So what does Francis Beauchesne Thornton’s 1963 book, OUR AMERICAN PRINCES: The Story of the Seventeen American Cardinals, tell us about Pope Pius XI’s role in the 1937 Tokyo-Shinto Shrine incident?
Page 173, concerning Archbishop Mooney’s 1931 transfer to Japan:
"When Archbishop Mooney arrived in Japan, the outstanidng issue between Catholics and the government was the question of the Shinto shrines or national cemetries which all Japanese were required by law to visit and pay homage to.
"Japanese Catholics had quietly stayed away, maintaining that they could not in conscience take part in Shinto worship.
"Were such visits merely patriotic or were they also religious?
"Archbishop Mooney found a way out by insisting that the government must make a public declaration to the effect that the visits to the shrines were merely patriotic and not religious.
“The declaration did not come until after his departure, but when it came, Japanese Catholics gradually frequented the shrines and became less suspect to their compatriots.”
BUT! “OH, NO! IS THAT THE END OF THE STORY?”
Nope! 'Cause here’s what happened maybe six years later, in (as best as I can make out) 1937, according to page 116:
Dennis Cardinal Dougherty has been on a long trip, and so, "En route home on the Tatsuta Maru, Cardinal Dougherty stopped in Tokyo, where he was feted by the government and had a cordial audience with Emperor Hirohito.
"The cardinal, accompanied by the Archbishop of Tokyo and the apostolic delegate, [A Roman official?] visited the Shinto shrines and prayed for the Japanese servicemen buried there.
“This act put an end to a controversy that had troubled Vatican-Japanese relations for years.”
Humm … really?
How about those Shinto priests?
I’ll guarantee everyone out there they’d have been closely observing everything going on, so … just how would they have interpreted it?