You are currently viewing No False Unity: Cardinal Stritch’s Rebuff of the Ecumenical Movement

No False Unity: Cardinal Stritch’s Rebuff of the Ecumenical Movement

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Historical tidbit from 1954…

No False Unity: Cardinal Stritch’s Rebuff of the Ecumenical Movement

His Eminence Cardinal Samuel Alphonsus Stritch (1887-1958) was the Archbishop of Chicago, Illinois, from 1940 until 1958.

In 1910 he was ordained a priest in Rome at the young age of 22 after Pope St. Pius X had granted him a special dispensation. Pope Benedict XV appointed him bishop of Toledo, Ohio, and named him a Domestic Prelate of His Holiness in 1921. Bp. Stritch became Archbishop of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, in 1930, and was appointed Archbishop of Chicago nine years later. Pope Pius XII elevated him to the status of cardinal in 1946.

It was in his role as the chief shepherd of the Catholic flock of Chicago that Cardinal Stritch issued a pastoral letter of immense doctrinal and historical value, on June 29, 1954, after the ecumenical-Protestant World Council of Churches had announced a conference promoting “Christian unity” to be held in Evanston (near Chicago) from Aug. 15-31, 1954.

The chief purpose of the epistle was to explain why Catholics can have no part in efforts at a false religious unity such as that envisioned by the ecumenical movement, no matter how good-willed its proponents might be. Lacking neither in clarity nor in charity, the document first draws from Sacred Scripture to provide a brief overview of the institution of the Catholic Church as a perpetual hierarchical and visible society whose purpose it would be to teach, govern, and sanctify souls while rendering to God the true worship and preserving intact His Divine Revelation. Special emphasis is placed on the institution of the Papacy, the primacy of St. Peter and his lawful successors over the entire flock of Christ.

Having laid the foundation of the Catholic Church as the only Church founded and willed by Christ, His Eminence goes on to explain why Catholics “do not take any part in conventions or meetings or assemblies which have for their purpose establishing some sort of man-made unity among Christian sects.” At the same time, he hastens to make clear that cooperation on civil and other non-religious matters is possible among Catholics and non-Catholics.

As this pastoral letter is of great value for its doctrinal content but quite hard to find online, we are reproducing it below. It illustrates how ecumenism, which is of course fully embraced by the Vatican II religion, is inherently incompatible with Catholicism not simply as a matter of discipline but of doctrine. Ecumenism requires the Catholic Church to give up its claim to being the one and only Church of Jesus Christ, outside of which there is no salvation. Since the Catholic Church cannot renounce her claims, as doing so would mean being unfaithful to her Divine Founder, she cannot take part in the ecumenical project of searching for the truth in common with heretical sects, or of arriving at some other kind of religious unity than that which Christ has given to His Church.

A few years before Cardinal Stritch’s pastoral letter, Pope Pius XII himself had released an important instruction concerning ecumenism. He did so through the Sacred Congregation of the Holy Office, of which he himself was the head:

The full text of Cardinal Stritch’s letter follows. As it is of considerable length, we have underlined the most important portions dealing specifically with the issues surrounding ecumenism.


To the clergy and laity of the Archdiocese of Chicago: 

Greetings in Christ Jesus Our Lord.

Dearly beloved in Christ:

The Feast of Saints Peter and Paul, which the Church celebrates today, offers us an appropriate occasion to speak to you about an essential element of our Faith, our union with the See of Peter and with Peter’s successor in the supreme Pontificate, our Holy Father the Pope.

This feast recalls to our minds the holy lives, the apostolic labors and the martyrdoms of these two great apostles of Christ. We read in the Acts of the Apostles that among those who listened to Peter after the Descent of the Holy Ghost on Pentecost there were “visitors from Rome.” (Acts 2:7). It may have been that some of these visitors from Rome were among those baptized by St. Peter that day and were the first Roman converts. If they were, they were not to be his last. We know that St. Peter went to Rome, then the capital of the world. He was the first Bishop of Rome. From there he wrote his two epistles, venerable and precious documents, which may well be called the first Encyclical Letters of a Roman Pontiff. After many years of holy labor he was martyred by being crucified head downwards, in Nero’s Circus on the Vatican Hill. After his glorious death for Christ our Blessed Savior, his devoted children in the Faith reverently took his body and buried it on that same Vatican Hill.

