The Catholic Church In A Democracy

By L. H. Lehmann
By Francis Behn Riggs
Fascist Christianity……………………………………………………. 4
After 1776 ………………………………………………………………. 5
Canon Law 100 ……………………………………………………….. 6
Legal Status in the US ………………………………………………. 6
The Expedient Compromise ……………………………………… 9
Only a Good ‘Substitute’ ……………………………………………12
Conclusion …………………………………………………………….. 12
Introduction ……………………………………………………………. 15
The Religious Threat ………………………………………………..16
The Philosophical Threat …………………………………………. 19
The Social-Ethical Threat ………………………………………….21
The Educational Threat………………………………………………27
Conclusion ……………………………………………………………..30
A factual explanation of how the Roman Catholic Church in the United
States obtains, and holds on to, its money, property and power.
By L. H. Lehmann
ON-CATHOLICS may well wonder how Roman Catholicism, an an
entirely totalitarian institution claiming the blind obedience of more
than 20,000,000 followers in the United States, manages to exist
and prosper in this, the most democratic country in the world.
“Catholicism,” says Count Kalergi-Coudenove, ardent Roman Catholic of
European aristocratic family (in his book, Crusade for Pan-Europe, p.
173), “is the Fascist form of Christianity. The Catholic hierarchy rests
fully and securely on the leadership principle, with an infallible Pope in
supreme command for a life time.”
There is no other institution in America like it. Catholics themselves
do not know how it is done.
Alone of all the religions in pre-Revolutionary America, Roman
Catholicism succeeded in resisting the democratic change that came about
in the new-born Republic of the United States after the Declaration of
Independence. None of the Protestant churches (even the established
Church of England which previously had sustained British rule in the
American colonies) had any great difficulty in coalescing with the new
political order. All the churches of the three great divisions of Protestantism—
Augsburg (Lutheran), Geneva (Presbyterian), and Canterbury
(English church)—had each previously asserted, with fury and even
violence, its exclusive status in divine right. But they soon settled down to
a cooperative existence in the new America, and based their continued
existence upon their common principle of complete religious tolerance.
All of them developed their inherent democratic principles, repudiated
hierarchial rule, rejected ecclesiastical infallibility and supremacy over
the State, allowed the laity to participate in determining matters of faith,
morals, and discipline, eventually established liberty of conscience and
freedom of worship as basic to their whole existence, and, above all,
placed their financing in the hands of competent lay people of their
The Roman Catholic Church, on the other hand, continued without
change as a completely authoritarian institution in the United States, as
well as an integral part of the world-wide institution of the Papacy, with
its intensive participation in the politics, law and government of every
country in the world.
AFTER 1776
In 1776, the Roman Catholic Church in America based its claim to
existence on the same principle as was proclaimed by the late Pope Pius
XI in his encyclical Ubi Arcano, in which he declared that the sacred
sovereignty of the Pope, “must not be, nor must it ever appear to be,
subject to any human authority or laws whatsoever.”1 The same Pope
Pius XI, in his encyclical Quas Primas,2 also declared: “The Church
which was established by God as a perfect society, cannot but demand as
her right, a right which she cannot renounce, full liberty and
independence from the civil power.”
And many times since the Republic of the United States was
established, the Roman Catholic Church has openly condemned democratic
governments patterned after that of the United States, and called
upon its followers to disown allegiance to them. Pope Pius X in 1906, for
instance, in his encyclical Vehementer Nos,3 declared null and void the law
of the Republic of France separating the Church from the State. He
likewise declared null and void a similar law in Portugal in his encyclical
Jamdudum in Lusitania.4 The constitution of the Republic of Mexico was
condemned in like manner.
Pope Leo XIII also made it very clear that it is a duty not only to disobey,
but also to resist by violent means, all laws that are opposed to Catholic
teachings. In his encyclical Sapientiae Christianae, he says: “If the laws
of the State are manifestly at variance with the divine law, containing
enactments hurtful to the Church or conveying injunctions adverse to the
duty imposed by religion, or if they violate in the person of the Supreme
Pontiff the authority of Jesus Christ, then truly, to resist becomes a
positive duty, to obey, a crime.”
1 The Encyclicals of Pius XI, James H. Ryan (St. Louis, Mo.; Herder), p. 44.
Imprimatur of the Archbishop of St Louis.
2 Ibid., p. 153.
3 Pii X Pontificis Maximi Acta, III (Rome: Vatican Polygot Press, 1908), 24.
The fixed claim of the Church of Rome to this divine status of
existence, and of the superior position of its institutions to other forms of
government, is concisely set forth in Canon 100 of its Canon Law (Codex
Juris Canonici) as follows:
“The Catholic Church and the Holy See, by special divine
ordination, have the character of a moral person. Other inferior
moral persons in the Church derive their existence from it, either by
actual legal specification or by special concession of competent
ecclesiastical authority allowed by formal decree for a religious or
charitable purpose.”
This means that the Roman Papacy — the supreme government of
the Catholic Church — claims to possess a charter of incorporation that
was written by Almighty God Himself in the courts of heaven, which was
delivered on earth by Jesus Christ in person to Peter who, in turn, passed
on the power to the bishops of Rome who came after him. It means that
there can never be any democracy in the Roman Catholic Church, either
in its internal mode of operating as a religious institution, or in the
relations of its dependent institutions with the political and social affairs
of any particular country in which they function. Although both the
canon law above quoted and its interpretation involve much technical
terminology, their practical application to the everyday life of America is
simple enough to understand—and very startling at that.
How the Roman Catholic Church manages to function as a 100%
authoritarian institution in the United States is fully explained in an
official textbook published in 1927 by the Catholic University of
America in Washington, D. C, under the title: the Canonical Juristic
Personality, with Special Reference to its Status in the United States of
4 Ibid., Vol. VI (1911).
5Tbe Great Encyclical Letters of Pope Leo XIII, Rev. John J. Wynne, S. J.
(New York; Benziger Bros.) Imprimatur of the Archbishop of New York, p. 114.
6 By Brendan F. Brown, A.B., LLD., J.U.L., of the District of Columbia
Bar, and member of the faculty of Civil Law of the Catholic University of
Washington, D. C.
