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A REJOINDER TO ARCHBISHOP IRELAND. 

BY EEV. S. M. VBRNOJT, D.D. 



The reply which I had the honor of making to Archbishop 
Ireland, in the August number of this Review, calls forth this, 
among other things, in His Grace's rejoinder : " Dr. Vernon leaps 
into the arena a free lance, unsummoned and unauthorized by the 
Board of Bishops.*' The facts are, that I waited till the last avail- 
able moment before acting upon the invitation to reply, and only 
when assured that no one else had undertaken the task and there 
were only four days left for writing did I enter the field. It 
seemed to me proper that I should speak, as my brother, Rev. 
Leroy M. Vernon, D.D., was the founder and for seventeen years 
the superintendent of the Italian mission ; loyalty to him required, 
now that he is gone, that I should vindicate the integrity of the 
work he established. I am glad to say that in the Methodist 
Church we enjoy a personal freedom of speech that does not 
require us to be " summoned or authorized " by a bishop before 
we may express our minds. 

His Grace complains, in the September number, that I did not 
answer the charges he made in his former article. I did make 
sufficient answer by showing that for various reasons his charges 
were unworthy of serious consideration. First, by showing that 
his principal witness, Dr. Stackpole, was a spurious Methodist 
authority and unworthy of credence. When Dr. Stackpole was 
ruled out of court all the charges based on his testimony, by in- 
exorable logic, fell with this "house built upon the sand." I 
was not bound to consider any of the charges in detail that had 
been swept out of court by wholesale. A second reason was the 
gossipy and trivial character of the charges. He may not con- 
sider it beneath his dignity to make them, but I considered it 
beneath mine to notice them. For example, he charges certain 



564 TEE NORTE AMERICAN REVIEW. 

Methodist pastors with "padding" their statistics for the pur- 
pose of making a good showing of numbers. There is only one 
way of knowing that to he true: that is to examine the church 
records in these charges and compare them with the published 
statistics. This Archbishop Ireland did not do, and he published 
what he did not and could not know to be true. I omitted to 
state this before partly because I did not wish to put a venerable 
prelate of the Church in that awkward position, and partly 
because I believe that the intelligent readers of The North 
American Eeview would see the gossipy and unreal character of 
these vague accusations without any remarks about them. 

A third reason was that there was such a manifest warping 
and twisting of facts that it was better to leave them in their 
own nakedness, as monuments of the folly of their author and 
as evidence of the great straits to which he was put in making 
out a case against the Methodists in Italy. As where he charges 
one Methodist pastor with inviting a neighboring congregation 
to attend services in his church on the occasion of the visit of 
the presiding elder. That was a very natural thing to do, very 
like what occurs in every Christian community. If a distin- 
guished minister is to preach in any particular church, notice of 
the fact is sent to the neighboring churches and to the public 
press with an invitation to everybody to attend. Often one 
church suspends services and goes to visit a neighboring church 
on a special occasion. It remained for an Archbishop to make 
the accusation, which he cannot prove, that in the case cited it 
was done for the purpose of giving the presiding elder a false 
impression of the strength of the congregation. It would be a 
very dull presiding elder who would not know that the people 
and pastor from the neighboring church were not members of 
that congregation, or who would not appreciate their courtesy in 
being present on the occasion of his visit. 

A fourth reason was that his charges were not in form to admit 
of disproof, nor were they supported by any evidence requiring it. 
In all court proceedings, and in logical order, we first have the 
name of the accused, the words or acts complained of, then the 
time and place where the offence was committed. His Grace 
says he read in a Florence newspaper an offensive list of titles 
of books displayed in the window of the Methodist bookstore 
in Eome and asks us to accept that as evidence. He says 



A REJOINDER TO ARCHBISHOP IRELAND. 565 

the Methodists " slander " the Pope, but he names no man 
who does it, nor the words of slander, nor the time or place. 
He asks me to disprove a charge of slander before he has named 
the slander or given any proof that it exists. He charges me with 
being " funny," and indeed I am in a very funny mood now, and 
am strongly tempted to give it expression and to call upon the 
whole civilized world to laugh at this most grotesque spectacle 
with a reputed thinker and scholar as its chief actor. 