St. Paul, the Acts of the Apostles tell us, went to Rome and there for two full years “he remained in his own hired lodging; and he welcomed all who came to him, preaching the kingdom of God and teaching about the Lord Jesus Christ with all boldness and unhindered.” (Acts 28:30-31.) He was martyred at a place in the suburbs of Rome called “Ad Aquas Salvias,” and his body was buried near the place of his martyrdom, where over his tomb today there is the great basilica which bears his name. Pagan Rome had its glories, but these two apostles gave it an imperishable glory, a glory that its Caesars could never have given it.

The tomb of St. Peter, the first Bishop of Rome, became in the days of the Church of the martyrs a center of pilgrimages for Christians from all over the world. When peace came, there was erected over this tomb the great Basilica of St. Peter, which was known as the Constantinian Basilica. When time had wrought its havoc on this venerable church, the scene of so many important historical events, the present great Basilica of St. Peter was erected over Peter’s tomb. That tomb, concerning which recent excavations have given us important information, has always been and is a great central shrine of the Church. We shall kneel there today in spirit and as we kneel there we want you to listen to us while we say the things which come to our minds on that holy spot.

Of all the saints of the Catholic Church, why do we place such emphasis on St. Peter? There were the other apostles. Why does St. Peter hold such a prominent place in our Faith and in our devotion? The reason is that while our Blessed Savior commissioned all the apostles to go forth and bring men into His fold, therein to teach, to govern and to sanctify them, it was to St. Peter alone that He gave the primacy, that is the supreme power and the duty to teach, rule, guard and feed the whole flock of Christ. It was to St. Peter that our Blessed Savior promised this primacy when He said: “And I say to thee, thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. I will give thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven; and whatever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” (St. Matthew, chap. 16, v. 18f.) St. Peter was to be the rock upon which Christ would build His Church. Just as a building depends for its stability and strength on its foundation, so in the mind and will of Christ the Church of God would depend for its unity, stability and strength on the powers given to St. Peter by Him.

The powers of the primacy in the Church promised to St. Peter that memorable day at Caesarea Philippi were actually conferred upon him on the shore of the Lake of Galilee after the Resurrection. “When, therefore, they had breakfasted, Jesus said to Simon Peter, ‘Simon, son of John, dost thou love me more than these do?’ He said to him, ‘Yes, Lord, thou knowest that I love thee.’ He said to him, ‘Feed my lambs.’ He said to him a second time, ‘Simon, son of John, dost thou love me?’ He said to him, ‘Yes, Lord, thou knowest that I love thee.’ He said to him, ‘Feed my lambs.’ A third time he said to him, ‘Simon, son of John, dost thou love me?’ Peter was grieved because he said to him for the third time, ‘Dost thou love me?’ And he said to him, ‘Lord, thou knowest all things, thou knowest that I love thee.’ He said to him, ‘Feed my sheep.’” (St. John, Chap. 21, v. 15s.) With the words: “Feed my lambs … Feed my sheep,” the Son of God put His whole flock into the charge of St. Peter. Placed at the head of the flock, it was Peter’s responsibility to provide food for it, to ward off dangers, to guard against insidious foes, to defend the sheep against violence; in a word to teach them Divine Revelations, to administer to them the means of sanctification — Christ’s sacraments — to rule and govern them. Peter was made by Christ, our Blessed Savior, the Chief Shepherd of the Church, the Vicar of Christ on earth.

