The Roosevelts and the Church

Like the Bushes, the Roosevelts were, in their own ways, hospitable to the Church.

President Theodore “Teddy” Roosevelt and Pope Leo XIII exchanged prayers, congratulations, warm regards, and gifts. [15] Teddy’s government was also allowed to make recommendations for appointments to vacant sees. [6]

Teddy was asked to give token monetary and written tributes to Leo. [78] He was told that “a word from the President of the United States [would] capture the hearts of the millions of Catholics in this country and the Philippines”.

He was kept updated on Leo’s health, and he extended his condolences after the pope’s death. [911] Lutherans protested him for this. [12] Despite being advised against it, he extended his congratulations to Pope Pius X, as well. [1314] Though he later tried to meet with Pius, he was turned away by Cardinal Rafael Merry del Val. [15]

At some point, he gifted a pope copies of his books. Teddy joked that it was “just possible that [the pope] glanced at the outside of the cover of one”. [16]

Noteworthy, too, is this president’s close relationship with Archbishop John Ireland, from whom he received much helpful advice. [1718] The archbishop’s input was even sought in secular matters. One letter has the following: “By the way, did you think that my cables to the Emperor William and King Edward were about right? I thought their cables to me were too gushing, and I made my own in return entirely dignified”. [19] Many thought that the archbishop might be made a cardinal, due to this favoritism. [2021]

President Franklin D. Roosevelt, or “FDR”, had cordial relations with Pope Pius XII [2224] and recognized that “Rome was and is in a sense the Catholic Church”. [25] He even had a Catholic secretary. [26] He also had a good relationship with the Catholic University of America. [2730] This president’s administration paid much attention to the trials of Catholics. [3137]

Over concerns of bombing, [3839] Pius sought protection for Italian churches. [40] A draft letter from FDR emphasized that attacks against Italy were “limited” and religious buildings were valued but also that Americans were “united in their determination to win the war”. [41] The pope was “unable to conceal His regret at finding in the President’s message no indication of an explicit intention to avoid bombing the Eternal City”. [42] However, he kept his criticisms “intentionally moderate and phrased so that [they] might not be used by the Nazis or Fascists to the disadvantage of the Allies”. [43] The U.S. State Department urged that the president be cautious. [44]

Catholics in America were supportive of peace efforts in FDR’s time. [4546] However, they also supported their country. “The dishonorable attack of Japan at the very moment when her special ambassador was talking peace at Washington united overnight Americans of all shades of opinion. Among the architects of this unity [were] the foremost Catholic leaders in our country, the bishops and the prominent laymen of all racial strains”. [47] Der Bund later speculated: “While the thesis that [Ambassador Myron] Taylor wished to try to bring the Pope to take sides seems weak, it is not to be excluded that the United States, through Taylor, has given assurances to the Holy See in regard to recognizing Vatican interests in the United States, and, as far as their influence goes, also in the Central American countries. In return for this proposed policy, America may have asked the Holy See, in the matter of the November elections in the United States, to bring the Catholic voters, who carry considerable weight, to cast their ballots in favor of the Government. Finally Taylor may have expressed the earnest wish that the Pope fill the vacant Cardinalitial sees in the United States, and, in view of the increasing importance of Catholicism in America, create new ones”. [48] For their part, other Americans “had a sympathetic attitude towards the Catholic Church in Italy, and towards its high officials”. [49]


teddy fdr

References:

1. http://www.theodorerooseveltcenter.org/Research/Digital-Library/Record.aspx?libID=o34534

2. http://www.theodorerooseveltcenter.org/Research/Digital-Library/Record.aspx?libID=o266033

3. http://www.theodorerooseveltcenter.org/Research/Digital-Library/Record.aspx?libID=o183340

4. http://www.theodorerooseveltcenter.org/Research/Digital-Library/Record.aspx?libID=o38527

5. http://www.theodorerooseveltcenter.org/Research/Digital-Library/Record.aspx?libID=o40827

6. http://www.theodorerooseveltcenter.org/Research/Digital-Library/Record.aspx?libID=o39958

7. http://www.theodorerooseveltcenter.org/Research/Digital-Library/Record.aspx?libID=o39017

