.
several evasive maneuvers the monsignor said he had
lost the documentation. That was tantamount to
saying that it would not be processed.
the Second Vatican Council failed to condemn the
greatest error of our day: communism.
absolutely could not fail to mention the attitude of
the Church in face of her greatest adversary in
those days. An adversary so powerful, brutal and
cunning as the Church had never seen before in the
almost two thousand years of her history.
discussion of contemporary problems facing religion
that fails to deal with communism would be as flawed
as a world medical conference convened to study
today’s major diseases that omitted any reference to
Dom Mayer and Dom Sigaud’s Groundless Optimism
Unfortunately, Dom Sigaud and Dom Mayer joined the
Council imbued with a certain optimistic mindset.
seem to have failed to measure the extent to which
the Revolution had penetrated the mental,
ideological and psychological entrails of countless
bishops. And above all they did not gauge the extent
to which many of those bishops were committed to
implement those errors and needed to be confronted
with a firm stand.
failure to realize that was one reason for their
had an obligation to seriously prepare themselves in
order to enter the Council armed de pied en cap,
from head to toe against the errors they might find
and carry out a strong action in the debates.
The end result was that Dom Sigaud and Dom Mayer
ended up by signing the Council without
remember that when the direction the Second Vatican
Council would take began to emerge I insisted with
them in every possible way to take a public stand in
order to halt that move.
flatly refused. Dom Sigaud said, “Plinio, there is a
difference between what Dom Mayer and I want, and
what you want. We want to save the Council!”
wanted to save the Church! They saved progressivism.
public stand been taken at the right time with the
necessary energy, the history of the Church would
they did not do what I advised. Why?
are several hypotheses. But the more acceptable
psychological and tactical hypothesis is that led by
their avowed optimism, also present in Archbishop
Lefebvre, they thought that all that was happening
would be worked out in one way or another and that
therefore it was not worthy it to engage that
the ever-recurring, naive optimism of the good,
reminiscent in its own way of the mindset of Louis
XVI facing the advance of the French Revolution.
Mayer claimed that he signed the Council because
signing it meant nothing! It meant no adhesion to
the Council. It was like a notarial act.
there is no such thing as a notarial act that does
not mean something!
9. The Process of Self-Destruction in the
narrates the innumerable dramas the Church has been
going through in the twenty centuries of her
existence: Oppositions that germinated outside of
her and tried to destroy her. Tumors that formed
inside her, were excised, and ferociously attempted
to destroy her from the outside.
however, had history ever seen, before our days, an
attempt to demolish the Church no longer by an
adversary but one described as “self-destruction” in
a very high-ranking pronouncement with worldwide
repercussion? (cf. Allocution of Paul VI to the
Lombard Seminary on 7/12/68).
result for the Church and for what still remains of
Christian civilization, was a huge collapse.
concrete fact is that there is now a considerable
current of Catholics, or rather “Catholics,” who no
longer accept religion as it was and fight for an
aggiornato [updated], communist
Catholicism. This is the dominant fact in terms of
roughly what Communist Allende stated about the pre-
and post-conciliar Church shortly after being
elected. He said he had read the Declaration of
Bishops in Medellin and the language they used was
the same as theirs, Marxists. And that the Church
was no longer a factor of opposition to his party
but an element in its favor.
The Freedom of the Church in the Communist State
Some Preliminary Remarks
1. Observations from My Marian Congregant Times
during the Council that I wrote the book,
Freedom of the Church in the Communist State.
book has an old story.
1930 there were in São Paulo very active
anticommunist groups that imported printed material
against communism from a Swiss-based international
still a relatively new Marian congregant and a
priest handed me one of those pamphlets and told me,
“Look, here’s the latest in terms of anticommunist
propaganda, read it.”
actually read it and it immediately caught my
attention that the arguments they employed was that
communism burned churches, killed priests and nuns,
desecrated the Blessed Sacrament, broke statues, and
forbade religious education.
