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1966

Francis Cardinal Spellman visits South Vietnam

Francis Cardinal Spellman, the Roman Catholic Archbishop of New York and military vicar of the U.S. armed forces for Roman Catholics, visits U.S. servicemen in South Vietnam. In an address at mass in Saigon, Spellman said that the Vietnamese conflict was “a war for civilization—certainly it is not a war of our seeking. It is a war thrust upon us—we cannot yield to tyranny.” Anything “less than victory is inconceivable.” On December 26, Spellman told U.S. soldiers that they were in Vietnam for the “defense, protection, and salvation not only of our country, but… of civilization itself.” The next day, Vatican sources expressed displeasure with Spellman’s statements in Vietnam. One source said, “The Cardinal did not speak for the Pope or the Church.” The Pope had previously called for negotiations and an end to the war in Vietnam.

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