“Dagger John” was no pacifist Catholic bishop. A lesson for our time?

archbishop-john-hughes

Archbishop John Hughes of New York, universally known to friend and foe as Dagger John, was  a very tough and fearless man.  After the anti-Catholic riots in Philadelphia in 1844 he called on the mayor of New York, an anti-Catholic bigot, and informed him that if a single Catholic church was touched in New York, New York would be a second Moscow.  (The reference was to the burning of Moscow in 1812 during Napoleon’s occupation of the city.) Not a Catholic church was touched.  On another occasion when a threat was made to burn Saint Patrick’s cathedral the Archbishop had it guarded within hours by 4,000 armed Catholics.  He earned his nickname!

Among his many accomplishments was his success in leading the New York Irish out of poverty.  It is a fascinating story and relevant to our time.  In 1997 in City Journal, William J. Stern wrote an article on how Dagger John did it…

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A look back at the anti-Catholic media coverage when JFK ran for President

For all the verbiage heaped on that historic showdown between Kennedy and a fellow senator, Hubert Humphrey of Minnesota, a political historian at West Virginia Wesleyan says the religious issue was “exaggerated” by the national media.

In fact, professor Robert Rupp says, when the boyishly handsome Kennedy swept into the mountains out of Massachusetts, the real issue of the day was the economy.

America had been stung by a recession two years earlier and West Virginia found itself particularly damaged, with coal and steel production suffering. The jobless rate was the highest in the nation, and lame-duck President Dwight Eisenhower incurred the wrath of many mired in the deepening recession.

Boarded-up windows in vacated business structures were dubbed “Eisenhower Curtains.”

Yet for all of the misery prevalent in the Mountain State five decades ago, the national media riveted its attention almost exclusively on where Kennedy worshipped.

“It’s obvious that it was exaggerated in terms of the degree of prejudice in the state,” Rupp said in an interview.

“Facts don’t matter. Perceptions. You could make the point that the national press made this into a religious referendum. The way a lot of the newspapers reported it, that was the only angle.”

Rupp pointed to the coverage of a New York Times political correspondent, Bill Lawrence, that implied “a bigot behind every bush” in West Virginia.

Each time he covered a speech by the two Democratic heavyweights, Rupp says, the correspondent “went out and found some bigot that said, ‘I’m not gong to vote some Catholic.’ It was almost bordering on a joke.”

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British Foreign Office scandal surounding Pope’s visit continues to unfold

Last night critics said the choice of non-Catholic staff highlighted the “appalling lack of respect” shown to the Pope.

Catherine Pepinster, editor of the Catholic newspaper The Tablet, said: “In politically correct Britain people are normally careful not to offend – and rightly so.

“Yet being offensive about the Pope is OK. Catholics are the minority that it is acceptable to treat as the whipping boys. Sometimes this cultural contempt emerges from the shadows – a contempt you’ll never see allowed to be shown to a chief rabbi or a grand mufti.”

A source within the Catholic Church of England and Wales said: “At its best this shows a disgraceful lack of know­ledge and understanding of the church among middle-ranking civil servants.

“A more alarming interpretation is that there are elements of anti-Catholic views and a deep-seated contempt of Christianity within the Foreign Office.

“There is no way a memo like this would have been written, let alone widely circulated, had it related to a visit by an important Muslim leader. There is clearly an alarming lack of judgment within Government departments.”

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