History of the Grand Army of the Republic
by Robert Burns Beath
Bryan, Taylor and Co., Publishers
New York, 1889
page 294


Portland Maine, 1884:

Commander-in-Chief John S. Kountz included the following in his address to the group

He had appointed a committee, consisting of Comrades W. S. Rosecrans, California; M.T. McMahon, New York and J. C. Linehan, New Hampshire, to lay the nature and work of the Grand army of the Republic before the proper Catholic Ecclesiastical Authorities of the United States, and the chairman, Comrade Rosecrans, had reported to him

That, is fulfillment of this duty, I corresponded with the other members if the committee, and thereupon addressed letters to the Primate, the Most Rev. Archbishop Gibbons, of Baltimore, and archbishop Ryan, of Philadelphia stating to them than while we do not expect to ask any endorsement or ecclesiastical approval of our Society, we were anxious to have its nature so understood that it might be known to all confessors that Catholics might, lawfully and with good conscience, be members thereof.

                In response to their kindly suggestions, I furnished ample explanations, written and printed, showing that our association was for the noble objects of cultivating among its members the spirit of Fraternity, Charity and Loyalty, and to its nature temporary.  I also conversed with other archbishops, bishops, and theologians and have the pleasure to inform you that it was the opinion of everyone with whom I conferred that the Society  of the Grand army of the Republic, as now organized and conducted, is not, in the ecclesiastical meaning of the phrase, a secret society. and that Catholics may, with all good conscience, belong to it.

                I congratulate our Order that, in the opinion of such dispassionate judges, we have builded, as we intended, an association so broad, liberal and just that it may be worthy the great Republic for which we periled our lives, and for which so many shed their blood.  I congratulate you, also, for happily having undertaken the good work of eliciting these expressions of opinion, so important to the honor and future welfare of our Order. 

The Church of the United Brethren, in Conference, decided that there is no objection to their members uniting with our organization and we are advised that they United Presbyterians have left the matter to the conscience of their individual members.

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