by John Gavin Nolan
The bishops were gratified, of course. American Catholics not only led the world in their generosity to the Holy Fathers missions, but the S.P.F. now had an American, Monsignor William Quinn, in New York as its national director.6 Henceforth he would channel American overseas mission-aid through the Vatican, not through Lyons or Paris. Moreover, instead of bothering the bishops by asking permission to beg from American pulpits, missionaries could stay at their posts and count on support from the S.P.F. and the A.B.C.M. The plan seemed excellent to the mission-minded prelates who conceived it, but it left no room for CNEWA as an agency for mission-aid.
CNEWAs reason for existence, however, was not mission-aid, Father Walsh kept insisting. CNEWA was unique in the Church, something new and entirely different, a social service agency like the International Red Cross or Near East Relief, through which the pope, by improving and unifying Catholic welfare work throughout the world, could carry on the corporal and spiritual works of mercy, not missionary work. CNEWAs objectives were relief and rehabilitation, not reunion or evangelization, and Father Walsh must have wondered why the bishops did not seem to understand. Or did they understand?
Despite his talk about relief and rehabilitation, did the bishops suspect that Father Walsh, with Romes support, was conniving to establish an agency like the S.P.F. – which supported the Propaganda Fide — to assist the Oriental Congregation?
The bishops notwithstanding, the Holy See continued to give full support to Father Edmund Walsh. On 28 January 1928, as a sign of the profound gratitude of the Holy See for the admirable work of the Catholic Near East Welfare Association, Pope Pius XI granted a plenary indulgence to each member on the day of first enrollment, and a plenary indulgence on each of 50 different feast days throughout the calendar year.7 Cardinal Hayes position as CNEWAs protector was also recognized. On 17 March 1928, Cardinal Gasparri reminded Cardinal Hayes of the Holy Fathers personal interest in CNEWA and encouraged him strongly to continue his own interest and support. The Secretary of State declared:
From the very beginning of the work launched among Catholics of the United States by the meritorious Catholic Near East Welfare Association on behalf of the brethren of the Near East and Russia, the Holy Father wished to give the work a Protector in the person of Your Eminence.
The Holy Father was sure that in a short time the work, with the benevolent and efficacious support of Your Eminence, would have made great progress and that its good effects would be felt right away.