"Your Excellency, would we not be obliged, as Catholics, to desire the public and legal recognition of the Roman Catholic Church as the one true Church of Christ ? "
From ...... CATHOLIC RESTORATION
Vol. v, No.1 First Quarter, 1995
THE CULT OF LIBERTY
Archbishop Ireland, prominent at the turn of the century, was the embodiment of this whole mentality. He was so imbued with these ideas that he was capable of making these statements in a speech entitled "Catholicism and Americanism," given in Milwaukee in 1913:
Necessarily religious freedom is the basic life of America, the cement running through all its walls and battlements, the safeguard of its peace and prosperity. Violate religious freedom against Catholics: our swords are at once unsheathed. Violate it in favor of Catholics, against non- Catholics: no less readily do they leap from the scabbard.
Had I been in his audience, I would have asked,
" Your Excellency, when in sixty or seventy years, in the name of religious liberty, the enemies of the Church shall make films portraying Our Lady as a harlot and Our Lord as a fornicator, shall Catholics unsheathe their swords to protect the rights of these blasphemers to make such films ? "
What would this Archbishop have answered to such a question ?
One shudders to think. Further on he states:
Personal conscience is the ultimate asylum of the soul, in presence of civil or ecclesiastical authority. Both Americanism and Catholicism bow to the sway of personal conscience.
Bow to the sway of personal conscience ? "Your Excellency, when in sixty or seventy years, in the name of freedom of conscience, women shall kill their babies in their wombs, should the civil or ecclesiastical authority bow to the sway of personal conscience ?" It is unbelievable that a Catholic bishop, living in 1913, could utter such words. What is the purpose of the authority of the Church, if it must bow to the sway of personal conscience? Such an idea is thoroughly protestant and masonic in origin. It is to this very principle, that the personal conscience is higher than the authority of the Church, that Luther made appeal in his heresy and revolt against the Catholic Church.
In another place the same Archbishop says:
Would we alter, if we could, the Constitution in regard to its treatment of religion, the principles of Americanism in regard to religious freedom ? I answer with an emphatic No.
No? ''Your Excellency, would we not be obliged, as Catholics, to desire the public and legal recognition of the Roman Catholic Church as the one true Church of Christ ? " This question he answers:
Do we, however, demand special privileges not accorded to other citizens of America ? No - never - no more than we would allow others special privileges not accorded to ourselves - less even than we would allow such privileges to others. If the members of a Church, or a religious or semireligious organization of any kind, arises in America calling for special privileges, be the shame of un-Americanism their portion. Such a contention will never be the disgrace of Catholicism.
Disgrace of Catholicism? To ask that Our Lord Jesus Christ the King and His Church be given the public and legal recognition that is due to them is the disgrace of Catholicism ? Rather Archbishop Ireland is the disgrace of Catholicism.
It is impossible to reconcile these statements with the condemnations of Pope Pius IX, which I cited above.
He condemned, with his apostolic authority, the proposition that the best plan for public society and civil progress absolutely requires that human society be established and governed with no regard to religion, as if it did not exist, or at least, without making distinction between the true and the false religions. Archbishop Ireland would completely agree with this condemned statement.
The awful problem is that Archbishop Ireland was not just a "kook," but represented a whole system of thought very popular among much of the Catholic clergy in America. This marriage of Catholicism and the cult of liberty would win out, until finally it was sanctioned as "Catholic doctrine" at Vatican II in the document Dignitatis Humane. It is not surprising that the document was prepared by American priests, and won the support of the American bishops as a whole, Cardinal Spellman in the lead. Archbishop Ireland's disgraceful compromise had won the day in the Vatican basilica.
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Editor - Father Donald Sanborn
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