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Shall the United States Have an Ambassador To the Vatican?
by The Rev. Carl McIntire

Shall the United States Have an Ambassador To the Vatican?


JANUARY 24, 1952

"The just shall live by faith" (Rom. 1: 17).

Protestantism has not lost its fight.

When President Truman sent the name of General Mark W. Clark to the United States Senate for confirmation as an ambassador to the Vatican, he drove a sword deep into the heart of Protestant America and it brought forth bright red blood. The General has now refused to run. He deserves our congratulations. But the President, with the stubbornness characteristic of the Missouri mule, says that he will appoint another. I want to assure him that we, too, are equally as determined to resist. On the day when he sends up the nomination of his second appointee, those of us living in the Philadelphia area will announce a Protestant protest meeting in Convention Hall in Philadelphia. Our people are stirred. We believe the President has betrayed a sacred trust, and we have just begun to fight. So far as I know, not a single group in the United States that in any way considers itself Protestant favors entering into diplomatic relations with the Holy See. We are all against it, for our various reasons and from our various positions.

The American Council of Christian Churches rejoices in the liberty which permits us to assemble in this hall and to lift our voices in defense of our faith and of our free land.

Shall we have an ambassador to the Vatican? The Protestant answer is, No. It is a "'no" red with the crimson blood of our Protestant forebears through the centuries. It is a "no" that is settled deep in out convictions and in our emotions. The spirit of the Covenanters and the Greyfriars says, "No." The spirit of the Huguenots and the Waldensians says, "No." The spirit of Luther and Calvin and Knox says, ".No." The spirit of our Pilgrim Fathers says, "No."

The first amendment to the Constitution of the United States declared, in its first sentence, "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof." This constitutional guarantee expresses the principle popularly called "Separation of church and state." In this new land the practices of the old world were cast aside. There was to be no established church. All churches were to be free and equal before the law; not one was to receive emphasis, opposition, or favor from the state. In the words of Jesus Christ, we "render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and to God the things that are God's." This principle is expressed in various ways nondiscrimination, equality, and freedom for all. This is a bulwark of our Republic. It is this principle which is now under attack to change the United States as our forefathers gave it to us.

In this land of the melting pot, let it be clear that we ask nothing for ourselves that we do not recognize belongs to every other religion in the land, including the Roman Catholic Church. But it is my contention that if the Roman Catholics in the United States fully endorse the principles set down in this First Amendment of our Constitution, their leaders would, with a united voice, renounce any thought of their church receiving preference, tax funds, or having an ambassador appointed to their head in Rome.


Let us ask ourselves, Why would the appointment of an ambassador be a violation of these principles?

To send an ambassador to the Vatican represents a recognition of the temporal power of the Pope. He claims to be the vicar of Christ not only in spiritual religious matters but in temporal and political matters. By him, princes rule. In this claim, he has presumed to elevate and to depose kings and governors. His claim to be the Prince of Christ to whom all the governments of the world must finally bow is a form of blasphemy. For the United States to recognize the Vatican as a state means that we, as a nation, believe that Rome's claims to temporal power are real, valid, and should, be recognized among the nations. Never could we be a party to such a deal.

On Christmas Eve the Pope said, "The church has, in fact, been founded by Christ as, a society that is visible, and as such meets states in the same territory, embraces in her solicitude the same people, and in many ways and under different aspects makes use of the same means and the same institutions." The Pope never spoke a truer word. It is impossible to send an ambassador to Rome as a state without recognizing her as a church.

Anne O'Hare McCormick, correspondent for the New York Times, writing from Rome on Christmas Eve, December 24, 1951, reported, "Advocates who argue that the appointment is not to a religious leader but to the ruler of the scrap of real estate called Vatican City do not get much support here. The mission is either to the Pope as the head of a worldwide church or it is nothing, it is pointed out; to pretend anything else is to make the appointment useless or reduce it to absurdity. All other countries sending representatives to the Vatican accredit them to the Holy See, and if the United States decides to send one at all it will follow the regular formula."

The actual physical territory of Vatican City comprises 108.7 acres, or about one-sixth of a square mile. It is a plot of ground not as large as an ordinary golf course or a small airport. To argue that this is a state with which the United States must enter into diplomatic relationship in order to help thwart communism's march is absurd.

Today only nineteen nations send full ambassadors to the Holy See, and everyone is a Roman Catholic nation recognizing the Pope's temporal power. The Vatican's ambassador sent in exchange is honored by being recognized as the dean of all ambassadors.

To send an ambassador to the Vatican violates our principles because it gives to one church a recognition and a standing which no other church in the land desires or would tolerate; The purpose of an ambassador is served in that he is able to influence policy in the inner circles of Rome. The American representing our country would argue for certain policies; and, in the inner circles of our State Department, the ambassador representing the Pope would argue for his policies, the policies of the Roman Catholic Church. Shall an ambassador from the Pope, the representative of the Roman Catholic Church, where its priests are diplomats and its diplomats are priests, be given the preferred status of diplomatic immunities which are accorded all nations with whom we deal?

