Catholic Voices In Rome And America Sound Different!

Ferrell Jenkins
St. Louis, Mo.

The February 16th issue of Look Magazine had an article entitled: "Can Catholics Separate Church And State?" It was a series of questions answered by "Rev." John A. 0'Brien, research professor of theology at Notre Dame. We should like to quote a few of the questions and answers:

QUESTION: "Does the Catholic Church in the United States take part in politics?

ANSWER: No. The church as an institution does not. No member of the hierarchy tells priests or nuns how to vote. A priest is not permitted to tell his parishioners how to vote."

The headline on page 18 says: "A priest is not permitted to tell his Parishioners how to vote." Listen to the question and answer relaative to this:

QUESTION: "Doesn't the Catholic Church encourage its members to vote for Catholic candidates?

ANSWER: No. It asks them to vote for the candidate best qualified, regardless of religious affiliation."

These answers are clear enough, aren't they ? That is the way things sound in the United States. However, in Rome, where the head of the Catholic Church resides, the sounds are extremely different. Time magazine, Feb. 8th, tells of the synod of the Roman Catholic diocese of Rome which was held recently. One of the important items discussed, according to Time, was that "The church must maintain its right and duty to advise laymen on how to vote in elections. Pope John XXIII spoke at the synod.

The voices in Rome and America do sound different, don't they?

Well, was Mr. O'Brien lying when he answered the way he did? Catholics say "NO." He may have been using MENTAL RESERVATION. At least, according to Catholic doctrine, he had a right to use it. Listen to this official Catholic book: "When impertinent people, either maliciously or stupidly endeavor to wrest these secrets from us, we are perfectly justified in using mental reservation to meet their rude and ill-bred questioning. . ." (QUESTION BOX, 1929 ed., 433, 434).

The CATHOLIC ENCYCLOPEDIA says: "So that a false statement knowingly made to one who has not a right to the truth will not be a lie" ( IX, 471 ). "However we are also under obligation to keep secrets faithfully, and sometimes the easiest way of fulfilling that duty is to say what is false, or to tell a lie," (XI, 696). Yes, these books have the Imprimatur.

If I could talk personally with mister O'Brien I could ask him if he were using mental reservation, and if he didn't think I should know he could tell me "no." I still wouldn't know the truth. See how it works?

We know why things sound the way they do in America. The presidential race is already under way. We must preserve our freedom by seeing that a Catholic is not elected to this high office.

Truth Magazine IV:10, p. 24
August 1960