This primacy of St. Peter in the Church was necessary according to the mind and will of our Divine Lord to establish and secure perfect unity of all His followers in one Faith, one worship, one obedience, one body. In this primacy there is included the supreme teaching office in the Church, and the teaching of Peter is safeguarded by infallibility. This means that when Peter, wishing to exercise his supreme apostolic authority as shepherd and teacher of all Christians, pronounces on a matter of faith and morals, when Peter defines a truth as contained in the deposit of divine revelation or condemns errors contrary to that deposit, he cannot err or make a mistake, because of the guarantee of infallibility which Christ gave him, for if the Church was to be one in belief, as our Blessed Savior willed it should be, the supreme authority had to be able to decide without danger of error what was a matter of faith and what was not. Peter is the rock, giving to the Church that cohesion of unity by which it is one in faith and without which it could not become and remain what its master wished it to be. To Peter were entrusted the keys of the kingdom of heaven, the power of binding and loosing, that is, the power of making laws, of judging and punishing and therefore also of teaching faith and morals. But such a power necessarily implies that Peter could not be mistaken in his authoritative decisions concerning the truths committed to Christ’s Church. No group, no assembly in the Church, according to the mind and will and mandate of Christ, has the authority to teach the Gospel of Christ except when it teaches in union with Peter and is confirmed by Peter, and that is what our Blessed Savior promised at the Last Supper when, hinting at the denial soon to be made by Peter, He said to him, “Simon, Simon, behold Satan has desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat. But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith may not fail; and do thou, when once thou hast turned again, strengthen thy brethren.” (St. Luke, chap. 22, vv. 31f.) Peter’s faith could not fail. It could not be tainted with error, and it could give certainty, firmness, integrity and unity in truth to all the sheep of Christ.

Now it was necessary that there should be continuity in the life of the Church, in the organization which Christ gave it. The Church was to live on through the ages to come as God’s instrument for the salvation of men, the very same instrument that was founded by our Savior and vivified by the Holy Spirit. Our Blessed Savior said, “Behold, I am with you all days even to the consummation of the world.” (St. Matthew, chap. 28, v. 20.) The same powers and functions which our Lord gave to the apostles and to Peter at their head had to be handed down to their successors. The life and form with which Christ endowed His Church were not to disappear with [the] death of the twelve. Before He ascended into heaven Jesus said to the apostles: “All power in heaven and on earth has been given to Me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you, and behold I am with you all days even unto the consummation of the world.” (St. Matthew, chap. 28, vv. 18ff.) How, we ask with Pope Leo XIII, “could all this be realized in the Apostles alone, placed as they were under the universal law of dissolution by death? It was consequently provided by God that the teaching power instituted by Jesus Christ should not end with the life of the Apostles, but that it should be perpetuated. We see it in truth propagated, and, as it were, delivered from hand to hand. For the Apostles consecrated Bishops, and each one appointed those who were to succeed them immediately in the ministry of the word. Nay more: they likewise required their successors to choose fitting men, to endow them with like authority, and to confide to them the office and mission of teaching. Such was St. Paul’s bidding to Timothy: ‘Therefore, my son, be strengthened in the grace which is in Christ Jesus; and the things that thou hast heard from me through many witnesses, commend to trustworthy men who shall be competent in turn to teach others.’ (Second letter, chap. 2, vv. 1,2) And therefore just as Christ was sent by God and the Apostles by Christ, so the Bishops and all those who succeeded the Apostles were sent by them.” (Pope Leo XIII – [Encyclical] “Satis Cognitum.”)

It is clear then that the Bishops of the Catholic Church, united in one body, with the successor of Peter, the Bishop of Rome, are the successors of the Apostles, with Peter at their head. The Bishop of a diocese is the shepherd of the flock committed to him by the Holy Father the Pope. It is the Pope who is the chief shepherd of all the dioceses of all the flock of Christ. His sheep are not only the lay people but also the priests and the Bishops of every diocese. He is the shepherd of shepherds.

Christ our Lord is the invisible Head of His Mystical Body, which is the Holy Roman Catholic Church. The Holy Father, the Vicar of Christ on earth, is the visible head of the Church. Because of his power to teach infallibly in matters of faith and morals handed down from Peter through the long historic line of his legitimate successors in the See of Rome, the teaching of Christ has been preserved incorrupt. The Faith of every member of the Church is the very Faith which was taught by the Master to the Apostles. His promise to be with them in their successors to the end of time has always been fulfilled. It is by His assistance that the Faith of the Church has remained and always will remain the same, inviolate in its purity till the day when He shall come to judge the world. That assistance has been realized and verified principally in the exercise of the power given to St. Peter, the Prince of the Apostles, and his successors to teach infallibly and to rule the whole Church with supreme authority. It is Christ with His Holy Spirit who has taught and ruled through Peter and Peter’s successors, the Bishops of Rome.

