Bela Dodd describes Communism as “a strange secret cult” whose goal is the destruction of Western (i.e. Christian) Civilization. Millions of naive idealists (“innocents”) are tricked by its talk of helping the poor, but it cares only for power. For example, Dodd found there was no social research at party headquarters. “We are a revolutionary party, not a reform party,” she was told. (163) The goal is to destroy not to improve.
The Rite of Sodomy (2006) Ch. 18
by Randy Engel
After their debriefings by the FBI and appearances at public and closed-door Congressional hearings, a number of Communist Party defectors took their stories directly to the American people. Bella Dodd was among these brave souls.
Born in Italy in 1904, into a Catholic family of nine children, Maria Asunta Isabella Visono joined her immigrant family in the United States six years later. Despite the language barrier, she became an excellent and highly motivated student. After graduation from high school, she attended Hunter College, where like Elizabeth Bentley, her exceptional talents attracted the attention of Communist professors who served as talent spotters for CP/USA and Soviet GPU and NKVD recruiters. She then went on to New York University School of Law after which she became an active member of the CP/USA.
In her autobiography School of Darkness, Bella Dodd describes her total absorption by the Party to the exclusion of any meaningful personal and family life and her 21-year rise up the CP/USA ladder from legal counsel specializing in labor matters to a political powerhouse in the Soviet-controlled East Coast apparatus. She became the head of the New York State Teachers’ Union and a specialist in the infiltration and control of various educational-related organizations.[i] She was also active in women’s groups such as the Congress of American Women and numerous Communist “peace” fronts.
Her fall from grace and expulsion from the Communist Party in the early 1950s eventually led her to the doorstep of Bishop Fulton J. Sheen in New York and a return to the Catholic faith.
During this time period, Dr. Dodd was subpoenaed for Senate Committee hearings regarding areas in which she had particular expertise – Communist infiltration of labor unions and educational institutions.
Her testimony was always concise, direct and truthful. Dodd also embarked on a series of private lecture tours for Catholic audiences in which Dodd spoke of the infiltration of churches by Soviet agents and Communist fellow travelers.[ii]
She [Bella Dodd] said that of all the world’s religions, the Catholic Church was the only one feared by the Communists, for it was its only effective opponent.
Speaking as an ex-Communist, she said: “In the 1930’s, we put eleven hundred men into the priesthood in order to destroy the Church from within.” The idea was for these men to be ordained and then climb the ladder of influence and authority – to come to be Monsignors and Bishops. Back then she said, “Right now they are in the highest places, and they are working to bring about change in order that the Catholic Church will no longer be effective against Communism.”
She also said that these changes would be so drastic that “you will not recognize the Catholic Church.” Once these men had become bishops, their influence could be widely spread because “Bishops beget bishops” and these agents would use their influence to elevate and promote clergymen who are not necessarily dedicated Communists, but who were of a progressive and liberal mentality, and whose influence could be counted on to foster a new philosophy and theology within the ranks of the clergy.
Once the clergy were infected they would pass this infection to the laity. The whole idea was to destroy, not the institution of the Church, but rather the Faith of the people …through the promotion of a pseudo-religion: something that resembled Catholicism but was not the real thing. Once the Faith was destroyed, then the dismantling of the institution would take place.’ She explained that there would be a guilt complex introduced into the Church . . . to label the “Church of the past” as being oppressive, authoritarian, full of prejudices, arrogant in claiming to be the sole possessor of truth, and responsible for the divisions of religious bodies throughout the centuries. This would be necessary in order to shame Church leaders into an “openness to the world” and to a more flexible attitude toward all other religions and philosophies. The Communists would then exploit this openness in order to undermine the Church.
What is to be made of Dr. Bella Dodd’s statements on the Communist infiltration of the Catholic Church beginning with Lenin and continuing into the Cold War era and perhaps beyond? Certainly, her claim that the Communists had drawn up plans to infiltrate the American clergy and other religious institutions was supported, at that time, by the testimony of other Communist defectors like Manning Johnson and Elizabeth Bentley. At first, her statement that “we,” presumably the Soviets, placed 1,100 men into the priesthood seems extravagant, but when one recalls that the CP/USA recruited some 35,000 teachers and professors and that the KGB included not only thousands of agents but also several million “cooperators,” then that number does not appear to be out of line.
