To William R. Arnold1




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#5-256

To William R. Arnold1


October 24, 1945 [Washington, D.C.]
Dear Bishop Arnold:

I am writing this to you on the subject of universal military training which, in my judgment, is the number one issue facing the nation at this time with respect to its future security and the peace of the world. I have many reasons for this conviction which I will not labor you with in this letter, but I think you know I would not write this were I not profoundly of the conviction that the success of this program involves the future destiny of the United States.

What prompts this note to you personally is a long letter I once received from Bishop O’Hara, the sole emphasis of which is the question of contraceptives.2 This is an important matter and the Bishop has very sound arguments concerning it. But in the final analysis I feel that this can be considered but a detail compared with the imperative necessity of enabling the United States to play a determining part in securing the future peace of the world.

From Bishop O’Hara’s letter I have the uncomfortable feeling that such a question, important though it is by itself, and other similar questions, can sway the approach of the members of the Catholic faith in the United States on the subject of universal military training. This can have tragic consequences for the future. So important do I consider this that I would appreciate your frank response as to whether in your opinion it would be desirable for me to discuss this matter, and the general subject of our military posture, with Archbishop Spellman,3 for whom I have a profound respect. Archbishop Spellman has traveled over most of the world visiting our soldiers during the war and, I believe, has seen more of the armed forces in action under wartime conditions than the representative of any other religious group. Undoubtedly he has a broad background on the world situation, particularly on the current situation with respect to Russia. Therefore, I should be very much interested in his reactions to my own views on the subject of this letter.

I plan to be in New York Monday next, staying with General Frank McCoy at the Lowell Hotel, 28 East 63rd Street.4

I was sorry to miss your induction at St. Patrick’s. I had a plane ready at 7:00 A.M. that day but was told by two of your brethren at Annapolis the night before that the services would last three hours. This would have made it impossible for me to keep a vital engagement here.5

Faithfully yours,
Document Copy Text Source: George C. Marshall Papers, Pentagon Office Collection, Selected Materials, George C. Marshall Research Library, Lexington, Virginia.

Document Format: Typed letter.


1. Arnold, who had recently retired after thirty-two years as an army chaplain, had been consecrated Titular Bishop of Phocaea and Military Delegate to the Armed Forces on October 11 at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City. He replaced John F. O’Hara, who had become Bishop of Buffalo, New York, on May 8.
2. On O’Hara’s attitude and letter, see Marshall Memorandum for General Weible, May 20, 1945, Papers of George Catlett Marshall, #5-141 [5: 195–96].
3. Francis J. Spellman was military vicar for the United States and archbishop of New York. It was widely rumored that he would be elevated to cardinal in December 1945.
4. Marshall was scheduled to speak at the New York Herald Tribute Forum on Monday evening, October 29. See the text of his remarks, Papers of George Catlett Marshall, #5-258 [5: 336–43].
5. Marshall attended the Overseas Writers luncheon at the Statler Hotel in Washington, D.C., on October 11.
Recommended Citation: The Papers of George Catlett Marshall, ed. Larry I. Bland and Sharon Ritenour Stevens (Lexington, Va.: The George C. Marshall Foundation, 1981– ). Electronic version based on The Papers of George Catlett Marshall, vol. 5, “The Finest Soldier,” January 1, 1945–January 7, 1947 (Baltimore and London: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 2003), pp. 334–335.


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