As Catholics and dutiful members of the true Church of Christ, you have accepted the authority of the Catholic Church to teach you and guide your life in all that pertains to the Faith and the morality taught by God to men through Jesus Christ, His Son. You acknowledge and freely submit your intellect and your life to that authority as exercised by the Bishops who make up the divinely established Hierarchy of the Church in union with the Pope, the successor of St. Peter. Now it is mainly because of your free acceptance of, and submission to, that authority that you are distinguished from those of your non-Catholic fellow citizens who profess to be Christians and even, as in the case of very many, believe that Jesus Christ is truly God as well as man and the true Savior of the world.

In accepting the authority of the Church to teach on matters of faith and morals, you enjoy the greatest freedom. These truths which are taught by the Church are immutable, objective truths and, just as in the realm of pure reason you accept immutable, evident truth, for the very freedom of your mind to think aright, so also you accept in faith these truths which the Church teaches, and they give to your mind a greater freedom than you could ever have merely in the light of reason. Let no man say that your mind and your reason are not free to search for truth in every area of human thinking in which truth is not already established. There can be no contradiction between the truths of faith and truths of reason or science. Truth is one.

You have accepted and do accept the authority of the Catholic Church, because you know that our Blessed Savior gave the Church that authority over you. You know that in Her alone are found verified the words of St. Paul, “He gave some men as apostles, and some as prophets, others again as evangelists, and others as pastors and teachers, in order to perfect the saints for a work of ministry, for the building up of the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of faith and of the deep knowledge of the Son of God, to perfect manhood, to the mature measure of the fullness of Christ.” (Ephesians, chap. 4, vv. 11-13.) You are sure that in Her alone has been realized the answer to Our Lord’s petition for His Apostles, “I will ask the Father and he will give you another Advocate to dwell with you forever, the Spirit of truth whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you shall know him, because he will dwell with you, and be in you.” (St. John, chap. 14, vv. 16f.) You believe that it was to Her in the person of His Apostles that Jesus spoke when He said, “He who hears you, hears me; and he who rejects you, rejects me; and he who rejects me, rejects him who sent me.” (St. Luke, chap. 10, v. 16.) You are at peace because you know that the Church of Christ, vivified by the Holy Spirit, is teaching you the self-same Gospel which our Blessed Savior spoke on earth and which He confided to His Apostles to teach to all men. You are one in your Faith, one in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, one in the seven Sacraments which Christ has given us and one in your obedience in the Church to the Hierarchy, with the Pope, the successor of St. Peter, the Bishop of Rome, at its head.

You need but to look around you in our own beloved country to find men grouped together in many different religious sects. These numerous divisions, often contradicting one another in their differences, are the natural and inevitable result of the rejection of the teaching authority which Christ established in His Church. Private judgment in revealed religion and in the interpretation of Holy Scripture is bound to result in division and disunion. Unity of faith cannot be had without the submission of the individual mind to the voice of God speaking through the Church and particularly through the visible head of the Church, the Vicar of Christ, our Holy Father the Pope.

Your Faith is a great gift from God. Long, long ago our Blessed Savior said to St. Peter, when St. Peter made that great act of faith: “Thou art the Christ, the son of the living God,” — “Flesh and blood has not revealed this to thee, Peter, but my Father in heaven.” (St. Matthew, chap. 16, v. 17.) The grace to be united with the Church in humble submission to her authority is a gift of God. This with the grace of your baptism and of the other Sacraments which you receive makes you truly members of Christ’s Mystical Body, that is, His one true Church, the Roman Catholic Church. How grateful you should be for these gifts! You should prize your Catholic Faith ever more highly and thank God for it. You should ever strive to know it better and profess it openly before all men. You should also be well prepared to give a reason for your faith to the sincere seeker of truth, who, impelled by God’s grace, may wish to know more about the Church of which you are proud, with God’s grace, to be a member.