In the debate there is a dilemma confronting the advocates of an ambassador to the Vatican. Those who concede that it is an ambassador to a church must recognize that the Government is favoring and dealing with a church. On the other horn of the dilemma, those who endeavor to argue that the ambassador is only to a state are confronted with the realities of the claims of the Roman Catholic pontiffs to temporal power. The truth is that Rome is a church-state, with all the evils of both mingled, confused, and compounded. When a representative or an ambassador goes, he enters into a religious relationship. I have here the picture, as it was published in the nation's press, of Myron Taylor, President Roosevelt's personal representative, kneeling before the Pope. Why does he kneel? When credentials are presented to the other governments of the world, do our embassadors kneel before their rulers or even kiss their rings?

Anne O'Hare McCormick , in her column to which I referred, concludes: "On Christmas eve the whole diplomatic corps attends a midnight mass celebrated by the Pope in a private chapel in the Vatican." Thus the ambassador representing the United States, and representing us, participates in the mass, with all of its superstitions, at the hands of the Pope in his private chapel. Shall our nation be a party to furthering the superstition that the sacrifice of Christ is continually re-enacted upon the altars of the Roman Catholic Church and under the authority of the Pope?

The sacrifice of Christ upon the Cross of Calvary was complete and final. It met every need of divine justice, and, having once offered up Himself, He arose from the dead and He now sits at the right hand of God, ever living, to make intercession for the transgressors. Shall the United States Government enter into a relationship which actually denies the Gospel of the grace of God, to which many of its citizens are committed? Our answer is, No, and this is the reason the issue is of the deepest possible religious significance. It involves the Gospel of eternal life, the precious souls of men, and whether their sins shall be cleansed and washed in the blood of the Lamb.

About the same time that President Truman nominated his ambassador, the Vatican released a report that plans were under way for an air force and a navy for the Vatican. The Roman Catholic Church has no sea on which to sail her navy, and she has no land on which to light her planes. If the temporal power of Rome is to be recognized by the nations of the world, she is entitled, as other nations, to a place in the United Nations. One recognition leads to and demands the other. Shall the Roman Catholic Church rise to a place where, speaking in the name of Christ, she presides over the United Nations ?


With whom are we asked to have these diplomatic relations? On November 5, 1951, Coadjutor Bishop William A. Scully of Albany, N. Y., as reported in the New York Times, declared that the United States belongs to the Roman Catholic Church. He made the statement addressing the seventy-fifth anniversary of the Sacred Heart Church in New York. "By discovery," he said, "the Church has proprietary claim to the land that is America." "Her title to our own state [New York] is by exploration and martyrdom."

This same church is now teaching its parochial school students in Philadelphia to sing a hymn which reads,

"0 Mary Immaculate, of our country thou art the Queen;
0 Mary Immaculate, thy Regal Power we esteem.
Preserve our love for God and all humanity,
Our Faith in freedom and men's equality,
O Mary Immaculate, all America prays to thee,
Queen of the Stars and Stripes, and Queen of the U.S.A.,
O Mary Immaculate, ever keep our country free."

President Truman indicated that one of the reasons for his appointment was that valuable information could be obtained from the Roman Catholic Church, from the Vatican, in the common struggle against communism. But the President gave expression to a reality at this point which ought forever to defeat the proposal. Roman priests and bishops, through the instrument of the co confessional: obtain information and communicate it to Rome. Their loyalty is to the Pope. They have taken an implicit and perpetual vow of obedience to him. Actually we have a superspy system. These spies can obtain information from behind the iron curtain and in other places, which can be passed on to the United States for the price of' diplomatic recognition. Why are not -the same spies obtaining information in the United States and passing it onto the Roman pontiff for similar use and bargaining purposes to advance his cause in other realms? Shall we bargain with such a spy system? The price is too high.

Our nation has been outraged by an Alger Hiss, who took secrets from our State Department and passed them on to the couriers of communism, a foreign power. But how about the secrets which are communicated through the channel of priest and bishop to the head of a foreign power? If it is a betrayal of our land for an Alger Hiss to do it, is it not also a betrayal of our land for a Roman Catholic priest or bishop to do the same thing?

It has been said that if formal diplomatic relations with the Vatican were to be established by the approval of the United States Senate, every bishop in the United States who has taken a vow of obedience to the Pope should be asked and required to register as an agent of a foreign power under our Foreign Agent's Registration Law. I say we should not wait until such diplomatic relations are established. These bishops are just as much spies now as they will ever be, And every Roman Catholic bishop in this country should be required, under the legislation now on the statute books, to register as the representative of the Vatican.


