Monday, September 13, 2010

George Washington's Letter to Catholics

As some of my regular readers may know, I am a member of The Knights of Columbus, which is a fraternity of Catholic gentlemen whose purpose it is to defend the faith, country, community, and family.  It is a fantastic organization which has done innumerable good acts of charity for all people the world over.

Anyway, I received an interesting email from the Knights of Columbus' state advocate that I thought was worthy of sharing.  I have reprinted it in full below:

Brother Knights,


I found this and thought is might interest you as well. If you have read "Parish Priest," the biography of our order's founder, Fr Michael J. McGivney, you will know that in many colonies, then states, members of our faith were not given equal rights. The warmth with which our first president writes this letter gives some clue that such treatment was not his idea.  - Andy

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[March 15], 1790

Gentlemen:

While I now receive with much satisfaction your congratulations on my being called, by an unanimous vote, to the first station in my country; I cannot but duly notice your politeness in offering an apology for the unavoidable delay. As that delay has given you an opportunity of realizing, instead of anticipating, the benefits of the general government, you will do me the justice to believe, that your testimony of the increase of the public prosperity, enhances the pleasure which I should otherwise have experienced from your affectionate address.

I feel that my conduct, in war and in peace, has met with more general approbation than could reasonably have been expected and I find myself disposed to consider that fortunate circumstance, in a great degree, resulting from the able support and extraordinary candor of my fellow-citizens of all denominations.

The prospect of national prosperity now before us is truly animating, and ought to excite the exertions of all good men to establish and secure the happiness of their country, in the permanent duration of its freedom and independence. America, under the smiles of a Divine Providence, the protection of a good government, and the cultivation of manners, morals, and piety, cannot fail of attaining an uncommon degree of eminence, in literature, commerce, agriculture, improvements at home and respectability abroad.

As mankind become more liberal they will be more apt to allow that all those who conduct themselves as worthy members of the community are equally entitled to the protection of civil government. I hope ever to see America among the foremost nations in examples of justice and liberality. And I presume that your fellow-citizens will not forget the patriotic part which you took in the accomplishment of their Revolution, and the establishment of their government; or the important assistance which they received from a nation in which the Roman Catholic faith is professed.

I thank you, gentlemen, for your kind concern for me. While my life and my health shall continue, in whatever situation I may be, it shall be my constant endeavor to justify the favorable sentiments which you are pleased to express of my conduct. And may the members of your society in America, animated alone by the pure spirit of Christianity, and still conducting themselves as the faithful subjects of our free government, enjoy every temporal and spiritual felicity.

G. Washington
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3 comments:

Dave Splash said...

Interesting. Obviously, this problem is in the rear view mirror now and seems odd to think that Catholics were, at one time, discriminated against in the US. I kinda cringe when reading about how JFK had to officially tell some ministers that he wasn't taking orders from the Vatican before he could get their endorsement for president. But those were the days...

T. Paine said...

I agree with you Splash.

Although I am not necessarily a supporter of his, I am a little shocked at the similar treatment of Mitt Romney due to his being a Mormon in our last presidential primary.

Dave Splash said...

I think you can expect more of that if Romney becomes a serious contender in 2012. There are a lot of evangelicals who view Mormonism as a cult, and won't support him no matter what. Notice how he didn't win any Southern primaries in '08.