The Official Newspaper of the Diocese of Little Rock

Communism, Nazi oppression top news reports 1935-1937

Time Capsule 1935-1937A 33-part series on history mined from the first 100 years of Arkansas Catholic and its predecessors.

Published: June 11, 2011   

Arkansans saw a growing church and less discrimination in 1935-1937, but The Guardian continued to report that overseas trouble was brewing for Catholics and the Church.

The paper saw the leadership of two editors during 1935-1937. Father Harold Heagney led the paper until July 18, 1936. The Guardian did not report on his departure; instead the masthead did not list an editor until Sept. 26, 1936. The Sept. 26 issue announced the appointment of the new editor for The Guardian, Father Thomas L. Keany, Ph.D., an educator and author of the "Qui Vive" column in the paper.

Catholics in Arkansas saw growth in the diocese with churches dedicated in cities such as West Memphis, Paragould, Newport, Weiner and Forrest City. A new hospital was dedicated in Morrilton and another being built in Clarksville. In the June 12, 1937, issue, St. Cyprian Colored Mission in Helena, one of six colored parishes in the diocese, received permission from Rome to publicly venerate a piece of bone from "the saintly colored person" Blessed Martin de Porres (who was canonized in 1962). The paper reported that the parish hoped the veneration would bring a miracle, and bring more people to Mass there.

  • In The Guardian 1935-1937
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  • The "Cathedral Hour," a local radio broadcast on Sunday afternoons, extended its reach when KARK began playing the program in January 1937. The station also broadcast the national "The Catholic Hour" program hosted by Father Fulton J. Sheen.

    Religion in public life

    Religious oppression grew outside the United States and became increasingly violent. While America enjoyed a relative peace, other nations were consumed by strife, civil war and religious oppression.

    In Mexico, persecution still existed on the local level. A seminary was opened in New Mexico to educate Mexican seminarians. In Mexico, young men were turned away from seminaries and ridiculed by local officials. Some signs of hope were reported. In 1935, the paper reported that the ban on religious publications in Mexico was lifted. In some areas, registered priests were allowed to offer religious services.

    Catholics were under attack in countries like Russia, Germany and Spain. Russia was still struggling to stamp out faith in God. In the March 9, 1935, issue, the headlines read, "Russian godless bemoan ability to oust religion. People refuse to be alienated from churches."

    The Nazis continued their campaign to suppress Catholicism in Germany. A March 30, 1935, article outlined the Nazi belief that "Christian influence on public life is not required and therefore must be repressed." Priests and nuns were jailed for stepping over the line in "public life," crucifixes were banned, and the Catholic press was suppressed.

    A Nazi farm calendar produced in 1935 spurred an editorial in The Guardian. The calendar substituted pagan myths for Christian holidays. Ascension Thursday became "Thor's Hammer Day" and the baby Jesus was replaced with Valder, god of light.

    "Nazi Germany is using every means to destroy Christianity among the people. Can she tear the teachings of Christ from the hearts of the people? Can she educate her sons to believe they are superman, that the Teutonic peoples are superior to others … that force and cold, calculating cruelty are better than peace and kindness," the editor wrote on March 2.

    In the March 22, 1937, issue, the pope's encyclical on Nazi regime was printed. The letter on atheistic communism was read from the pulpit in Germany. "The very idea of God is rejected and condemned. Communism therefore is a system full of errors and sophisms. It is in opposition to both reason and Divine Revelation," the pope wrote in the letter.

    The effect of this violent oppression on Catholics in America was to defend against communism. The Dec. 19, 1936, issue of The Guardian stated that the best defense against communism is a crucifix in every home. An editorial in January 1937 suggested Catholics oppose communism by using the powerful weapon of the cross and the "Communionism" of our faith.

    Spanish Civil War

    The situation in Spain was dire. Weekly stories reported the bloody civil war in Spain and the clergy caught in the middle of it. Many bishops, priests, nuns and other religious were shot, beheaded or beaten to death. Those that escaped often did so dressed in regular clothes and were hidden by friends and family.

    The Aug. 13, 1936, issue reported that tabernacles were desecrated and the hosts "strewn in the streets to be trampled under the feet of the mob." The "bands of Communists" were also hunting for fugitive priests and nuns, searching the houses in Barcelona "at all hours of night and day." Many churches and monasteries were burned during this time. The Sept. 12, 1936, issue ran a photo of a burning church in Madrid, flames shooting out of the windows.

    Next week: Stories from 1938-1940

    In The Guardian 1935-1937



    Birth control bill before congress

    50 nuns in jail as a result of raids by Nazis. Police carry out invasion of monasteries and churches in secrecy.

    New church dedicated. St. Cecelia Church in Newport. Generous gift of Extension Society made church possible. Bishop recalls tolerance of Newport people.


    Dedication of new $40,000 church at Paragould, Sun. Father Hoflinger and parishioners praised by bishop. Many clergy and nuns present for ceremony. Organ to be installed soon.


    Dedication of St. Michael's on Sunday: One of the greatest events in the history of West Memphis will take place Sunday, October 24, when the new St. Michael's Church and School will be formally and solemnly dedicated by His Excellency, the Most Rev. John B. Morris, bishop of Little Rock.

    Benedictine sisters will operate new $45,000 Clarksville hospital. Construction of hospital begun on December 13

    Secular press says pope leads challenge of Nazi Regime


    Arkansas Power and Light Co.: Boys keep your kites away from electric power lines. Kite flying is fun, but don't let carelessness make it dangerous

    Country Club Energy Bread: Builds lusty appetites. Try an oven-fresh, golden encrusted loaf today

    City Ice Delivery Company: There's no substitute for ice

  • Click here to see the index of stories in Arkansas Catholic's time capsule series.

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