Crusader in the Cold War: A biography of Fr. John F. Cronin, S.S. (1908--1994)

John Timothy Donovan, Marquette University


The life of Father John Francis Cronin touched religious, political, labor and social history in the Twentieth-Century United States. Ordained a priest in 1932, Cronin was assigned by his order, the Sulpicians, to teach economics at St. Mary's Seminary, and he also taught courses to the laity on the Church and Labor. His work brought him into contact with Catholics who were concerned about the involvement of the Communist Party's (CP-USA) in labor unions in the Baltimore area during the Second World War. Cronin assisted the anti-Communists in the union, and established contacts with the FBI in so doing. In 1944, the American Catholic bishops approached Cronin and asked him to write a report on Communism. Cronin was transferred from St. Mary's in Baltimore to the National Catholic Welfare Conference (NCWC) in Washington, D.C. Cronin sent questionnaires to the members of the hierarchy and consulted his friends in the FBI, Edward F. Hummer and William C. Sullivan. With the material he gathered he compiled the report. In the course of writing his report, he noted that Alger Hiss was suspect of having ties to the CP-USA. In 1947, two years after he finished the report, Cronin met two new members of the House of Representatives, Charles Kersten (R. Wisconsin) and Richard M. Nixon (R. California). He shared his information on the CP with Kersten and Nixon. In 1948, when Nixon helped the House Committee on Un-American Activities investigate Hiss, Cronin surreptitiously gave him information supplied him by Hummer. The Cronin-Nixon alliance was to last through the 1950s. When Nixon was vice president, Cronin became his chief speech writer while continuing to work at the NCWC. In addition to this work, he also drafted three of the pastoral letters written by the American Catholic bishops on race relations, and lobbied to see the 1958 pastoral letter promulgated.

Recommended Citation

Donovan, John Timothy, "Crusader in the Cold War: A biography of Fr. John F. Cronin, S.S. (1908--1994)" (2000). Dissertations (1962 - 2010) Access via Proquest Digital Dissertations. AAI9977715.