Изображения страниц

seminaries, colleges, and universities which cover the American continent from east to west, and from north to south. See the army of priests, bishops, archbishops, and cardinals, all thoroughly trained, under the most perfect discipline, and swearing implicit obedience to the Constitution of the American republic? No. Swearing obedience, in all things temporal and spiritual, to an Italian pontiff, who lives in Rome and issues his orders from a palace called the Vatican. Leo XIII. sits in the Vatican at Rome, and commands his army of priests and prelates in America and Ireland with as much absolute authority as any Cæsar ever commanded his loyal legions in their subjugation of the nations of the earth. Lafayette saw but a few straggling outposts; we see the mighty army in solid column with banners flying, marching, with firm step and steady eye, conquering and to conquer. But some one may say that this army and its victories, in any but a spiritual sense, are creatures of my imagination; that they are fanciful, not real; that there is nothing to be feared from any number, however great or powerful, of Roman Catholic priests; that these ministers of religion, with all their church institutions, are blessings, not curses, to this or to any country; that they are the conservators and guardians of law and order, rather than a danger to the peace and safety of the liberties of the people. Morally speaking, that is true, in a certain sense. The Roman Church is a great means of restraint; is, or may be, a powerful check upon certain forms of vice and immorality. It is, perhaps, the only church which does, or can, exercise any positive control over the dangerous classes. This in itself bas been, and might continue to be, a blessing to the state, and I would not say one word which could weaken that power of control. But is not this a comparative rather than a positive blessing? Is it a matter for which the Roman Church can justly claim any great credit? Is it not fair to ask why it is that the great majority of the dangerous classes are subject to the control of the Roman Church? Is it not because they are her own children, the products of her system, if not of her teaching? Examine the police records of this or any other great American city, and I think you will find that at least seventy-five per cent. of the criminals are of Roman Catholic parentage. Is it, then, unreasonable to expect that the Roman Church should exert some restraining influence over her own followers? If, then, the non-Roman churches exercise little control over the dangerous classes, is it not because, for the most part, these classes have been born and brought up beyond the influence of their teachings? Of course, I do not mean to say that the direct and invariable result of the Roman system is to produce criminals; but it does seem that great numbers of criminals hold on to the Roman Church after giving up all idea of obeying the moral law of God and the civil law of man.

Again, granted that the Roman Catholic Church has an almost absolute control over the vicious classes, is it not possible that such control might be used against the liberties of this country? Before considering that question let me say that I have no reason to doubt that the great majority of Roman Catholic priests in America mean to be, and believe themselves to be, good citizens of this republic. But they belong to a system in which free agency is impossible. They are members of an army in which the strictest discipline is enforced, and the most prompt and perfect obedience is required. The commander-in-chief of this Roman army is naturally and most fittingly a Roman, not an American. What does the Pope of Rome care for the blessings of American liberty or American citizenship? These things, in fact, stand in the way of his ambition for universal conquest, and must be sacrificed. The ambition of Napoleon the First for universal conquest was a danger which threatened all Europe, and all Europe combined to oppose it. The ambition of the pope, whoever he may be, is, always has been, and ever must be, universal conquest. In taking command of the Roman Church he takes this oath. The Vatican claims absolute and supreme authority in all things temporal as well as spiritual: and every priest, bishop, archbishop, and cardinal throughout the world takes an oath of perfect submission and obedience to the pope as his supreme lord and master in all things. This being true—and let any priest or bishop affirm that it is not—is it not quite certain that the priest, whatever his private or personal opinions and feelings may be as an American citizen, must support the church--the Ultramontane system-as against the state, at all times and under all circumstances? He has clearly no choice whatever, but is under positive commands which may not be disregarded in the slightest particular. Witness the case of the distinguished priest, the late pastor of St. Stephen's Roman Catholic Church, New York. He was not permitted even the small privilege, as an American citizen, of being present at a political meeting of which bis superiors did not approve. Do we not see, then, that the personal intentions and feelings of the Roman priest, however good, count for nothing when we are considering the attitude of the Roman Church toward the state?

