Circular Letter of Mgr Pedro Ladislao González y Estrada, Bishop of Havana, on the Irish Situation

The following is the text of a circular letter (in translation) issued by Monsignor Pedro Ladislao González y Estrada, Bishop of Havana (Cuba), on 22nd May, 1921:

Extraordinary circular letter urging the faithful to plead Almighty God so that the sad situation of Ireland may cease.

Ireland! The country that has so justly merited the name of “Isle of Saints,” the Catholic nation by excellence, the self-denied mother of noble and heroic martyrs, finds herself to-day in great tribulation, such as has had no precedent in the history of civilised countries.

That country, chosen by the Divine Providence to bear the foundations of the fervent and glorious churches of North America and Australia, mourns at present the persecution of its religious faith.

That free and supreme country is now crushed by the most odious tyranny, while her unquestionable rights, trampled now and again, are not vindicated by the nations that recently proclaimed themselves before the world to be the support of helpless and feeble countries.

Touched by the weeping of her faithful children, which has reached the entire world, and considering the general faith and charity that should unite the children of the Catholic Church, we believe it a duty to publish this circular-letter, so as to exhort our beloved parishioners to send heavenward their fervent prayers that they may move the dear Lord to bring to an end the sorrowful Calvary the Catholic Irish country is going through.

At the same time we wish hereby to express all the sympathy we so heartily feel for the country whose most glorious page of history is now being acted, and also to protest at the unjust oppression of which she is the victim.

Lastly, knowing that all perfect gifts come from above, from the Father of Mercies, God of all consolation, we resolve and dispose:

First — In all parish churches, chapels and oratories, subject to our ordinary jurisdiction, this our circular-letter shall be read after the High Mass on the first holy day after having been received.

Second — In the above-mentioned churches, chapels and oratories, on the 29th of next month of June, feast of Saint Peter and Paul, the Most Blessed Sacrament shall be exposed after the High Mass, and the Litany of the Saints sung or recited, ending by the Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament.

Third — We beg the religious communities to unite through charity to these our wishes, thus complying with what we have ordered.

Given at our Episcopal residence of Havana, on the 22nd day of May, feast of the Holy Trinity, in the year of Our Lord 1921.

Posted on August 29, 2011, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. Quite an extraordinary letter. I don’t think that Ireland has any historical ties with Cuba. But the shows a sense of the universality of the Church, similar to the letter of the Irish bishops in 1954 about the plight of German refugees that you posted later.

    However, I think that the bishop’s description of the situation in Ireland in 1921 being ‘such as has had no precedent in the history of civilised countries’ isn’t based on reality. Neither is the reference to ‘the persecution of its religious faith’. I’ve read many books about that period of Irish history and I’ve never come across any reference whatever to persecution. You had a number of pogroms in Belfast in the years after this letter was published but they weren’t a form of persecution, but of sectarianism, not quite the same, even if related. And the exodus of Protestants from the Irish Free State in that same period raises some uncomfortable questions.

    1921 saw the birth of the Legion of Mary in Dublin. The first group of Columban priests, given approval as ‘The Maynooth Mission to China’ by the Irish bishops on 10 October 1916 and formally established as ‘The Society of St Columban’ on 29 June 1918, left for China the year before.

    The interest of the Bishop of San Cristobal de la Habana – it became an archdiocese in 1925 – is touching. But his knowledge of the real situation in Ireland at the time wasn’t fully accurate, though there was awful poverty in the cities, which probably caused far more suffering than the War of Independence and subsequent Civil War ever did.

  2. Yes Father, I think the reference to ‘persecution’ probably concerns the military violence/reprisals. I don’t think Ireland had any strong links with Cuba at that time, but as you say it shows the sense of internationalism in the Church, probably stronger at that time than now (the Belgian bishops wrote a similar letter to the Irish hierarchy).

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