A Reply to Right Rev. Monsignor John Ryan


Father Coughlin lost little time in responding to Ryan's "Safeguard" speech. During a Sunday broadcast made two days after Ryan's speech, Coughlin lambasted Ryan for speaking on behalf of the Democratic National Committee. Coughlin then proceeded to deny that he had ever called Roosevelt a "communist," instead insisting that many of Roosevelt's New Deal reforms were "communistic." With eloquent sarcasm, the radio priest accused Ryan of being a pawn of the political party and of possessing greater loyalty to the Democrats than to Church's teachings. Coughlin refused to defend his economic theories; instead, he challenged working-class Americans to judge between the two men's ideas, dismissing Ryan's long career advocating for social and economic justice. In one point only did Coughlin agree with Ryan: that is, communism is the result of the injustices of modern capitalism. Coughlin also called for expressions of approval from his loyal listeners; whether he received them is unknown, but his broadcast, reprinted in newspapers across the country, certainly contributed to the outpouring of condemnatory letters received by Ryan in the following weeks



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

  • How would you describe the tone of Coughlin's reply?
  • How does Coughlin characterize Ryan's relationship to the Democratic Party?
  • On what issues does Coughlin disagree with the Democratic administration?