Sword of the Spirit

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Cardinal Hinsley founded Sword of the Spirit in August 1940. The organization was later known as the Catholic Institute of International Relations (CIIR) and then became Progressio. This has been credited as "Probably Hinsley’s most memorable act".[1]

Their long-term goal was to put into effect Christian social teachings as an alternative to totalitarianism and extremism of all ideologies. In the short term, its goal was to promote awareness and acceptance of the five Peace Points proposed by Pius XII soon after his election in 1939; the defence of small nations, the right to life, disarmament, some new kind of League of Nations, and a plea for the moral principles of justice and love.[2]

Although founded by the cardinal, the movement was intended as a lay organization. The first vice-president was Christopher Dawson, but practical organization was in the hands of Richard O'Sullivan K.C., Barbara Ward, and Professor A. C. F. Beales of London University and his wife, Freda.[3]

The aims behind the movement were set out in a letter to The Times (December 21, 1941) signed jointly by the Archbishops of Canterbury and York (Cosmo Gordon Lang and William Temple), by Cardinal Hinsley, and by the Moderator of the Free Churches (W. H. Armstrong). Hinsley hoped to make the movement ecumenical, organizing two interdenominational mass meetings in London in May 1941,[4] but in the course of 1941 the Vatican insisted that Catholic and Protestant social movements be segregated,[5] and a parallel movement under the name Religion and Life was inaugurated for non-Catholics.[6]

Sword of the Spirit was subsumed into the Catholic Institute for International Relations in 1965.


  1. ^ Richard F. Costigan, review of Westminster, Whitehall and the Vatican: The Role of Cardinal Hinsley, 1935-1943 by Thomas Moloney, in Church History 55:3 (1986), p. 396.
  2. ^ Sister Margherita Marchione, "Pope of Peace: Pius XII's Coronation Anniversary", National Catholic Register, March 8–14, 2009.
  3. ^ Christina Scott, A Historian and His World: A Life of Christopher Dawson (New Brunswick and London, 1992), 137-147.
  4. ^ "Religion: Unity in Britain", Time Magazine, May 19, 1941.
  5. ^ Magdalen Goffin, The Watkin Path: An Approach to Belief. The Life of E. I. Watkin (Sussex Academic Press, 2006), 215
  6. ^ Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church, s.v. "Sword of the Spirit"

Further references[edit]

  • Joan Keating, "Discrediting the 'Catholic State': British Catholics and the Fall of France", in Catholicism in Britain and France since 1789, edited by Frank Tallett and Nicholas Atkin. London and Rio Grande, Ohio: Hambledon Press, 1996. ISBN 1-85285-100-7