IT is being denied from Washington that there has been any arrangement or understanding between President McKinley, Cardinal Gibbons, and Archbishop Ireland as to the governmental support of the Catholic Church in Cuba. And some of the readers of the SENTINEL are ready to suggest that in the discussion of that matter we raised a false alarm.
We raised no false alarm. We had thoroughly good authority for all we said and printed in the SENTINEL, and in our first notice of the matter we distinctly gave the Baltimore American of Oct. 15, 1898, as our authority; and all that we presented was quoted bodily from that paper.
Now everybody knows that the Baltimore American is a reliable paper; and this that we quoted and followed from that paper was not simple a flying report, nor what some irresponsible correspondent might have said. It was an official communication from the Washington Bureau of the Baltimore American, and was printed under that head; and we have yet to learn that the Washington Bureau of the Baltimore American is given to sending out fake dispatches.
More than this, the communication bears on the face of it distinct evidences that it was written by a Catholic who understands things; and that this was not written as a piece of gossip, but as information.
All this fully justified us in taking it up, and calling the attention of the American people to it, that if possible they might awake to prevent it.
Yet there is much more than this to justify the SENTINEL in believing this communication, and discussing it, and making it public as possible.
1. It is well known that Archbishop Ireland dictated terms to the St. Louis convention; and this upon a direct issue of governmental favor to the church. A resolution had been framed, and was to be presented, opposing appropriations of public money for religious or sectarian uses, or anything tending toward a union of church and State. On receipt of a dispatch from Archbishop Ireland that resolution was killed in committee.
2. Last April the Congress and the people of the United States were for days hung up by the gills, awaiting the delayed message of the President. And a United States senator, from his place in the senate chamber, plainly stated that the cause of this delay was “the fact that Archbishop Ireland had cabled to the Vatican,” and “the President was waiting upon the pope to secure that which American diplomacy had failed to obtain. This statement of a United States senator was never denied by anybody we have yet heard of. In all that time Archbishop Ireland was the official representative of the pope to the United States Government; and it was publicly stated in his behalf that on account of “the close and cordial friendship McKinley, and his whole cabinet, … made him a fit instrument through which negotiations could be conducted“: and by this “close and cordial friendship” Archbishop Ireland enjoyed such unusual facilities for understanding the situation of things in the innermost circles of the administration, that he could send to the pope “hourly bulletins, if necessary, of the attitude of the administration.”
3. The fact that Archbishop Ireland is “a close personal friend of President McKinley” has been publicly stated more than once, and has been made much of several times in different connections.
4. Only three or four weeks ago Archbishop Chapelle also, through a published interview, announced himself as “a close personal friend of President McKinley.” A little later the pope himself said to William T. Stead, of London, that the United States “is marching with rapid strides into the bosom of the Catholic Church.”
Taking all these things together we were entirely justified in accepting as the truth the report sent out from the Washington Bureau of the Baltimore American, and in as widely as possible announcing and exposing the essential mischief of it. That report in the Baltimore American is in perfect accord with the attitude and work of Archbishop Ireland ever since the St. Louis convention, and especially since April, 1898. The SENTINEL has nothing to take back—nothing to apologize for. We did exactly the right thing. We will do it over again whenever such an occasion offers.
That the report is denied from Washington is not conclusive that it was never true. The original report did not say that the money had actually been paid, nor even actually appropriated. The report stated that as the result of “numerous conferences with Cardinal Gibbons and Archbishop Ireland on the subject,” it was the “determination of President McKinley that the Catholic churches shall be kept open, and that public worship shall be amply provided for,” and that “to this end sufficient money will be advanced by this Government to support the Catholic Church.”
It was with the hope of so awakening the people on the question, that this determination should be frustrated, that no money should ever be appropriated for such a purpose—it was for this cause chiefly that the AMERICAN SENTINEL sounded the alarm, as is proper for  every sentinel to do. If what the SENTINEL has said has been in any way instrumental in awakening such an interest, we have our reward.
Further, the denial so far made is no more authentic, nor of any more authority, than is the original report published in the Baltimore American. All the people have more reason to-day for believing the truth of the report originally made in the American, and fully discussed in SENTINEL, than they have for believing the denial that has been made. The original report in the Baltimore American tells what had occurred between Cardinal Gibbons, Archbishop Ireland and President McKinley. It tells this in such a circumstantial way as to bear in itself the evidence of truth. The denial so far published gives the word of other parties entirely, not one of whom was mentioned in the original report. Archbishop Ireland has not denied it; Cardinal Gibbons has not denied it; and the President has not denied it. When these three or any one of them shall publish a specific denial, it will be ample time for explanations. And even when the times comes for explanations, it will not be the AMERICAN SENTINEL that will have to explain; it will be the Washington Bureau of the Baltimore American. And we say plainly that we do not expect that there will ever be made room for any such explanation.
With Congress to day there is lodged a long petition composed and signed by Cardinal Gibbons asking for governmental appropriations of money to the Catholic Church in the United States—asking indeed for a reopening of the whole question of governmental support of churches in Indian education. And when Cardinal Gibbons will do this in the face of the whole people of the United States, in behalf of the Catholic Church in the United States; there is nothing at all extravagant in the report that a like arrangement had been considered and agreed upon in behalf of the Catholic Church in Cuba, where it can be done by the local machinery without any action of Congress. We shall not print in the SENTINEL the Cardinal’s petition, as we did the report of the Baltimore American; but for the benefit of the skeptics we will state that the Cardinal’s petition is printed in full in the Catholic Mirror (also printed in Baltimore), of December 17, 1898.
The AMERICAN SENTINEL is not an alarmist in these things. We know that there is an immense combination of the religious elements in the United States to get control of governmental power and patronage. We know that there is an intense rivalry between the Protestant and Catholic elements of this combination, for the lead. It is our duty as lovers of the principles upon which this nation was founded, and as well wishers for the best interests both civil and religious of our fellowmen, to call attention to everything that occurs which is suggestive of governmental favor to churches, whether Protestant or Catholic, or both in combination, under the delusive phrase of “broad general Christianity.”
All this is why we did what we did in the matter; and in doing what we did, we did just right. And we are waiting for the next thing to occur to give us another chance.
A. T. J.