Catholic and Patriot

I

Your first proposition is that Catholics believe that other religions should, in the United States, be tolerated only as a matter of favor and that there should be an established church. You may find some dream of an ideal of a Catholic State, having no relation whatever to actuality, somewhere described. But, voicing the best Catholic thought on this subject, Dr. John A. Ryan, Professor of Moral Theology at the Catholic University of America, writes in The State and the Church of the encyclical of Pope Leo XIII, quoted by you:—

'In practice, however, the foregoing propositions have full application only to the completely Catholic State....The propositions of Pope Pius IX condemning the toleration of non-Catholic sects do not now, says Father Pohle, "apply even to Spain or the South American republics, to say nothing of countries possessing a greatly mixed population." He lays down the following general rule: "When several religions have firmly established themselves and taken root in the same territory, nothing else remains for the State than to exercise tolerance towards them all, or, as conditions exist to-day, to complete religious liberty for individual and religious bodies a principle of government."'

That is good Americanism and good Catholicism. And Father Pohle, one of the great writers of the Catholic Church, says further: — 'If religious freedom has been accepted and sworn to as a fundamental law in a constitution, the obligation to show this tolerance is binding in conscience.' The American prelates of our Church stoutly defend our constitutional declaration of equality of all religions before the law. Cardinal O'Connell has said:

'Thus to every American citizen has come the blessed inheritance of civil political, and religious liberty safeguarded by the American Constitution ... the right to worship God according to the dictates of his conscience.'

Archbishop Ireland has said: 'The Constitution of the United States reads: "Congress shall make no laws respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof." It was a great leap forward on the part of the new nation towards personal liberty and the consecration of the rights of conscience.'

Archbishop Dowling, referring to any conceivable union of Church and State, says: 'So many conditions for its accomplishment are lacking in every government of the world that the thesis may well be relegated to the limbo of defunct controversies.'

I think you have taken your thesis from this limbo of defunct controversies. Archbishop Ireland again said: '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.'

Cardinal Gibbons has said: 'American Catholics rejoice in our separation of Church and State, and I can conceive no combination of circumstances likely to arise which would make a union desirable to either Church or State.... For ourselves we thank God that we live in America, "in this happy country of ours," to quote Mr. Roosevelt, where "religion and liberty are natural allies."'

And referring particularly to your quotation from Pope Pius IX, Dr. Ryan, in The State and the Church, says: 'Pope Pius IX did not intend to declare that separation is always unadvisable, for he had more than once expressed his satisfaction with the arrangement obtaining in the United States.' With these great Catholics I stand squarely in support of the provisions of the Constitution which guarantee religious freedom and equality.

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