Catholics Failed in America

Catholics Failed in America, Part 1: Maryland

Posted by Laramie Hirsch on Thursday, April 13, 2017

There are many reasons that Catholicism has remained mostly politically insignificant in the United States. If I could boil it down to three reasons, it would be because on the important levels, Catholics have lacked spine, force, and conviction.

Today, we will examine what went wrong with Maryland.

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When the colonies were first coming into existence under the British Crown in the 1600s, it was not just the Judaized Puritans who crossed the Atlantic. There were also a significant number of English Catholics coming to the New World in hopes of escaping persecution from the Anglicans. Unfortunately, when the English Catholics got here, they discovered that the colonies were filled with Puritans who despised Catholicism even more than the Anglicans despised it. The Puritans hated Catholicism so much, that they despised seeing even the traces of Catholicism in their Anglican cousins–which is why the Puritans came here in the first place. They wanted to be isolated from all forms of Catholicism, even Anglicanism. Like the Jews who held a tribal sense of temporal destiny, so too would the Puritans come to the New World in hopes of building their City on a Hill.

George Calvert, properly known as Lord Baltimore, had the idea of establishing a New World refuge for the fiercely persecuted Catholic Englishmen, and so Maryland would be the place where they could practice the Faith freely without fear of being arrested.

George Calvert,The First Lord Baltimore

This is the same Lord Baltimore that my own family had worked with in the initial establishment of Maryland.

So, why is there no Catholic paradise in Maryland today? What was the problem for Maryland from the outset? A lack of spine, force, and conviction.

Lord Baltimore was a convert from Protestantism. As such, he had the bright idea of giving non-Catholics the same freedom in his colony. But even this concession to the Protestants drew heavy protest form the Puritan government of Virginia.

Lord Baltimore was timid with the Faith. How was Catholicism to find a refuge, when one of the first orders was that “all Acts of the Roman Catholic Religion…be done as privately as may be”?

To make matters worse, Lord Baltimore did not establish the Catholic Church as Maryland’s religion. The other Puritan colonies were all too happy to put Puritanical laws on the books that would penalize Catholics. However, Lord Baltimore feared any resemblance to his hateful neighbors.

Instead, Lord Baltimore demonstrated his weakness and granted the Protestants equality.

While it may be true that cousin Captain Thomas Cornwallis was able to vigorously blow a broadside into the hull of the Cockatrice, such defense of Maryland was isolated. Perhaps the force of arms was not a priority for Maryland’s leaders. As a result, this lack of forcefulness resulted in the pirate Richard Ingle and his Puritan friend William Claiborne taking over Maryland’s government for a year in 1642. It was an atrocious humiliation.

(As an aside, the Cockatrice was actually one of Claiborne’s ships, sent out to attack Maryland ships. Cousin Tom captained the St. Helen and the St. Margaret in the naval battle, which took place off of Pocomoke Sound.)

Where leaders failed, the people prevailed, driving out the two usurpers, and giving Parliament back over to the Catholics.

However, Maryland’s status as a Catholic refuge would not last. As Charles Coulombe explains in his book, Puritan’s Empire:

Maryland was, of course, a different case. Like his father and grandfather, the third Lord Baltimore, Charles Calvert, allowed Protestants to freely settle in Maryland and enjoy full civil rights. By 1689, they were a majority of the population. A group of the more wealthy and influential formed, when the news from London arrived, the Protestant Association. On July 27, the Association seized the capital at St. Mary’s City. In 1690, King William officially took control of the colony, and voided the rights of the Catholic proprietor. The Assembly made it illegal for Catholics to hold office in Maryland.

The Catholics of Maryland foolishly put everyone on equal footing. They tried to practice pluralism. And by allowing in outsiders, they lost everything. Maryland became co-opted by the Protestants. They failed to kick out heretics and impose negative sanctions against the Puritans. They missed their chance. The opportunity was there, and they failed to take it.

The Catholic leadership was dull and dim-witted, while the Protestant Association was deliberately focusing on the capture of the Maryland government. The Puritans were fully prepared for a bureacratic long-game, as the Catholics instead rested on their laurels and enjoyed a false peace. In reality, the surrounding Protestant hordes were fully prepared to overtake them, and they were at war with the Maryland Catholics–even though the Catholics never knew they were in a political and cultural war in the first place.

Insult was later piled on top of the Catholic Marylanders’ grievous mistake:

1704 saw a political victory for the Protestants in Maryland as great as Moore’s in Florida was for Carolina. In that year the Assembly passed the Act to Prevent The Growth of Popery. This prohibited Catholic worship and forbade priests to make converts or baptize any but children of Catholic parents. The wealthier Catholics of the colony petitioned for a temporary reprieve from the first clause in respect to private homes; in an extraordinary move, Queen Anne intervened to make the exception permanent. Because of this, Catholic Maryland survived.

It survived in tatters, never becoming what it was supposed to be. While the Catholics of Maryland were fully prepared to be merciful, be tolerant, embrace pluralism, and pretend there was unity, in reality their enemies stood next to them the entire time holding concealed knives behind their backs.

The Catholic Marylanders wanted to “not be like those guys.” They wanted to not be the same bigots they tried to flee from in England. But ultimately, they proved to be sell outs. The Protestant Assembly consolidated their power and were all-too-happy to kick out all who might oppose them. The Puritans of Maryland had the balls to win a war, while the Catholics were completely lacking. The latter were completely unprepared to respond to the challenges of their surrounding and internal enemies.

If I could make an analogy of what happened in Maryland it would be of a silly man going to the beach to build a sandcastle, but the beach is filled with his enemies, and they come to kick over his sandcastle. Lord Baltimore and his followers were filled with ideology and utopian thoughts, lacking any understanding in bureaucratic warfare. The idea of Maryland was a defensive posture, and there was nothing offensive or aggressive to protect it.

The Catholic failure of Maryland is but a mere microcosm for so many other Catholic failures, such as the eventual co-opting of the Church by liberals and Freemasons. Yet such co-opting techniques of dissidents, liberals, and rebels goes beyond the Catholic Church to corporations, your job, and even your Protestant church, if you go to one.

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One comment on “Catholics Failed in America

  1. Some time after the hostile Puritan invasion from the south, the ascendance of William and Mary over James II took place and then there was apostasy on the baronial line:

    So Satan played some role in taking over the colony (where he still dances on consecrated ground). It paralleled events back in England from the downfall of James II and the Stuarts to the defeat of Bonnie Prince Charlie and the Jacobites at Culloden Moor in Scotland in 1746. The Devil is still very active in these events.

    Trust me, you haven’t lived until you have faced a bunch of demon-possessed anti-Catholic Protestants screaming obscenities and curses at you. Everything from the Spanish Inquisition to “Two-Four-Six-Eight…let’s all transubstantiate! Hah! Hah! Hah!”

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