A fifth reason was that there is not a single definite, tangible 
charge made. It is a tirade instead of an indictment, an old 
woman's angry scolding rather than a clear thinker's compre- 
hensive, accurate statement. He says, among other things, of our 
consecrated laborers in Italy that they are in "avowed alliance 
with lawbreakers and anarchists." I challenge the attention of 
the civilized world to this attitude of the Eoman Catholic Church 
as represented by one of its most honored prelates toward a heroic 
band of educated, self-denying and liberty-loving Christian work- 
ers seeking the moral and spiritual improvement of a people in 
whom religious faith has been wounded almost to the death by 
the nameless wrongs of a corrupt, outgrown and oppressive eccle- 
siastieism. Will I deny the charge ? No ! I scorn it ! 

The Archbishop is not quite fair in dealing with my re- 
marks about the Catholic priests in Italy who offered to enter 
our ministry for the larger compensation in prospect. I did 
not say, nor did I give him grounds to infer, that I meant priests 
who had been expelled from or had voluntarily left the Eoman 
Catholic Church. They were priests in good standing, engaged 
in the regular duties of priests in the Eoman Catholic Church, 
who, when rejected by our superintendent because their motives 
were transparent, went back to their duties in the priesthood of 
that Church, its unwilling servants. The low plane of the moral 
life of the priests in Italy was a fact I alleged justifying our 
presence there. From Italy that condition extends in a greater 
or less degree throughout all lands where that Church exists, 
entailing upon many lands that most demoralizing influence of 
a corrupt priesthood. I can find you an Archbishop in the 
southern part of this continent who is president of an interna- 
tional lottery company, the business of which is about as dis- 
reputable as anything the gambling world can show. Not long 
since in the city of Philadelphia a great Eoman Catholic Church 



566 THE NORTH AMERICAN REVIEW. 

lottery scheme was projected, and an official of the city Government 
which is not often accused of being over-conscientious, stepped in 
and stopped the lawbreaking and demoralizing enterprise. It 
was not a few discharged priests I was speaking of, but a world- 
wide low moral plane, having its origin and source in Italy. 
Alas! my brother, in speaking of these things, I am not taking 
comfort to myself, as you charge, thinking I "have imprinted a 
few black marks on the face of Catholicism " ; somebody else im- 
printed them there; I have only called attention to them and 
recommended a thorough washing. God knows, my brother, it 
would be the joy of my life if I could paint that great Church: 
" Fair as the moon, clear as the sun, and terrible as an army with 
banners," coming up out of the wilderness where she has long 
wandered " leaning upon the arm of her beloved." 

I will not burden these pages with another word about the non- 
use of the Bible and the rarity of Gospel-preaching in Italy, for 
the habit of the Eoman Catholic Chtirch in regard to these things 
is well known among intelligent people. Neither do I care to 
enlarge upon the prevalent scepticism in Italy due to the cor- 
ruptions of the Church further than to cite one illustration of it. 
On a recent Sabbath afternoon fifty thousand people assembled 
in Eome about the statue of Giordino Bruno and shouted to the 
echo their approval of an address of which this is a characteristic 
passage : 

" We are here to-day to honor the memory of Giordino Bruno, the 
martyr. The Roman Catholic Church burned him, thinking thereby she 
could destroy the aspirations of the people for free thought. We must 
again renew our vows to tight to the death this Church, synonymous with 
reaction and tyranny. Atheism is the only power that will enable us 
to win the battle in which we are engaged." 

This is one among many evidences of the loss of faith among 
the people and of its cause, which justifies the presence of a 
progressive, free and evangelizing Church in that most needy 
field. 