Despite its forbidding title and legal subject matter, it all boils down to
the very practical question of how the Roman Catholic Church holds title
to its vast wealth and properties; how it prevents its lay people from
having any say-so in the management of its properties, or in its laws and
teachings; how it can incorporate under democratic governments; and
how, in general, the Roman Catholic Church has been able to acquire so
much power and influence in Protestant America. The author admits that
very few people know anything about the corporate status of the Roman
Catholic Church in America, and how it obtained its temporal rights
before the law.
There are two things that must first be clearly understood: The first is,
that the Roman Catholic Church claims a status of legal existence that the
democratic government of the United States can never admit, without
completely overthrowing its own foundation of law and freedom. As the
author quoted puts it:
“The Catholic Church occupies a position analogous to that of a
sovereign State, being perfect, supreme and possessing the right to
have inferior corporate bodies for the accomplishment of her ends.”
(p. 76)
This is the claim contained in Canon Law 100 quoted above, and
which asserts that the Roman Papacy is a major legal personality which
gives birth to and controls many other “minor” (under-age) corporate
entities existing, like it, independently of and superior to the government
of every country. This “major legal personality” might be likened to a
mother kangaroo carrying and independently caring for a lot of baby
kangaroos in its pouch. As to the greater Catholic Church and its “baby”
Catholic corporations — Catholic hospitals, orphanages, dioceses,
churches, schools and colleges, etc. — Brown says:
“They are not created by public authority, but by direct, divine
ordinance … They have the nature or character of a legal person by
direct, divine ordinance.”
The second thing that must be clearly understood is that the United
States categorically denies this claim of the Roman Catholic Church in
its entirety. In the words of this Catholic authority:
“In the United States, the Catholic Church, as such, is not recognized as
a judical personality endowed with civil rights.” In the matter of
ownership and administration of its church properties, however, the
United States allows corporate rights indirectly to the Catholic Church,
although it denies them directly. More than fifty years
ago the Second Plenary Council of Baltimore lamented “this refusal to
recognize the [Catholic] Church in her corporate capacity, unless on the
condition that, in the matter of the tenure of ecclesiastical property, she
conform to the general laws providing for this object.”‘7
In other words, the United States flatly denies the claim of the Roman
Catholic Church to be a legal personality in its own right, and refuses it
permission to function unless it is incorporated like non-religious
corporations by recourse to the proper statutes. Brown says, (p. 115):
“The United States Constitution does not recognize the divine institution
of the Catholic Church, nor its legal authority to create corporations
which can exercise civil rights irrespective of the government. Hence in
the United States proper, the Catholic Church is looked upon merely as a
hierarchy, not as a corporate entity. This same view is shared by the
Although the United States does not recognize the Roman Catholic
Church as an independent legal entity within the confines of this country,
it does, however, recognize the Vatican as a sovereign power in international
affairs, but de facto only, not de jure. It is not possible therefore for
the Vatican to have a papal nuncio in Washington. The present ‘Apostolic
Delegate’ there is sent only by the Pope to look after church matters in
this country, and has no official position so far as the United States
Government is concerned.
Here then is the answer to the question why the Vatican welcomed
the regimes of the Fascist dictators, and rushed to make solemn
concordats with them after they came to power.
Here also is the answer to the question why the Roman Catholic
Church has always officially opposed democratic and now, more so,
communist, regimes.
Truly democratic governments cannot admit the Catholic Church
to be a divinely-chartered corporation, existing and owning property by
its own inherent right, and with superior powers over the established
government of the people.
But Fascist regimes can and do recognize the Catholic Church’s
claim to be an independent and perfect juridical personality. Mussolini’s
Italy, Hitler’s Germany, Franco’s Spain, Salazar’s Portugal recognized
7 Tit. IX.iii. n. 275, as quoted in op. cit.
* An exception is made with regard to those territories, now a part of the United
States, but formerly under Spanish dominion. In the Treaty of Paris, the United States
recognized the Roman Catholic Church as an independent legal personality in Puerto Rico
and the Philippines (also in Cuba), because that was its status there before.
it in their concordats and agreements with the Vatican. The same is
recognized by Argentina’s Fascist regime, and by the dictatorial governments
of other South-American countries.*
Mussolini’s recognition of the Roman Catholic Church as a ‘juridical
personality’ in Fascist Italy, is contained in Article 29 of his Concordat
with the Vatican. Likewise, in Hitler’s Concordat with the Vatican it is
also almost identically set forth in Article 13, which says:
“Catholic communities, parishes, dioceses, episcopal sees, bishoprics,
canonical chapters, holy orders and religious associations, as well as
those institutions, charitable endowments and parcels of church
property which have been placed under the administration of
Catholic Church authorities, retain or acquire juridicial personality
in the State in accordance with the law of the land. They remain
corporations as hitherto in public law. Those newly established will
come within the same legal provisions that govern all.”
How then is reconciliation made by the Roman Catholic Church
between its insistence, on the one hand, on acquiring and holding
property in the United Sates without lay control, and, on the other, the
need of conforming to American democratic law that denies recognition
to it as an independent, authoritarian, legal entity? “The law of the United
States,” says Brown, “recognizes only those religious organizations which
have been incorporated either by special charter or by compliance with
the general incorporating statutes of the particular State.”
The ultimate aim of the Catholic Church in America is to bring about
a change in our laws and Constitution whereby its corporate status would
be recognized as set forth in its Canon Law. But in the meantime, ways
and means have been found to obtain the best arrangement by which it can
function as an autocratic institution in a democratic country. As Brown
puts it:
“The history of the canonical legal personality in the United States is
the record of the [Catholic] Church to reconcile its juridical scheme
of corporate law with the regulations of the State in this matter, and
to secure ecclesiastical holdings and properties in the most effective
and efficient manner by incorporating differently in the different
States.” (pp. 41-2)
* See Marshall, Chas. C. The Historical Relation of Law and Religion, in its
American Aspect, published in the University of Chicago’s Journal of Religion, January,
1933. (p. 35).
There are three ways in which the the Roman Catholic Church can incorporate
and hold property under American law. But all three are
democratic ways and are a denial of the Catholic Church’s high and
mighty claim to exist by divine right and without any need to ask for and
accept incorporation from a people’s government. The three kinds of
ecclesiastical corporation are: the trustee corporation; the aggregate corporation,
and the corporation sole. Not every State allows all three.