8. http://www.theodorerooseveltcenter.org/Research/Digital-Library/Record.aspx?libID=o40430

9. http://www.theodorerooseveltcenter.org/Research/Digital-Library/Record.aspx?libID=o41332

10. http://www.theodorerooseveltcenter.org/Research/Digital-Library/Record.aspx?libID=o41438

11. http://www.theodorerooseveltcenter.org/Research/Digital-Library/Record.aspx?libID=o41772

12. http://www.theodorerooseveltcenter.org/Research/Digital-Library/Record.aspx?libID=o41999

13. http://www.theodorerooseveltcenter.org/Research/Digital-Library/Record.aspx?libID=o268403

14. http://www.theodorerooseveltcenter.org/Research/Digital-Library/Record.aspx?libID=o185797

15. http://www.theodorerooseveltcenter.org/Research/Digital-Library/Record.aspx?libID=o279393

16. http://www.theodorerooseveltcenter.org/Research/Digital-Library/Record.aspx?libID=o283257

17. http://www.theodorerooseveltcenter.org/Research/Digital-Library/Record.aspx?libID=o36140

18. http://www.theodorerooseveltcenter.org/Research/Digital-Library/Record.aspx?libID=o41526

19. http://www.theodorerooseveltcenter.org/Research/Digital-Library/Record.aspx?libID=o185526

20. http://www.theodorerooseveltcenter.org/Research/Digital-Library/Record.aspx?libID=o39469

21. http://www.theodorerooseveltcenter.org/Research/Digital-Library/Record.aspx?libID=o51934

22. http://docs.fdrlibrary.marist.edu/psf/box51/t464g02.html

23. http://docs.fdrlibrary.marist.edu/psf/box51/t465b01.html

24. http://docs.fdrlibrary.marist.edu/psf/box51/t465c01.html

25. http://docs.fdrlibrary.marist.edu/060544.html

26. http://www.fdrlibrary.marist.edu/archives/collections/franklin/index.php?p=collections/findingaid&id=509

27. http://www.fdrlibrary.marist.edu/daybyday/daylog/june-14th-1933/

28. http://www.fdrlibrary.marist.edu/daybyday/daylog/december-28th-1938/

29. http://www.fdrlibrary.marist.edu/daybyday/daylog/january-10th-1939/

30. http://www.fdrlibrary.marist.edu/daybyday/daylog/august-3rd-1939/

31. http://docs.fdrlibrary.marist.edu/psf/box37/a339l04.html

32. http://docs.fdrlibrary.marist.edu/psf/box2/t24i03.html

33. http://docs.fdrlibrary.marist.edu/psf/box51/t465k03.html

34. http://docs.fdrlibrary.marist.edu/psf/box51/t465r01.html

35. http://docs.fdrlibrary.marist.edu/psf/box52/a467z01.html

36. http://docs.fdrlibrary.marist.edu/psf/box52/a469ai12.html

37. http://docs.fdrlibrary.marist.edu/psf/box53/t474k02.html

38. http://docs.fdrlibrary.marist.edu/psf/box52/t468a03.html

39. http://docs.fdrlibrary.marist.edu/psf/box51/t466y05.html

40. http://docs.fdrlibrary.marist.edu/psf/box52/t468i07.html

41. http://docs.fdrlibrary.marist.edu/psf/box52/t468i02.html

42. http://docs.fdrlibrary.marist.edu/psf/box52/t468p04.html

43. http://docs.fdrlibrary.marist.edu/psf/box52/t468s02.html

44. http://docs.fdrlibrary.marist.edu/psf/box52/a468ag04.html

45. http://docs.fdrlibrary.marist.edu/psf/box51/a464f01.html

46. http://docs.fdrlibrary.marist.edu/psf/box52/a469ab02.html

47. http://docs.fdrlibrary.marist.edu/psf/box52/a467e08.html

48. http://docs.fdrlibrary.marist.edu/psf/box52/a467cd03.html

49. http://docs.fdrlibrary.marist.edu/psf/box52/t470s13.html

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Matthew Olson is a student in the Diocese of Little Rock.

Tagged with: , , , , ,
Posted in Historical, Politics

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