Luigi Taparelli d'Azeglio
had just read the Treatise on Natural Law by
and studied the encyclicals of Leo XIII on social
those very solid and secure sources pointed to more
important points on the incompatibility between
communism and Catholic doctrine. For example, they
showed that communism sought to eliminate private
property. And they affirmed the legitimacy of
property in such terms that one could not conceive
of an organized society according to the spirit of
the Church without private property.
looked for that priest and asked,
“Monsignor, that literature speaks about the
incompatibility between communism and Catholic
doctrine, but only with regard to communist attacks
on worship. Not, however, with respect to property.
How does that work?”
“If one day a communist regime emerges that tells
the Church: ‘I organize society without private
property but will give you religious freedom,’ will
the Church approve that regime? Will that do away
with the reason for conflict with communism?”
good priest, considered one of the most conspicuous
in São Paulo, skidded on the issue and gave no
reply. He was a man of great personality but not
much intelligence. And I thought, “He does not
navigate with ease on doctrinal issues. He’s
probably unaware of this point.”
time to time I would ask the same question to some
eminent priest or high class person. And the answer
was the same beating around the bush, whereas papal
documents on the matter are crystal clear.
2. Observations from My Time as Congressman
lingering question came to a head during my time as
had suddenly presented to be included in the
Brazilian Constitution of 1934 an article saying,
“All riches of the country’s subsoil belong to the
until then, according to the Civil Code, all riches,
including in the subsoil belonged to the landowner.
He who owned the soil owned the subsoil.
article had the provision that a government license
was necessary to exploit the riches of the subsoil.
congressmen of the Catholic Electoral League, were
quite numerous. I have bad memory but I think we
were 70 or 80 congressmen, led by Tristão de
Athayde, who was no congressman but a supervisor of
Dom Sebastião Leme with us.
I look for Tristão, for one or the other
congressman, and say,
you see it? If today the state takes over the
underground, tomorrow it will take the ground as
well. By voting this article into law you end up by
admitting a communist principle. See the papal
documents about this matter.”
but Dom Leme is not in Rio, he’s in Petropolis.”
Dom Leme, go over there. That’s what roads are for.”
does not like to be disturbed on weekends.”
took a car and went to St. Ignatius School, where
they had Brazil’s foremost Catholic intellectual:
Father Leonel Franca.
along with him very well. I still remember his
looks: a medium-height, balding Bahian but with an
extremely intelligent, glistening baldness. He was
seated, quiet, and with a gaze... he had some oblong
eyes full of thought.
into his office, filled with books, notes, data
sheets. He, sitting:
Leonel, I came to talk to you about such and such
worry, it it is not important at all.”
Father Leonel, this is a doctrinal point.
but these things are not taken so seriously, so
do worry. And I am voting against it.”
your right, just as it is your right to vote for it.
Do as you wish.”
looked several other priests and posed this
question: “Father, is communism bad only when it is
atheistic? And is it not bad when it is not atheist?
If a communist regime was established that did not
persecute the clergy, would you be against that
explanation was given. And I realized there was a
willingness on their part to soften Catholic
doctrine on this matter at the earliest opportunity.
concrete fact is that, around 1935 all you heard in
Catholic circles was talk against “atheistic
communism”. No one spoke any more against communism
while suppressing private property.
3. Observations from My Trip to Rome during the
years went by. And I traveled to Rome for the first
phase of the Council.
Sigaud asked me me to join him in his contacts with
right-wing bishops. And so I attended a number of
those contacts I noticed also on the part of those
bishops a very strong desire to make reconciliation
between the Church and communism precisely on the
classical basis: Russia ceases religious persecution
and the Church ceases to fight for private property.