Virginia and West Virginia, for example, refuse incorporation to all
religious institutions. In other States religious institutions are permitted to
incorporate, but merely as business corporations.
Now, there is one thing that the Roman Catholic Church in America
must avoid at all costs, and that is to allow its dioceses and institutions to
incorporate as regular business corporations. For this would mean to
incorporate in such a way that would involve lay control of them. The
“aggregate corporation” is also forbidden, for this would give the lay
members of Roman Catholic parishes a vote in the management of
properties and spending of funds. What suits the Catholic Church best, so
jar, is the type of church corporation provided by the State of New York,
because it supplies sufficient safeguards to permit the Catholic Church to
function without interference of the lay people. Authorities in Rome were
quick to see the benefits of the New York religious corporation, and on
July 29, 1911, the Sacred Congregation of the Council ordered all
Catholic bishops in the United States to do everything possible to obtain
like corporation laws in all the States. Here is what this Roman Council
“1. The most desirable method of holding title to and right of administering
such property is that known as the Parish Corporation with
the safeguards and conditions recognized at present by the State of
New York. This method is to be introduced at once wherever possible.
“2. In some dioceses when the civil law precludes recognition of
Parish Corporations in the ownership and administration of church
property, the method hitherto in use in many dioceses of constituting
the bishop a corporation sole is allowed, with the understanding that
the Ordinary [bishop] act with the advice and, in an important
matter, with the consent of the diocesan consultors. “3. The holding
of diocesan property by ecclesiastics in fee simple is abolished.”
If the “aggregate” form of corporation were permitted in Roman
Catholic dioceses and parishes in the United States, the directors (bishops
and priests) would have to be elected by vote of the lay people, as is
done, for instance, in Baptist and other Protestant congregations. What
Rome fears most is that, in such a corporation, the sovereignty of the legal
personality (which by Canon Law resides solely in the Pope and Church
in Rome) would descend to the people. To avoid this, Catholic Church
authorities in Rome insist upon absolute control remaining in the hands of
agents or trustees, namely, the bishops and other ecclesiastical dignitaries
appointed direct by Rome. This is allowable by the church incorporation
laws of New York State, and for this reason the Congregation of the
Council in Rome ordered all bishops in the United States to secure like
laws in all other States. For, by this method, control can be exercized
solely by the hierarchy, without any reference to the wishes of the lay
people, or of individual priests. Brown says (p. 138):
“If this feature were not present, it would be possible for the lay majority
of a parish or congregation, no matter whether they continued to be
Catholics or not, always to dictate the management and disposition of
the corporate property. They would enjoy their power even though they
became heretical or recusant.” In the last analysis, it is the Pope who
owns all Roman Catholic Church property and money in America and
throughout the world. Canon Law 1518 specifically says: “Romanus
Pontifex est omnium bo-norum ecclesiasticorum supremus administrator
et dispensator.” (“The Roman Pontiff is the supreme administrator and
dispenser of all the Church’s goods and properties.”)
Here is the reason why Roman Catholics as a group do not break
away from their church. Not only would they be excommunicated as
heretics, but their churches and schools which they have built and paid
for would remain in the hands of the bishops. This would happen even if
a priest and a majority of his congregation were converted to
Protestantism. “The method provided the trustees,” says Brown, “insures
ecclesiastical control of the incorporated parish.”
In those States where the incorporation of parishes that gives
absolute control of property to the bishops does not exist, the bishop is
instructed by Rome to become a “corporation sole.” This means that all
property is held in the name of the bishop, who has to execute a will that
on his death the property and funds will pass automatically to his
successor in office.
Lay control of Roman Catholic Church property in the United
States existed in some places during the early part of the 19th century,
but was abolished on orders from Rome in 1822.
In 1929, some parishes of Roman Catholics of French descent in
Rhode Island objected to the use by the bishop of funds for objects other
than that for which they were collected from the people. They brought the
bishop into the civil court, for which they were excommunicated directly
by the Vatican, were denied entrance into their churches and deprived of
the sacraments. The civil court was powerless to help them, since the
Canon Law of the Church of Rome requires unquestioned obedience to the
bishops, both in the handling of money as well as in matters of belief and
doctrine. These Catholic people could not become Protestants, since they
knew of no other kind of religious teaching than that taught to them by
their priests. They still wanted to have their children baptized as Roman
Catholics, to have their marriages performed by their priests, to have their
priests forgive them their sins in confession and to bury their dead. All
their church properties and schools were in the possession of the bishop,
and thus all the comforts of religion were denied them until they publicly
repented and submitted to the absolute control of their bishop, not only in
spiritual matters, but also in the disposition of money and church
Yet, even this arrangement, which guarantees absolute control of all
church property to the hierarchy of the Catholic Church in democratic
America, is not entirely to the liking of the Catholic Church authorities in
Rome. Brown sums up his findings as follows: (p. 196)
“The recognition of the Catholic Church’s right to function through
purely canonical moral persons, established and existing independently
of the civil authority, is the ideal arrangement and the plan to which
Catholic theology can alone give unqualified assent. Nevertheless,
when such an arrangement becomes impossible, no better substitute
can be presented than the policy which has been worked out by the
American people.”
There will thus be no relaxation of the efforts of the Roman Catholic
Church in America till it obtains this “ideal arrangement to which
Catholic theology can alone give unqualified assent.” If ever that time
comes, then not only will Roman Catholicism as a major legal personality
be recognized as existing by direct divine ordinance and superior in
power to the State, but control of its dependent, “minor” institutions in the
field of education, marriage, economics, law and all social matters, will
be exclusive and supreme.
The Constitution of the United States of America, as we know it
today, will then have ceased to exist.
An objective, documented analysis of the aims, power and activities of the
Roman Catholic Church in the United States.
By Francis Behn Riggs
MERICA is being swayed by various consolidated groups of people.
These groups comprise labor organizations, capitalistic
combinations, military blocs, political blocs and churches. Plain speech
about one of these groups, the Roman Catholic Church, is next to
impossible, because restrictions, for definite reasons, are placed on the
radio, the press and the platform. The time has come when free speech
about this group is imperative.
Roman Catholicism, claiming about 24,000,000 American adherents,
exerts a powerful and growing influence on the American scene. Some
people are convinced that this influence is entirely for our public and
individual welfare; some believe it partly good and partly dangerous;
others are convinced that Roman Catholicism is a menace to the country.
