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To the Editors of the CRIMSON:
Let me say a word with regard to the verse appearing first in sequence in the October issue of the Harvard Monthly. Gleams of humor in it there undoubtedly are, but it is humor of a one-sided kind, which only persons of a certain class can enjoy, while others must not and cannot but regard it s insulting. Humor which depends for its power on injury to one class of men at Harvard, in order that the others may laugh, is not a help towards the broadness and religious toleration in which all Harvard men take pride. There are many Roman Catholics at Harvard. To them the Pope is a sacred representative of Christ. He is called Christ's vicar upon earth. To speak of their great spiritual master as the verse in the Monthly speaks, is to insult Catholics and broad-minded men in general at Harvard as well as the Pope himself. I do not wish to offend the writer of the verse when I say that his work displays a certain thoughtlessness and hasty ignorance which he himself would have been the last to allow to take the form of print had he stopped to reflect. It may be worth while here to remark that, contrary to the apparent implications of the verse, the Pope is believed by Catholics to be neither impeccable as a man, nor necessarily and in all cases infallible as a priest in giving voice to his decisions. Nor is he in the habit of passing judgments on trivial matters or on trivial occasions. There were, not many years since, a group of ill-informed but docile persons who were interested in improving their knowledge concerning the Catholic faith. They wrote down questions upon slips of paper, and placed them in a box in a church, whence they were removed and answered at leisure by a priest. The collected questions and their answers--and the questions represented the most frequent and the most puzzling of all those that occupy the minds of non-Catholics--have been published in the form of a book called "The Question Box Answers" and published by the Catholic Book Exchange. This book would be a healthy corrective for any readers who found, or thought they found, pleasure in the cleverness of expression combined with accuracy which presumably was thought to be the excuse for publishing the verse. For in point of fact it is not accurate. Its implications, as far as they can be translated into English, are nothing more nor less than slanders. Take for example the first two lines of the second stanza. Powerful beyond a doubt, they yet convey a totally false impression. To quote from the "Question Box" (page 300) we find the question asked "If the Pope is the successor of Peter, why doesn't he imitate him in simplicity of life? Why ape the pomp and luxury of worldly princes?" The answer reads, "The greater number of the Popes have been remarkable for their holiness of life. Surely the private life of Pope Leo XIII is full of Apostolic simplicity. As continually dealing with temporal rulers, the Popes have followed the customs of European princes." And I venture to say that if the writer in the Monthly could have watched the private life of the late Pope Leo, who, at an advanced age, rose with the cock, said his daily Mass at sunrise while fasting, and then, after his meagro breakfast tottered to the racking duties and responsibilities of a spiritual empire which belts the world, the verse now in the Monthly would have remained unwritten.
In short, while it is not my purpose in this small space to attempt anything so unnecessary as a defence of the sovereign pontiff of Catholic Christendom. I do wish to insist that an insult to the Catholic faith is an insult to Harvard, and a retrogression to less tolerant times. The editors of the Monthly no doubt acted thoughtlessly, but none the less they made a mistake. They would have seen, had they reflected, that good taste demanded the suppression of a work which might give pain. H. T. CAREY '13
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