This month’s U. N. discussion on the war in Viet Nam was something of a diplomatic victory for Pope Paul VI. It was he who had suggested, two days before the United States renewed air strikes against North Viet Nam, that the U. N. mediate. The Pontiff, in an address to Italian Catholic journalists, put it this way:

“Who knows if U. N. arbitration, entrusted to neutral nations, might not tomorrow—we wish it were even today—solve the terrible question.”

President Johnson responded the same day. Joseph Laitin, assistant White House press secretary, said the Chief Executive was “very grateful for the Pope’s interest in peace and for any suggestion he has for achieving it. We are giving prompt and full study to the latest suggestion.”

Less than forty-eight hours later Johnson was giving a speech explaining to the world why the United States had resumed bombing the north after a thirty-seven-day lull. He asked for an emergency meeting of the U. N. Security Council and said a resolution would be presented that “will be responsive to the spirit of the renewed appeal of Pope Paul.”

At the U. N., United States Ambassador Arthur Goldberg unveiled a draft resolution that for the first time put the nation on record for arbitration of the Viet Nam dispute.

The Pope again proved to be an instrument for a new peace initiative in behalf of Viet Nam. Many observers had given credit to the Pontiff’s December peace pleas as the means by which a Christmas truce and bombing lull were achieved.

In New York, leaders of the newly organized National Emergency Committee of Clergy Concerned About Viet Nam issued a statement that deplored the resumption of U. S. bombing but also welcomed placement of the Asian conflict before the United Nations.

The Rev. William Sloan Coffin, Jr., Protestant chaplain at Yale and executive secretary of the national CCAV, and another leader of the group, President John C. Bennett of Union Theological Seminary, issued the CCAV steering committee statement.

“While we are shocked at the intransigence of the Hanoi government,” it said, “we are unpersuaded that our own government has exhausted every possibility for peace. After more than five years of hatred, suspicion and bitter fighting, thirty-seven days of efforts to find peaceful solutions were not enough.”

The churchmen were plainly disappointed that the bombing lull had not drawn Hanoi to the conference table. A number of pacifism-oriented clergymen had contended last year that a bombing lull would demonstrate the peaceful intentions of the United States and would induce the Vietnamese Communists to negotiate. The failure of the Reds to respond to the U. S. and Vatican peace initiatives may have left some clergy a bit disillusioned, but others have indicated they will press their dissent. Some new suggestions appear to be a virtual lobbying campaign in behalf of the Viet Cong politicians.

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The CCAV statement declared that “our continued refusal to grant the National Liberation Front a seat of its own at the conference table, our continued fighting and our own troop buildup which during the peace offensive more than matched the infiltration from the North—all were not conducive to a negotiated settlement of the war.”

The statement asserted that “the claim that the whole war is due to aggression from the north is misleading the American public.”

The Rev. Richard Neuhaus, Brooklyn Lutheran pastor who is a co-chairman of the New York CCAV, which led to formation of the national group, said it appeared certain that Protestant, Roman Catholic, and Jewish clergymen who have been strongly urging Viet Nam peace negotiations now will turn from largely verbal expressions to more active demonstrations.

Vatican Radio said that resumption of bombing should not lead to abandonment of hope for a peaceful solution. “It would be a mistake to allow ourselves to slip into a blind fatalism,” it said. “All is not yet lost. It is possible to try again, to find our new ways.”

The station said “events seem to be making us forget the joyful hope … of the beginning of negotiations for peace.” It echoed Pope Paul’s plea to the journalists for U. N. arbitration and added, “It is comforting to be able to record that the hope of the Holy Father was favorably received by public opinion at large, by the Secretary General of the United Nations, U Thant, and by one of the combatants.”

Even as the Pope was intervening, reports from Saigon said that a Vietnamese Roman Catholic priest was beheaded and his church and house burned to the ground by Communist terrorists who overran a refugee village about fifty miles from the capital.

In Washington, the Foundation for Religious Action in the Social and Civil Order issued a statement supporting American policy in Viet Nam. The statement said: “The truth is, incontestably, that had we not ‘escalated’ by sending in U. S. combat troops in force, it would have been all over before now—except for the Communist shouting and the general Asian alarm.” Among those singing the statement were retired Episcopal Bishop Noble C. Powell, former dean of Washington Cathedral; Episcopal Bishop Alfred L. Banyard; U. S. Senate Chaplain Frederick Brown Harris; Father Charles S. Sassassa, S. J., president of Loyola University of Los Angeles; Msgr. Patrick J. Ryan, former Army Chief of Chaplains; and Rabbi Norman Gerstenfeld.