Do many hold this last view? Well, 250,000 non-Catholics sent in
their questioning doubts to various Catholic missions. One thousand of
these questions, with their answers, were published in The Question Box}
Nearly all these questions reveal serious doubts about Roman
Catholicism. Whether any of these doubts were removed by the answers
is not recorded. But it can be safely assumed that the 250,000 who then
(1929) took the trouble to write, represent but a small proportion of
Americans today who are deeply disturbed by the activities and teachings
of Roman Catholicism. Nevertheless, in spite of our boasted freedom of
speech and press, the views of this goodly throng of disturbed Americans
are rarely published. The result is that some of the critics of Catholicism,
having been denied a free expression of their opinions, allow them to
become festered through repression. Occasionally these critics explode in
private with such emotional and exaggerated outbursts as “most priests
have children somewhere” or “I would rather see my
1 Conway, Rev. Bertrand L., C.S.P., The Question Box, The Paulist Press,
2nd Ed., 1929+(Books or pamphlets published under Catholic authority are
marked+. All such books, with two or three exceptions, carry the usual Nihil
obstat and Imprimatur.)
child dead than have her marry a Catholic.”
In the interest of truth, then, if non-Catholics are to refrain from
exaggeration, the whole question should be discussed openly on the basis
of the definite beliefs and practices of Catholics. It is not difficult to find
definite statements of Catholic beliefs, for no denomination has been so
emphatic, so unanimous and so outspoken as the Catholic Church.
Moved by my many Catholic friends, inspired by some of the great
individuals in the Catholic Church and deeply interested in Catholic
thought, I have looked into a few Catholic sources. In doing this, I bear
no malice toward any individual Catholic and would urge freedom of
worship for every human being. The paths oi my adventure have brought
me to the conclusion that Roman Catholicism presents four general,
though of course not mutually exclusive threats: the religious, the
philosophical, the social-ethical and the educational.
According to the Catholic Encyclopedia, the power and unity of the
Roman Church rest on the simple unquestioning faith of its adherents as
dictated by its accredited ambassadors, and any errors and divisions
arising from private intellect can only and may only be healed by a
humble submission to a divine authority: the Roman Catholic Church.2
Their encyclopedia, under “Toleration,” goes on to say, “The Church and
she alone, with her authority to teach and the power of the keys, may
legislate even for conscience, she and only she is justified in making a
particular faith obligatory in conscience; consequently she may bring to
bear upon interior conviction an ethical compulsion, to which corresponds
the obligation to believe on the subject.”3 An inquirer about the
Catholic religion is told, in a widely circulated pamphlet,* that “No one
can be saved without the Faith which the Holy Catholic and Apostolic
Roman Church holds, believes and teaches” and that any sect opposed to
this view must be “detested and abjured.” Furthermore Catholics are
forbidden to attend not only Protestant services, but, quite frequently,
2 Catholic Encyclopedia, 1914. “Protestantism,” XII, 495.+
3 Ibid. “Toleration,” XIV, 763.+
4Canevin, Regis, D.D., The Inquirer’s Guide, Our Sunday Visitor Press, Huntington,
Indiana, n.d.+
any public meetings which open with or are based on a non-Catholic re
ligious point of view.
The Catholic Church claims one bit of material evidence that she is
this exclusive dispenser of salvation by her doctrine of the Treasury of the
Church, which is based on the statement in St. John’s Epistle (2:2) that
“Christ. . . is the propitiation of our sins and not of ours only, but also for
those of the whole world.” The encyclopedia interprets this passage as
follows: the “satisfaction” of Christ is infinite because of the “copious
torrent” of his blood which produces an inexhaustible fund ample to
cover the debts of all sinners. Added to this fund are the “satisfactory”
works of the Virgin Mary and the saints. Now this treasure, we are told, is
given the Church in order that she may distribute it, through indulgences,
for reasonable causes, to the faithful, in full or partial remission of
temporal punishment due to sin.5
The doctrine of salvation for Catholics only is well grounded in the
Roman tradition, which was codified in The Syllabus of Modern Errors of
1864 by Pius IX at the instigation of Bishop Pecci (later Leo XIII).
Among some of the “errors” mentioned in the Syllabus, whose preamble
states that liberty, toleration, secularism and democracy are closely bound
together and spell materialism, we find the following “error”:
“The divine revelation is imperfect and therefore subject to continuous
and indefinite progress corresponding to the advance in human reason.”
And here is another “error”:
“It is lawful for the individual to accept and profess that religion
which, guided by the light of reason, he considers true . . . Thus can
man find salvation and bliss . . . Protestantism is merely a different
form of that same Christian faith.”
Remember that these two quotations are anathematized by Catholics
as “errors”.
As reasoning is supposed to be difficult for adults, subjects of the
papal king are therefore appropriately considered as “children” and are
told that “Papa knows best.” Lest his children might try to reason, Leo
XIII inveighs against “Liberty of worship,” to use his own words, “where
every man is free to profess, as he may choose, any religion or
5 Catholic Encyclopedia, VII, 784+.
6 The Syllabus Embracing Chief Modern Errors, Pius IX, Dec. 8, 1864+.
none.”7 Such freedom Leo XIII maintained—and later Popes upheld
him—would imply that every man is free to exchange truth for error,
goodness for evil, and this is heretical, for Roman Catholicism alone
should be professed by both the state and the individual. As in the days of
the Vatican Council (1870) where Protestantism could not be discussed
because it had already become by papal bulls a Chose jugee so now the
Pope is final. Listen to what the Vatican Council has to say on this subject
(for the Council is still often quoted today):
“If any one shall not receive as sacred the canonical books of Holy
Scripture, entire in all their parts, as the Holy Council of Trent
(1545-1563) has enumerated them, or shall deny that they have been
divinely inspired, let him be anathema. If any say that the condition
of the faithful, and of those who have not yet attained to the only true
faith is on a par, let him be anathema.”8
Catholics are taught to sacrifice their individual quest for God so that
their need for eternal security may be satisfied; and if they should doubt
the security, they will at least fear the anathema. It is the need for security
and the fear of anathema that the Roman Catholic Church trades on and
There are non-Catholics, however, who are indifferent to man-made
anathemas and, with James, find their religion in “the feelings, acts, and
experiences of individual men in their solitude, so far as they apprehend
themselves to stand in relation to what they consider divine.”10
These non-Catholics do not cavil at Catholics worshipping as they
see fit, but rather at their attempt to deride all other religions and implant
Roman Catholicism on the State and the individual This interferes with
the free aspirations of men toward “what they consider divine.” In that
sense, Roman Catholicism is a powerful and dangerous threat. This threat
to American religious life should be discussed through all possible public
means of communication.
