Defending Truth is Doing One’s Duty

Commentary by J. A. Davis

"Duty is the sublimest word in the language. You can never do more than your duty. You should never wish to do less." –Robert E. Lee

Sad though this report may be it needs to be published for those of us who cherish our Christian beliefs and are willing to set ourselves apart from those who willingly or unwittingly do harm to truth in the name of the church.

Such is the case of the attached article which appeared in the Arkansas Diocese of the Catholic Church under the signature of the presiding bishop in Little Rock.

For the life of me I cannot understand the rationalization for bringing demeaning references to Robert E. Lee into an otherwise well thought article on abortion. What good purpose, even if his Lee slights were true, (and they are not) can that serve?

The two are incongruent. Worse, the message shows an absolute absence in knowledge of the real character of Robert E. Lee. If intentional, the Bishop gives good cause to reason why so many are leaving the church today. Author John Esten Cooke provides relevant insights on the character of Lee.

Lee on Slavery:
"The doctrines and miracles of our Savior have required nearly two thousand years to convert but a small portion of the human race, and even among Christian nations what gross errors still exist! While we see the course of the final abolition of human slavery is still onward, and give it the aid of our prayers, let us leave the progress as well as the results in the hands of Him who, chooses to work by slow influences, and with whom a thousand years are but as a single day." –Robert E. Lee, from a letter to President Pierce before the war

Lee encouraged Christian thought and behavior in his soldiers and students:
"He did not fail, on many occasions, to show his men that he was a sincere Christian. When General Meade came over to Mine Run, and the Southern army marched to meet him, Lee was riding along his line of battle in the woods, when he came upon a party of soldiers holding a prayer-meeting on the eve of battle. Such a spectacle was not unusual in the army then and afterward–the rough fighters were often men of profound piety–and on this occasion the sight before him seems to have excited deep emotion in Lee. He stopped, dismounted–the staff-officers accompanying him did the same–and Lee uncovered his head, and stood in an attitude of profound respect and attention, while the earnest prayer proceeded, in the midst of the thunder of artillery and the explosion of the enemy’s shells." –John Esten Cooke, from Part 5, Chapter 13 of A LIFE OF GEN. ROBERT E. LEE

"I shall be disappointed, sir, I shall fail in the leading object that brought me here, unless the young men all become real Christians; and I wish you and others of your sacred profession to do all you can to accomplish this result." –Robert E. Lee, to Dr. White at Washington College after the war.

[ From Part 8, Chapter 19 of A LIFE OF GEN. ROBERT E. LEE by John Esten Cooke

"We must forgive our enemies. I can truly say that not a day has passed since the war began that I have not prayed for them." –Robert E. Lee, from Part 8, Chapter 19 of A LIFE OF GEN. ROBERT E. LEE" by John Esten Cooke

How far adrift some who hold high places in religion today have gone and tried to take their flocks with them. Do the passages above sound like a man "aligned with the culture of death" as Bishop Taylor describes Lee?

"If a nation expects to be ignorant and free,…it expects what never was and never will be." –Thomas Jefferson

"You shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free." –John 8:32

Here are just a few items the Bishop should check out if for nothing else than to enlighten himself to the truth.

* Robert E. Lee’s stand on slavery.
* Lee’s stand on the morality of war and his beliefs about the protection of non-combatants.
* Lee’s deep Christian convictions.
* The recognition by the Vatican of the Confederate government and inter diplomatic participation in Rome and Richmond.
* Thousands of Catholics who served the Confederacy from both the North and the South.
* The fact the Pope personally crafted a crown of thorns and sent it to Jefferson Davis, Confederate President, while he was held in prison at Ft. Monroe, Virginia after the war.
* Great heroes of the Catholic faith who served in high Confederate positions (cabinet) as well as leadership in the field. People such as General Patrick Cleburne and Father Ryan who set examples for all generations to follow.

And there is much more.

Let us pray our Holy Father will give all the wisdom to learn the truth and speak the truth. In these days of a much divided world and nation we need divine guidance as never before. With it, we need the tolerance that Jesus taught for all mankind, which includes Confederates and their descendants.

"Help me to be, to think, to act what is right because it is right; make me truthful, honest, and honorable in all things; make me intellectually honest for the sake of right and honor and without thought of reward to me." –Robert E. Lee, from the Truman Library. This Robert E. Lee prayer was memorized by President Harry S. Truman, and used by Truman throughout his life.

"Such are the reasons that I proudly display the picture of [Robert E. Lee] this great American on my office wall." –President Dwight D. Eisenhower, from a letter to Dr.Leon Scott, 8/1/1960

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