THE Methodist ministers of Chicago are making the papal prelates of this country no little trouble. They are demanding that the papal church practice what it preaches; that Methodists in Roman Catholic South America be permitted to enjoy that religious liberty which Roman Catholics enjoy in the United States and which American Catholics profess to indorse so warmly, and which they claim is the religious liberty they would ensure to Protestants in America were they to become the controlling majority. However, the Methodist ministers of Chicago are so unreasonable as to ask that the Roman Catholic Church show her faith by her works, or in other words, secure to Protestants in the Roman Catholic countries of South America the same liberty enjoyed by Roman Catholics in the United States and thereby give the world a practical object lesson of the principles so enthusiastically professed in theory. Of course, this is a perplexing problem, since the religious-liberty principles advocated by Roman Catholics in the United States are intended only for home consumption and not for export to Spain or South America.
Since the Methodist ministers are persistent in their demand for religious liberty in South America, and are liable to create quite a stir by their repeated prodding of pope and prelates, it may be profitable to give a history of the case up to date.
On April 2, 1894, the Methodist ministers’ meeting of Chicago, a body which includes the Methodist ministers of Chicago and adjacent cities, and which holds a regular weekly session, sent the following preamble and resolution to Archbishop Ireland with a request that they be by him forwarded to Monsignor Satolli:—
WHEREAS, It has been made evident to us that our Protestant brethren in the republics of Peru, Ecuador and Bolivia labor under oppressive disabilities that effect not only their faith and the public worship of God according to the dictates of their conscience, but also their civil and inalienable right to be married without being compelled to forswear their religious convictions,
Resolved, That as representatives of the Methodist Episcopal Church in Chicago, we forward the following request to Archbishop Ireland, asking him to pass it on to Monsignor Satolli, in order that he may, in the most effective manner, bring it to the notice of the head of the Roman Catholic Church.
In view of the repeated and warm approval by the clergy and laymen of the Roman Catholic Church in this country of religious freedom as existing by law in these United States, we respectfully and earnestly request that the proper authorities of that church use their good offices, under the direction of Pope Leo XIII., to secure for the Protestants of Ecuador, Peru and Bolivia for the same liberty of conscience that is enjoyed by Roman Catholic citizens of this country.
N. H. AXTELL, President.
J. T. LADD, Secretary.
Chicago Methodist Preachers’ Meeting.
JOHN G. FOSTER,
M. M. PARKHURST, Committee.
After waiting some time, two members of the committee wrote Archbishop Ireland, inclosing stamped envelope for reply, asking after the fate of the first communication; but again no answer was received. On June 22, a member of the committee wrote direct to Monsignor Satolli, asking him the following questions:—
1. Has Archbishop Ireland invited your attention to the action of the Chicago Methodist Ministers’ meeting of April 2, 1894?
2. Will you, in the most effective manner, bring this request, a copy of which I inclose, to the notice of Pope Leo XIII.?
3. If so, when?
Receiving no reply to this, a registered letter, dated July 15, and signed by all members of the committee, was sent to Monsignor Satolli, asking the apostolic delegate if he would “have the goodness to give a direct answer to the questions found in his first letter.” The following is Monsignor Satolli’s reply:—
Washington, July 31, 1894.
MR. JOHN LEE, M.A., B.C.,
Dear Sir:—Your letter of June 22 and document dated July 12, came duly to hand. The inclosed copy of encyclical letter from our holy father is, I think, the most fitting reply I can make.
Yours very sincerely in Christ,
FRANCIS ARCHB. SATOLLI, Deleg. Apostol.
As we have before stated in commenting on this reply, it said in substance, “If your brethren in South America want to enjoy religious liberty, let them become Roman Catholics.”
Not satisfied with this reply, the matter was again brought before the ministers’ meeting on September 3, and it was decided to send the documents and correspondence in the case to the various Protestant bodies of the country for action.
Failing to reach Rome through Ireland and Satolli, the committee next sent a registered communication direct to the pope. Not hearing from him in due time, another registered communication was sent, and not hearing from him this time and learning that Cardinal Gibbons was going to Rome, the persistent Methodist ministers forwarded to him a communication to be carried to Leo XIII., and thus matters stand at this writing.
The AMERICAN SENTINEL is not in favor of Protestants’ petitioning the pope or any of his prelates for anything, not even religious liberty in South America. However, we presume that our Methodist friends would insist that it was a shrewd diplomatic protest rather than a petition, for the purpose of compelling the Roman Catholic Church to permit religious liberty in Catholic South America, or stand before the world as the advocates of religious freedom when in the minority and as persecutors when in the majority.
Methodists in general look upon this move to make the pope show his hand as not only just and reasonable, but quite diplomatic. If this is true what would Methodists think and say if Seventh-day Adventists in Maryland. Tennessee and other States should write a similar letter to the heads of the Methodist Church in America protesting against being fined and imprisoned at the hands of Methodists who attempt to compel them to recognize their State-enforced Sunday dogma? The facts in the case are that the first Seventh-day Adventist who was imprisoned in Maryland for laboring on Sunday (husking corn) was imprisoned on complaint of a Methodist minister; and the Seventh-day Adventist now in jail at Centerville, Md., for hoeing in his garden on Sunday, was placed there on complaint of his Methodist neighbors: while the Catholic Mirror, of Baltimore, about two years since, published a strong denunciation of these Maryland persecutions and demanded the repeal of the law under which they are carried on.
One of the complaints which Protestants sometimes make against Roman Catholics is, that the latter attempt to compel them to remove their hats or in some other way recognize a procession bearing the consecrated bread. This our Methodist friends condemn as a violation of religious liberty; but it is no more a violation religious liberty than is the attempt to compel the Seventh-day Adventist to bow to the Methodist idea of Sunday sacredness. There is absolutely no difference between an attempt on the part of Roman Catholics to compel a recognition of a portion of bread which they consider holy, and an attempt on the part of Methodists to compel seventh-day observers to recognize a portion of time which Methodists consider holy. And now, we ask in all sincerity, would not an Adventist letter addressed to the Methodist Church in America, demanding religious freedom from Methodists in Maryland and elsewhere in the United States, on the ground that Methodists claim to be in favor of religious liberty, be just as pertinent as a Methodist letter addressed to the pope demanding religious liberty in South America in the United States claim to be in favor of religious freedom? If not, why not?