John T. McNicholas
The Most Reverend
John Timothy McNicholas
|Archbishop of Cincinnati|
|Installed||August 12, 1925|
|Term ended||April 22, 1950|
|Predecessor||Henry K. Moeller|
|Successor||Karl Joseph Alter|
|Other post(s)||Bishop of Duluth (1918–1925)|
|Ordination||October 10, 1901|
|Consecration||September 8, 1918|
|Died||April 22, 1950 (aged 72)|
Cincinnati, Ohio, U.S.
|Buried||Gate of Heaven Catholic Cemetery, Montgomery, Ohio, U.S.|
|Denomination||Roman Catholic Church|
John Timothy McNicholas, O.P. (December 15, 1877 – April 22, 1950) was an Irish-born clergyman of the Roman Catholic Church. A Dominican, he served as Bishop of Duluth (1918–1925) and Archbishop of Cincinnati (1925–1950).
Early life and education
Timothy McNicholas was born in Kiltimagh, County Mayo, the youngest of eight children of Patrick J. and Mary (née Mullany) McNicholas. In 1881, he and his family emigrated to the United States, where they settled in Chester, Pennsylvania. He received his early education at Immaculate Heart of Mary School in Chester, and then attended St. Joseph's Preparatory College in Philadelphia. In 1894, at the age of seventeen, he entered the Order of Friars Preachers (more commonly known as the Dominicans) at St. Rose Priory in Springfield, Kentucky. He continued his studies at St. Joseph Priory in Somerset, Ohio, where he was ordained to the priesthood by Bishop Henry K. Moeller on October 10, 1901. He took the first name John as his religious name.
Following his ordination, McNicholas went to Rome to study in the Dominican studium at Santa Maria sopra Minerva, where he obtained a Doctor of Sacred Theology degree in 1904. He returned to the United States later that year, and assumed the role of master of novices at St. Joseph Priory in Somerset. The following year he was sent to Immaculate Conception College in Washington, D.C., where he served as regent of studies and professor of philosophy, theology, and canon law. He contributed a number of articles to the Catholic Encyclopedia.
In 1909, McNicholas became the national director of the Holy Name Society, headquartered in New York City. He also served as the first editor of the Holy Name Journal and as pastor of St. Catherine of Siena Church. He remained in New York until 1917, when he returned to Rome as an assistant to the Master of the Order of Preachers and a professor of theology and canon law at the Angelicum University.
On July 18, 1918, McNicholas was appointed the second Bishop of Duluth, Minnesota, by Pope Benedict XV. He received his episcopal consecration on the following September 8 from Cardinal Tommaso Pio Boggiani, O.P., with Archbishop Bonaventura Cerretti and Bishop Hermann Esser, O.P., serving as co-consecrators. His installation took place in Duluth on the following November 15. He was raised to the rank of an Assistant at the Pontifical Throne in 1923. In May 1925, he was named Bishop of Indianapolis, Indiana, to succeed Bishop Joseph Chartrand, who was appointed Archbishop of Cincinnati. However, he never occupied that post due to Chartrand's rejection of his own appointment. Instead, McNicholas was appointed the fourth Archbishop of Cincinnati by Pope Pius XI on July 8, 1925. His installation took place at St. Peter in Chains Cathedral on the following August 12.
During the 1928 presidential election, which featured the first Catholic to win a major party nomination in the person of Al Smith, McNicholas addressed concerns that Smith would take orders from church leaders in Rome in making decisions affecting the country by declaring, "We, as American Catholics, owe no civil allegiance to the Vatican State."
In 1931, McNicholas joined clergymen of various faiths in speaking over "The Church in the Air", a CBS radio program. However, he strongly prohibited Catholics from participating in non-Catholic religious ceremonies, saying, "The Catholic Church cannot give the impression that one religion is as good as another or that she must strive with those of other faiths for a common denominator in religion."
During the Great Depression, McNicholas advocated "conscription of excess wealth" as "wholly in harmony with the principles of Christian social justice" and named extreme concentration of wealth as one of the "crimes of the country". He also said the state could not place on charity the full burden of caring for the unemployed.
