The Radio Priest


There are dozens of things, some of them probably more important to me than they would be to the public. But what about unionism? Don’t forget that the UAW [United Auto Workers] was started in my kitchen down at the Shrine of the Little Flower. The early leaders of that union used to meet with me for breakfast each Sunday after the nine o’clock Mass, and we’d talk about it. They didn’t have a strong enough organization, and I was trying to teach them to fight politically.

The UAW presents social justice awards every year. Is this your influence?

Oh, sure. I spent many an hour and many thousands of dollars helping get that thing going.

Henry Ford was a friend of yours. How did he react to your efJorts to organize the auto workers?

Henry Ford was all for it. He was only afraid that the wrong people would get control. “Get the wrong people, they’ll turn it on me,” he used to say. “Get the right people, they’ll work with me.”

Yet at the end of his life, Henry Ford was identified as an archfoe of organized labor.

Oh, yes. He was “anti-Semite,” he was “antiunion,” he was “a selfish old moneybags.” People didn’t know Henry Ford. There are so many people maligned. When you get to be my age, you look back at so many people who were maligned. It’s so easy to condemn when you don’t know the circumstances. And so many lies get themselves written down as gospel truth. And another thing. When you get to be my age, you don’t really care any more. I mean, what’s the use of contradicting them?

Father, one last question. If you had your life to live over again, is there anything you would do differently?

There is nothing I would do the same.