7 Libertas Praestantissimum, Encyclical Letter of Leo XIII, Dec. 28, 1878+.
8Butler, Don Cuthbert, The Vatican Council, Longmans Green, 2 vols., 1930.+
9Cf. Wells, H. G., Crux Ansata, p. 111, Agora Publishing Go., 1944. 10 James,
William, The Varieties of Religious Experience, Longmans Green, 1910.
The Roman Catholic Church claims never to have imposed any
philosophy on the faithful, but only to have anathematized many doctrines
and branded them as suspect, such as pragmatism, empiricism and
idealism;11 and yet there is only one philosophy ever offered under
Catholic auspices. This is based on Aristotle, who, for Catholics, was
transmuted into a medieval theologian, and became the last resort in all
disputes: religious, social and scientific. This philosophy was further
restricted through the Council of Trent, The Syllabus of Modern Errors
and The Vatican Council. The main result of these modifications is that
Reason has been placed under the fully documented and permanent yoke
of Dogma. Thus Catholic Philosophy announces authoritatively that “all
faithful Christians are forbidden to defend, as legitimate conclusions of
science, such opinions as are known to be contrary to the doctrines of
faith,12 where faith is defined as “assent upon authority.”13
The Roman Church maintains, without compromise, a whole battery
of ancient principles.14 The conclusions of modern science and scholarship
are not generally accepted or favorably considered, e.g. the origin of
man, the origins and revisions of the Bible, medical education and resulting
ethics, and psychology. To take one example, psychology, according
to the Catholic Encyclopedia, is defined as “The science which treats of
the soul and its operations.”15 This definition is the consistent basis of the
present course in psychology at Catholic Emmanuel College.
On the claim of any non-Catholic to the freedom of any opinion,
Catholic philosophy is painfully definite. About such opinions, Leo XIII
“So too, the liberty of thinking, and of publishing, whatsoever each
one likes, without any hindrance, is not in itself an advantage over
which society can wisely rejoice. On the contrary it is the fountainhead
of many evils.”16
So ingrained is this 13th century philosophy of the Schoolmen (i.e.
of Thomas Aquinas or Thomism) that Leo XIII, quoting the
11Catholic Encyclopedia, XII, 739f.+.
12 Butler, Don Cuthbert, v. supra+
13 Encyclopedia Brittanica, 11th Ed., VI, 289.
14 Syllabus, v. supra, 8-9, 13+ and Encyclical Letter, Leo XII, Aeterni Patris,
Aug. 4th, 1879+.
15 Catholic Encyclopedia, “Psychology,” XII, 545+.
16 Encyclical Letter, Leo XIII, The Christian Constitution of States. 1mmortale
Dei, Nov. 1, 1885+.
Syllabus, maintained that the methods and principles by which the old
scholastic doctors pursued the study of theology are in agreement with our
present needs and the progress of science. Leo called Aquinas the “patron
of science” and his work “the norm of science.”17 Even today Thomism
has the deciding vote.18
One of the disturbing factors of the Roman Catholic Church’s philosophic
stand is that it is becoming less and less a matter of Catholic
discussion and more and more a matter of papal edict. At the Council of
Trent (1545-1563) the formula was, “The Sacred Synod, lawfully
assembled in the Holy Ghost under the legates of the Apostolic See,
ordains . . .” At the Vatican Council (1870) the formula was, “Pius,
bishop, servant, with the approbation of the Sacred Council, ordains . . .”19
Today, as we shall see shortly, Pius XII, in his encyclicals, speaks with an
absolute authority undiminished by council.
This papal power maintains Catholic philosophy apparently at the
expense of the intelligence and even the thought of individual Catholics.
The power of the Pope is two-fold: the spiritual, exercised by the Church
(i.e. the Pope), and the temporal, exercised for the Church by the Pope.
By the former the Pope, at least when he speaks ex cathedra, is considered
by the faithful to be strictly and officially infallible in all matters which
concern faith and morals. By the latter power the Pope merely directs
people, leaving it to the rulers and soldiers to exercise his power. Although
the Pope cannot directly depose a sovereign, says Catholicism, he may
contribute to his deposition by declaring in the interests of religion that
his subjects are no longer bound to obey him. Thus the power, says
Catholicism, is not secular, it is spiritual.20 As long as temporal or secular
affairs may be counted spiritual by the Pope, he is considered practically
infallible by the faithful, if not officially so, in all matters whether
spiritual or temporal.
Further evidence of this monarchical and totalitarian philosophy of
life is shown in the great Catholic reference, the Vatican Council, which
declares that the Pope is not merely an inspector or even a director, but
17Encyclical Letter, Leo XIII, Aeterni Patris, 1879.+
18 The Commonweal, July 5th, 1946.+
19 Bury, J. B., History of the Papacy in the 19th century (1864-1878),
Macmillan, 1930
20 Bury, J. B., v. supra.
exercises the “full and supreme power of jurisdiction over the Universal
Church, not only in things which belong to faith and morals, but also in
those which relate to the discipline and government of the Church
throughout the world.”21 Contrary minded, anathema! This “Government
of the Church,” as we have seen, can easily mean the spiritual-temporal
Government of the world.
This power of the Pope rests on his personal infallibility, which was
accorded him in 1870, and rests on the philosophical premise that any
dogma promulgated by the Pope is ipso facto divinely revealed.
Even as early as 1854, sixteen years before this privilege of his was
pronounced, Piux IX proclaimed by himself alone the dogma of the
Immaculate Conception, which the Church thereupon accepted as revealed.
With a procedure as simple as that, what then is to hinder the
Virgin’s mother being also immaculately conceived,22 or any other doctrine
being divinely revealed which suits the Pope and the exigencies of the
The philosophy of Roman Catholicism is a dead philosophy, but like
a dead hand will not let go. Thomas Aquinas was a great active man, but
non-Catholics claim that productive philosophic speculation did not stop
with him. As well say that the scientific theories of Benjamin Franklin,
great as he was, should be the final arbiter in scientific disputes.