Further, in 1969, Dr. Richard Day, the National Medical Director of Planned Parenthood and an Eastern Establishment figure repeated many of the same statements that Dodd had made. The date of the Day speech was March 20, 1969 and the occasion was a meeting of the Pittsburgh Pediatric Society. In “Family Planning: Infant Mortality, Gene Frequency, Abortion and Other Considerations,” Dr. Day described the workings of a New World System that he said was already in place and functioning.
Among other things, this New World System would replace traditional religion with a new belief system that excluded doctrine and morals, but it would appear to be the real thing, said Day. Of special interest to the Homosexual Collective is the prediction of Dr. Day that “homosexuals would be given permission to act out.” As if on cue, the Stonewall Inn riots, “a flashpoint” in the history of the Homosexual Collective that laid the foundation for the modern Homosexual Movement made national and world headlines in June 1969, just three months and one week after the Day speech. The Day lecture is analyzed by Dr. Larry Dunegan of Pittsburgh in a series of tapes and interviews with Randy Engel produced by the U.S. Coalition for Life, Export, Pa.
From the testimony of Dodd and other former members of the CP/USA and former Soviet intelligence agents working in the U.S., we know that both Lenin and Stalin invested the majority of their espionage talent, time and finances in the infiltration and subversion of trade unions, the labor movement, key government posts, “think-tanks” and foundations, industrial and military installations, local, state and national political parties and other secular American institutions. This does not mean, however, that the Soviets were any less successful in smaller-scale projects they undertook including the subversion of religious institutions including the Roman Catholic Church.
Unfortunately, while there appears to be no dearth of evidence on the successful penetration of Protestant seminaries, churches and sects in the U.S. by the Soviets from the 1930s onward, we have no comparable record of the Communist infiltration of the Catholic Church including Catholic seminaries, and churches and its hierarchical bureaucracy.
However, to suggest, as some skeptics have, that since Catholic seminaries and houses of religious formation are relatively “closed societies,” they are immune from Communist subversion is to ignore the facts before us. After all, Soviet master spy Richard Sorge successfully penetrated the highest levels of Japanese society and government, which were believed to be impenetrable by Western intelligence.[iii]
Certainly, there were serious obstacles to infiltrating Catholic seminaries from the 1930s to the 1950s, that was not present in the case of their Protestant counterparts such as the requirement of celibacy and systematic vetting and close monitoring by superiors. The attrition rate among those Communist and Socialist radicals who volunteered or were pressured into these assignments must have been very high.
In his autobiography, the well-known historian Will Durant confesses that after graduation from high school in 1907 he got caught up in a flight of socialist euphoria and decided to infiltrate the priesthood in order to “work from within to lead the Catholic Church in the United States to cooperate with the socialist movement.”[iv] His experiment lasted for three years until a bad conscience got the better of him and he left Seton Hall in New Jersey for a career in journalism and a beautiful girl named Ariel, who became his wife.
Despite the hardships involved, however, some Soviet agents must have made it through to ordination. The key to their future success would lie in avoiding parish work and securing a desk job in a Chancery or with the National Catholic Welfare Conference. The latter would provide the agent with an opportunity for advancement up the bureaucratic ladder, with a minimum of intrusion of religion, to a position of power and influence in AmChurch.
With the wholesale relaxation of standards of admission to Catholic seminaries and the precipitous decline in discipline and morals of seminarians and ordained clergy that marked the Vatican II Revolution, and the establishment of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops/U.S. Catholic Conference in Washington, D.C. in 1966 at the height of the Cold War, the doors were open to subversion on an even greater scale.[v] At the NCCB/USCC, a well-placed Soviet agent wearing a Roman collar would be capable of inflicting maximum damage to Catholic Church both in the U.S. and in Rome.