There are men outside the Church professing the Christian name who deplore the divisions which exist among them. They talk about setting up and establishing a Christian unity or, as they sometimes say, a unity of Christian action. They are mindful of the words of our Blessed Savior to His apostles, spoken the night before He died: “Yet, not for these only do I pray, but for those also who through their word are to believe in me, that all may be one, even as thou, Father, in me and I in thee; that they also may be one in us, that the world may believe that thou hast sent me. And the glory that thou hast given me, I have given to them, that they may be one, even as we are one: I in them and thou in me; that they may be perfected in unity, and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and that thou hast loved them even as thou hast loved me.” (St. John, chap. 17, vv. 20-23.) They gather in international organizations, they hold congresses, conventions and assemblies. Wide publicity attends their meetings and assemblies. You are familiar with what they are doing, because you read of these conventions and assemblies and organizations in your daily newspapers.

Quite naturally the question arises in your minds, what should be the opinion of a Catholic, what his attitude with regard to these organizations and their activities? The answer of the Church to this question is: The Catholic Church does not take part in these organizations or in their assemblies or conferences. She does not enter into any organization in which the delegates of many sects sit down in council or conference as equals to discuss the nature of the Church of Christ or the nature of Her unity, or to propose to discuss how to bring about the unity of Christendom, or to formulate a program of united Christian action. She does not allow Her children to engage in any activity of conference or discussion based on the false assumption that Roman Catholics, too, are still searching for the truth of Christ. For to do so would be to admit that She is but one of the many forms in which the true Church of Christ may or may not exist, that she does not preserve in Herself the unity of faith, government and worship willed by Our Lord for His Church, that She does not know the true meaning and nature of that unity and of those other God-given properties by which She is distinguished not only as the one but also as the holy, catholic and apostolic Church founded by our Blessed Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Such an admission She can never make, for She is now as She has always been, the one and only Spouse of Christ, the one and only Mystical Body of Christ, the one and only Church of Christ.

It cannot be admitted that the unity willed by Our Lord for His Church has never existed or does not exist today. For such an admission would falsely imply that the will and the preaching of Christ were inefficacious and that His prayer to the Father still remains unheard after almost two thousand years. It would mean that the Holy Spirit, poured out upon the Apostles and abiding forever in the Church founded on them, had failed in His mission. Such a failure is, of course, unthinkable. No, the unity Jesus gave to His Church is an evident and unmistakable thing. It consists, as we have indicated, very simply in three things. The first is that all the members of the Church believe the same truths, handed down by Sacred Scripture and divine tradition, as taught to them by the infallible teaching authority established in the Church by Christ Himself. The second is that all obey the divinely constituted authority of the Church in all that pertains to their moral life and the salvation of their souls. The third is that all share in the same worship of God and use the same means of sanctification, as directed and provided by the Church’s teaching and ruling authority: in the concrete, that all participate in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and the prayer of the Church, and that all admit and use according to their station in life the seven holy Sacraments instituted and given to us by Jesus Christ Himself.

Now this unity, clear and obvious as it is, exists in the Church of Christ today. It is found in the Roman Catholic Church and in Her alone. She and She alone is the true Church of Jesus Christ. There is only one way to the unity so anxiously sought by some men. That is the entrance into the fold of the Church of Christ, participation in Her life, submission without reserve to Her teaching and ruling authority. If we are asked, does the Roman Catholic Church desire the unity of all believing men, our reply is that She by all means desires unity, but not a unity forged according to fallible human conceptions. The unity She wishes for all Christians and offers to those who seek it is that which was established in Her by Jesus Christ Himself and preserved in Her always by His almighty power.

If the Catholic Church does not take part in these international and national councils, conferences and assemblies, it is not because She is not interested in cooperating with Our Lord in bringing His other sheep into His fold. She longs for, prays for, and does all that She can do to restore the complete unity once existing among believers in Christ. She spares no effort to repair the divisions which arose when men in the East during the 9th century and in the West during the 16th century separated themselves from the one flock of Christ, cut themselves off from the one Body of Christ. She always holds the door open and is ready to greet with outstretched arms all those who come into the unity established by Christ in His Church. She offers them the truth and prays ardently that they may receive the light of the Holy Spirit in their minds to see it, His love and courage in their wills to embrace it. Earnestly, incessantly, the Catholic Church prays that all men may come into that Christian unity which was established in Her by Jesus Christ, Her Founder.

