Friday, 28 July 2017

Dokumenton de la Semajno

Earlier this week marked the anniversary of the highly influential publication Unua Libro. On July 26, 1887, Dr. L.L. Zamenhoff published this volume, where he unveiled a newly constructed language that he promised was easy to learn and that he hoped would become a universal second language, free of linguistic prejudice. His ultimate goal was to contribute to peace and understanding between nations.

Today, Esperanto is the most widely spoken constructed language in the world. The language became known as Esperanto based on Zamenhof’s pseudonym, Doktoro Esperanto (“Doctor who hopes”). 

In honour of Unua Libro's 130th anniversary, our dokumenton de la semajno (record of the week) is a letter from F. Kaelble to Archbishop McNeil asking for an endorsement for the Catholic Esperanto Movement in Toronto in 1932.


"...the thing I have in mind is the formation of a Catholic Esperanto Association to bring the different country's in closer contact as far as Catholics are concerned."

October 23, 1932

MN AH21.97
Archbishop McNeil Fonds

Mr. Kaelble asks for the Archbishop’s blessing in forming a local Catholic Esperanto Association, and for the opportunity to talk to young Catholics about how Esperanto relates to their faith. As a member of Universala Esperanto-Asocio (Universal Esperanto Association) he believes that Esperanto could allow Catholics from around the world to share and discuss the Gospel regardless of their first language.

The religious potential that Mr. Kaelble saw in Esperanto was not unique. In fact, the Catholic Esperanto Movement is almost as old as the language itself. Father Alexandras Dambrauskas learned of the new language in 1887 when he was a student at the Ecclesiastical Academy of St. Petersburg. After reading Zamenhof’s booklet, he wrote his first postcard to the author in 1896.  The following is a rough translation of the original Esperanto text:
... Our Catholic Church is an immense family (...) But in a family there must also be a language comprehensible to all. (…) But Latin, being a language of priests, is no longer sufficient for all relations ... Lay Catholics are equally entitled to desire that the common father [the Pope] speaks to them in the commonly understood language . It can not therefore be French or Italian, or another of the [national] living languages, but only the [living] international language. (Source)

The 1900s proved to be formative years for the Catholic Esperanto Movement. Espero Katolika (Catholic Hope), a religious periodical written entirely in Esperanto, published its first edition in October 1903. The aforementioned Father Dambrauskas also published an early Catholic Esperanto work, “Versajxareto" (Little Book of Verse), in 1905.

Public Domain image, via Espero Katolika

The first page from the first edition of Espero Katolika, October 1903. This poem is in honour of Pope Pius X.
Pope Pius X bestowed the first papal blessing of the Catholic Esperanto Movement in 1906 after being presented with a bound edition of the Espero Katolika. His Holiness issued a second blessing of the Catholic Esperanto movement in 1910 following the creation of Internacia Katolika Unuiĝo Esperantista (IKUE, or The International Union of Catholic Esperantists).

Esperanto has also been included in the Urbi et Orbi papal address since April 3, 1994, when Pope John Paul II wished the audience "Felicxan Paskon en Kristo resurektinta" (a Happy Easter in Christ risen) for the first time. You can listen to Pope Benedict XVI say the traditional Easter Blessing in Esperanto here.

The Catholic Esperanto Movement shows no signs of slowing down. In recent years we can see how the internet has helped strengthen the Catholic Esperanto Movement. The IKUE and Espero Katolika both have online presences. The Vatican Radio, which has offered regular broadcasts in Esperanto since January 2, 1977, now offers programoj en esperanto (programs in Esperanto) online. Other Catholic Esperanto reference tools include an Esperanto translation of the Bible, and an overview of Catholic Esperanto history

If you're looking to learn the language, La Kanada Esperanto-Asocio (Canadian Esperanto Association) might have a club near you.

Friday, 21 July 2017

Memories of World Youth Day 2002

Fifteen years ago, Toronto hosted World Youth Day, an international celebration of Catholic faith established by Pope Saint John Paul II in 1985. The week-long youth festival (July 23-28, 2002) culminated in a papal mass at Downsview Park. It was the last time John Paul II personally attended the event.

The theme of World Youth Day 2002 was "You are the salt of the are the light of the world" (Matthew 5:13-14). One outcome of WYD 2002 was the establishment of Canada's first national Catholic network, Salt + Light Television. Visit their website for footage of WYD 2002 events.

