Father Edmund Walsh, S.J. was asked to meet Pope Pius XI in a private audience. It was in the evening, just the two, Father Walsh reporting on the success of a relief mission and the Holy Father grateful for the services of this dedicated priest and religious. As the conversation went on they began to comment, Pope and Jesuit, on the trials through which the Church was then passing: communism, opposition in Mexico, the rising of persecution in Spain. The picture was a bleak one and prospects for the Church not encouraging. Finally, the Holy Father interrupted the conversation and asked a question.
“Tell me, Father Walsh, who have been the worst persecutors of the Church, tell me?”
Father Walsh knew the pope wanted to answer his own question, so he didn’t answer. The Pope said:
“The Church’s worst persecutors have been her own unfaithful bishops, priests and religious.” He went on: “Opposition from the outside is terrible; it gives us many martyrs. But the Church’s worst enemy is her own traitors.”
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