And I found it strange.
remember one such meeting held at the Divine Word
Congregation’s headquarters, with Dom Sigaud
present. It was an old building with high ceilings
next to a park.
getting dark, but the lights had not yet been turned
a beautiful meeting: a number of prelates dressed in
old style, with [pectoral] chain and gold cross,
some with a very smart physiognomic expression.
would sit in chairs that had been comfortable when
new but in which one could already notice some
protruding springs poking from several sides. A
cautious ‘policy’ was required for seating, just as
some political acumen was necessary to talk: they
were two concomitant policies.
meeting was drawing to an end in a somewhat
maybe twenty people in the room, talking about one
thing and another and some comment broached on
something about the Council’s policy in the face of
challenged Bishop Roberto Ronca, the same who had
published Dom Mayer’s Pastoral Letter in Italy. He
was attending that meeting.
Monsignor Ronca was a very intelligent man. Tall,
fat, ruddy, in his fifties, with remnants of blond
hair from here or there on his forehead, but with
the looks of a man that could do math and had a
positive spirit: A real man.
“Excellency, I wanted to ask this question: If
tomorrow the Russians descend in Italy and offer
religious freedom in exchange for having the Church
renounce teaching the principle of private property,
can the Church accept that offer? If she does accept
it”—I added—“the regime of private property Italy is
over and communism is established. And then, poor
said that out loud and at a time when the
conversation was dying, my question caused a general
silence. Especially since it was a “checkmate,” not
a “checkmate on the king” but one “on the
silence! Finally, one of them said, as if answering
me, “It is true that the Pope, in that case, will
not leave the Vatican.”
kindly said that this was responding to a point
within a circle. But what we would need to know is
what all the world’s bishops would do in such a
case; what guidelines would they have: only a
guideline to not leave their dioceses? And in this
case their attitude would be to stay and talk, or
stay and keep quiet? That was the issue.
the Archbishop of Pompei (Monsignor Ronca) looked at
me and said, “I don’t know, dont’ know... It’s an
extremely important issue. But what do you want,
professor? We here in Italy live so busy with so
many problems that we have no time to study these
issues, something that you have in South America
with a much more tranquil life than ours.”
thought to myself, “All right, then I will publish a
study on this subject that I will send to them and
to all those like them; for I notice inside all this
a vacuum that does not adequately disguise their
lack of courage to address the issue and to take the
courageous attitude that will be required if the
problem arises. I will delve into this issue.”
4. Conversations with Bishops Ivan Bucko and
in Rome I sought to meet time other, most varied
1964 film frame on the occasion
of Mons' Ivan Bucko visit to an exhibition on the "Martyr Church" in
the communist world, created by the parish priest of a Roman parish.
Monsignor Bucko himself was a refugee from the persecution of the
Church in Ukraine [Historical archive of Luce Cinecittà].
example, Bishop Ivan Bucko, later elevated by the
Holy See to the rank of Apostolic Visitor of
Ukrainians in Western Europe.
him in Rome in 1962 at a Ukrainian seminary located
in a very beautiful place and with a very
picturesque name: Passegiata del Gianicolo.
Gianicolo is a hill with all the memories of Roman
history. Passegiata is a promenade, but a
cheerful, carefree walk. And in that place I found a
way to learn what the world was like around Ukraine
and to get news from behind the Iron Curtain.
placed the same problem to him, he told me:
“Professor, I would like to know how to solve it,
but it is a very convoluted question.”
wouldn’t it be useful for someone to do a study on
would be extremely useful. It would be a great
service to the cause of the Church.”
“All right,” but did not tell him about my plan to
occasion I also met another bishop who was a former
general director of the Marian Congregations and had
also been to Brazil. I had never met him. He was a
Pole, Monsignor Gawlina.
had been a general in the Polish army during the
First World War. Later he became a priest, was
appointed bishop by Pope Pius XII, and lived in the
Polish church in Rome.
with him I raised the same problem and he gave the
same answer: someone needs to do that study.
decided, “I’ll do it.”
The Freedom of the Church in the Communist State
The Soviets Needed Peaceful Coexistence
1. The Old and New Tactics of Communism
problems did I have to face in order to write that
people had no clear idea that the Communist Party
was not a political organization like other party
associations. And it was very important to dispel
Communism is not mainly a political party. It is a
set of people that have their own philosophy which
involves a vision of the universe,
of life, and of man.
