863.00/837: Telegram

The Minister in Austria (Earle) to the Secretary of State

72. On December 5th all Catholic clergy in Austria were ordered by the Church to withdraw from active politics. This action was interpreted by the critics of Dollfuss as meaning that the Church feared a rising tide of Nazism. Tomorrow the Church clarifies this situation by the issuance of a Christmas pastoral letter in which it comes out solidly:

supporting the Dollfuss regime;
condemning Nazism because it (a) works with measures inconsistent with the principles of Christianity, (b) fails to promote peace and international understanding and (c) promotes race hatred and international discord;
condemning anti-Semitism;
placing blame on Germany for Austro-German strained relations.

Inasmuch as Catholicism embraces 90 per cent of Austrian population this action is most significant. It greatly strengthens Dollfuss’ position.