In response to Archbishop Amleto Giovanni Cicognani's call for a movement to counteract the influence of "salacious cinema", McNicholas founded the Catholic Legion of Decency (later renamed the National Legion of Decency) in 1933. The organization, which at the height of its influence claimed to have more than 22,000,000 Catholic members, sought to influence decency standards and boycott films deemed offensive by the Catholic Church.
While observing the conversion of a group of seventy African Americans to Roman Catholicism in Cincinnati, McNicholas said, "I earnestly ask all our colored citizens to consider the position of the Catholic Church, to study her teachings, to realize that her ceremonials, her processions, her music, are full of a profound meaning which, if understood, could not fail to stir the deepest emotion of the colored race."
In 1938, McNicholas condemned the persecution of Jews in Nazi Germany and elsewhere, declaring that the German treatment of Jews "deserves the condemnation of all right-thinking men" and was "irrational and inhuman." He also denounced the policies of the "madman Hitler" and said that there was "little essential difference between his brand of fascism and the Bolshevism of Stalin." That same year, he issued a pastoral letter in which he wrote, "Governments that have no fixed standards of morality, and consequently no moral sense, can scarcely settle the question of war on moral grounds for Christians ... who see and know the injustice of practically all wars in our modern pagan world. There is the very practical question for informed Christians who acknowledge the supreme dominion of God ... Will such Christians in our country form a mighty league of conscientious non-combatants?"
During his tenure as archbishop, McNicholas raised the level of Catholic education at all levels throughout the archdiocese and the country. He served as president-general of the National Catholic Education Association (1946-1950) and national chairman of the Catholic Student Mission Crusade and held a thirteen-year membership on the Episcopal Committee for Confraternity of Christian Doctrine. He also served on the Board of Trustees of Catholic University of America. Between 1945 and 1950, he held five terms as chairman of the Administration Board of the National Catholic Welfare Conference.
In 1948, Pope Pius XII wrote to McNicholas, in his capacity as NCWC chairman, a letter urging the United States to help European Displaced Persons by accepting them as immigrants. The letter, later quoted in the Church's 1952 document Exsul Familia on the rights of refugees, declares that such refugees sometimes have a right in natural law to be admitted to rich countries: "The sovereignty of the State, although it must be respected, cannot be exaggerated to the point that access to this land is, for inadequate or unjustified reasons, denied to needy and decent people from other nations, provided of course, that the public wealth, considered very carefully, does not forbid this."
- Curtis, Georgina Pell (1961). The American Catholic Who's Who. Vol. XIV. Grosse Pointe, Michigan: Walter Romig.
- "John T. McNicholas". The American Catholic History Research Center and University Archives. Archived from the original on 2010-06-10.
- "Archbishop John Timothy McNicholas, O.P." Catholic-Hierarchy.org.
- The Catholic Encyclopedia and Its Makers, Encyclopedia Press, Incorporated, 1917, p.109 This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.
- "Religion: Rome". TIME Magazine. 1925-07-20. Archived from the original on February 19, 2012.
- Fortin, Roger (2002). Faith and Action: A History of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati (1821-1996). Columbus: The Ohio State University Press.
- "M'NICHOLAS DEAD; ARCHBISHOP, WAS 72; Head of Cincinnati Archdiocese 25 Years Sponsored Plan for Legion of Decency". The New York Times. 1950-04-23.
- "Religion: No Common Denominator". TIME Magazine. 1945-03-05. Archived from the original on December 21, 2011.
- "Religion: Legion of Decency". TIME Magazine. 1934-06-11. Archived from the original on September 30, 2007.
- "Religion: Archdiocese". TIME Magazine. 1926-09-27. Archived from the original on January 31, 2011.
- "Religion: Peace". TIME Magazine. 1938-03-14. Archived from the original on August 26, 2010.
- "Apostolic Letter from Pope Pius XII to Archbishop John T. McNicholas". The American Catholic History Research Center and University Archives.
- McNicholas High School