And the advocates of this philosophy seek to mold
the whole culture, civilization, and all
institutions — political, social and economic —
according to that vision.
Communists don’t simply want to seize power as an
ordinary political party. They want to completely
change the whole style of human life and carry out
their project in all of the world’s countries
without any exception at all.
turns out that from 1917 until 1963, the year I
wrote the book, communists had failed both in the
West and East in their attempts to persuade. So much
so that they had been unable, up until then, to win
any free election.
failure, however, was not complete. They had
obtained two very important results.
first was the triumph of the modernist conspiracy
within the Church. The second, the creation of
certain insensitivity among the bourgeoisie in
relation to socialistic basic reforms which softened
the obstacles communism would encounter in the
why it suited the communists to retain their old
tactic of explicit indoctrination accompanied with a
veiled threat of violence, and at the same time to
employ a completely new tactic which was that of
2. Russia’s Reasons to Adopt a Policy of Detente
new tactic became especially accentuated right after
the Yalta Treaty.
Stalin came back from the meeting in Yalta, his
first concern was to set up an “orthodox” church led
by schismatic clerics who had become communists for
fear of dying. It was with representatives of that
schismatic church that the Catholic Church dealt
with during Vatican II.
Russia suddenly ‘break the ice’ with schismatics?
Churchill, Truman and Stalin at Potsdam conference
treaty of Yalta, completed after the Potsdam
agreements, it was expressly or tacitly established
(nobody knows precisely) which European peoples—that
later groaned under Communist domination— would be
delivered to Russia.
Stalin realized that this yoke would create a major
strategic obstacle for Russia.
thing is to dominate a people accustomed for
centuries to absolute and fierce dominance by the
czars. Quite another would be to dominate civilized
peoples hostile to Russia such as Poles, Germans,
Russia did not ease off a bit and make some
concessions in religious matters she would be
threatened with dangerous disturbances, as communism
did not have much support in Russia’s own territory.
those were the two main reasons that led to that
ice-breaking maneuver, within Russia in relation to
schismatics, and outside Russia in relation to
Catholics and Christians in general.
Catholic Poland, the Key Country in the
Implementation of Peaceful Coexistence
was the most sensitive point for the new Russian
policy of detente.
thirty million Catholics, Poland made up the most
compact and influential Catholic bloc beyond the
Gomulka with Brezhnev, 1967
domination encountered two obstacles to become
effective: the Poles’ centuries-old allergy to
Russian colonialism, and particularly the
incompatibility between the most Catholic Polish
population and the Marxist regime, which by
definition is atheist, amoral, and egalitarian.
obstacles placed communists in Moscow before an
alternative: colonize Poland once again by brutally
subjecting her to proconsuls, and at the same time
unleash a Neronian religious persecution in the
country; or give the nation a minimum of autonomy,
have it governed by Polish communists rather than
Russians, while allowing the Church a modicum of
freedom in such poor conditions that, over time, the
communists would be able to extinguish both faith
and patriotism. Otherwise, for the Soviets, granting
that minimum would be capitulation.
communist leader Gomulka was the agent of this new
Russian policy in the civil sphere.
As he assumed
the Polish government, Gomulka gave Poland a little
independence from the point of view of taxation,
political organization, and a little freedom of
presented Polish Catholics with this thesis:
“Instead of fighting me, support me so as not to
lose the little bit you have. If I fall the Russians
are coming in to rule.”
the situation exactly with the same eyes as his
communist opponents, Archbishop Wyszynski is said to
have chosen to accept that minimum.
simplify, he held this position:
unfortunate situation in which Poland has fallen we
cannot want the greater good but only think of the
lesser evil. The absolute evil is the extinction of
liberty. The lesser evil is Gomulka.”
it was that a lage part of the Polish Episcopate
undertook to demoralize and severely crack down on
anti-Gomulka and anticommunist Catholics that might
argument put forward to support this policy was: “If
we make an uprising against Russia the peoples of
the West will force their governments to come to our
side. That creates the danger of thermonuclear war.
