Abandoned by the Vatican: My Clandestine Journey to Support Secret Priests Behind the Iron Curtain
Jack Doherty, author
ABANDONED BY THE VATICAN My Clandestine Journey to Support Secret Priests Behind the Iron Curtain By Jack Doherty The Western press printed tales that communist governments oppressed, imprisoned, and tortured its people during the Cold War. Then embarrassed communist leaders shone a ray of light, a lessening of harsh restrictions, called the Prague Springtime in 1968. The author visited communist Czechoslovakia. Accompanied by a secret priest, he walked through the back alleys of Prague dodging the security police, visited shacks on state-run farms and barrack-style tenements to meet secret priests awaiting to tell him their story…Interrogations, torture, jail, hunger, hard labor, and now a life sentence as ex-convicts. Asked what they needed? “News, information, books about our Catholic faith,” they replied. “What we had were burned.” The author raised money, recruited volunteers, and organized a system to supply books to them. On a further trip behind the Iron Curtain the author was detained, interrogated, expelled, and placed on the black list of all soviet bloc countries. Convinced of their urgent need, the author took advantage of this window of opportunity while it lasted. Staying in the background because he was a marked man and with the help of his United States military parishioners stationed in Germany, he established an information and book network that shipped thousands of books to communist countries. The Vatican remained silent on the situation of the secret priests for fear of communist retaliation, but still refused to grant their one defense: the permission for priests to marry. The author is able through personal experience, research, and letters from secret bishops and priests to tell their true story, largely unknown in the English-language world.
Rebecca Skane, Editor-in-Chief for the Portsmouth Review.
Jack Doherty meets with the secret priests, bringing badly needed books. He is the first, really, to see the state they live in. Old, in seclusion, hidden meetings, hidden services - always being watched by the StB (Czechoslovakia’s Secret Police).
When Jack returns to Germany, he begins his great book project. He finds publishers willing to donate Catholic books that were slated for destruction, he receives small donations, and he is able to get a huge shipment out to a few addresses. It works. The books aren’t sent back at customs, and his targets receive the desperately needed texts.
This story blows my mind. The absolute courage and determination…that could have meant his death or imprisonment and torture if discovered is inspiring.
I highly suggest this book to anyone...Abandoned by the Vatican is the ultimate “banned books” true tale.