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10 Andriano’s Ordeal The Loyalty Hearings Sylvester Andriano. This man is indubitably the fountain head of all Fascist activities on the Pacific Coast. He is Mayor Rossi’s legal adviser and Rossi is said not to make any important moves without consulting Andriano. —Myron B. Goldsmith, “Testimony to the Dies Committee,” August 19, 1940 It is high time that the Fascist agent Sylvester Andriano should be booted out of the draft board, where to the shame of San Francisco, he has been allowed to remain all this time in spite of bitter protests by labor and other anti-Fascists. —People’s World, May 29, 1942 Criticism of Catholic leaders such as Sylvester Andriano, who had participated in the Italian government’s outreach programs during the Fascist regime and who had never made public condemnations of Mussolini, increased in volume and reached a crescendo pitch in late 1939 and 1940. Following the Nazi-Soviet pact in August 1939 and Germany’s attack on Poland in September, more Italian political exiles, fuorusciti, arrived in the United States determined to fight Fascism from a distance. Gaetano Salvameni, Max Ascoli, and other anti-Communist opponents of Mussolini founded the Mazzini Society, a national organization with local branches aimed at expanding and intensifying the critique of alleged Fascist sympathizers in Italian American communities. In November, J. Edgar Hoover instituted a Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) file of possible suspects with Italian, German, or Japanese backgrounds who would be “potentially dangerous” to national security in the event of war with the Axis powers. Then, on June 10, ANDRIANO’S ORDEAL: THE LOYALTY HEARINGS 123 1940, President Franklin Roosevelt added to the discourse on Italian American propensity to disloyalty when he enlisted a hoary antiItalian stereotype to condemn Italy’s invasion of France: “the hand that held the dagger has struck it into the back of its neighbor.”1 In San Francisco, charges of Catholic complicity with Fascism were nothing new, but they increased in volume and intensity. The CP’s accusations, cloaked in its rhetoric of being the genuine voice of “labor,” became commonplace after the 1934 strikes; attacks on Mayor Rossi and his administration intensified after 1936; and Andriano was targeted in 1938. Italian Masons and Italian socialists critiqued Italian Catholics before World War I and during the 1920s. They accelerated their invective in the 1930s partly because of the signing of the Lateran Accords in 1929 and partly because Archbishops Hanna and Mitty were making progress in their campaign to rekindle the practice of Catholicism among the city’s Italian population , a project that had involved Andriano from the beginning. The increase of devotional piety was evident in the thriving character of Corpus Christi and Immaculate Conception, the two Italian churches outside North Beach. And in Little Italy the Salesian fathers’ Americanization School boasted that it had been able “to bring back to their faith hundreds of Italian boys who had been spiritually neglected.” At Sts. Peter and Paul Church, “the Italian Cathedral,” the community’s embrace of Catholicism could be seen in the establishment of five new statues and images in the three chapels in the back of the church between 1922 and 1940, each one devoted to a Madonna representing a specific locale in Italy. The well-attended public feasts associated with Madonna della Guardia, Madonna dei Miracoli, Madonna della Misericordia, Madonna del Lume, and Madonna delle Grazie provided dramatic testimony to the fact that Italian Catholic devotional piety was growing, not decreasing, in San Francisco.2 The anti-Catholic reaction never flagged. Pierino Pedretti, the anticlerical editor of the newspaper Il Corriere del Popolo, condemned Pope Pius XI for blessing Mussolini and castigated Archbishop Hanna for proselytizing the city’s Italians. Pedretti singled out Andriano for particular scorn in 1930 as a “Catholic-Roman” who 124 CHAPTER 10 slavishly followed the Vatican despite its Lateran Accords. Now, however, the local competition became caught up in the national debates about whether the United States should participate in the European war and whether the officials of Italian and German ethnic organizations threatened American national security. Anti-Fascists, including Masons, anti-Catholic fuorusciti, and Communist Party members alike, assuming the role of seasoned fighters against clericofascist dictatorship, volunteered for service against Catholic prominenti whom they regarded as Mussolini sympathizers in the nation’s Italian communities.3 Sylvester Andriano’s socialist, Communist, and Masonic political rivals accused him of serving Mussolini’s government as a Fascist agent at three sets of hearings called by...


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