John Francis Cronin

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Father John Francis Cronin, S.S. (1908-1994) was a Catholic priest of the Society of St Sulpice (Sulpicians), and a vocal opponent of Communism during the McCarthy era.


Early life[edit]

John Francis Cronin was born October 4, 1908 in Glens Falls, New York. He graduated at the age of fourteen from St. Mary's Academy. An essay that discussed the dangers faced by coal miners was published in the Glens Falls Post Star. He attended the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, Massachusetts and seminary at the Sulpician seminary of The Catholic University of America, where he earned bachelor's degrees in philosophy and sacred theology, and a master's degree in philosophy. In 1932, Cronin was ordained at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Albany, New York by Bishop Edmund F. Gibbons. He joined the Sulicians, and in 1935, was awarded a doctorate in philosophy by Catholic University.[1]


Cronin taught economics at St. Mary's Seminary and University in Baltimore, Maryland. While there, he published a pamphlet, A Living Wage Today, that built on Pope Pius XI's encyclical, Quadragesimo Anno, and declared that "[T]he wage paid to the workingman must be sufficient for the support of himself and of his family."[2] in 1938, Archbishop Michael J. Curley of Baltimore, asked Father Cronin to establish a School of Social Action to instruct Catholic clergy in the church's teachings on labor, a program that was later expanded to parishes. According to John T. Donovan, Cronin's writing and teaching helped to sharpen his skills in the area of labor and economics.[2]

He was also Assistant Director of the Department of Social Action for the National Catholic Welfare Conference. Toward the end of the Second World War, Cronin wrote a report for the bishops on the Communist Party of the United States. He had the assistance of FBI officials, who unofficially provided some of the background material for him. When Richard Nixon was elected to Congress in 1946, he sought out information on Communism, and he was introduced to Cronin by Rep. Charles J. Kersten (R.WI).

In a paper titled "The Problem of American Communism In 1945," Cronin wrote, "In the State Department, the most influential Communist has been Alger Hiss."[3] When Whittaker Chambers testified before the House Committee on Un-American Activities in August 1948 and said that Hiss was a Communist, Nixon already knew about the charge from his conversations with Cronin. After Nixon was elected Vice President, he asked Cronin for help in writing speeches, and Cronin became an unpaid assistant to the vice president, and wrote the first draft of Nixon's 1956 acceptance speech at the Republican Convention in San Francisco.[2]

He authored the book Communism: A World Menace. However, despite his strong opposition to Communism, Cronin criticized Joseph McCarthy and other anticommunist extremists in the United States, whom he accused of fostering national disunity.

In the 1950s-1960s, he advocated increased civil rights for all Americans. He wrote two of the bishops' statements on race relations and lobbied them to see that they accepted the drafts.



In 1947, Cronin was awarded an honorary doctorate by Holy Cross College.[1]


  • Brugger, Robert (1996). Maryland: A Middle Temperament. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press.
  • Callcott, George (1985). Maryland and America, 1940-1980. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press.
  • Donovan, John T. (2005) Crusader in the Cold War: A Biography of Fr. John F. Cronin, S.S. (1908-1994). New York: Peter Lang
  • Rosswurm, Steve (2010). The FBI and the Catholic Church, 1935-1962
  • Saxon, Wolfgang (1994). "John F. Cronin, 85: Priest and an Expert on Race Relations." New York Times. January 5.

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