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Religious Leaders of America's Past--Bishop John Carroll-what did his views do for the Catholic church?
Carroll (January 8, 1735-December 3,1815) has been one of my favorite figures in American Catholic History. He instituted many reforms in the Church and envisioned some of the reforms that did not take place until The Second Vatican Council 200 years later; He especially wanted to have the liturgy in English.
Carroll wrote articles for publications defending Catholic traditions and criticized the idea of establishing Protestantism as the State church. He treated non-Catholics with respect, insisting that Protestant and Catholics work together to build the new nation. He thought that lack of understanding of the role of the Vatican and the Latin in liturgy was a major obstacle to unity.
He also was for Catholic education and helped establish Georgetown University
Note on Sources
I have gleaned information from Wikipedia and an old article from Catholic Digest of Jan. 1956. Pictures are from Wikimedia and all public domain because the copyrights have run out.
He was born to Daniel Carroll, a native of Ireland and Eleanor Carroll at the family home in Darnell’s Chance in Upper Marlboro; Mayland He was educated in France at St. Omer in French Flanders. His cousin Charles of Carrollton also attended.
First Catholic Bishop
John Carroll who was the first bishop and archbishop of the Roman Catholic Church in the United States. His cousin Charles Carroll of Carrollton was one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence. His oldest brother, Daniel, became one of only five men to sign both the Articles of Confederation and the Constitution of the United States. John Carroll is the founder of Georgetown University, which is the oldest Catholic University in the United States.
In 1791 Carroll convened a diocesan synod the discussed among other things Baptism, Confirmation, penace and liturgy.
In 1808, Pope Pius VII made Baltimore the first archdiocese in the United States. Making Carroll the first archbishop
Church and State
In 1776 members of the Continental Congress wanted to persuade the Catholic colony of Canada to resist tyranny and wanted the help of a Catholic priest who was a friend of civil liberty. They found John Carroll. Along with his Cousin Charles Carroll, Samuel Chase, and Benjamin Franklin traveled to Quebec in the attempt to persuade the French Canadian population to join the revolution. The Canadians declined because they felt the Americans were anti-Catholic. Although the project was unsuccessful Carroll became well known by the new government. According to Wikipedia, the local Bishop of Quebec, Jean-Olivier Briand, excommunicated Carroll.
The Continetal Congress said it would not interfere with election of a Bishop with loyalties to Rome. It was the Vatican that was hesitant to hesitated when the American Catholics asked for a Bishop. Benjamin Franklin spoke for Congress when he said there was no need to sound out Congress at all. The American Government did not claim control over strictly religious matters. This surprised Rome and they allowed the priests to choose their own Bishop. This had not been done for centuries in the Catholic Church.
When George Washington was elected Carroll wrote to him to remind him that Catholics had been in the armies that won the Revolution. He asked that Catholics be given equal rights as citizens, referring to many anti-Catholic laws in various states.
When Washington died Carroll ordered Masses in all the Catholic churches for Washington. He preached a eulogy for the dead president in Baltimore.
In my opinion this is the way Church-State relations were meant to be: cooperation in mutual goals. Respect for the realm of the other and non-interference.
First American Bishop of the Catholic Church
Carroll was a member and a leader in the Society of Jesus, known as the Jesuits. In 1773 the order was suppressed. It was this that brought Carroll to come back from Europe where he’d been teaching. The reason he went overseas was that Catholic higher education was forbidden in Maryland and other colonies. He went to France where he studied for six years at St. Omer’s college in French Flanders. He joined the Jesuits and was ordained at Liege.
Although Carroll did not agitate for elimination of slavery he did call for humane treatment and religious education of slaves. He had two black servants, one of whom was a slave. He released him from slavery in his will and left the servant a generous inheritance.