“Editorial” American Sentinel 9, 10, pp. 73, 74.

March 8, 1894




THE AMERICAN SENTINEL is therefore everlastingly and uncompromisingly opposed to every element and every principle of the papacy wherever, and in whatever guise, it may appear.

AND being Christian, Protestant, and American, the opposition of the AMERICAN SENTINEL to the papacy, whether in the guise of a professed Protestantism or in her own proper dress, always has been, and always will be, conducted upon strictly Christian, Protestant and American principles.

THIS subject of opposition to the papacy in the United States needs to be very carefully studied, lest it be done in such a way as to really help her instead of hindering her. The papacy needs to be opposed and must be opposed in her designs upon the United States and the world as well as in every other thing. But this opposition, to avail anything, must be made upon right principles and must be conducted in the right way.

IF opposition to the papacy be conducted upon unchristian principles, it will only increase her antichristian power and influence. If this opposition be conducted upon unprotestant principles the only effect will be to make more widespread the influence of Catholicism. The papacy is un-American, it is true, but if opposition to her is conducted on un-American principles her un-American power and influence is only increased, and her upon the country is more confirmed, and her taking possession of the country is only hastened.

THEREFORE it is that this question of opposing the papacy requires the most careful thought upon the part of all who would engaged in it, lest they be found really aiding her while professedly opposing her, and while really intending to oppose her. This is true in the cease at any time, because of the exceeding subtlety of her workings; but now it is doubly true, because, in addition to the subtlety of her workings, she has, as we showed last week, such a clear field and such an immense advantage in every way, for the carrying forward of her avowed purpose to possess America for herself.

IT has been seriously proposed to disfranchise Catholics in the United States who will not renounce allegiance to the pope. But this could never be done on any American principle. The Catholic’s allegiance to the pope is a religious matter—it is a spiritual thing. And to deny or curtail political right on account of religious profession is clearly and entirely un-American. It is a fundamental principle, as well as a constitutional provision, of the Government of the United States, that religious profession shall never have any bearing upon civil rights or political qualifications. To the Catholic the pope is in the place of God, and is the representative of God: he believes that allegiance to the pope is allegiance to God. And it is in this sense that the Catholic professes and holds allegiance to the pope. This cannot fairly be denied. His allegiance to the pope is therefore a religious thing, it is a religious profession, and is to him an essential part of his worship as to God. And to propose to abridge his political rights on account of his allegiance to the pope, is therefore plainly to deny civil or political right on account of religious profession, and is therefore just as clearly unconstitutional and un-American.

IT will not do to say in answer to this, although it be perfectly true, that the pope’s claims to be the representative of God, or to be God, are a fraud and an imposture, and therefore the Catholic’s belief in the pope and his allegiance to him are a fallacy and are indeed really nothing religiously. This is all true, but that does not touch the point here. The Catholic believes and religiously believes that the pope’s claims are genuine, and that his prerogatives are divine: that is the Catholic’s religious profession. And the point is that he has the inalienable right to believe thus and to hold this religious profession, without question or molestation from any source or for any cause. It is a fundamental American principle and sound American doctrine, that for “each one to believe for himself and to worship according to the dictates of his own conscience is an inalienable right.” And that “our civil rights have no dependence on our religious opinions, more than on our opinions in physics or geometry; that therefore the proscribing any citizen as unworthy the public confidence by laying upon him an incapacity of being called to the offices of trust and emolument, unless he profess or renounce this or that religious opinion, is depriving him injuriously of those privileges and advantages to which, in common with his fellow-citizens, he has a natural right.” This, we say, is sound and fundamental American principle and doctrine. And therefore it is clear that any proposition to make the Catholic’s allegiance to the pope a test or impediment against any civil or political right is decidedly un-American. Consequently, any such method as that of opposing the papacy in the United States not only will not succeed but will actually aid her, in that it subverts fundamental principles and breaks down constitutional safeguards. And when these are subverted and broken down for any cause whatever, they are subverted and broken down for every cause—they are indeed no more, and the nation becomes but the prey of the violent and the most violent take it by force. Such procedure can only hasten the success and supremacy of the papacy. And therefore the AMERICAN SENTINEL, being American, and opposed to the papacy, can never indorse, nor engage in, any such method of “opposition.”

BISHOPE COXE proposed another method of “opposition” to the papacy, which is worth notice, not only because it is an example of how not to do it, but because it has been quite widely indorsed. We have given in these columns the bishop’s clear statement of the situation as regards [74] the papacy in the United States, and have given him credit for it. And we also give him credit for good intentions regarding opposition to the papacy. But as his raising the alarm is robbed of its force by the fact of his having helped to create the alarming situation, so his proposed opposition is robbed of all its force by the method which he proposes. Here is his proposition as made in his second open letter to Satolli:—

When Buddhists shall have 500,000 votes from this country, we shall find out how to prohibit the Grand Llama from sending his “ablegate” here to contol them. You may force us to make a general law applicable to the pope and the Grand Llama alike.