As the archdiocesan archives of the host city, we have some interesting mementos of World Youth Day 2002 in our holdings:

World Youth Day 2002 Special Collection, OC 31

World Youth Day 2002 hard hat belonging to Aloysius Cardinal Ambrozic, Archbishop of Toronto.  Worn during the groundbreaking ceremony at Downsview Park.  (Photo: Catholic Register [ARCAT microfilm copy], 12 June 2005)

World Youth Day 2002 Special Collection, OC 31

Bronze medal by Dora de Pédery-Hunt depicting the Sermon on the Mount, from which WYD2002 took its theme: "You are the salt of the are the light of the world."  On the verso is inscribed "Dies Juvenum Toronto / MMII." 
Cardinal Ambrozic was a patron of the Hungarian-Canadian sculptor; he commissioned and collected many of De Pédery-Hunt's works. Copies of this medal were gifted to attending bishops.

Graphics Collection, PH31W/30ST

These stamps and Date of Issue envelope were presented to Cardinal Ambrozic by Canada Post on the occasion of the official unveiling of the World Youth Day stamp

Accession 2015-001

White mitre with yellow, blue and red brush strokes and yellow lappets. Worn with matching stole and chasuble by all attending bishops during the WYD 2002 Papal Mass at Downsview Park.

World Youth Day 2002 Special Collection, OC 31

The ubiquitous pilgrim bag given to WYD 2002 participants. Contents include: bandanna, candle, rosary, Toronto postcards, Canadian flag and pin, TTC maps. 350,000 of these bags were manufactured.

World Youth Day 2002 Special Collection, OC 31

Toronto Transit Commission Pass for unlimited travel on the day of the Papal Mass, 28 July 2002

Friday, 14 July 2017

The Decree Against Communism

In 1848, Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels published a pamphlet called The Communist Manifesto, which became one of the most influential documents of the 19th and 20th centuries. They described a political and social system in which social classes no longer existed and everyone could benefit from the labour of everyone else. The ideas they espoused went on to be the philosophical basis of political parties around the world, perhaps most notably in Russia, where Vladimir Lenin took power in 1917. Many more Communist governments took power in other countries over the next half-century and particularly after the Second World War. Theoretically, the tenets of Communism seem to improve the lives of average people; however, there were many leaders who used the political system to come into power, only to become dictators. Additionally, Communist governments tended to oppose the Catholic Church and promoted or even demanded atheism. Recognizing the threat that Communism presented to the Church and to the faithful, on July 16, 1949, Pope Pius XII published the Decree against Communism, which announced excommunication for anyone who professed Communist doctrine.

Decree Against Communism

Q4: If Christians declare openly the materialist and anti-Christian doctrine of the communists, and, mainly, if they defend it or promulgate it, "ipso facto," do they incur in excommunication reserved to the Apostolic See? 

R: Affirmative

July 1, 1949

MG RC295.01
Cardinal McGuigan Fonds

Here in the archives, the earliest reference to Communism is found in the Archbishop Lynch fonds. A correspondent assures Lynch that his trade union doesn't support the ideology.

"I also send you a copy of an address I procured from N.Y. so you can see what ... creeds they now advocate. Free Lovism and Communism are twin sisters in crime."

March 25, 1873

L AH18.03
Archbishop Lynch Fonds

By Archbishop McNeil's time in office, the Russian Revolution had taken place. The Archbishop of Lemberg (now known as Lviv, Ukraine) wrote to the Catholic hierarchy of North America in 1921 to tell them about the state of affairs in his territory and in Russia: "Bolshevism has caused in Russia great material hunger. Millions may die of starvation. But it has caused a still greater spiritual hunger ..." Continuing into the 1930s, concern continued to grow. Archbishop McNeil wrote a letter to be read in parishes about the dangers of the Russian government promoting atheism, and the possibility that other countries could follow in their footsteps. A 1933 publication warned of "The Red Menace:"

The Red Menace!

September 8, 1933

MN AS01.12
Archbishop McNeil Fonds

In 1932, Archbishop McNeil received a report about Communist activities in Toronto from the Chief of Police. There were many labour groups that were being monitored for socialist leanings. A few years later, Archbishop McGuigan shared similar information with the Apostolic Delegate. There was a recognition that Catholics should provide social action to provide an alternative to the appeal of Communist groups.

