Chapter 8

by John Gavin Nolan

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On 12 September 1929 the apostolic delegate in the United States, Archbishop Pietro Fumasoni-Biondi, complained to Cardinal Hayes:

Incidentally, I would like to add a few words about the good Father Walsh, S.J. Although living in Washington with all possible facilities of communication with the Delegation, he has never informed me of what he is doing or what he is writing to Rome. Only on one or two occasions has he sent me copies of the records of the meetings of the Commission appointed by your Eminence and on these occasions he did so at my request. Unfortunately, he seems to have no conception, at least no practical conception, of the position of an Apostolic Delegation. He seems to think it possible for him to treat of any matter directly with Rome. Under such circumstances, I deem it difficult, if not impossible, to cooperate with Father Walsh.1

Four days later, Patrick Cardinal Hayes informed the delegate, “I am preparing to sail for Rome, October 13th, and hope to confer fully with His Eminence Cardinal Sincero.” He then added:

With regard to Father Walsh, S.J., permit me to say that I have never been informed of the immediate source of his authority. I was under the impression that he was in close touch with Your Excellency. The manner in which he speaks with me, had led me to believe that he reaches the Holy Father through some official in Rome.

There was the same air of mystery about the organization of the Catholic Near East Welfare Association.2

It was just as well that Father Walsh was unaware of their correspondence, for there was more bad news to come. Following the 29 October 1929 crash of the New York Stock Market, the Great Depression developed, leaving from 12 to 14 million Americans unemployed before the end of President Herbert Hoover’s term. A week after “Black Tuesday,” the bishops gathered at the Catholic University of America in Washington for their 11th annual meeting. In previous years Father Walsh had been invited by William Cardinal O’Connell to address the meeting, but in 1929 he was ignored. Father Walsh later told Cardinal Sincero that at the time of the meeting he was in his Georgetown quarters, only a few miles from the university. But he did not “lobby” to speak to the bishops “as I judged it improper to seek the privilege for myself.”

Father Walsh had given Cardinal O’Connell the opportunity to invite him to speak: on 5 November, before the conference opened, he visited the cardinal of Boston to remind him that the CNEWA board of directors was scheduled to meet the following day. Cardinal O’Connell scheduled the meeting for immediately after lunch and told Father Walsh to come to the university at noon to alert the directors as they were leaving the morning session.

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