The New Interpreters of the Constitution

American Sentinel 15, 1, pp. 1, 2.

WHEN the Constitution of the United States was established, its provisions fixing the total separation between religion and the state made it essentially distinct from all views held by the Catholic Church on the subject of religion in the state. This was essentially the Protestant and Christian principle established as a fundamental and supreme law of this nation. As such the papacy looked upon it, and therefore refused to acknowledge the Government as a true government. Accordingly in the Catholic World of September, 1871, the leading Catholic writer in United States at that time referred to the Constitution and Government of the United States as follows:—

“As it is interpreted… by the Protestant principle, so widely diffused among us… we do not accept it, or hold it to be any government at all, or as capable of performing any of the proper functions of government; and if it continues to be interpreted by the revolutionary principles of Protestantism, it is sure to fail…. Hence it is, we so often say that if the American Republic is to be sustained and preserved at all it must be by the rejection of the principle of the Reformation, and the acceptance of the Catholic principle by the American people.”

In February 1892—February 29—the Supreme Court by liberal quotations of Catholic documents, and other documents embodying Catholic principles, proved to its own satisfaction and accordingly unanimously announced that the established of the Christian religion is within the meaning of the Constitution, and that therefore this is a Christian nation. This was distinctly the interpretation of the Constitution according to the Catholic principle.

As soon as this had become known to the Catholic students of the Constitution at Rome, there was published in the United States the purpose of Pope Leo XIII. that what the church has done for other nations in the past she would not do for the United States. In order to accomplish this purpose he sent in that same year his personal representative to this country and set up at the capital of the nation his Apostolic Delegation. And by that personal representative of his, Pope Leo XIII. in the next year, 1893, publicly called “upon all the Catholics of America to go forward, in one hand bearing the book of Christian truth, and in the other the Constitution of United States” to “bring your countrymen, bring your country into immediate contact with that great secret of blessedness—Christ and his church.”

As the Catholic Bible is the only Bible any Catholic would ever be expected by the pope to carry in one hand, so it is only the Catholic Constitution—the Constitution interpreted according to the Catholic principle—that any Catholic would ever be expected by Leo XIII. to carry in the other hand.

Accordingly in 1895 Apostolic Delegate Satolli began to practise the interpretation of the Constitution of United States for Catholic interests, and of course only according to the Catholic principle; and, after the example set by the Supreme Court of the United States, declared that in the Constitution there “was inserted the article of separation of the state from any religious sect.”

This bit of history is essential in order to a good understanding of the very latest move of Rome in this connection, which is as follows: In 1894 there came from Rome to Washington city a certain Monsignor Sharetti as auditor of the Apostolic Delegation then lately established there. About a month ago this Monsignor Sharetti was appointed Bishop of Havana in Cuba. And now it is announced that this man, who, so far as information goes, has been in the United States only about five years, was appointed to that bishopric not only “on account of this knowledge of canon law,” but also on account of his knowledge of “the Constitution of the United States, and the method of processing our courts”!!

And the special knowledge of his of “the Constitution of the United States, and the method of process in our courts” was especially in his favor in his receiving this appointment to the bishopric of Havana because of “the prominence in Havana of questions concerning the property of the Roman Catholic Church.”

As Bishop of Havana, of course, Sharetti will be a principal in all questions concerning church property in all Cuba. Accordingly to him will fall most largely, not entirely the interpretation of the Constitution in all cases in which church property is involved. And thus the interpretation of the Constitution according to the Catholic principle is given a new and mighty impetus and one of the largest of fields for the exercise therein. And since it is held that the sustainment and preservation of “the American Republic” depends upon the interpretation of the Constitution according to the Catholic principle, what a wide field is opened to Bishop Sharetti in which to show his zeal for the salvation of this nation in interpreting according to the Catholic principle the Constitution of which he is said to have such special knowledge!

And how far is this situation of Bishop Sharetti removed from a union of the Catholic Church and the nation of which the Constitution that he is to interpret is the supreme law?

And now if only there can be secured a bishop of Manila, and a bishop of Puerto Rico, each of whom Bishop Sharetti is especially gifted in the knowledge of the Constitution of the United States so that he can readily interpret it according to the Catholic principle and can have the widest possible field for the exercise of his talent, then Rome will have her campaign so well in hand that she could very easily begin the interpretation of the Constitution in the United States itself. And since Archbishop Chapelle who is Apostate Delegate to Cuba, Puerto Rico, and the Philippines, has made this beginning with Sharetti, would it not rather be expected that he would follow it up in Puerto Rico and the Philippines? Indeed only a few days ago we saw the announcement in print that “the papal agents want Father McKinnon to be bishop of Manila if the consent of the pope and President McKinley can be obtained.” And McKinnon is already coadjutor to the archbishop of Manila, his accession to the bishopric of Manila must not be very far off. And even if he should not become bishop, this could not make a great deal of difference since he is coadjutor to the archbishop and will be the principal one to deal with the American authorities. Great things are going on.

A. T. J.

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