It is impossible to deal with this subject at this time in our land without considering Cardinal Spellman. Last week he visited the Pope in Rome and discussed this question of an ambassador. He said, "I personally consider that it would be appropriate for my country to be represented at the Vatican." Then, speaking of our opposition to the appointment, he said, "The truth is that a new religion seems to be growing in the United States, based on two dogmas: to keep the United States from sending an ambassador to the Vatican and to keep Catholic children from using tax-supported school buses." A new religion? NO! It is the old religion -the dogmas that we have always had in this great land. Where has Cardinal Spellman, who calls himself an American, been all these years? He is right when he says, "It is a religion." The conflict between his desires to take our tax money and use it to support his schools, where they teach the Pope's infallibility and 'Mary's queenship over the Stars and Stripes, is a religious controversy. We don't believe these heresies of Rome. Rome is a totalitarian church and the Pope is a dictator. We forget the. deals he made with Hitler. We forget that he is at this present moment supporting Peron in Argentina and Franco in Spain. We forget that in recent weeks our, Protestant brethren on Colombia and Venezuela have been murdered, simply because they were Protestant. They were murdered by those who did it out of allegiance to the Pope.

Let us face the basic truths in this issue. The concept of the Roman Catholic Church in its temporal power is in absolute contradiction to the concept of democratic power. If the Pope rules with all the authority of Christ in church and state, he is a supreme dictator and there is no place for the consent of the governed. A church which preaches such allegiance to her head on a foreign soil must be stopped in her march to possess the soil of the United States. I say to the Roman Catholics who rejoice in the United States and our democratic freedom, look at the inconsistencies, look at the contradictions, as they are brought into bold relief, and I appeal to you to turn and forsake the Roman Catholic Church. Turn to the great concepts, the basic precepts, Which built what we have in America. I believe that our land has been -built primarily upon Protestant principles, a recognition -ofthe individual, his right of conscience, bound by no priest or church, a conscience free before the Lord Jesus Christ, the only Head and King of the church, who now sits at the right hand of the throne of God. It is only in this concept that you can have a true, democratic society without the church interfering, meddling, and presuming, under the threat of excommunication or other penalties, to instruct its people how they should, conduct the affairs of state. The greater the centralization and the more bureaucratic our Government becomes, the greater threat Rome is as she reaches in her mischievous hand to manipulate. If we are to have and to honor the separation of, church and state, there is no place for church lobbies here in Washington, either Roman Catholic or Protestant.

When Cardinal Spellman reached Boston on Sunday, on his journey from Rome, be commented upon our meeting here tonight. According-to the press reports, he said that the participants, meaning us, "tinder 69 would do better if they donated a pint of their blood for the boys in Korea - that would be much more useful." I immediately replied to Cardinal Spellman, and though his remarks were carried far and wide in the press, on the radio, and on television, my remarks were completely suppressed in New York. My immediate answer was completely suppressed by all of the papers, radio, and television in New York.

I informed him that we had given our blood, that I just recently gave a pint of mine, for Korea, and that the Red Cross mobile blood bank has a regularly stated visit to our church in Collingswood. Does he mean to imply that we are not patriotic? Is this the way he wants to fight this issue and is this the plane on which he answers the arguments raised? More blood has already been shed to maintain these principles, as we have outlined them', than has been shed in Korea. And there were no blood banks to keep our forefathers from dying.

Is this the next Pope talking now? Here is the question. If he were made Pope would be renounce his United States citizenship in order to be head of the papal state? Could a United States citizen be head of a foreign state and receive an ambassador from the United States?

Let us not be deceived. The power of Rome in our own country is very great in the press and upon the radio. In Philadelphia recently they installed a new bishop in the Roman Church. The papers were full, of his 'praise and of his pictures. When his special train arrived, the photographers were on hand. The installation was televised and recast. I can say that no single event in Philadelphia ever received more public attention, not even the installation of the Mayor. The department stores carried big ads wishing the new bishop a long reign over the commonwealth of Philadelphia. We haven't been used to that kind of terminology. The Philadelphia Inquirer, the Philadelphia Evening Bulletin, both refused to carry my story or announcement concerning this Protestant Pilgrimage to Washington. Not one single line in the news columns of these papers appeared, though information was repeatedly sent to their news desks. Who suppressed it? The Roman Catholics.

After the President made his appointment, the American Council of Christian Churches requested of all four of the major networks time to present its views to the American public. It was even suggested that representatives of the American Council would be willing to participate in debate or discussion with representatives of the Roman Catholic Church. The replies came back, without exception, declining to give time. And to this very minute, not a single network in this country has made available any time for the discussion of this issue. The Gallup Poll reported that forty per cent of the American people have not even heard of the question. Again I say, this suppression represents the power of the Roman Catholic Church in our country. Her praise may be heard on every hand, but not one single word dare be spoken against her.

