Memo on the Involvement of NCWC Staff in Politics, 1933


There are no specific regulations in Church law on the role of priests in formal partisan politics. Instead, each bishop is supposed to supervise the activities of his priests, using discretion in monitoring or limiting their political involvement. In the early 1930s, however, the National Catholic Welfare Conference (NCWC) decided to prohibit political activity by members of its staff in order to maintain the neutrality of the Catholic organization. In April 1933, shortly after President Roosevelt's inauguration, the NCWC Administrative Committee issued an internal memo reminding the staff that the tradition and policy from the NCWC's beginnings forbade direct or indirect entrance into politics and any partisan political matters.




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

  • What is the NCWC policy on staff involvement with politics? Do you believe the policy is clear? Why or why not?
  • Examine the Chronology, paying attention to the sections on both Coughlin and Ryan. What was occurring in late 1932 and early 1933 that might have prompted the NCWC Administrative Committee to circulate this memo?