Catholic Scholar Affirms Principle of Separation of Church and State

A leading Catholic scholar today called on Protestants, Catholics and Jews to “uphold each other in the support of religious values in a way that will confront the advancing secularist order with a firm but fair opposition.”

Addressing the opening session here of the first national institute on “The Responsibilities of Religious Freedom,” sponsored by the National Conference of Christians and Jews, the Rt. Rev. Msgr. John Tracy Ellis, professor of church history at the Catholic University of America, urged non-Catholics to “keep their minds attuned to the mounting sentiment in Catholic circles all over the world in favor of universal religious freedom.”

He said, however, that the Catholic Church should be judged “by its record in the United States and not in Spain or Columbia or any other country where Catholics form a majority of the population.”

Asserting that the principle of church-state separation was an integral part of Catholic thinking in this country, Msgr. Ellis declared: “In the world society as we find it today, nothing is more vital to the principle of religious freedom than that very separation.”

Rabbi Bertram W. Korn of Philadelphia, prominent Jewish historian and spiritual leader of the Reform Congregation Knesseth Israel of Philadelphia, said that “Jews have been accorded a closer approximation of religious freedom in the United States than in any other country in the Western world at any time in history.” He stated that this status had been achieved, not from the action of organized religious bodies but from the contribution of laymen.

Another speaker at the session was Dr. Franklin H. Littell, professor of church history at the Chicago Theological Seminary, who predicted that “with the tremendous manpower of Judaism, Catholicism and Protestantism in a situation primarily pluralistic and voluntaristic, the Golden Age of religion in America lies directly before us.”

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