Skip to comments.CARDINAL GIBBONS ON ARCHBISHOP CARROLL [The Catholic Church in America and the American Revolution]
Posted on 10/30/2010 2:40:08 AM PDT by GonzoII
The address Cardinal Gibbons delivered the other day before the Catholic Club of Baltimore on the life and character of the first American Bishop afforded the Cardinal an opportunity of showing that the Catholic Church has not lost the impress stamped on her by the patriotic priest who has earned the title of " the Patriarch of the American Church." An American of Americans, Archbishop Carroll could not fail to thoroughly sympathise with his country in her efforts to throw off the English yoke under which she was groaning. The declaration of Independence appealed alike to his judgment and to his sympathies. In the fight for National existence that preceded and followed that declaration he was an ardent patriot who did what lay in his power to help Washington in the momentous struggle that was to shape the destiny not only of this country but to a great extent that of the civilised world.
The Continental Congress, recognising his patriotism, invited him by a special invitation to join his cousin, Charles Carroll, one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence, Dr. Franklin, and Samuel Chase in a mission to Canada which had for its object the securing of the Canadians as allies of the Americans in their fight against England. This action of tha Continental Congress shows in what estimation the future Archbishop of Baltimore was held by his countrymen. It proves that his sympathies were enlisted entirely on the side of the Revolution.
He did not stand alone among Catholics in his devotion to the American cause. It is an historical fact that whilst other religious denominations, the Episcopalians and the Presbyterians for example, were denounced by the patriots for their Toryism, Catholics remained loyal to the American cause. We have the testimony of Washington himself that that loyalty never wavered in the darkest hour of the Revolution. With such a record as this during the time the young Republic was struggling to establish itself it was only natural that the Catholic Church in America should be in full sympathy with the spirit of the American Government.
It was fitting that Archbishop Carroll, representing as he did in the fullest measure Catholic loyalty to American institutions, should have been selected by the Holy See to preside over the Catholic Church in America. On assuming his duties as Bishop of Baltimore he found the Church in such full accord with American institutions that he experienced no difficulty in adapting the discipline of the Church to the requirements of the new Government.
Cardinal Gibbons in speaking of this very happily says : "Archbishop Carroll combined in his person the twofold character of a devoted Christian priest and an ardent patriot. He was a man of marvellous foresight, of deep penetration, consummate wisdom, and sterling piety. He was intimately acquainted with the genius of our political constitution and was therefore eminently fitted for the delicate task of adapting the discipline of the Church to the requirements of our civil Government. The truths of religion, like God Himself, are eternal and immutable, but the discipline of the Church is changeable just as man himself is always the same in his essential characteristics, while his dress varies according to the custom and fashion of the time."
That the present distinguished successor of Archbishop Carroll is quick to appreciate the good that the first Bishop of Baltimore did by pursuing the policy here described is due to the fact that he himself is a thorough-going American whose influence has been felt in perpetuating and invigorating the patriotic spirit that was evinced by our Catholic brothers during the Revolution. Like his illustrious predecessor, Cardinal Gibbons has shown in a thousand and one ways that devotion to American institutions is not inconsistent with the loyalty we owe our mother the Church. Irish World.