THERE are two bills pending in the Senate of this State and five in the Assembly, the purpose of which is to legalize the sale of intoxicating liquors in New York and Brooklyn on Sunday.
Four of these bills provide for the sale of liquors during certain hours of the day and evening, presumably at such hours as might be suppose to interfere least with attendance at church services; and all of them provide that the front doors must be closed and the blinds drawn.
One of these bills provides that “there shall be no noise or disorder permitted therein calculated to disturb the quiet and peace of the Sabbath day.” And it is such examples of pious cant that should open the eyes of everybody to the impropriety of all Sunday legislation.
Of course the popular preachers are up in arms against all these bills. The churches are almost with one voice demanding the defeat of the proposed measures. And strange as it may seem to some, a large number of Catholic priests are opposed to the contemplated legislation.
But strange as it may seem, it is only what might be expected. Sunday is an institution of the Roman Catholic Church, and of course Rome will honor her own. Sunday evening, February 10, a “Catholic pastors’ meeting” was held in this city to consider this subject, “Rev. A. P. Doyle of the Paulist Fathers,” presided. “The meeting,” says the World of Monday, “was a remarkable one. Although announced only yesterday, every seat was filled long before the hour of opening, and hundreds of late comers were compelled to stand. It was an enthusiastic audience, too, and heartily applauded the vigorous language used.”
The World, to which we are indebted for the facts, continues:—
Seated on the stage with Father Doyle were the Very Rev. Joseph F. Mooney, Vicar-General; the Very Rev. A. V. Higgins, Provincial of the Dominicans; the Rev. Father Monselli, of the Order of the Pious Missions, pastor of the Italian Church in Harlem; the Rev. P. F. McSweeney and the Rev. Father Drain, of St. Brigid’s; the Rev. John G. McCormick, of St. Monica’s; the Rev. Father Hartigan, of the Dominicans; the Rev. John Hughes, Paulist; the Rev. Father Flood, of St. John the Evangelist’s; the Rev. P. Ennis, of the Franciscans, and Jeremiah Fitzpatrick, the President of the St. Vincent de Paul Society of this city.
Letters and telegrams were also received from the Revs. Cunnion, of St. Raphael’s; Colton, of St. Stephen’s, and Murphy, of old St. Patrick’s, the Fathers of the French Church of St. John the Baptist and of the Mission of Our Lady of the Rosary at Castle Garden, and others, all expressing the heartiest approval of the objects of the meeting.
Vicar-General Mooney was the first speaker. He read from the decrees of the Third Plenary Council of Baltimore, in which Sunday liquor-selling is severely condemned, and then said:—
That is our platform, the platform laid down by the bishops of the church in this country and approved by the holy father himself. We take our stand on the broad grounds of public morality and good citizenship on this most burning and vital question. We care not what political promises or election pledges were made which it is now proposed to redeem; we protest against any scheme for the Sunday opening of the saloons. We want the Lord’s day kept holy, and we want no interference with the laws designed to bring about this most laudable end. We demand this as Catholics, as Christians, and as citizens of this Republic.
The Vicar-General makes no bones about telling just why Roman Catholics are opposed to Sunday liquor-selling; it is because “we want the Lord’s day kept holy.” He is equally explicit as to the real purpose of Sunday laws. Notice the sentence: “We want the Lord’s day kept holy, and we want no interference with laws designed to bring about this most laudable end.” If the so-called Protestant advocates of Sunday laws were as candid we would hear less about “the civil Sabbath.”
“Father” Higgins, Provincial of the Dominicans, declared:—
This Sunday opening means the effacement of the father from the family. It means the effacement of thoughts of God from the hearts of men on his own day. It means more drunkenness, more immorality. Therefore we are performing a duty to Christianity and to the sanctity of the home by this demonstration here to-night. We protest against any legislation that would make Sunday anything else than a day of peace and church-going and rest. Therefore we denounce this most unwise, most immoral and most irreligious movement to open the saloons on the Lord’s day.
