THE New York Press, in its issue of February 25, contained the following significant news item:—
OVATION TO A BISHOP
First Time a Catholic Clergyman Has Addressed the Y. M. C. A.
COLUMBUS, OHIO, Feb. 24.—Right Rev. John A. Watterson, bishop of the Columbus diocese, addressed a big meeting of the Y.M.C.A. to-day. As many persons as gained admission to the hall were turned away. This was the first time in its history that a Catholic clergyman had addressed a meeting under the auspices of the Y.M.C.A.
The bishop was introduced by General Secretary W. T. Perkins. He spoke for an hour and a half on “Christian Citizenship,” the audience being held in rapt attention and frequently breaking into applause. When the bishop advanced to the platform the applause amounted to an ovation. He thanked the audience for its generous welcome. It showed him, he said, that it did not regard him as a bull in a china shop, and especially a papal bull in the beautiful china shop of the Y.M.C.A. The climax of his address was reached in the following passage:—
“While I am uncompromising in the matters of my faith, and inflexible in those lines of conduct which depend on the principle of faith, and while I would deserve the contempt and scorn of every right-minded man if I were recreant to my conscience in those things which I hold as truths, yet I know of no doctrine of the Catholic Church which prohibits or prevents me from working for the good of my fellowmen, no doctrine which interferes with my allegiance to the government and laws of my country. On the contrary, I know that the whole teaching and the whole spirit of my religion require me to be true to my country and its government, and to promote its honor by the faithful discharge of all the duties of American citizenship. All of you would know it, too, if you knew my religion as well as I do.”
Nothing is more patent to the careful observer than that popular Protestantism and Roman Catholicism are bridging the gulf made by the Reformation. Another fact just as evident is that this is being accomplished by compromises on the part of Protestants, while Rome is “inflexible” in holding the soul-destroying doctrines condemned by the Reformation, and in denouncing the American principle of separation of Church and State.