The Church and Society

   Would western civilization be better off or worse off if the Roman Catholic Church had never existed?  This is the question that is frequently asked by clergymen, educators, sociologists, psychiatrists and criminologists.  The question is futile because in religion, as in every other aspect of history, there is no rolling back.  What is done is done.  "The moving finger writes; and, having writ, moves on."

That the Roman Church has been one of the most powerful influences in the history of all civilization cannot be seriously denied.  Through the mere length of its existence and the sheer weight of its numbers, it has deeply affected and still affects our ethics, our customs and our culture.

It has lasted almost two thousand years.  Catholics cite this survival as proof positive of its divine origin and continued divine surveillance.  The argument is, of course, specious.  The dominant Egyptian religion lasted five thousand years, the Buddhist just as long, and the Judaic longer than any of them.

Partially through the persuasion of preaching missionaries but more often by the threat and the use of the dungeon and the sword, the Roman Catholic Church spread itself over large sections of the European continent and throughout the colonies of Spain , Portugal , France and Belgium .  It "converted" the coastal nations of Africa , all of Central and South America , Mexico , Canada and most of the island peoples of all oceans.

In the United States it has grown from a despised minority of illiterate immigrants to a cohesive, mentally regimented body.  Although still a numerical minority, it has, through the adoption of the most notorious features of modern propaganda, boycott and censorship, made itself at least politically the most powerful single force in the nation.

During its tenure on earth and around the world, the Roman Catholic Church has, for good or evil, profoundly affected the lives of billions upon billions of human beings.

It is my contention and my sincere conviction, from my experience in the Catholic educational system, my life of fifteen years in the priesthood, and thirteen years of constant observation and intense study since leaving the Church, that its influence on all civilization has been far more of evil than of good.

Intellectually, the Church of Rome has done its best to strangle the human mind and stifle mental initiative.  It must do this if it is to survive.  No thinking or intelligent, historically studious person, especially a freedom-loving American, can become or remain a Roman Catholic.

As I demonstrated in my book, American Culture and Catholic Schools, the hierarchy in its parochial school system must give a Roman Catholic version of history, philosophy, religion and, unfortunately for America , of morals.  All of these are false, bad or unworkable.  It tries by threats of sin and false propaganda as to the quality of the education, to keep all Catholic youngsters in parochial schools.  It teaches them to read and write, so that technically they are literate, but it anesthetizes their minds so that the result is like an engine running with its

gears not meshed.  The mind goes nowhere.  That is why the Catholic school system has produced no measurable number of outstanding scientists, philosophers, first-rate writers and, according to honest Catholics, very few first rate readers.

And lest the Catholic mind should accidentally become meshed and start to move, the Church builds all the fences of censorship around it so it has no place to go.

In America , the hierarchy insists that its children go through the motions of education because American Protestant culture demands it and has set the example.  Where the Church has been on its own for centuries as the only cultural and educational force, the people are almost as illiterate as they were before touched by civilization.  A study of the literacy tables for Spain , Portugal and Latin American countries in any current almanac will bear out this shocking statement.

Morally, this book will show the high rate of crime and sin among Roman Catholics everywhere, and particularly in the United States .  It will also demonstrate that this immorality is not in spite of Catholic education and training, but directly because of it.  It will show that the Catholic child is more apt to grow into adulthood not only mentally illiterate but morally criminal or emotionally neurotic if he attends a Catholic school rather than a public school.  It will show that the concept of venial sin leads to a breakdown of integrity, honesty and truthfulness, in society and in business.

This is the "God-centered education" that Cardinal Spellman boasts of so lustily.  This is the system for which the hierarchy in 1961 demands tax support in defiance of the Constitution of the United States .

It is inevitable that the intellectual and moral code

of the Roman Catholic Church should affect all America . No man is an island and no people can live with, work with and marry millions of Catholics, be they forty million or twenty million, and not be held back in the struggle toward a richer and fuller life.  A capsule comparison of two peoples, with and without Roman Catholic influences, can be made-Sweden with its progressive culture and Italy with its Mafia.

Many statements in this book will be violently denied not only by Catholic critics and priests but by "tolerant" Protestants, by some of my own brother Masons and Shriners, and by the "let-well-enough-alone" sponsors of Brotherhood Week and members of the National Conference of Christians and Jews.  They, particularly the Jews, have forgotten their own past and they cannot see what the Roman Church has done to them in our generation.

With the publication of this book I shall be branded even more strongly as a bigot, an anti-Catholic and a plain liar.

In truth, I am no more anti-Catholic than the Canadian government crime report, or the studies of Henry Charles Lea, or the statistics of penitentiaries or insane asylums.  I am simply telling, the truth.  I do not hate Catholics.

It was St. Paul who gave the precedent by saying when attacked: I repeat, let no one think me foolish, but if so, then regard me as such, that I also may boast a little."

 In People Padre , I tried to explain that in brushing aside the code, the ritual and the superstitions of Roman Catholicism I had not foresworn God.  I had come closer to Him and had learned to know Him: "As long as you did it for one of these, the least of my brethren, you did it for me." These words formed my lodestar eighteen years ago when we opened our hospital and thirteen years ago when I broke with the Roman Catholic Church and its priesthood.  These words are still my guide today.

