John Jay Chapman '84, whose protest against the recent election of a Roman Catholic to be a Fellow of Harvard College was widely quoted in New York newspapers yesterday, is not and never has been an overseer of Harvard College, in spite of newspaper assertions to the contrary. According to an official statement issued yesterday Mr. Chapman has had no official connection with the University since his graduation in 1884.
Mr. Chapman voiced his complaint in a letter to William Lawrence '71, Episcopal Bishop of Massachusetts, and one of the five Fellows of the College.
The letter follows:
On October 12, in dedicating a church in Cambridge, Mass., Archbishop O'Connell took occasion to lecture Harvard University on its lack of religion. He began with a few words of sorrow over the Reformation. 'Some centuries ago,' he said, 'some of the great schools of Europe like Oxford and Cambridge forgot their duty to their mother.' As a result, according to the Cardinal, 'they have just missed the real thing. They have missed the way because they have cut off the light!'
"Coming down to Harvard the Cardinal suggested that Harvard was once a Catholic college, saying that if Harvard today 'had the old faith of Christ for which she was supposed to have been erected her influence would be supreme, tremendous, and we (i.e., the Catholics) would be the first to gather around her.
"The historic learning of the Cardinal may be at fault; but it is not to this point that I would call attention, but rather to the customary submissive silence in which such statements by Roman prelates are received in America. It is thought unkind and subsersive for any Protestant to resent the claims made by the Roman Curia, or even to call attention to them. The outspoken purpose of the Roman Church is to control American education.
May Establish Precedent
"I venture to ask your views on this matter because at the last election of a Fellow--one of the seven who control Harvard's destinies--the choice fell for the first time upon a Roman Catholic. When this official dies it may be urged that a precedent has been created and that as his successor a man of the same faith should be appointed. The practice would be recommended upon grounds of liberalism.
"I beg to offer the following reason against such an idea and even to deprecate the fact that the precedent has been created. The outspoken purpose of the Roman Church is to control American education. This is one of the larger issues of our epoch. It is in the minds of all.
"Liberalism presupposes free discussion and under present conditions of Protestant speechlessness the presence of a Roman Catholic on the Governing Board of a non-Catholic college or school makes it impossible for the board to discuss this great issue frankly."
Fellow is James Byrne '77
Although Mr. Chapman does not specifically mention the Fellow to whom he refers it is understood that it is James Byrne '77, who is a prominent New York attorney and a Regent of the University of the State of New York.
Mr. Byrne is a Roman Catholic. Of the four other Fellows of the College Bishop William Lawrence '71 of Boston is an Episcopalian and John F. Moors '83 of Boston is a Unitarian. It was not possible to ascertain last night what were the religious affiliations of Henry P. Walcott '58 of Cambridge or of Thomas N. Perkins '91 of Boston, who recently resigned his position.