Letter from Bishop Rummel to General Secretary Ready with enclosed "Report of the Episcopal Committee for the Care of Catholic Refugees from Germany", May 11, 1937


Czechoslovakian immigrant sisters arriving at Ellis Island, approx. 1930s

Rummel opens his letter with an apology to Ready for not sending this report sooner, as he was absorbed in his schedule of Confirmations for the season. Because of the increase in the Committee’s responsibilities, the first thing the report notes is that the Committee will probably have to increase its budget to keep up.  The Committee also declares that it will work with the St. Raphael Society in Germany and a committee for Catholic refugees operating in Holland, reflecting the US bishops’ desire to collaborate with other, more local aid organizations. The St. Raphael Society, in particular, was primarily intended for the care of “Non-Aryans”, the name given to converts or descendants of converts from Judaism, grouped with Jewish people as victims of Nazi persecution.  Rummel also explains that aid will extend to other Catholics of non-Jewish ancestry, forced out of Germany for their opposition to Nazism.



 Rummel to Ready


Notably, Rummel makes an explicit effort in this letter to distance himself from Father H.A. Reinhold, a German priest who had fled Nazi persecution, and who had played a key role in initially alerting the US bishops to the plight of German Catholic refugees. Father Reinhold, a Catholic writer devoted to the principles of social justice who was later active in the liturgical movement, irritated some Catholics in the United States with his open criticisms of Fascism. At this point in time many right-wing Catholics approved of Fascism, particularly in Franco’s Spain and Mussolini’s Italy, because they saw it as a force against Communism. Other Catholic thinkers, such as Reinhold and Jacques Maritain, immediately saw through Fascism’s claims and elaborate displays and warned the faithful to not be driven by Communism towards the opposite extreme. Fascism, they cautioned, was fully as anti-Catholic in spirit as Communism. Reinhold also proved a liability to the US bishops because they feared more widespread Nazi reprisals against the faithful in Germany if they should be too outspoken in their criticisms. For these reasons, Rummel reports that the US bishops have decided not to include Reinhold in their refugee aid efforts, saying that such a connection might leave them open to “criticism and embarrassment from the German government.”


As you read the document (linked below) reflect on the following questions:

  • What budget does Rummel estimate that the Committee should aim for?
  • Who requested, unsuccessfully, to have Father Reinhold play the part of messenger between local aid organizations and the US bishops?
  • Is anyone or any group specifically excluded from the US bishops’ refugee aid efforts other than Father Reinhold?