Bishop Daniel Cohalan on the Persecution of the Church in Eastern Europe
The following pastoral letter was issued by the Most Rev. Daniel Cohalan, Bishop of Waterford and Lismore, on 1st April, 1954:
Passion Sunday, 4th April, has been set apart by the Church as a day of special prayer for the clergy, religious and many millions of our fellow-Catholics in Eastern Europe and in other countries under Communist control who are enduring persecution for the Faith and reduced to silence.
A bond of union exists between all the members of the Church under Christ as their Head. We should try to make next Sunday, therefore, a worthy manifestation of that spiritual solidarity between all members of the Mystical Body of Our Redeemer.
Think of Catholic Poland, so often compared to Ireland: of Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Croatia, Slovenia, the other Balkan states; the Baltic states, China, etc. now under the domination of atheistic Communism, with their Bishops often arrested and perhaps taken away to an undisclosed prison; their children taught that there is no God and discouraged from going to Mass or the Sacraments.
Let us pray God, therefore, through the intercession of Mary Immaculate, to give these Catholics (estimated at a hundred million souls) who groan beneath the iron heel of Communist tyranny, strength to bear witness to Christ and His Church as well as consolation in their trial.
Our fathers in the faith here in Ireland were arrested, imprisoned and often condemned to death, so we can understand and sympathise with our fellow-Catholics who are suffering persecution in our own time. The customary trumped-up charges of high treason, espionage, illegal currency dealings, etc., are merely the common formula of indictment against anybody who is obnoxious to a Communist Government.
I ask the clergy and faithful people of the Diocese to pour out their souls in fervent prayer on Passion Sunday on behalf of our suffering fellow-Catholics.
Let each of us try to be as ardent in the cause of Christ as Communists are in attacking God and religion. And in general, let us all try to appreciate the dangers which threaten our Christian civilization and the urgent need of assistance from God if the catastrophe is to be averted.
I authorize the priests to offer up prayers, hold Holy Hours, special devotions, etc., for the intentions of the Catholics who are suffering for the Faith.
Bishop of Waterford and Lismore.