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A new issue on the Viet Nam conflict was raised last month by board members of the Progressive National Baptist Convention during a meeting in St. Louis. They charged that more Negro than white soldiers were being sent to fight in Viet Nam.

“Something is drastically wrong and unjust in pursuing such a discriminatory policy.” said a resolution approved by the board.

The Progressive Convention was formed in 1961 by a group that left the all-Negro, 5.5-million-member National Baptist Convention. U. S. A., Inc., over the issue of “tenure” for denominational officials.


The New York State Catholic Welfare Committee stepped into the state’s controversy over divorce laws by asking the legislature to postpone action on a so-called “reform bill.” Another state-church dispute seemed to be in the making in a report from Syracuse stating that Jesuit missionaries had proposed joining the Peace Corps. An official of the National Council of Churches’ Delta Ministry backed the demands of some seventy jobless and homeless Negroes evicted from a deactivated air base at Greenville, Mississippi. Episcopal Suffragan Bishop Paul Moore, Jr., of Washington, D. C., who is chairman of the Delta Ministry, said the government is obligated to provide housing for the group.

South Africans held a special day of thanksgiving prayer for abundant rains which fell on parched farmlands. Earlier, they had held a national day of prayer for rain to ease drought-stricken areas.

Publishers’ Weekly reports The Gospel According to Peanuts, the study in comicstrip theology by Robert L. Short, was the second-best-selling paperback book of 1965. Number one was William Golding’s penetrating fable of original sin, Lord of the Flies.

The value of parochial school education in Lutheran churches is minimized in a preliminary report issued last month by Dr. Ronald L. Johnstone, research director at Concordia Seminary, St. Louis. The report concludes that “our system of formal Christian education has simply not accomplished as much as we have hoped or thought it was achieving.”

Two Swiss missionaries and a prominent Baptist clergyman were among thirty persons killed in the crash of a DC-3 in Haiti last month, according to Ecumenical Press Service. The Swiss were members of the Gay Vagabonds Overseas, an independent missionary group. The clergyman, a Haitian, was identified as Pastor Robert Rocourt.

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The Defiant Traditionalist

Father Gommar A. DePauw appeared this month to be well on his way toward becoming the most controversial Roman Catholic priest in the United States since Father Coughlin.

Father DePauw as founder and president of the controversial Catholic Traditionalist Movement has been engaged in a campaign against changes in the church brought about by the Second Vatican Council (see Feb. 4 issue, p. 45). Father Coughlin became famous in the thirties for his radio talks on politics.

DePauw, ordered by Lawrence Cardinal Shchan to cease his priestly ministry, defied the directive, insisting that he was not under the jurisdiction of the Archbishop of Baltimore.

Methodist-supported Centenary College in Shreveport, Louisiana, enrolled four Negroes last month. They were the first members of their race ever to register as fulltime students in the 140-year-old school.


President Johnson was named honorary elder of the National City Christian Church in Washington. On his first Sunday in office, however, the Chief Executive was obliged to attend the “Red Mass” at St. Matthew’s Cathedral (Roman Catholic). The mass, held annually in behalf of those in law, is conducted by priests clad in scarlet vestments. Johnson braved a blizzard to attend.

Dr. Grant L. Stahly, 30-year-old microbiology professor at Ohio State University, is joining the faculty of Malone College (Quaker), in Canton, Ohio. Stahly is chairman of Malone’s trustees and former assistant dean of arts and sciences at OSU.

Sir Francis Ibiam of Nigeria was chosen to receive the 1966 Upper Room Citation. Ibiam, a Presbyterian layman and noted political leader, is one of the presidents of the World Council of Churches.

Lt. Commander Hugh Franklin Lecky, Jr., first Navy chaplain to receive the Purple Heart as the result of action in Viet Nam, was named Chaplain of the Year by the Reserve Officers Association of the United States. Lecky is a clergyman of the Lutheran Church in America.

The Rev. Gilbert W. Kirby was chosen principal of London Bible College. Since 1956 he has been general secretary of the Evangelical Alliance.

Evon Hedley was appointed executive secretary of Christian Business Men’s Committee International. He was formerly director of development for World Vision, Incorporated.

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They Say

“Whether Swedish sex smorgasbord, the Italo-French influence, or the close-to-home Anglo-American productions, there’s no question that samplings of recent film product point up that there’s little left to censor cinematically. The gamut from rape to rampant sex, homo to overly frank boudoir enactment has been the scheme of things in pix that range from A Stranger Knocks to Darling, The Silence to What’s New Pussycat?, The Sandpiper to Repulsion, Marriage on the Rocks, The Art of Love, 491, Strange Bedfellows and other ‘sin’-amtic excursions.…”—Editor Abel Green in Variety, reviewing 1965 movies.

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