Therefore, it is best for Poland to bow its head and
accept servitude to spare the world a thermonuclear
calculation resulted into the effective policy of
coexistence that was established in Poland: the
Polish government showed no signs of wanting to
extinguish the Church, except very remotely. And the
Church did not try to free herself from communism,
except also very remotely. And with that they stood
next to each other, collaborating.
arguments applied not only to Poland but, with small
changes, to the whole world.
the West, the idea was created that an arrangement
with communists was something possible. In countries
where they dominated it would be better not to fight
in order to save what little could be saved. And so
the Polish problem ended up having an impact
4. Church Silence, a Morally Unacceptable Compromise
did Gomulka ask Catholics in return?
claimed that he would commit political suicide if he
allowed Catholics to regularly and systematically
preach in favor of private property.
far as private property was concerned he asked
Polish Catholics the same thing the liberal state
had asked the Church regarding the separation of
Church and State. Catholic seminaries in liberal
states taught that, in theory, union between Church
and State would be better, but in practice, nowadays
separation was better. And woe to the layman or
priest who praised union between Church and State!
One could not even wax nostalgic of it because
ecclesiastical authorities would liquidate anyone
who worked to sustain that thesis.
same thing happened in Poland regarding private
property. According to the Ten Commandments, in
theory it would be better for private property to
exist. But in practice — said the supporters of
coexistence — capitalism had so many abuses that it
turned out being preferable to establish the
community of goods.
simplified terms, all that is good in theory is bad
in in practice; and all that is good in practice is
bad in theory. So you had a Religion in theory and a
communist practice completely different from the
thesis that the person upheld.
result was that after listening to this passively
for twenty years, Catholics would begin to see as
normal the existence of the community of goods, and
to eliminate private property from their mental
in short, was the Polish formula for peaceful
were the considerations that led me to write
Freedom of the Church in the Communist State,
pointing out what was wrong with it..
The Freedom of the Church in the Communist State
Theses, Dissemination, and Controversy
1. The Book’s Main Theses
essay I tried to frustrate this maneuver already
back in 1963 by showing that it is intrinsic to the
communist regime to eliminate or very seriously maim
the institution of private property, and to do so is
contrary to Church doctrine.
No cardinal, no bishop, no priest, no individual
faithful wishing to keep his soul free from sin can
accept this agreement because it is immoral.
order to be faithful to her mission the Church could
not fail to fight this regime even if it gave her
full freedom of worship. That combat would create an
inevitable conflict between Catholics and any
booklet thus intentionally caused a division among
Catholics between those who wanted to bend their
knee before the Beast and those who said, “We will
never accept such an agreement, whatever the
created a great difficulty among theologians,
moralists, bishops, and public opinion at large. If
there was a strain of Catholics devoted to Our Lady
and resolved to accept the thesis of The Freedom
of the Church in the Communist State, they would
go underground into catacombs or die as martyrs but
would ensure tomorrow’s dawn of the Church and the
Reign of Mary.
2. One Night to Write the Book
still in Rome when I wrote, in one night, most of
that essay. I woke up with the essay basically
brought it to Brazil and came to the conclusion that
the time to publish it had still not arrived. It was
shelved for six or eight months.
figured the time had come and published it about a
month before the second session of the Council.
3. The 2,500 Council Fathers Receive the Work
our Rome secretariat to spread this study to all
2,500 prelates present at that second session of the
response I received complimentary letters from some
bishops, but few in number.
remember, for example, the letter from a bishop of
the Chaldean rite from a nation in Asia Minor
dominated by the communists. It was an excellent
letter asking me to send the essay to all his clergy
to learn what their duty was under communist
practically got no letter from Brazilian bishops.
Afterward we send the study to a huge number of
an important theological journal from
Piacenza (Italy) published an excellent commentary
on it, manifesting support for our theses.
Unexpected Letter of Praise from the Holy See
Mayer, at our request, had given the book to all
Roman Congregations. And in a totally unexpected way
there came an excellent letter from the Holy See’s
Sacred Congregation for Seminaries and Universities.