The Archbishop says truly that " there is no State Church in 
America " and seems to imply that the American flag floating 
over our mission property is designed to give the Italians the 
impression that the Methodist is the American Church or that 
it may be a step in that direction. It is true that there is one 
Church in America that believes in the union of Church and 



A REJOINDER TO ARCHBISHOP IRELAND. 567 

State and in the right of the Church to dominate the State, and 
it has approached that condition as nearly as public opinion will 
allow. It has withdrawn many of its children from the schools 
of the Republic, and they are being educated by a foreign cult 
in such studies and principles as it thinks proper. It is, by such 
influences as it brings to bear upon self-seeking politicians and 
venal legislators, obtaining large State appropriations for the 
support of its sectarian institutions in violation of the spirit of 
the Constitution of the United States and of the letter of the 
State constitutions. In the State of Pennsylvania, as well as in 
other States, it obtains hundreds of thousands of dollars every 
year for the support of its institutions in open violation of the 
constitution of the State, while the Methodist and other Protest- 
ant Churches refuse to accept any State money. 

His Grace complains that Methodists in Italy antagonize the 
Pope and co-operate with those who are opposed to his pre- 
tensions. It is certainly not new to the Archbishop that there 
is a necessary and eternal antagonism between the fundamental 
principles of Methodism and the Papacy. The one stands for 
individualism, the other for paternalism, and these are contrary 
the one to the other. The key-note of modern civilization and 
progress is individualism, the discovery of the individual man, 
granting him liberty, investing him with responsibility, giving 
him the rights of a free conscience, empowering him with the 
franchise, and holding him accountable directly to God. This 
idea has advanced from the days of Luther and Wesley, knock- 
ing at all the doors of despotism, menacing the thrones of ab- 
solutism, breaking the fetters of the Dark Ages, casting off the 
archaic sixperstitions of an outgrown medisevalism, pulling down 
the unauthorized pretensions of civil and ecclesiastical rulers, and 
it has bidden man to go in his native freedom, as the birds in the 
heavens, doing God's will and remembering his accountability to 
Him. This is the ideal life, often abused I grant, but by it men 
have grown good, strong and great; in business, in politics and 
in ecclesiastical matters this idea is pregnant. Cast-iron Russia 
has been compelled to accept it; even the Turk has fallen in 
with the procession; France has risen in its might and thrown 
off the fetters that threatened its very life ; poor belated and long- 
deceived Spain is awaking and struggling to" be free from the 
Octopus that has been sucking out its life; sleepy little Portugal 



568 THE NORTH AMERICAN REVIEW. 

is rubbing its eyes and asking that the light of this new day 
may shine on it also; and even rock-ribbed old Austria is be- 
ginning to stir itself with aspirations for the new life that is 
coming into the world. One man on the banks of the Tiber 
stands for the old absolutism and paternalism, and he is com- 
pelled to sit there moping as a self-styled " prisoner " because the 
nations of the earth have repudiated his idea and him with it. 
Of course the presence of Methodism in Italy has the aspect of 
opposition to the Pope, for it stands for the new and better life 
of the world, for the right of every man to read God's word, to 
get out of it his own meaning with the aid of such teachers as 
he wishes to consult, to make his own confessions and prayers to 
God without any intervening priest, to make his reconciliation 
with God and obtain absolution from Him who only has power 
to forgive sins, and to associate himself with such Church rela- 
tions as promise him greatest spiritual help. 

The old paternalism when pure had its mission in the infantile 
stage of development and intelligence, and there may be people 
who still need its service, but the race is rapidly moving away 
from it. There is not a virile, progressive nation on earth that 
has not or is not striving to cast it out of government and school ; 
even Italy is a Protestant nation in many elements. Since Vic- 
tor Emmanuel marched into Borne the feeble, broken, dishonored 
parts of the grand old race have come; together into a splendid 
national life under the control of a liberal, patriotic Parliament 
and an enlightened King, and the Italian in any land may speak 
with just pride of the great nation that has Eome for its capital. 

I hope the logic of this article will appear even to Archbishop 
Ireland. The conduct of the Methodists in Italy is the question, 
but to understand that we must know the conditions back of them, 
their world-wide connections and the issues to which they lead. 
I have the example of Jesus for the method of reasoning I have 
adopted. He said : " Why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy 
brother's eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own 
eye?" If I have been a little insistent in naming and defining 
the beams, it is because I know the skill of our friends on the 
other side in covering up and concealing ugly facts when they 
wish to bring a railing accusation against their neighbors. 

S. M. Vernon.