In conclusion, Catholic philosophy—ancient, fixed and dogmatic—
places itself squarely against the progressive, legitimate conclusions of
science and, through an “infallible” Pope, fights all non-Catholic (or
Catholic) free thinking people. These facts need open discussion.
Sociology, according to the Catholic view, is guided by a sanctioned
metaphysics and philosophy, which is derived not from induction but
from revelation. The view that sociology aims at constructing a metaphysics
through systematic observation and interpretation of present and
past social facts and processes is repugnant to Catholic thought.23
21 Butler, Don Cuthbert, v. supra+.
22 Bury, J. B., v. supra.
23 Catholic Encyclopedia, XIV, 11.+
It is no surprise, therefore, to read in a Catholic text-book on sociology
that “care has been taken to lay a foundation in the way of Catholic
principles” and . . . “Catholic Apostolic action.”24 Hence follow, at least
logically, the three cardinal social duties for Catholics: “Loyalty to Rome,
Religious Education and Catholic Marriage, and Family Life.”25 To carry
out her powerful social-ethical program for the world, the Roman Catholic
Church finds it necessary to discredit, attack and anathematize those
human liberties and doctrines which she believes stand in her way.
“Liberty,” said Leo XIII, “belongs only to those who have the gift of
reason or intelligence,” but this intelligence cannot act unless enlightened
by the knowledge which comes from the eternal law which the Church
has ever propagated.26
Hence, so goes the Catholic argument, a sociology which proposes
birth control in the name of human progress is violating “Divine Law.”27
Recently the device of “God’s Law” was used by the Catholics in Massachusetts
on the radio, by “hand*outs” and by placards to sway voters
against a carefully guarded bill concerning birth control.
In her zeal to promote her powers at the expense of human liberties,
the Roman Catholic Church is trying to undermine our very Bill of
Our Constitution expressly states:
1. “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of
2. [or] prohibiting the free exercise thereof;
3. [or] abridging the freedom of speech or the press . . .” Nevertheless
we have only to go to the ever quoted Leo XIII to hear the Roman
Catholic Church, through him, condemn, item for item, these three
safeguards, by declaring:
1. “… the State should officially recognize the Catholic religion as the
religion of the Commonwealth” . . .28 “To exclude the Church . . .
from the power of making laws . . . is a grave and fatal error . . .”29
24 Ross, E. J., Rudiments of Sociology, Rev. Ed., the Bruce Publishing Co.,
25 Hughes, Philip, The Popes’ New Order, Burns, Oates, and Washbourne,
Ltd. Publishers to the Holy See, 1942+.
26The Great Encyclical Letters of Pope Leo XIII, Benziger Bros., 1903+. 26 Catholic
Encyclopedia, XIV, 115+.
2. “A Catholic State . . . could logically tolerate only such religious
activities as were confined to the members of the dissenting group. It
could not permit them to carry on general propaganda nor accord their
organization certain privileges that had formerly been extended to all
religious corporations, for example, exemption from taxation.”30
3. “. . . lying opinions . . . should be diligently repressed by public
Although Leo XIII died in 1903, these statements of his are quoted
with high approval in the 1940 book Catholic Principles of Politics.32
It is no wonder that the Roman Catholic Church, intrenched in her
hierarchy of power, is -against Socialism, because “Leo XIII recognizes
inequality among men: mental, physical and financial,” and said that these
differences are natural and the Church never fails to provide for the poor
because they “represent Christ.”33
The Roman Catholic Church is also violently opposed to Freemasonry
because it represents “Naturalism,” wherein all men have the
same rights and believe in self-government, and this means, “when the
popular will changes rulers may be lawfully deposed.”34 Deposition, as
we have seen, is permissible, however, when accomplished through the
Catholic opposition to Socialism and Freemasonry is logical, from the
Catholic viewpoint, because these doctrines are a threat to Catholic
power. With the preservation of her power in view, the Catholic Church
quite consistently whitewashes Franco Spain and besmirches
“communistic, pagan” Stalin-Russia.
The Catholic Church, however, does not confine her efforts to mere
opposition. She is zealous for the advancement of the Catholic Church
28 The interpretation of Leo XIII’s “Attitude of the state toward the Church”
as given in The State and the Church, Ryan, John A., and Millar, Moorehouse,
F. X., written and edited for the Department of Social Action of the National
Catholic Welfare Council, New York, 1922. Reprinted under new title of
Catholic Principles of Politics, with F. J. Boland, New York, 1940+.
29 Encyclical Letter, Leo XIII, Immortale Dei, the Christian Constitution
of States, Nov. 1, 1885+.
30 Ryan and Millar, supra, p. 38.
31 Encyclical Letter, Leo XIII, Libertas Praestantissimum June 20, 1888+.
32 Catholic Principles of Politics, v. supra. Note 28+.
33 The Popes’ New Order, v. supra+.
34 Encyclical Letter, Leo XIII, Humanum Genus, April 20, 1884+.
and the Catholic State. The creation of the Apostolic Delegation in Washington in
1892 brought the American hierarchy and the Federal Government into closer
relation with Rome. And the creation of an American “Ambassador to the
Vatican” in later years rewarded the Popes for their efforts. This Washington-
Rome axis, strengthened by Catholic propaganda in the press and on the radio,
has been gratefully acknowledged by Pius XII who admits, in writing to the
United States:
“We have learned with not little joy that your press is a sturdy champion of
Catholic principles, that the Marconi Radio, whose voice is heard in an
instant round the world—marvelous invention and eloquent image of the
Apostolic Faith that embraces all mankind—is frequently and
advantageously put to use in order to insure the widest possible
promulgation of all that concerns the Church” . . . the letter ending with “Our
cordial interest in the University of Washington.”35
Little wonder for this joy when we realize that 60,000 words per week are
sent to the 185 publishers who are clients of the National Catholic Welfare
Conference and that Roman Catholic power is exerted in the Catholic-political tieups,
“which carry their pollution,” according to Harold Fey, “to the very center of
our National Government.”36
The Pope might also voice “not little joy” over our movies, with such
productions as Boys’ Town, which exalts Catholic schools and deprecates by name
Protestant ones, or The Bells of St. Mary which approves a most unethical way to
raise money from a bewildered old man for the benefit of his soul—and for the
coffers of the Catholic Church.
Pius XII has plans for America: secular as well as religious. What the
following encyclical by him says about the reverent homage of nations in friendly
relations with the Holy See may some day apply to America, if this whole
business is not aired. This Pope said:
“We must make special mention of Our gratitude for the tokens of reverent
homage which We have had from the sovereigns, heads of state and
governments of those nations with which the Holy See is in friendly relations
. . . We can rank among such friendly powers Our dear Italy . . . fruitful
garden of the Faith.”*1
35 Encyclical Letter, Pius XII, Sertum Laetitiae. To the Church in the United
States+. Nov. 1st, 1939.+
36 Fey, Harold E. Can Catholicism Win America? 8 Articles contained in
issues of The Christian Century from Nov. 29, 1944 to Jan. 17, 1945.
37 Encyclical Letter, Pius XII, Summi Pontificatus, on the Function of the
State in the Modern World, Oct. 20, 1939+.
We begin to see by now how that human impulse to power, shared in
some of its aspects by all people, finds its outlet in Catholic thought and
action: an exclusive power—scheming, intransigent, domineering. Such
power is a danger to any country aiming to remain or to become
democratic, free thinking and progressive. The claim of the many good
works undoubtedly wrought by the Roman Catholic Church is irrelevant
to the question of dangerous power, for good works are not dependent on
that kind of power. Such power must be judged on other grounds. The
power of the Catholic Church over Catholics is traditional and hence
often blindly accepted, but when this same power threatens to control
non-Catholics as well, it becomes, in Bertrand Russell’s words, “naked
power,” i.e. the kind which involves no acquiescence on the part of the
coerced. Such power is repudiated by men of reason and democratic
ideals in the same way that the thinkers of the Renaissance overcame the
thought of the Middle Ages, “in spite of the force of tradition and the
revenues of the Church and the sentiments associated with Catholic
This usurpation and prostitution of power by Roman Catholicism
stands in all its revealing nakedness, in spite of being cloaked in papal
robes woven in resplendent generalities, as for example, when Pius XII
declared that the requisites for peace were, among other things, the “independence”
of life,39 and the rights of all nations to share in the world’s
riches.40 Would he now grant unrestricted franchise to “Our dear Italy” or
encourage the development of Russian economic and social life as the
Russians see fit? Hardly, for recently this same Pope told the Italian and
French people how to vote and declared a ‘Holy War’ on Russian
The voice of the Pope is heard in this country whenever his vicars
are heard. On June 4th, 1946, Archbishop Richard J. Cushing of Boston
38 Russell, Bertrand, Power, W. W. Norton & Co., 1938.
39 Encyclical Letter, Pius XII, Questo Giorno, Dec. 24, 1939+.
40 Encyclical Letter, Pius XII, Nell’ Alba, Dec. 24, 1941+.
41The Christian Century ,The Pope’s Holy War, June 26, 1946.
For a factual analysis of the relationship of Nazi-Fascism and Roman Catholicism
read L. H. Lehmann’s Behind The Dictators, Agora Publishing Co., 1942, and for Catholic
policy during the first and second world wars read Vatican Policy in the Second World War
by L H. Lehmann, Agora Publishing Co., fourth printing, 1946.
gave his unstinted approval and “imprimatur” to Irving T. McDonald’s
address to the graduating class at Emmanuel College. Mr. McDonald
said: “. . . the League of Nations and the United Nations were only futile
efforts to create a substitute for the international authority which was
once exercised by the Universal [Roman Catholic] Church. And there is
no substitute for that authority. . . . Nothing is left now but the sanctions
of spirituality.” In more straight-forward language, then, nothing will
avail but a coercive intervention by the Roman Catholic Church to rule
the world.
As a step toward the realization of this world rule Father Edward
Lodge Curran has urged that Catholics should by right vote against any
candidate for office who is opposed to any of the Catholic Church’s
teaching on birth control, public education, etc.42
Catholic power uses many different methods to establish itself.
Sometimes it makes use of the slow, inconspicuous infiltration of rural
sections by parochial schools; at others use is made of all the dramatic
pomp and ceremony at its disposal. In this connection one cannot help
viewing the canonization on July 7, 1946, of Mother Francesca Cabrini,—
worthy though she may be—as an astute bit of widely publicized statesmanship
calculated to help America become a nation “with which the
Holy See is in friendly relations.” After all, Saint Francesca is America’s
first saint, and saints are created only by the Catholic Church. It is
interesting to note that in her case the Vatican waived the traditional
decree that sainthood could not be granted until fifty years after the death
of the candidate. This decree was waived “in view of the need for strong
spiritual currents.”43 One may know, with considerable assurance, who
would direct these currents and what areas they would water.
To summarize, the Roman Catholic Church uses every means within
her reach to deprive America of its traditional and constitutional freedoms,
both individual and organizational, in order to establish the power
of the Pope in the United States. This threat needs to be freely and openly
42 Curran, Rev. Edward Lodge, Ph.D., We Catholics. International Catholic
Truth Society,+ 1945.
43 The New York Times, July 7, 1946.
Roman Catholic power could never have grown as it has, nor could it
continue to grow, without the support of its elaborate educational
program. The Catholic Church’s educational philosophy was foreshadowed
in 1884 by the Third Plenary Council of Baltimore which commanded
Catholic parents to procure for their “beloved offspring” a truly Christian
and Catholic education, and to defend and safeguard them from the
dangers of a purely secular education during the entire period of childhood
and youth and therefore to send them only to parochial schools.
In 1929 Pius XI declared:
“. . . the mission to educate belongs preeminently to the Church . . .
the extent of the Church’s mission is such as to embrace every nation
without exception . . . and there is no power on earth that may
lawfully oppose her or stand in her way.”44
Pius XI was convinced that the American public school system was
no “fit place for Catholic students,” so he continued:
“For the mere fact that a school gives some religious instruction . . .
does not make it a fit place for Catholic students. To be this it is
necessary that all the teaching and the whole organization of the
school, and its teachers, syllabus and text-books in every branch be
… under the direction of the Church; . .. and this in every grade of
school, not only the elementary, but the intermediate and the higher
institutions as well,.. . public or private, not merely in regard to the
religious instruction there given, but in regard to every other branch
of learning.”44
These papal injunctions have borne fruit, for the Catholic parochial
schools already account for over two million of our school population of
about twenty-two million. Emboldened by these numbers and backed by
tradition, Msgr. Fulton J. Sheen anathematizes our public school system
by crying out:
“A system of education which ignores, sometimes repudiates religion
and morality, which trains the intellect but ignores the will, which
teaches that there is no such thing as right and wrong . .. is not worth
preserving. Let it perish!”45
American educators would certainly agree with Msgr. Sheen’s
conclusion if the premises were true. But these accusations do not fairly
represent the education offered to our twenty million “others.”
44 Encyclical Letter, Pius XI, Christian Education of Youth. Divini Illius
Magistri, Dec. 31st, 1929+.
45 Catholic Hour, Jan. 18, 1942+.
Catholic philosophy of education has no place for mutual guidance through
the healthy clash of divergent educational theories, for a calm evaluation of the
results of these theories or for the exercise of suspended judgment. As everyone
knows, students in Catholic institutions are restricted to Catholic books wherever
possible and are restricted in their non-Catholic reading. For example, a student
at Emmanuel College was asked by me:
“So you’re studying the family. Do you have a lot of discussion on the
books you are reading?”
She answered:
“We have no discussions because there is only one real family, the Catholic
one. We use Catholic books and non-Catholic books too, but the non-Catholic
books are used only for statistics, never for interpretation, except sometimes for
From this same Emmanuel College came the following examination
questions aimed, of course, at inculcating Catholic answers.
Q. “At The Council of Trent, the Roman Catholic Church modified its
dogma in an attempt to meet the criticism of the Protestants. Refute this
Q. “The Rise of Russia was at the expense of her neighbors. Justify this
Not, “discuss,” but “refute” and “justify.” Does any one doubt the fate of a
student’s grade on the above questions if her considered judgment should lead her
to justify the first question and refute the second?
The Question Box,47 previously quoted, shows another method of
indoctrinating Catholic answers, viz. by evading the question.
Here are three examples of typical questions and answers.
Q. “Do not converts in your infallible Church have to surrender their
A. “No, the Catholic faith is most reasonable, for the ultimate authority on
which we believe is the voice of God speaking to us through the Church.”
Here the direct question concerning the individual’s reason is evaded by
declaring the Church’s reasonableness.
Q. “Is not the Roman Index [the list of prohibited books] a clear proof of
clerical intolerance?”
46Emmanuel College Examinations, 1943-1946+.
A. “The Roman Index proves, not the Church’s intolerance, but her
zeal for the salvation of souls.”
The question concerns clerical intolerance; the answer tries to
dispose of the question by changing the point of reference to the zeal of
the Church.
The third example of this evasion, under the title “The Morality of
War,” asks:
Q. “Does not the Bible in both the Old and the New Testament
declare that all war is immoral?”
A. “The Bible never declares war intrinsically immoral. On the
contrary in hundreds of passages God approves and commands war.”
This answer is supported logically by seventeen O.T. references, but
illogically and evasively by three N.T. passages. The first one of the NT.
passages, Luke 3:14, reads:
“And, the soldiers also asked Him saying: And what shall we do?
And He said unto them: Do violence to no man.”48
This is cited, according to the Question Box, to show that John the
Baptist “gives good advice to the soldiers of the day.”
Excellent advice, to be sure, but how does this bear on the morality
of war except to show that the soldiers could not go to war if they would
obey Jesus.
The second passage is Matt. 8:10, which reads:
“And Jesus hearing this, marvelled; and said to them that followed
Him: Amen I say to you, I have not found so great faith in Israel.” This is
quoted because, according to the Question Box, “Our Lord praises highly
the faith of the Centurion, but neither asks the soldier to abandon his
calling as immoral.” This answer does not meet the question, but tries to
becloud it by calling attention to the fact that Christ was silent on the
morality of war, which was not the subject of his attention.
The third passage offered in support of the morality of war, occurs in
Matt. 5:39 and reads:
“But I say to you not to resist evil but if one strike thee on the right
47The Question Box, v. supra. Total copies printed from 1903 to 1946 2,709,000.
48 These three N.T. passages are from the (Catholic) Douay-Rheims Version+.
cheek turn to him also the other.”49
This text is quoted because, we are told, “Christ’s words in the Sermon
on the Mount are a counsel of perfection addressed to the individual.” The
implication, then, is that Christ’s words about resisting evil become
reversed in meaning the minute the individual becomes a member of a
group. This seems like a rather far-fetched argument for the morality of
So much for this type of teaching by the Catholic Church.
The Vatican, through its American hierarchy, has been systematically
attacking the American school system, as shown, and has offered a substitute
which is repugnant to the vast majority of Americans. The time has
come when Roman Catholic educational policy and the resulting powerpolitics
must be fearlessly and regularly discussed by parents, school boards
and educational associations.
We have seen how Roman Catholicism has wielded her power in
Religion, Philosophy, Society and Education through the press, the radio
and politics. “From the center in the nation’s capital” writes Harold E.
Fey, ‘”it is steadily carrying out its aims for family life, education, industry,
labor, agriculture and social welfare.”50
Americans should know these things. But knowing is not enough.
We who believe in the freedoms guaranteed by the Constitution, we who
want our country to take an unhampered position at the council table of
all the peoples of the world, will rest only when our original freedoms are
restored so that we may discuss Roman Catholicism and other controversial
subjects freely over the radio, in the press and on the platform. Only then
may we call ourselves Free Americans.
49 This passage is made even more pointed according to the Revised Standard
Version (Nelson, 1946), which runs, “But I say to you, Do not resist one who
is evil.” Cf. Similar renditions in Weymouth, Goodspeed and Moffatt.
50 Fey, Harold E. v. supra.
Roman Catholics have the largest number of any other religious denomination in the U.S.
House of Representatives, but are outnumbered in the Senate by the Methodists,
Presbyterians, Episcopalians and Baptists. Prof. Madge M. McKinnney, Ph.D., chairman of the
Dept. of Political Science of Hunter College New York City, in an article in the Spring, 1946,
issue of “Public Opinion Quarterly, published the results of a ten-year study of the influence of
political candidates’ religion upon voters.


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