Liberalism’s Turn to Loyalty
We don’t consider ourselves trapped by our present attachments.
—Will Kymlicka, Liberalism, Community, and Culture
In truth Faramir did not go by his own choosing.
—J. R. R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings
In the spring of 1813, James Keating reported to the New York City police that he had been robbed. After a suspect was taken into custody, the police discovered that the stolen property had been returned to Keating—but he would say nothing regarding how this had happened. This struck the police as suspicious, and Keating was interrogated at the station house. When reminded that his oath to tell the truth required him to tell the whole true, he “mentioned that he had received the restitution of his effects from the hands of his pastor, the Reverend Mr. Kohlmann, Rector of Saint Peter’s.”1 Father Kohlmann was then brought to the station, but this time the police officers’ admonitions went unheeded. He could not answer, he said, for the goods were returned during the sacrament of confession.
At trial, the district attorney refused to exempt the priest from testifying. Such an exemption would be unfair. The New York Constitution recognized Catholics, indeed members of any religion, as equal, “but it was never intended that any one should ever be superior to any other. To tolerate religious profession and worship is one thing; to allow any person whatever to conceal matters upon the knowledge of which the public safety may depend is another … It is palpable that the pretention here set up is inconsistent with the safety