The Roman Catholics may go on their pilgrimage, but I know what happened up in our area in regard to this pilgrimage to Washington. Where a Protestant wife was married to a Roman Catholic husband, she was forbidden to come. Where a Protestant employee asked her Roman Catholic employer if she could be released, it was denied. Intimidation, fear, penalties! We did not know these things existed or had gone so far in our land until President Truman uncovered this condition for us.

I asked Cardinal Spellman, if he was really interested in the unity of the United States in this hour of our extremity in facing communism, that he call upon the President to abandon his plan to nominate an ambassador. Communism is an enemy, we are all against it; but we have another enemy, too, older, shrewder. It is Roman Catholicism and its bid for world power. In the United States it is "Spellmanism."


Our evening would not be complete without some consideration of President Truman. What shall we do with Mr. Truman?

Who can understand his errors? Who can tolerate his language? He is in difficulty with the Protestants and the opinion polls. He needs help, so he turns to the Roman Catholic Church. Suppose we ask the Baptists to deal with him.

But seriously, why is it necessary, why wag it necessary for him to think of turning toward the Roman Catholic Church? Because Rome is against communism, or because communism itself has become so powerful? Who is responsible for the rise of communism as it has made its march with American-made weapons? Who made the deals at Yalta, Teheran, and at Potsdam? Who held the American armies back so the Russians could occupy half of Berlin? Who drew the 38th parallel in Korea? Who let the Russians join in the war against Japan after it was won? Who has been so naive concerning Russia's aims and duplicity? Who is it that betrayed Chiang Kai-shek and aided the communists in China, closed the mission doors, and placed four hundred million Chinese in the communist camp? Who has been responsible for these colossal blunders which have now brought upon us the excessive burdens of taxation and rearmament, and threat of a third world war? Can Mr. Truman evade his responsibility in all this? And now Mr. Truman asks us to turn back the clock of human history four hundred. years and to make a deal with Rome to help us out of the present difficulties into which he has led us.

In our fight against communism our nation must not strengthen and help build the Roman Catholic Church. This is exactly what will be involved in diplomatic recognition.

Let us remember that in fighting Hitler we have so strengthened communism that we now must fight it. -Let us not make the same mistake twice, lest when the battle is over with communism we shall find our ancient enemy in power upon us.

I stand here to give testimony to the glorious fact that our churches in the American Council of Christian Churches over this land have been warning and crying out against these compromises with communism. We have never ceased to declare that the United States should never have recognized communist Russia. You can't do business with Hitler. You can't do business. with Stalin. And you can't do business with the Pope. If the President really wants to help in the great struggle against communism, let him sever our diplomatic relations with communist Russia now. Let us break the ties with the satellite nations which do her bidding. Where is our sense of righteousness and honor as a nation? Let Russia be driven from the council of respectable nations. She has no place in the United Nations if the United Nations charter is to be honored. And if Russia is not to be removed, then let us have the self-respect to withdraw ourselves.

We do not need the help of a Pope. We need the help of Almighty God. He is the Governor among the nations. I do not believe that war is inevitable. He controls the heart of Joseph Stalin. He could fight for us. But in our confusion, our sin, our wickedness, will He not use Russia, as He used Pharaoh and the Assyrians as the rod of His wrath, in judgment against us?

We must turn back to God. We must go back to the Bible, and only to the Bible, in which these glorious concepts of deliverance, of salvation, and of eternal life are presented. The clarion call of the prophet summoning a nation to repentance is the call of this hour - repentance from the President down to the lowest one of us. We call for revival. Yes, but it must not be a superficial revival, a revival that is not ready to face this issue of a Vatican appointment. It must be a revival which deals with sin, and sin which strikes at the house of God. Let judgment begin at the house of God. Let our churches turn from their sin, their apostasy, their evil ways, purify, and cleanse themselves. Let Protestantism put on her robes as of old, reassert her militancy, and take in her hand the sword of the Spirit which is the Word of God, and I believe God will deliver us.

When I look at what President Truman has done in this appointment it distresses beyond words. The Roman Catholics everywhere have come to his support. And it appears to be the same old strategy, appealing to groups, blocks of voters, racial and -color lines, in order to gain a strategy of political power. America was never built on such strategy, and America never can be preserved by pit ting Catholic against Protestant, colored against 'white, labor against capital. This is a land of free men, where opportunity beckons to each man. But these concepts of love for one's fellowmen, of love and consideration of one's neighbor, these concepts of industry and private enterprise, of stewardship, and of government which rests upon the consent of the governed I as the servant of the people-all of these come out of the concepts of God, and the responsibility of individuals to their God, which are presented in the Bible.

The time has come when a weak, a frail, a hesitating Protestantism will lose its battle. Let us be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might, remembering and ever declaring, "The just shall live by faith."

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