But how such a law could be made in accordance with any American principle the bishop does not attempt to say, even if he ever took time to think on that phase of the subject. Such a law as Bishop Coxe suggests could not possibly be anything else than a law respecting an establishment of religion and prohibiting the free exercise thereof. Such a law therefore would be in direct violation of the First Amendment to the Constitution, which declares that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” And that the bishop means just such a law, as indeed there could be no other, is made certain by his own words in the sentences immediately following the one above quoted. Here are his words to Satolli:—

Now, look at the French law, established by the First Consul and accepted by the pope himself. Here it is textually translated:—

No individual calling himself nuncio, legate, vicar or commissary apostolic, or availing himself of any other denomination, shall, without the authorization of the Government, exercise any function relative to the affairs of the Gallican Church upon the soil or any where else.

Any such law as that would be at once to make the Government the head of all religion, which would be but the papacy under another form and under another head. The enactment of any such law, either in word or in principle, would be, at that one stroke, to sweep away every principle of the Government as established by those who made the Government. It would be, at that one stroke, to destroy the Government as it was founded upon American, Protestant and Christian principles, and to set up in its place a government committed to and actuated by papal principles only. That it would be done by professed Protestants would alter neither the principle nor the prospect. Professed Protestants have done such things before. And in all such instances the only thing that ever kept them from being, in all respects, like the papacy itself, was only the limitations upon their power. The only thing that ever kept John Calvin from being to the fullest extent like Innocent the Third, was the he did not have the power of Innocent the Third. The only thing that ever kept either the Puritans of England or of New England, or the Episopalians of England or Maryland, from being, in all respects, like the papacy, as they were in so many respects, was that they did not have the power of the papacy. And if the principles here announced by Bishop Coxe should prevail in the United States, we have no assurance that the people would be any better off under the superintendence of Bishop Coxe than they would be under Archbishop O’Flannagan or Cardinal O’Mulligan. And we positively know that with the principles of the Government, maintained as they were originally established, the people would be far better off with ten thousand “ablegates” here, than they could be without one, under the procedure proposed by Bishop Coxe; for this procedure would open wide the door for every bigot—political, religious, or other kind—in the land, to make himself an “ablegate” over everybody else. And the event would prove that they would all make themselves such too. Bishop Coxe’s proposed remedy is far worse than is the real disease, which we dread equally with him.

NO! Upon American, Protestant, and Christian principles, the Grand Llama has as much right to send an “ablegate” here to control 500,000 Buddhists as he has to send a priest to control five, or as any individual has to be a Buddhist at all: that is, a full, complete and untrammeled right. And under these principles the pope has just as much right to send an ablegate here to control 7,000,000 Catholics, as he has to create a cardinal here, or to appoint a priest here, or as any individual here has to be a Catholic at all: and that is, a perfect right. And no restriction can be put upon that right without, at the same time and in the same act, sweeping away the safeguards of all the rights of all the people. And, surely, every person who will take the time to think must readily decide that it is far better to maintain the principles and the safeguards of all the rights of himself and all the people, and bear the presence of anablegate,” than to sweep away all the safeguards of all the rights of himself and all the people in an attempt to get rid of the “ablegate.”

BUT it may be said, and truly, that the papacy with its ablegate, and in its whole system, is not only religious but political, and interferes in politics and manipulates votes, and thus herself violates the principles of the Government and the Constitution. Yes, that is true. The papacy is nothing if not political as well as religious. “The help of the law and State authority” is an essential element in the work of the papacy. She does interfere in politics and does manipulate votes, and does, thus and otherwise, violate the principles of the Government and the provisions of the Constitution. And there are many professed Protestant church-managers, who have set for her the pernicious example by repeatedly doing the same things. And this is where they are just like the papacy. But even though this were not so, and there were no such example set, it is manifestly vain to attempt or expect to defeat the wrong-doing of the papacy, by doing the same things, and the same way that she does. No person nor anything can be right by being like the papacy. We can be right only by being entirely unlike the papacy in all things. When the papacy violates the principles, or the Constitution, of the Government, it will not help the matter for us also to violate these principles or the Constitution. Violation of American principles by Catholics cannot be stopped by the violation of these principles by people who are not Catholics. One breach of American principles is not cured, but is increased by a good deal more than double, by the committal of another. Such is not the way to oppose the papacy in the United States. And as the AMERICAN SENTINEL is American indeed, we can never join in or indorse any such “opposition” to the papacy.

THE reader may be ready to ask, “Do you propose to surrender to Rome altogether”?—Oh, no, never! We propose to have the victory over Rome altogether. It may be inquired then, “How do you propose to do it?” Well, we shall tell that later. But in the meantime we beg leave to remark that the present position and work of the papacy in the United States presents a much greater question than the American people realize, and a question which requires much more careful and critical thought than many people have ever yet given to it.

A. T. J.

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