This is an excellent historical overview of American Catholicism and the last 100 years with respect to war, a pro-life issue.
On April 6, 1917 the United States House of Representatives voted in favor of President Wilson’s war resolution and the U.S. entered WWI. On April 18, while meeting as the trustees of Catholic University (CU), two Cardinals and six Archbishops signed a letter which was delivered to Wilson by James Cardinal Gibbons. In the most effusively patriotic language possible, it promised all out support of U.S. Catholics for Wilson and the war.
That promise was kept. Three cardinals, including Gibbons, set up a general “Convention” of Catholics which took place at CU on August 11-12. “There were present official representatives, clerical and lay, from sixty-eight dioceses…twenty-seven national Catholic organizations and also of the entire Catholic press…In November, the Archbishops of the United States constituted themselves the National Catholic War Council. “ (Handbook of the NCWC, pages 8,10) The NCWC is considered the predecessor of today’s United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), making 2017 its centenary year.
The Opening Mass for this year’s Fall Assembly of the USCCB took place at the Baltimore Basilica on Sunday, November 12, 2017. Far from eschewing their origin as a war council, the liturgy booklet prepared for the centenary celebration reprinted Cardinal Gibbons’ November 21, 1917 “Letter to the U.S. Hierarchy Requesting their Assent to the National Catholic War Council.” In the letter Gibbons wrote, “This war offers us, indeed, the grandest opportunity in all history of inspiring our men with religion.” ….Continue Reading