by John Gavin Nolan
Fortunately, Werner Stenzel left an account of the 15 July 1925 meeting and the crazy quilt of circumstances surrounding it in a 5 August letter meant only for the eyes of Louis Wetmore.1 For Father von Galen, the summer of 1925 would not be easy to forget.
Early in June, when the Benedictine monk arrived in Rome with money for the training of 14 seminarians, Giovanni Cardinal Tacci (who was rumored to be unwell) told him that, much as the Oriental Congregation appreciated his hard work and good intentions, it did not care to have the Catholic Union support so many seminarians. In fact, Cardinal Tacci declared, he himself had no idea such a work was going on in America. Father von Galen was stunned. He left Cardinal Taccis office believing the Congregation wanted the Catholic Union in America severed from Vienna and absorbed by Monsignor Barry-Doyles association.
A few days later, however, Father von Galen received contrary news. Louis Cardinal Sincero, a new member of the Congregation and Cardinal Taccis heir apparent, received Father von Galen warmly. He read the letter of introduction the monk brought with him from his Abbot Primate, Fidelis von Stotzingen, and told him keep doing what everybody wanted, especially now that the Holy Father had decided to build in Rome a seminary to train priests for work among the Russians. Cardinal Sincero notwithstanding, in Vienna a few weeks later Father von Galen persuaded Cardinal Piffl to write2 to Cardinal Tacci, agreeing that in the United States the Catholic Union be temporarily separated from its parent in Europe and merged with the work for the Greeks. Cardinal Piffl, who knew the Roman scene, decided to take no chances. Instead of Father von Galen, he named the priest who regularly handled his affairs in Rome, Monsignor Louis Hudal, rector of the German Collegio dellAnima, to represent him in any discussions about the Catholic Union. After meeting with Father von Galen in Lucerne on Sunday, 12 July, Werner Stenzel promptly cabled this good news to Louis Wetmore in New York.
On Monday, 13 July, 1925, Father von Galen and Mr. Stenzel arrived in Rome, and for the latter the date was worth remarking; 13, he felt, was his lucky number. The next day, Father von Galen went unaccompanied to the Congregation, and the message he received was simple and clear: the Congregation had no intention of becoming involved. Representatives of CNEWA and the Catholic Union were to meet, come to an agreement and present the results to the Congregation for approval. That afternoon, Bishop Calavassy and Father von Galen met for the first time in Bishop Papadopoulos apartment. Werner Stenzel, as Father von Galens manager, listened patiently until he could bear no more. His 5 August letter to Louis Wetmore records that, speaking for the Converts League, he asked Bishop Calavassy bluntly to remove Joseph Moore and Monsignor Barry-Doyle: