Letter from Archbishop Joseph E. Ritter to Msgr. Howard J. Carroll, June 11, 1952; Reply by Msgr. Paul Tanner, June 23, 1952


Archbishop Joseph E. Ritter was a progressive advocate of racial integration in the Diocese of Indianapolis and later in the Archdiocese of St. Louis, as well as a proponent of immigration reform. Ritter initiated a series of meetings in early 1952 for "interested Catholic groups" to discuss the need for reformed immigration laws. The meetings were sponsored by the NCWC in Washington, and called for major amendments to the proposed McCarran-Walter bill. When the bill passed Congress in June 1952, however, Archbishop Ritter believed that it had the support of the NCWC, despite what he considered its un-Christian approach to immigration. In his letter to Msgr. Howard Carroll, the General Secretary of the NCWC, he questions that organization's support for the legislation. In the absence of Carroll, Msgr. Paul Tanner, the Assistant General Secretary, wrote a response to Ritter, outlining the NCWC position on the McCarran-Walter Act, and describing the history of NCWC's involvement with the new legislation.


Letter from Ritter to Carroll and reply by Tanner



As you read the document, reflect on the following questions:

  • What does Ritter say about the relationship between the NCWC's position on the McCarran bill and the general thinking of Catholics around the country? Did he believe Catholics support or objected to the McCarran bill?
  • How long did it take for the joint committee to write the McCarran-Walter Act? What was its chief purpose: to provide new legislation, or to codify and revise existing legislation?
  • Why did Tanner write a letter showing support for the McCarran-Walter Act? What does he think of O'Grady's characterization of the NCWC support for the bill?
  • What does Tanner suggest should be the "long-term remedy" for changing American attitudes on immigration?