A READER, writing from Elgin, Nebr., frankly commends the course of the SENTINEL in general, but says:—
I don’t think you are justified in your persistent hostility to the Catholic portion of the population of this country. There is nothing in the past history of our country to prove that they are enemies of free government or opposed to a republican form of government.
Our correspondent mistakes opposition to the doctrines of the Catholic Church for opposition to Catholics themselves. We would not injure a Catholic in any way if we could. We would not deny them a single right enjoyed by others; but we would, if we could, induce them to exchange the errors of popery for the truths of the gospel, the bondage of priestcraft for the glorious liberty of the children of God.
We have never intimated that Catholics were opposed to a republican form of government. Individual Catholics no doubt love liberty just as well as do Protestants, and they are no doubt just as ardently attached to republican institutions; but the Roman hierarchy is opposed to all liberty outside the Catholic Church, and to all government not controlled by the church. A republic denominated by “the church” would doubtless suit Rome just as well as any other form of government. Indeed, Leo XIII. seems to be rather partial to republics, doubtless because he finds it easier to dominate the people than to control the princes.
But any government dominated by Rome, or Romish principles, could be nothing but a despotism; and a despotism of the many is not less galling than a despotism of the few or of one. Republican government is a guarantee of civil and religious liberty only so long as the people know what liberty is and prize it as they ought. “Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty,” not less in a republic than under any other form of government.
It is superficial reading and thinking that makes people indifferent to encroachments on their liberties, and cause them to rest in fancied security when the very foundation principles of liberty are being assailed. “Rome never changes.” And she has promised to do for this country what she has done for other countries. Rome never gave freedom to any country, but she has fettered the mind; stifled conscience; clogged the wheels of mental, moral, and spiritual progress; degraded the debauched whole peoples; murdered millions who dared to think for themselves; enshrouded the world in darkness; and she would do the same again. Verily, “Rome never changes.”