Was he the Cardinal Burke of his time?
For his part, Michael Corrigan stood firmly against Americanism, and – history being written by the victors – he has been rewarded with odium; called paranoid and dishonest, a believer in a “phantom heresy.” In fact, he was a figure of almost unimpeachable character and, surprising in an archbishop, considerable holiness.
But he had the temerity to agree with Pope Leo, who, after admitting in Testem that the Faith has always adapted itself to new cultures, nevertheless condemns the idea that the Spirit moves individuals to adaptations contrary to papal authority and the Magisterium. The true Church, he writes . . .
. . . is one: as by unity of doctrine, so by unity of government, and she is catholic also. Since God has placed the center and foundation of unity in the chair of Blessed Peter, she is rightly called the Roman Church.
Thus was the “spirit” of Americanism condemned, and Corrigan vindicated – at least for a short while. Soon enough, that adaptation to the splintering effects of democracy would strain relations with Rome, separating American practice from Catholic orthodoxy, which separation has only increased since Vatican II.