“America may come to exhibit a proof to the world”

In 1789, when the United States got its first President, it also got its first Roman Catholic Bishop, John Carroll (1735-1815). On November 6, 1789, he was named Bishop of Baltimore, and his diocese encompassed the entire American nation. Born to a prominent Maryland family, his brother Daniel signed both the Articles of Confederation and the Constitution. Their cousin Charles Carroll was the only Catholic to sign the Declaration of Independence. John studied in Europe, where he joined the Jesuits and was ordained in 1761. A philosophy professor, he returned to Maryland after the supression of the Jesuits in 1773. For the next eleven years, he ministered in Maryland until he was named “Superior of the mission in the thirteen United States.” A firm believer in the American experiment, he wrote in 1785: “America may come to exhibit a proof to the world, that general and equal toleration, by giving a free circulation to fair argument, is the most effectual method to bring all denominations of Christians to an unity of faith.” In 1808, Baltimore became an Archdiocese, and Carroll an Archbishop. Dioceses were erected in New York, Boston, Philadelphia and Louisville. At Whispers in the Loggia, Rocco Palmo has posted the prayer that Bishop Carroll wrote for Civil Authorities in 1791. Today as the nation inaugurates its 44th President, it’s worth a look.

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