After several other speeches of a like character, the following resolutions were adopted:—
Resolved, That as Catholics, we enter our earnest and emphatic protest against the proposed desecration of a day especially consecrated to religious devotion and observances, a day which we are commanded by the law of God to “keep holy,” and that we would be unfaithful to our high and solemn sense of duty as Christian citizens of our free Republic if we failed at such a juncture to give public expression to our utter detestation and abhorrence of legislation that, instead of lessening, must inevitably increase the evils of the Sunday liquor traffic.
Resolved, That, entertaining the highest respect and reverence for the decision of the Third Plenary Council of Baltimore in reference to this particular matter, we earnestly hope, in the language of its decree, “that Sunday laws will not be relaxed, but more rigidly enforced,” and that “those who are engaged in the traffic should abstain entirely from the sale of liquor on Sunday.”
Resolved, That we solemnly protest in the interests of our holy religion and of public morality, in the name of afflicted humanity, for the true welfare of society and the maintenance of law and order, against the proposed violation and desecration of the Christian Sabbath for the benefit of any class and especially for the benefit of a trade that, while it is more exacting in its demands than any legitimate business, is more objectionable and obnoxious than any other on account of its gross abuses and great evils which attend even on its restricted and licensed prosecution.
Resolved, That we are in full and hearty accord with all bodies of our fellow-citizens who are engaged in the truly laudable and timely movement to abate the evils of the liquor traffic and who have publicly and indignantly, protested against the iniquitous, unreasonable and intolerable legislation demanded in the interests and for the exclusive promotion of this peculiarly absorbing and exacting business.
Resolved, That a printed copy of these resolutions, signed by the chairman and secretary of this meeting, be sent to each member of the Senate and Assembly of the Legislature of this State.
It is noticeable that the first resolution takes distinctively anti-Roman Catholic grounds upon the question of Sunday sacredness. The Roman Catholic doctrine is that the law of God does not require the keeping of Sunday, but of the seventh day, and that Sunday observance rests entirely upon the authority of the church. A “Doctrinal Catechism,” by Rev. Stephen Keenan, Imprimatur, John Cardinal McCloskey; Excelsior Catholic Publishing House, 5 Barclay Street, New York, 1876, page 174, has this question and answer:—
Q. Have you any other way of proving that the church has power to institute festivals of precept?
A. Had she not such power she could not have done that in which all modern religionists agree with her;—she could not have substituted the observance of Sunday, the first day of the week, for the observance of Saturday, the seventh day, a change for which there is no scriptural authority.
A like testimony is borne by “An Abridgment of the Christian Doctrine,” by Rev. Henry Tuberville; Imprimatur, the Right Rev. Benedict, Bishop of Boston; Excelsior Catholic Publishing House, 5 Barclay Street, New York, 1833, page 58. This work says:—
Q. How prove you that the church hath power to command feasts and holy days?
A. By the very act of changing the Sabbath into Sunday, which Protestants allow of; and therefore they fondly contradict themselves, by keeping Sunday strictly, and breaking most other feasts commanded by the same church. 
Q. How prove you that?
A. Because by keeping Sunday, they acknowledge the church’s power to ordain feasts, and to command them under sin.
Cardinal Gibbons has also spoken plainly upon this question. In “The Faith of Our Fathers,” page 111, he says:—
You may read the Bible from Genesis to Revelation, and you will not find a single line authorizing the sanctification of Sunday. The Scriptures enforce the religious observance of the Saturday, a day we never sanctify.
Such authorities might be greatly multiplied, but the testimony quoted is sufficient. Rome is changing her tactics upon the Sunday question only to catch Protestants. And it is significant that this turn is taken especially by the Paulist Fathers to whom is specially committed the work of making proselytes of “Protestants.”
Individual Roman Catholics are doubtless opposed to the liquor traffic on general principles. But Rome, as a church, is not opposed to the traffic, except on Sunday. A very large majority of liquor dealers are Catholics. Rome derives a great deal of support from liquor dealers. She dare not excommunicate the traffic and those engaged in it. The saloon may debauch and impoverish people, may beggar children and enslave wives, and murder husbands and fathers six days in the week and Rome is silent; but when it touches Sunday “the church” speaks, demanding that it remain “a day of peace and church-going;” and declaring: “We want the Lord’s day kept holy.” Rome can be trusted to care for her own, and in this thing she is not alone; the so-called Protestant Church is gone after her.