According to the Most Rev. Edward D. Howard, "The true sources of democracy lie in the doctrines of the Catholic church." However Dr. Currin Shields, a professor of political theory, argued, "It's just not true. It doesn't stand up in theory or practice either one. The assumption that democracy and Catholicism are incompatible is totally without warrant, and without evidence." It was reasoned, "Catholic education provides the proper foundations for a sane democratic order."

As understood, "the whole drive that led to the separation of church and state in the U.S. was a reaction against the Calvinist Protestant arrangement for religious domination in civil affairs. Roman Catholicism, on the other hand, has upheld throughout its history the separate provinces of church and state – what it calls the 'doctrine of the 2 swords.'"

In other words, the professor clarified, "the unwavering Roman Catholic teaching has been that church and state are distinct powers – one religious, the other civil. As the church sees it, each society has the right to work out its own form of civil government, without interference from the church – so long as the government doesn’t interfere in the religious domain. Thus the church policy is one of 'neutralism … of tolerating any legitimate regime.'"

In his sermon during the solemn pontifical mass of the Holy Ghost in 1935, the Most Rev. Edward D. Howard pointed out, "The United States is indebted to the Catholic church not only for the benefits of civilization which it shares in common with the entire western world, but in particular for its democratic form of government, because the true sources of democracy lie in the doctrines of the Catholic church.

"There are few places where a Catholic law apostolate is more opportune than here in this northwest county (Oregon). Its vast resources, its equable climate and scenic beauty all presage a future of bounteous material prosperity. The brightness of this encouraging prospect, however, finds a discouraging antithesis in several gloomy reflections on what we may call the social conscience of our fellow citizens.

"In some instances their concept of the powers of the state and the rights of the individual has appeared to be faulty. The twin social scourges of divorce and birth control are destroying the family and depressing the birth rate to a degree alarming and, even for these days (in 1935), exceptional. Yet there are no people more eager to know and to do the right than are the men and women around us. The human mind is naturally attracted to the truth and I think that nowhere else will truth get a more favorable hearing than in this northwest county (Oregon).

"Possessed of a high average intelligence, our non-Catholic neighbors and not generally obsessed with inherited prejudices, are not tenacious of fixed conceptions for which no reason can be given, do not accept assertions without examination simply because they are assertions. In a word, they are eager for the truth and certainly not hostile to the church which claims to teach the truth. Know your religion. Bring out by your words and actions what your religion is, what Catholics do and say – in other words the manner in which Catholics translate their faith into life.

"The kingdom of heaven did not cause Christ to lose sight of the kingdom on earth for he knew, better than anyone else, that this is the road men must travel to reach the kingdom above. The Catholic action of the laity has at all times been the index and measure of the Catholic spirit. We urge this Catholic action in the name of those fundamental institutions so essential to human happiness, the family, the nursery of the state as Cicero calls it.

"We urge in the name of the state itself that democracy may not degenerate into mob violence, the worse form of tyrant. 'Who can be happy?' asks Plato living under the arbitrary will of a crowd. In fine, we call you, my brethren, to Catholic action that we and our fellow citizens may know, love and serve God in this world and be happy with him forever in the next."

In 1945, educators from many American colleges, universities and seminaries joined members of the American Catholic Philosophical association at its 20th annual conference. Father Walter Farrell  explained democracy was defined as a "justly exercised government with its power just distributed" and as "sharply distinguished from royal or Republican governments. Royal government may be paternal and working for the common good, but it is a government imposed.

"Republican government may show love for its citizens, but it cares for them in a paternal fashion. A democracy is not paternal, does not treat its citizens like children, absolving them of responsibilities. From it no man is unjustly excluded … in it the individual has an end beyond the common good." Dr Francis McMahon added, "True education for democracy puts the accent upon the education of man as man. It recognizes that one is a man before he is a citizen, that one forms the citizen by forming the man.

"To interpret education for democracy to mean, as some take it to mean today (in 1945) that human nature has significance and value only as a part of society, is to propose a counterfeit type of education far more akin to totalitarianism than to democracy. The simplest way to describe the present state of education in our democracy is to say that formlessness has triumphed – formlessness as regards the intellectual and moral foundations of the democratic ideal, and a corresponding and consequent formlessness as regards the curriculum.

"For those fully aware of the role that education plays for harm or for good in a democracy, the contemporary situation should arouse the gravest concern … certainly is vast enough to require separate treatment. It must be granted that in its essential lines. Catholic education provides the proper foundations for a sane democratic order. It militantly affirms the objectivity of truth in the metaphysical and moral orders, it defends the dignity of man against assaults of the materialists and the skeptics, and it yields to none in its respect for tradition."

The episcopalian William Rusher of 'National Review' magazine made the observation in 1986, "Democracy is a highly popular concept in our society, and the news that a majority favors or opposes some particular policy carries considerable weight. The Vatican is aware of the shortcomings of democracy, as well as its merits. Before there even was a church, Pilate asked the Passover crowd which prisoner he should free in accordance with the Passover custom – Jesus or Barabbas? The crowd roared 'Barabbas' – and so it was Jesus who died."

Dr. Currin Shields wrote the book, 'Democracy and Catholicism in America', told Associated Press religious writer George W. Cornell in 1958, "Anti-Roman Catholic sentiment has diminished in the last 25 years (since say 1933), but there still is enough of it to stain the picture. Most Protestant anti-Roman Catholics have no idea what Roman Catholic doctrines are. They assume the church teaches what it doesn't." 

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