Again, that there may be no seeming reflection upon the patriotism of the Roman Catholic priest as a man and as an American citizen, I am quite willing to believe that the great body of priests not only have no wish to interfere with the liberties of the American people, but really have no idea that the Roman Church can or ever will attempt to overthrow those liberties which are guaranteed by the Constitution of this republic. But these priests are under absolute masters. And the time may come when they shall receive orders to march against the freedom of the republic in which they were born, and which they love, but which must ever be subordinate to the interests of the Vatican-of Ultramontanism. They belong to a system, and that system is anti-republican, anti-American, anti-everything that is meant by freedom of conscience, freedom of speech, freedom of the press, and especially freedom of our public schools. Freedom of conscience is almost the first principle of the American Constitution. The American nation sprang from the loins of men who suffered persecution for conscience sake. The American Constitution says that all men shall be free to worship God according to the dictates of their own consciences. The Vatican says that liberty of conscience is

a pest, of all others most to be dreaded in a state." It is bardly necessary, I imagine, for me to enlarge upon this point, as all who know anything about the Roman Church know perfectly well that “ heresy,” according to that church, is the greatest of all crimes, greater than murder or adultery. Free speech and a free press are also among the fundamental principles of the American republic. But nothing is more offensive to Rome. Where she has the power of control she has never tolerated, and she never will tolerate, either free speech or a free press. The Czar of Russia is not more autocratic and dictatorial than the pope in proscribing free speech and the freedom of the press.

The unrelenting opposition of the Roman Church to the public-school system is in itself sufficient cause of alarm. The hate wbich this foreign power bears our public schools is not disguised. In most things the Roman hierarchy assumes a modest bearing. It does not boast of its power. It does not proclaim its strength. Its policy is, for the most part, to work quietly, in the hope of not attracting too much attention, until it shall be ready to assert its authority and enforce its decrees. But in discussing the public-school question there is no pretense of modesty or toleration. In this one matter, at least, the issue is already clearly drawn. The policy of compromise and indirection is here thrown off. The Roman Church will no longer treat with the state upon this subject. She will accept no terms but an unconditional surrender. The orders have gone forth from the Vatican, and the war upon our public schools has begun. Rome knows that so long as the youth of America are educated in our public schools she cannot bope to wrest authority from the hands of the state. It has always been Rome's wise policy to look after the education of the children-i. e, if they must be educated—until they are thoroughly taught obedience to the church, and obedience to the church is by far the most important, if not the only important, item in a Roman Catholic education. This lesson of obedience cannot be easily taught if the child is allowed to attend the public schools, where loyalty to the republic and obedience to her laws are learned as the first duties of American citizenship. Ultramontanism—and the Roman Church is nothing if not Ultramontane—means universal supremacy in things temporal as well as in things spiritual. There can be no doubt about this, and I think no one will rise up and dispute it. Bishop Gilmour—the same bishop, I suppose, who contributed an article to the Forum for June-has written as follows: "Nationalities must be subordinate to religion” (meaning, of course, the Roman Catholic Church), "and

[ocr errors]

we must learn that we are Catholics first and citizens next.” The late cardinal-archbishop of New York said that “Catholics in this republic are as strongly devoted to the sustenance and maintenance of the temporal power of the Holy Father as Catholics in any other part of the world ; and if it should be necessary to prove it by acts, they are ready to do so."

This, to a Frenchman, is pretty plain English. And these bishops speak as men having authority. Is one, then, to be laughed at as an alarmist for sounding out a note of warning, when bishops and cardinals, representing a vast army of ten millions of communicants, speak out against the Constitution of the republic in such threatening words? I repeat, the war has actually begun, and the struggle will be fierce and long. In the end, one of two things must come to pass; viz., either the public-school system will bave been destroyed, or the autocratic system of Ultramontanism will have been driven out of this nation forever. For if the public schools are maintained Ultramontanism must be destroyed; these two deadly enemies cannot live together.

In this contest with the public schools the Roman Church is quite willing to accept any aid, from any source, and to enter into any sort of alliance. History teaches that Rome has never hesitated to accept aid from any quarter in order to further her own ends. The “Freeman's Journal” very politely invited its good friends, the Methodist Episcopal clergy, during their recent general conference in this city, to join with the Roman Catholics in closing the doors of the public schools. That point once gained, closing the doors of the Methodist Episcopal and all other heretical churches would follow in due course and in the natural order of things. The "Catholic Review" speaks out upon this subject in the frankest possible manner. This is what it says: “Protestantism of every form has not, and never can have, any right where Catholicity”-i. e., the Roman Church“is triumphant." Let “Catholicity," so called, be once “triumphant” in abolishing the public schools of the United States, and other triumphs would speedily follow. The “Rambler,” a Roman Catholic journal, says: "No man has a right to choose his religion." Are such utterances in accord with the letter or the

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »