The Life of James Cardinal Gibbons: Archbishop of Baltimore, 1834-1921 - Vol. 2

The Life of James Cardinal Gibbons: Archbishop of Baltimore, 1834-1921 - Vol. 2

The Life of James Cardinal Gibbons: Archbishop of Baltimore, 1834-1921 - Vol. 2

The Life of James Cardinal Gibbons: Archbishop of Baltimore, 1834-1921 - Vol. 2

Excerpt

By the time that Cardinal Gibbons paid his visit to Europe in the summer of 1895, all the major controversies which had disturbed the internal peace of the Catholic Church in the United States had been settled save one. During the course of the earlier conflicts the contrary points of view which had divided the American hierarchy had gradually grown sharper, and they were never more clearly revealed than in the complicated issue which separated the bishops as the century drew to a close. In many ways the seeds of dissension which arose over the problem known as Americanism had been sown in the previous controversies.

As we have already seen, questions like the Catholic University of America, the secret societies, the Knights of Labor, the case of Henry George and Dr. McGlynn, and the school plan of Archbishop Ireland had made it plain that among the leaders of the American Church there were two fairly discernible schools of thought. The one, to which men like Gibbons, Ireland, and Keane generally adhered, was inclined to interpret the Church's attitude toward these matters in a broad and somewhat tolerant manner, in the dual hope that this approach would better serve the end of assimilating the thousands of foreign-born Catholics to the spirit and institutions of their American home, and at the same time deprive enemies of the argument frequently used that the Church was un-American. The other group, numbering bishops like Corrigan, Katzer, and McQuaid, took a more strictly legalistic view, were fearful of the germ of philosophical liberalism which they thought they detected in the ranks of the opposition, and were less inclined to show a spirit of accommodation to American ways. Although this delineation generally held true, a too rigid classification of the prelates of this period along . . .

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