The letter was addressed to Dom Mayer.
the Holy See's letter of approval to the book The Freedom of the
Church in the Communist State [Click on the figure to read the
translation of the letter]
remember to this day that we were holding a meeting
at the Pará Street headquarters when they told me
Dom Mayer was calling me on the phone. I answered,
he talked a little with me, gave me some news, and
I have here a letter from Cardinal Pizzardo
that, Dom Mayer, a letter from Cardinal Pizzardo?”
read the letter from Giuseppe Cardinal Pizzardo,
Prefect of the said Congregation, approving my book,
which had also been signed by its Secretary, the
future Cardinal Dino Staffa.
delighted! For I expected anything but that letter.
Dom Mayer to dictate the text over the phone and
communicated it to the plenary. And later he sent an
emissary from Campos to São Paulo especially to
reported "Catholicism" no. 173, May 1965, the public launch of the
banners of TFP
fact, that letter from the Holy See actually pierced
the wall and seemed deliberately calculated to do
so. On behalf of a high-ranking dicastery of the
Holy See, it declared that our thesis was entirely
importance of this letter to our consciences and to
garner support for our theses was simply
letter was indeed authoritative and manifested
unrestricted support and approval.
Our opponents were struck at seeing that the TFP,
said to be frowned upon by ecclesiastical authority,
had received a second letter of praise from the Holy
See (the first had been on the book
of Catholic Action).
5. Kierunki: Controversy behind the Iron
meantime, a controversy arose with the leftist
Catholic weekly Kierunki, making it clear
that the study had rebounded behind the Iron
Kierunki weekly and the monthly magazine
Zycie i Mysl, both from Poland, violently
attacked The Freedom of the Church in the
Communist State. The controversy began when Mr.
Zbigniew Czajkowski, who wrote for those two
journals, published extensive articles against my
essay. I replied in the pages of Catolicismo.
followed a controversy in which the Paris
publication L’Homme Nouveau intervened in
support of my work through the pen of its
collaborator Henri Carton, while Témoignage
Chrétien — a ferociously communist-progressive
French magazine—sided with Czajkowski.
turn, Mr. Tadeusz Mazowiecki,
editor in chief of the monthly magazine Wiez
and a congressman at the Polish Diet for the Znak
Catholic group, published in his magazine (No.
11-12, November-December 1963) in collaboration with
Mr. A. Wielowieyski, an article that tried to be a
rebuttal of the study.
day we do not know what caused that controversy.
of the Iron Curtain, our study could not have
torrentially penetrated into Poland. And for a
newspaper there to have to refute it, one can assume
that it was taken by someone who made a clandestine
Polish edition which disturbed collaborationist
Catholic circles. Hence the need for the newspaper
Kierunki to address the issue.
concrete fact is that our essay was largely
disseminated. Editions and translations in several
languages were prepared. And the TFP spread them
fulfilled our mission, said the truth that had to be
told, and disseminated it widely. It was now up to
others to render accounts to God for what they were
able to read but took no advantage from.
years after publishing our essay there appeared
minorities within the episcopates from around the
world which, anticipating the problem of coexistence
with communism, proposed to solve it in the worst
way. Some churchmen even called for unilateral
nuclear disarmament of Western nations with the
motto: “Better red than dead.” Which meant: “It’s
better to be a communist than to be killed.” So we
had better surrender.
United States, representatives of this Episcopal
minority sustained this thesis: “Russia will not
disarm. If we do not disarm there will be nuclear
war. Now, nuclear war is such a great evil that it
is better for Russia to take over the United States.
O.C. in the Water Shoot,” Folha de S. Paulo,
10/3/71. In a series of articles in Folha de
S. Paulo from July 25, 1971 Dr. Plinio used
the “OC” abbreviation to refer to Russian
Greek-“Orthodox” Church. And he explained why he
placed “orthodox” between quotes and why he
called it Kremlinian:
“Some reader may find it strange that I always
write ‘orthodox’ between quotes. I do not even
remotely do it to goad or attack. The reason is
that as a Catholic, strictly speaking I can only
recognize as orthodox the Holy Roman Catholic
and Apostolic Church (since ‘orthodox’ in Greek
means straight or right opinion). It is quite
true that this usage has led countless Catholics
to dismiss the quotes as useless because they
find it obvious that a Catholic cannot accept a
church separated from Rome as truly orthodox.