"I hereby submit to Your Excellency a succinct statement of Communistic Activities in Toronto, together with the remedies we are trying to employ against it."

July 13, 1936

MG DS38.29a
Cardinal McGuigan Fonds

Russia was an ally of Canada during the Second World War, but after 1945, the Iron Curtain fell and distrust turned into the Cold War. With Stalinism, anti-Catholicism increased. In Canada, Catholics were horrified to learn of the treatment of Hungarian József Cardinal Mindszenty, who was tortured into 'confessing' to crimes against the Party.

"The sentence passed on Cardinal Mindszenty, following the mock trial of Budapest, though not unexpected, will nevertheless shock the civilized world."


MG SP24.25
Cardinal McGuigan Fonds

As an important Canadian leader, Cardinal McGuigan was asked to comment on the threat of Communism:

"Should Canadian Communists continue to enjoy same privileges and guarantees as other individuals and other political parties? Request your opinion for publication in poll of representative Canadians."

July 18, 1946

MG DA32.71
Cardinal McGuigan Fonds

By the 1950s, McCarthyism took hold, and although Communism was a legitimate concern, there was a certain level of paranoia, as we see in this letter from someone who was convinced that fluoridated water was a Communist conspiracy:

"On page five of Fluoridation Unmasked, it is indicated that fluoridation is one form of Communist Warfare."

March 22, 1954

MG PO08.23
Cardinal McGuigan Fonds

By the 1970s, although there were still governments using the name of Communism around the world to gain and keep power, the threat on the home front wasn't as much of an issue. Canadians learned to differentiate democratic social policies such as universal health care from the policies of dictatorships. Though the threat of Communism didn't materialize in Canada, the documents in the archives show how worried the Catholic Hierarchy as well as Canadians at large were. It is clear that Communism had a huge effect on the world, but the fear of Communism also had a profound impact on North Americans.   

Friday, 7 July 2017

The Lure of the Big Screen

With the kids home and the temperature rising, many families will undoubtedly be heading to the movie theatres this summer for a few hours of air-conditioned entertainment.

The lure of the cinema has been attracting Toronto families since 1906, when the city's first permanent theatre was opened by John Griffin under the name of the Theatorium. Throughout the twentieth century Hollywood productions only grew in popularity, as did the number of cinemas and number of cinema-goers. You can see some fine examples of Toronto's past movie theatres here.

Crowds at the Theatorium. The line up rivals those found at modern day movie premieres!

[c. 1910]

Fonds 1244, Item 320A
City of Toronto Archives

The Williams family at the Long Branch Theatorium.
The movie theatre has been a family gathering place for over a century.

[c. 1915]

Call no. 964-6-16
Toronto Reference Library
Finding movies that the whole family could enjoy was surely a daunting task. These days we have the benefit of the Canada video rating system to help us choose what movies our children should see, but an age-based rating system was not established in Ontario until 1946. How did parents determine what films their families could see before this?

Here in our archives I uncovered a copy of a letter from the Canadian Council on Child Welfare entitled an "Experiment in Approved Motion Pictures". It was written sometime in the 1920s, and promises to provide (upon request) a 'white list' of movies suitable for families and children. The movies on the list are guaranteed to be stimulating for children while remaining "free from sordid, sensual, brutal, and criminal detail."

Experiment in Approved Motion Pictures


MN WL01.46
Archbishop McNeil Fonds

Compiling such a list was surely a ground-breaking yet tedious task for its time. Unfortunately we do not have a copy of the white list in question, but I'm wondering what would have made the cut from this list of 1920s blockbusters.

Now, if you're still on the hunt for some summer movie recommendations, look no further! I found a list of films available for distribution by Picture Service Limited from the early 1920s that has a little something for everyone.

A list of films available for distribution by Picture Services Limited


MN WL01.43
Archbishop McNeil Fonds
The variety of films on this list is quite interesting. It opens with some church films available for purchase and ends with some dark, secular dramas. Just check out this movie poster for Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde:

"Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde"

Public domain image, via Wikimedia Commons

Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, starring John Barrymore, is available to watch on YouTube. But be forewarned, it's a thriller. Viewer discretion is advised.