This attitude of the Church with regard to our separated brethren is not one of arrogance and pride. Far from it. It is rather that of a loving parent towards erring children. She knows Her duty to Christ. She mingles love with firmness. Like Christ our Lord, She is filled with compassion and sympathy towards those who grope in the darkness of error, but She cannot betray His trust to Her, She cannot be false to the charge He has given Her to preserve the deposit of Faith confided to Her, to keep it intact and uncontaminated by falsehood, to preach it to men in all its purity and integrity.

Some men will try to tell you that the Catholic Church became corrupt, that She corrupted the doctrine of Christ, and that to such an extent that some found it necessary in conscience to break away from Her, that they themselves might preserve the truth of the Gospel. Your answer will be that the Church of the 16th century believed and taught nothing that was not believed and taught by the Church of the first and second centuries, a divinely established Hierarchy, the primacy and infallibility of the Bishop of Rome, the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, the seven Sacraments, the divine Maternity of Mary, most worthy of honor and devotion, and all the God-given truths contained in Holy Scripture and the Divine Tradition entrusted by Our Lord to His Apostles and through them to their successors. The Catholic Church has never tampered with the truth revealed by God through His Son Jesus Christ. She has never taken away a single tenet nor added a single doctrine to that revelation. If in the course of time, under the impulse and guidance of the Holy Spirit, She has come to a clear and explicit realization of beliefs which before She held and taught in an implicit manner, no reasonable man can say that She has thus invented man-made dogmas. That evils existed in the 16th century need not be denied. That the reformation of discipline and morals brought about by the great Council of Trent was indeed salutary, should be admitted. But the truth of Christ always remained in His Church in all its pristine purity uncontaminated. The institution that Jesus formed has by the power of God been preserved from the beginning, essentially the same throughout the ages. Christ promised that the gates of hell would never prevail against Her. That promise was kept in the 9th and the 16th centuries, as it is kept in the 20th century, and will be kept until the end of time.

Accordingly it is understood that the faithful of the Catholic Church may not in any capacity attend the assemblies or councils of non-Cathollcs seeking to promote unity of the churches. We ask you, however, to pray for our separated brothers and to beg God to give them the gift of Catholic Faith. They need great graces to overcome prejudices, to break down the wall of misunderstanding which has long existed between us. Pray that they, with God’s grace, may find the Church of Christ the Mother Church which waits for them with open arms and longs to receive them. Pray that they may come to look upon Mary the Mother of Jesus as their own true Mother in Christ. Pray that, like the Magi of old, they may be given the star of Faith to find “the Child with Mary, His Mother.”

Our Faith demands that we practice real Christian charity. We would be less than Christian if we excluded from that charity any man, no matter what his condition or what his professions. Holding firm to the Faith that is in us, we shall live in charity with all our fellow citizens. With few exceptions, they believe in God and many of them believe that our Blessed Savior was God and man and the Savior of all men.

In this great country, which we love with a true patriotic love, there are things, which we can do in cooperation with our fellow citizens. The great specter of an armed atheism is on the horizons of our free world. We know its hatred of religion, and we know how it has poured out that hatred principally on the Church in the countries in which it has obtained control by violence. There are many things as citizens which we with our fellow citizens can do and should do. We are ready to unite with them as citizens in the doing of these things. Their discussion of many of the social problems which confront us in our day will prove helpful to us. We are not an isolated group in our democracy. No group in our country is more devoted to our democracy than our Catholic people. We realize that in this day all men of good will, and particularly all men who kneel and pray to the living God, should unite against common dangers: the danger of atheism, which with specious rhetoric, at least in effect, would banish God from all our social thinking. If in the unity of the Church established by Christ we do not take any part in conventions or meetings or assemblies which have for their purpose establishing some sort of man-made unity among Christian sects, we are always ready and anxious on the civic and social levels to work together with our fellow citizens, particularly with those who worship the living God, for the good of our country and of society.

Let Christian charity reign in you and let it be your motivating spirit in dealing and associating with your fellow citizens. In our country there obtain a variety of religious beliefs. In this condition and in these circumstances we shall live together in charity and, while we shall not sacrifice one iota of our Faith taught us by Holy Mother Church, we shall collaborate earnestly and honestly with our fellow citizens against godlessness in public and social life, against the aggressions and encroachments of those evils which are attacking the very foundations of our democracy. To all men of good will we issue the invitation to join with us and to work with us, even with the limitations which obtain, for that measure of good which is possible for us to secure.

