Priest Apologizes for Lies
By Watchtower missionary in Uruguay
WHILE engaged in missionary work from house to house in Melo, Uruguay, we encountered a number of people who said that they knew all they wanted to know about Jehovah’s witnesses. This surprised us, because, as a rule, these people are meek and eager to learn. When we inquired of them what it was that they knew, they produced a periodical called Toma y Lee, meaning “Take and Read.”
This periodical, dated January 25, 1953, said that Jehovah’s witnesses were a branch of the Seventh-Day Adventist faith; that their leader is Judge Rutherford and their founder Charles T. Russell; that they are bitter souls, whose publications are against God. In the January 31 and February 8, 1953, issues of Toma y Lee, the writer stated that Jehovah’s witnesses teach that Christ ascended to heaven in 1914; that they do not believe in prayer; do not accept Mary, the virgin ‘mother of God,’ and that, above all, Jehovah’s witnesses deny the existence of ‘the triune Godhead.’ The writer would frequently refer to Jehovah’s witnesses as ‘bitter souls,’ ‘idiots,’ ‘lunatics’, ‘those who stir up dirt in and about our town,’ ‘people that are impossible,’ and other unfavorable comments.
On February 9, 1953, we (two of Jehovah’s witnesses) decided to call on Padre Guillermo Andulla, who was responsible for these articles, to ascertain the reasons for these misrepresentations and falsehoods. The priest invited us to sit down and discuss our business. We told him that we were interested in the publication Toma y Lee, especially in how it treated the subject of “Strange Religions” as pertaining to Jehovah’s witnesses; and what we were particularly interested in knowing was where he got his material for his articles. The priest quickly assured us that his sources were plentiful and accurate and that he could prove all that he had published, especially about Jehovah’s witnesses. But when we pressed him further to see his sources, he, with some reluctance, yielded a publication in the form of a tabloid and stated that this was his authority. We asked him if he had investigated the material prior to publication. He said that he had, but, he added, there was really no need for investigating, because the author of the tabloid was the bishop of the diocese, and there was absolutely no reason to think that he had erred.
During the course of conversation he admitted that he did not know us personally, so we asked him if he thought we were ‘bitter souls,’ ‘lunatics,’ or ‘idiots.’ He quickly said of course not; that such expressions were improper and that one could be punished for using them. We then told him that he had called us those names in his publication. He categorically denied it. But when we produced copies of Toma y Lee and pointed out to him these slanderous remarks, the lies and misrepresentations that he told, he became very nervous. We suggested that he retract all his statements in the next issue of Toma y Lee, or face charges in court. He pleaded with us not to do that. He said it was impossible for him to retract the things he had written, but he promised that from that day forward not another word would appear in his paper against Jehovah’s witnesses.
We spent over an hour with him in his church office, in which time his disposition changed considerably, from that of a rather sure, “cocky” individual to that of a somewhat mild-tempered man. He came from behind his desk before we left and took hold of our hands, shaking them. He asked that we forgive him and pardon him for his great error, and said that he was asking this apology not only for himself but also for all the Catholic people. So with that we left his church office.
As far as we were concerned the issue was not closed yet. We felt that the people of Melo were entitled to know where the publication Toma y Lee had erred in its report on Jehovah’s witnesses. A talk was scheduled for this purpose on Sunday, March 22, 1953, in the Plaza Constitución. We arranged with the only radio station in town to make a few spot announcements of the lecture during the week. While we were making these arrangements the radio station owner and manager became intensely interested in the purpose of our lecture and suggested that we give the history of the organization of Jehovah’s witnesses and that they would be willing to broadcast it free to the people. This we did, and to our further amazement we received radio time at noon, when almost all the people listen to the station. The same program was rebroadcast in the evening and then again at the close of the week. The radio did a marvelous job of preparation for the Sunday talk.
On Sunday night over 150 gathered to hear the lecture. The speaker quoted the assertions, misrepresentations and bold lies made in the periodical, and then, step by step, clearly and logically refuted them. He showed that Jehovah’s witnesses are not and never were Seventh-Day Adventists; that Jehovah’s witnesses do definitely believe in prayer; that they are not ‘bitter souls’ but are happy souls looking forward to the fulfillment of Jesus’ prayer at Matthew 6:9, 10.
After presenting the Bible viewpoint, the speaker appealed to the audience to study their Bibles for truth. He urged them to “make sure of all things; hold fast to what is right.” (1 Thess. 5:21, NW) He stated very emphatically that the reason the clergy lie, oppose and misrepresent Jehovah’s witnesses is that these teach the truth. Jesus said: “Now this is the basis for judgment, that the light has come into the world but men have loved the darkness rather than the light, for their works were wicked. For he that practices vile things hates the light and does not come to the light, in order that his works may not be reproved. But he that does what is true comes to the light, in order that his works may be made manifest as having been worked in harmony with God.”—John 3:19-21, NW; Matt. 24:9.
The immediate reaction to the lecture was very favorable. This may well be another time when Jehovah will turn an intended “curse” into a blessing. (Neh. 13:2) Notwithstanding, it has already resulted in an effective witness to the honor and glory of his great and holy name.