But in these times of delusional ecumenism it
seems to me perfectly legitimate both for
Catholics loyal to the faith and for coherent
“orthodox” people to want to avoid any confusion
and to use exceptional measures for this end.
‘Kremlinian’? Why use this neologism? Quite
simply because reality requires us to say – and
I do so with great joy — that a good number of
Russian and non-Russian “Orthodox” refuse any
communion with the mitred lackays of the Kremlin
placed at the head of a mock church and
hierarchy working in Moscow under the auspices
of the atheist state. These anti-Kremlin
‘orthodox’— hierarchs and laymen suffering
persecution and pressures of all kinds—remain
adamantly convinced the ‘Kremlinians’ are a
sinister fraud. And the noble firmness of these
‘orthodox’ deserves warm applause, which every
true Catholic gladly renders to them” (“Lessons
from the Neighbor’s Garden,” Folha de S.
her third apparition at Cova da Iria on July 13,
1917, the Blessed Mother had said: “I will come
to ask for the consecration of Russia to my
Immaculate Heart and the Communion of reparation
on the first Saturdays. If they listen to my
requests, Russia will convert and there will be
peace; if not, it will spread its errors
throughout the world, promoting wars and
persecutions of the Church. The good will be
martyred; the Holy Father will have much to
suffer and many nations will be annihilated.
Finally, my Immaculate Heart will triumph. The
Holy Father will consecrate Russia to me; it
will convert and a certain period of peace will
be granted to the world.”
Our Lady was explicit: the consecration had to
be made: 1) by the Pope; 2) in union with the
world’s bishops; 3) of Russia; 4) and to the
Immaculate Heart of Mary.
Pius XI received the message, but for
undisclosed reasons he did not make the
consecration. The consecration made by Pius XII
was not “in union with the bishops of the
world.” Nor was “the consecration of
Russia” made. Therefore, two of the four
conditions set by Our Lady were not met. This is
so much so that on 10/31/42, when Pius XII
consecrated the Church and the human race
to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, Sister Lucia
wrote the Pope communicating, on Our Lord’s
behalf, that since that act “was incomplete,
the conversion of Russia is postponed” (cf.
Antonio Augusto Borelli Machado, Fatima: Past
or Future? The Unheeded Message, cit.).
Subsequently, on 11/21/64, Paul VI
“entrusted” (not consecrated) “humankind”
(not explicitly Russia) to the Immaculate Heart
of Mary. Therefore, the petition of the Council
Fathers was absolutely appropriate.
Italian and international press gave full
coverage to the petition’s December 3, 1963
delivery by Bishop Mayer to the Secretary of
State of the Holy See, Amleto Giovanni Cardinal
Cicognani. The Divine Word News Service, led by
Father Ralph Wiltgen, SVD, greatly helped to
spread news about the document. It broke the
news of the petition’s delivery firsthand to 650
journalists present at the Coordination
Committee of Communications on the Council,
which included representatives of international
agencies that wired it to the whole world.
Simultaneously with the petition, because of its
close links with the subject the secretariat of
the Catolicismo group in Rome widely distributed
to those journalists copies of the book, The
Freedom of the Church in the Communist State,
translated into English, French, Spanish and
Italian. It was also distributed to the 2200
commitment emerged at the meetings held on
August 18, 1962 in the French city of Metz
involving Eugène Cardinal Tisserant,
representing the Holy See, and Metropolitan
Nikodim, then schismatic Archbishop of
Yaroslavl, representing the Russian Orthodox
Communist press was the first to reveal that
commitment through France Nouvelle, the
weekly central bulletin of the French Communist
Party (issue of Jan. 16-22, 1963): “Since the
world socialist system shows indisputable
superiority and enjoys the approval of hundreds
and hundreds of thousands of men, the Church
cannot be satisfied with a crude anticommunism.