During the eighteen years of its operation, Memorial Hospital of Phoenix, Arizona, of which I am proud to be superintendent, has cared for 200,000 in-patients plus almost 300,000 emergency cases, some sixty per cent of the latter free of charge.

In 1960, Roman Catholics constituted the largest single group of patients-1,673 of them.  The Southern Baptists, I am informed by our chaplain Rev. A. R. Snipes, were second with 1,329.  Catholic priests are as free to visit their people as they are in their own institutions, and practically every Catholic doctor in Phoenix is on the hospitals medical staff.  One of them is a member of the Medical Executive Committee of the hospital.

Early in 1961, we were able to help a nursing nun literally "escape" from a convent in the eastern part of the United States .  She had been a nun for twenty-three years and had been unsuccessfully trying), to get a dispensation to leave for six years.  She had confided in a doctor who told a Presbyterian minister, and the latter in turn wrote to me.  I offered to advance her plane fare, give her a position and furnish living quarters.

Upon her arrival, she told me that she had been constantly reminded of the same things that had been impressed upon me-that her soul would be in danger, that Catholics would reject her, that no one would be kind to her or employ her and that she would be begging to return to her convent within two weeks, but would not be accepted.  

Later, after she had spent some time with us, she told me that since she bad been here everyone bad been extremely kind to her, that she had never been so happy in her life and that she had only one regret her failure to have made the step many years 'before.  Her experience bears out the truth that I have tried to impress upon gullible Catholics.  Nuns are legally free to leave their convents, but the fear of hell, persecution and destitution very effectively chains thousands to the convents they would like to leave.

In March of 1961, a man from her home city appeared at the hospital and demanded to see the former nun.  He had traveled, be said, 2,300 miles with a message and was instructed to give it to her in person and wait for an answer.  Our information clerk, also an ex-Catholic, suspecting the usual pressure, referred him to me.  Our director of nurses, Mrs. Margaret Cook, had contacted the ex-nun and she was too frightened to want to see the man.

I told him that I was an ex-priest and was well acquainted with the emotional and family pressures exerted upon those who leave the Church, particularly ex-priests and ex-nuns.  He would not be permitted to see the woman regardless of the distance he had traveled.  However, to prove to him that I was not prejudiced against the Catholic people, I pointed out some fifteen or twenty Roman Catholic employees passing my door as they returned to work after their coffee break.  They were merely a fraction of the many Catholics in all departments among our more than four hundred employees.

From this incident, I turn to a happier experience in life.  It was with a deep emotional mixture of humility and pride that I recently received the following communication:

 What is now Memorial Hospital was conceived in the mind of a great humanitarian, Emmett McLoughlin, and became a reality as a "Lanham Act" hospital, at the corner of Fifth Avenue and Yavapai, when it was opened on February 14, 1944 .  Because of the firm beliefs of Mr. McLoughlin in the dignity of all men regardless of color, religion, or economic status, the hospital has always served all the people of this

 Valley and has bad a determined policy that all groups shall share in the employment opportunities of the hospital without any discrimination except that based upon qualification to serve.  The nursing school at Memorial was the first of any hospital in Phoenix to train Negro nurses and only at Memorial Hospital are Negroes employed in top professional positions.  The Maricopa County Branch of the NAACP is proud and happy to honor a man and an institution that in all phases of service and employment have been completely fair to all minorities.

We take this means of paying our sincere respect to the Hospital's board, its Superintendent, and all the fine and capable people connected with its staff, for the example of Christian service which they have given to similar institutions in this Valley and all over America.,'

 It was signed by all the board members of the NAACP, including the Roman Catholics.

For only a few years have I been able to enjoy the freedoms of American democracy.  In the few years that God may still grant to me, I intend to dedicate all of my time, my energy and my substance that as many others as possible may enjoy those same fruits of democracy.  It is to help the racial minorities that I belong to the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and the Southern Conference Educational Fund.  Because I believe intensely in the Bill of Rights, I belong to the American Civil Liberties Union.

Because I believe in spiritual and religious liberty I have become a Protestant.  To a free Christian, the de-nomination and the semantics regarding salvation matter little.

Furthermore, I have become a Scottish Rite Freemason because its Supreme Council favors above all “the American public school, nonpartisan, nonsectarian, efficient, democratic, for all the children of all the people.” And I think the public school alone is the holy of holies in which our democracy can be preserved for future generations.

I love this freedom so intensely that I want all other Roman Catholic priests to enjoy it, too-if they have the sincerity and the courage to step out of their mental slavery.  A group of us who have taken this step have formed a nonprofit organization; we call ourselves-ExPriests Anonymous.

 With the help of friends across the country, we are sending a brochure entitled For Roman Catholic Priests only to 53,000 priests in America , telling them how to quit the priesthood.  We are working on providing any number of jobs and positions, should these be necessary, in which to place all priests who wish to join us in freedom.  We are also ready to Place all nursing and teaching nuns.  All of these things are being done, not in any spirit of hatred, but of helpful love.

In my relationships with all people, as in the telling of the unpleasant truths of this book, I have tried to remember the sublime moral principles I have learned in the degrees of Freemasonry, and the words of Abraham Lincoln: "With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right."

 'The God and Father of our Lord Jesus, who is blessed forevermore, knows that I do not lie."

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