Dr. Bella Visono Dodd (1904 – 29 April 1969) was a member of the Communist Party of America (CPUSA) in the 1930s and 1940s who later became a vocal anti-communist. After her defection from the Communist Party in 1949, she testified that one of her jobs, as a Communist agent, was to encourage young radicals to enter Roman Catholic Seminaries.
She was born in Picerno, Basilicata, Kingdom of Italy in 1904 and baptized Maria Assunta Isabella. In 1917, she entered Evander Childs High School. Four years later, after winning a state scholarship, she attended Hunter College, where she received an A.B. and developed an interest in social issues and drifted into agnosticism. She did her master's studies at Columbia University working toward a doctorate in philosophy then switched to the legal division. Later, she graduated from the School of Law at New York University where she received a Degree of Doctor of Jurisprudence. A schoolteacher and lawyer by profession, Dodd was an organizer for the CPUSA from 1932–1948, and from 1944 to '48 sat on the CPUSA's National Council. She also served as head of the New York State Teachers Union. She was expelled from the CPUSA in 1949. Ostensibly, she was expelled for representing a landlord in a legal dispute with a renter, which was a violation of Party bylaws against recognition or defense of the right to private property. However, Dodd's expulsion from the Party was part of a larger purge following the ouster of Earl Browder as the CPUSA's General Secretary.
Confessions and Testimonies
In this audio you will hear Bella Dodd who was a leader of the Communist Party of America (CPUSA) in the 1930' s and 1940's. She explains what she did while working as a communist and then describes her conversion back to the Catholic Faith thanks to Archbishop Futlon Sheen.
Dr. Dodd served as legal counsel (attorney) for the Communists. Her book, "School of Darkness" (1954) reveals that Communism was perpetrated by financiers "to control the common man" and to advance world tyranny.
Testifies on Communist Infiltration of Catholic Church
Bella Dodd testified before the US House Un-American Activities Committee. Speaking as a former high-ranking official of the American Communist Party, Mrs. Dodd said: "In the 1930s we put eleven hundred men into the priesthood in order to destroy the Church from within. The idea was for these men to be ordained, and then climb the ladder of influence and authority as Monsignors and Bishops”"
A dozen years before [the Second Vatican Council] she stated that: "Right now they are in the highest places in the Church" — where they were working to bring about change in order to weaken the Church's effectiveness against Communism. She also said that these changes would be so drastic that "you will not recognize the Catholic Church."
Mrs./Dr. Bella V. Dodd told her friend, Mrs./Dr. Alice von Hildebrand, the theologian, that:
“When she was an active party member, she had dealt with no fewer than four cardinals within the Vatican who were working for us, [i.e. the Communist Party]” (Christian Order magazine, “The Church in Crisis”, reprinted from The Latin Mass magazine).
Mrs./Dr. Bella V. Dodd made a public affidavit which was witnessed by a number of people, including Paul and Johnine Leininger.
In her public affidavit, among other things, Mrs./Dr. Bella V. Dodd stated:
“In the late 1920’s and 1930’s, directives were sent from Moscow to all Communist Party organizations. In order to destroy the [Roman] Catholic Church from within, party members were to be planted in seminaries and within diocesan organizations... I, myself, put some 1,200 men in [Roman] Catholic seminaries”.
Dr. Alice von Hildebrand confirmed that Mrs./Dr. Bella V. Dodd had publicly stated the same things to which she attested in her public affidavit.
Mrs. Johnine Leininger confirmed that other people could also verify that Mrs./Dr. Bella V. Dodd had made these statements regarding the infiltration of Communists into Roman Catholic seminaries.
Mrs. Leininger has also said that she herself knows some Roman Catholic priests who were “sleepers” - an espionage term for individuals or groups who refrain from any subversive, espionage, and/or infiltrator functions until they become “active”.
Mrs. Johnine Leininger stated that she knows of several priests who faithfully taught the Catholic religion until they became bishops or were promoted to other influential posts, and then, upon becoming “active”, immediately exhibited hostility to that same faith which they had previously professed.
Received Back into the Church
On Tuesday, August 5, 1952 she publicly announced that on April 7 of the same year, she was received back into the Roman Catholic Church. Not being able to secure her baptismal certificate from Italy after inquiry, she was therefore conditionally baptized by Bishop Fulton J. Sheen in St. Patrick's Cathedral, New York.
“Easter of 1952 was approaching and Bishop Sheen said that I was ready. I had no baptismal record and a letter of inquiry to the town in Italy where I was born produced none, though I was reasonably certain I had been baptized. So it was decided I was to receive conditional baptism.”
“On April 7th, the anniversary of my mother’s birthday, I was baptized by Bishop Sheen at the font in St. Patrick’s Cathedral. Mary Riley and Louis Pagnucco stood on either side of me. Godfrey Schmidt and a few other friends were with me too” (Mrs./Dr. Bella V. Dodd, Autobiography: “School of Darkness”, Chapter 17).
Testifies on Communist Infiltration of US Government Offices
In 1953, she testified before the US Senate about widespread Party infiltration of labor unions and other institutions. On March 11, 1953, The New York Times ran a front page article entitled "Bella Dodd Asserts Reds Got Presidential Advisory Posts." The article reported that Dodd "swore before the Senate Internal Security subcommittee today that Communists had got into many legislative offices of Congress and into a number of groups advising the President of the United States." The New York Times reported on March 8, 1954 that Bella Dodd "...warned yesterday that the 'materialistic philosophy,' [i.e., dialectical materialism ] which she said was now guiding public education, would eventually demoralize the nation."
Attempted Political Career
Running for Congress
In 1968, Dodd made an unsuccessful attempt to become a member of the US Congress as a candidate of the New York Conservative Party; she lost by a significant margin. She came in last place with 3% of the vote, against Democratic incumbent Leonard Farbstein (easily reelected with 53%), Donald Weeden (Republican, Ralph Denat (Liberal, and David McReynolds (Peace and Freedom).
- Dodd, Bella. School of Darkness, Chapter 1
- Obituaries, The Pittsburgh Press (archived at Google), 30 April 1969: "Dr. Bella V. Dodd...died in New York yesterday..."
- Dodd, Bella. School of Darkness, Chapter 3
- Starobin, Joseph Robert (1975). American Communism in Crisis, 1943-1957. University of California Press. ISBN 0520027965[page needed]
- Morgan, Ted (2003). Reds: McCarthyism in 20th Century America. New York: Random House, p. 172. ISBN 0-679-44399-1
- "Bella Dodd Asserts Reds Got Presidential Advisory Posts", The New York Times, 11 March 1953 (subscription required)
- "Bella Dodd Assails Materialism In U.S.", The New York Times, 8 March 1954 (subscription required)
- Milestones: May 9, 1969, Time, 9 May 1969.
- "Dr. Bella V. Dodd Dies at 64; Expelled by Communists in '49; Lawyer Was Also Leader in Teachers Union; Ran for House as a Conservative", The New York Times, 30 April 1969 (subscription required)
- Zullo, Joseph. "Catholic Rites to be Held for Dr. Bella Dodd", Chicago Tribune (archived at Google), 2 May 1969.