During its negotiations with the Russian
Orthodox Church, it has made the commitment that
in the council there would be no direct attack
against the communist regime.”
those meetings was born the Pact of Metz,
described in detail by journalist and writer
Jean Madiran in his book, L’Accord de Metz ou
pourquoi notre Mère fut muette (The Metz
Accord, or Why Our Mother Kept Mute), published
in 2006. He had denounced that pact six months
after the Metz meetings in Itinéraires, a
magazine which he directed.
Pact resulted in the acceptance by the Russian
Orthodox to send observers to the Second Vatican
Council, as reported by the Catholic progressive
newspaper La Croix. In its issue of
2/16/63, it revealed: “As a result of that
meeting, Monsignor Nikodim agreed that someone
go to Moscow to take the invitation, on
condition that guarantees were given regarding
the Council’s apolitical attitude.”
is worth recalling that Russian Metropolitan
Nikodin, with whom Cardinal Tisserant signed
this agreement, was a spy paid by the KGB to
infiltrate the World Council of Churches, of
which he became president
Gerhard Besier, Armin Boyens, Gerhard
Lindemann, Nationaler Protestantismus
Ökumenische bewegung. Kirchliches handeln im
kalten Krieg (1945-1990), Duncker und
Humblot, Berlin 1999, apud José Antonio
No. 742, October 2012).
first Monsignor Glorieux claimed he had not
forwarded the petition to the committees working
on the final wording of the scheme in order not
to hinder their work. At that point, Most Rev.
Luigi Maria Carli, Bishop of Segni, addressed a
letter to the Council’s Presidency denouncing
the Mixed Commission’s arbitrary action of
ignoring such an important document. Monsignor
Glorieux defended himself by falsely stating
that the petition had arrived after the
deadline, a claim denied by the secretary of the
Council himself, Bishop Pericle Felici.
11/23/65, the aforementioned Divine Word News
Service, close to the conservative prelates,
issued a long statement about the scandalous
disappearance of the proposals by no fewer than
435 Council Fathers. And even as the scandal
exploded in the media, Paul VI held a restricted
meeting of his close aides in which he decided
that it was inappropriate to condemn communism
(cf. José Antonio Ureta, “The Second Vatican
Council’s Enigmatic Silence on Communism,”
Catolicismo, No. 742, October 2012).
Corrêa de Oliveira, “Communism and Anticommunism
on the Threshold of the Millennium’s Last
At the time it was claimed that the Second
Vatican Council’s Pastoral Constitution Pastoral
Gaudium et Spes had referred to the
problem of atheism in a footnote
and even quoted the encyclical of Pius XI,
Divini Redemptoris, and other documents of
the Pontifical Magisterium condemning, among
other errors, also communism. Hence they sought
to deduce that the Council had not been entirely
silent regarding a condemnation of communism.
But such a claim is fragile: Why omit any
explicit reference to communism and only talk
about atheism? Why put that reference to the
encyclicals only in a footnote?
letter, dated December 2, 1964, stated that the
author was “deservedly famous for his
philosophical, historical and sociological
science” and congratulated him on the
“substantial booklet, which is a most faithful
echo of the documents of the supreme Magisterium
of the Church, including the luminous Encyclical
Mater et Magistra, of John XXIII, and
Ecclesiam Suam of Paul VI, happily
a Catholic who loves the Church this is the
greatest compliment you can receive from a
high-ranking ecclesiastical authority.
significantly, this letter also said at the end:
“May the Lord grant all Catholics to understand
the need to be united ‘in uno sensu eademque
sententia’ in order to avoid the illusions,
deceptions and dangers now internally
threatening His Church!” In other words, the one
who wrote the letter knew very well “the
illusions, deceptions and dangers” of the policy
of concessions to communism which meandered in
the Church. And he supported the author for