As by the Faith which you profess in common with your fellow Catholics everywhere you witness to the unity, catholicity and apostolicity of Christ’s Church, take care also to show forth always in your lives Her exalted holiness. Let everyone realize that it is especially by the example of his life lived in accord with the teachings of our Faith that those not of the fold will be inspired with the desire to know the Catholic Church better and even to accept Her doctrine.

Keep before your eyes the ineffable sanctity of Jesus, the Man-God, whose Sacred Heart is the abyss of all virtues. Look always to His Immaculate Mother, the sinless Virgin Mary, our Mother and protectress in the struggle against the forces of evil. Turn with eager devotion to your patron saints in whom each one will find the mode of that Christian virtue of which he stands most in need. Strive to grow stronger in faith, more confident in hope, and above all more generous and ardent in charity, in love of God and your fellow men. In this day of confusion, in this day when many hearts are yearning for peace, you, a Catholic people, in your daily lives, should be a beacon to all men. Remember that our Blessed Savior prayed for the “other sheep,” which were not of His fold, that there might be one sheepfold and one shepherd. Unite yourselves with Him in this prayer. Show forth in your daily lives the holiness of the Church. Let your fellow citizens who are not of the household of the Faith see in you a shining example of Christian charity which embraces all men in the love of God.

We desire, dear sons and daughters in Christ, that you pray fervently to Saints Peter and Paul. Pray for yourselves and pray for our separated brothers that they may come to know the Church of Christ and that they may be given the grace to find peace and joy in it. In this Marian Year, when you are fervently praying to our Blessed Lady the Mother of God, remember your brothers and ask our Blessed Lady to bring them into the unity of the Church.

And now we have spoken to you kneeling in spirit at the Tomb of St. Peter on the Vatican Hill in Rome. What we have said is not a new thing to you, but your hearing it again will give you spiritual strength and comfort. Before we leave in spirit the Tomb of St. Peter, let us say a prayer for Our Holy Father, Pope Pius XII, the Bishop of Rome, the Vicar of Christ on earth, and ask God to spare him to us for a long time, and let us in our very devotion to St. Peter place at the feet of his successor in the Church today our deep filial homage and love.

Faithfully yours in Christ,

Samuel Cardinal Stritch
Archbishop of Chicago

Feast of Saints Peter and Paul 1954

[Source: NCWC News Service, Newsfeed of July 5, 1954, pp. 2a-2i; underlining added.]


The significance for the life of the Church of Cardinal Stritch’s pastoral letter is underscored by the fact that much of its content was included in Canon Law Digest, vol. IV (Milwaukee, WI: The Bruce Publishing Company, 1958), pp. 378-384.

Unfortunately, this truly charitable document was not received well by the World Council of Churches and some other ecumenical organizations. TIME magazine quoted some reactions in its July 19, 1954 edition under the title “Catholics Barred”.

On Mar. 1, 1958, Pope Pius XII rewarded Cardinal Stritch for his faithful service to the Church by appointing him as the pro-prefect of the Sacred Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith. God, however, had other plans.

On May 27, 1958, our Blessed Lord mercifully called His Eminence to judgment — a mere five months before the Modernist takeover of the Vatican structures that would have as its result the gradual dismantling of the Roman Catholic religion, apparently (but not actually) being perpetrated by the Catholic hierarchy itself, including the “Pope”. The rotten fruits of this infernal “operation of errors” (2 Thess 2:10) are staring us in the face today.

The Novus Ordo Vatican today would never accept the doctrine laid out in the 1954 pastoral letter issued by Cardinal Stritch. And yet, His Eminence merely enunciated in summary fashion the demands of the Roman Catholic Faith regarding religious unity, and its doctrinal underpinnings.

Take your pick, therefore: Roman Catholicism or the Vatican II religion. They cannot both be true.

Image source: Wikimedia Commons (Harris & Ewing)
License: PD-US (no known restrictions on publication)

Share this content now: