Volume 8 1945~1948

Doc No.

No. 230 NAI DFA Secretary's Files A74

Department of External Affairs Memorandum for Government
'Religious persecution in Central Europe'

Dublin, 19 November 1946

The Soviet-inspired persecution of Catholicism follows the same pattern in all the countries of Central Europe. An attempt is made to secure the co-operation of the Bishops in the application of anti-religious measures. When this has failed, the clergy are denounced as 'enemies of the people', 'collaborators', etc. and the secret police are given a free hand in arresting and deporting the more outspoken of them. Press and radio campaigns, designed to undermine the loyalty and respect of the Catholic population for their priests, is carried on incessantly against the clergy. In the hope of impressing on the people the unpatriotic attitude of the Church, evidence of the pro-German activities of isolated priests during the war is produced and the complicity of members of the Hierarchy 'proved' by means of bogus trials.

One of the first measures to be taken against the Church is the secularisation of marriages. The strict application to the Church of the Land Reform Acts - under which no individual may own more than so many acres of land - serves to deprive the Bishops of their seminaries and to restrict many of their social activities. This is followed by the gradual elimination of religious instruction in the schools and the substitution of atheistic doctrines, and by the suppression of the Catholic press and of all lay Catholic organisations.

The persecution appears to be most intense in Yugoslavia, but it is clear that the anti-religious measures in Poland and Hungary are fast developing on the same lines.