James Gibbons - Encyclopedia

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'GIBBONS, JAMES (1834-), American Roman Catholic cardinal and archbishop, was born in Baltimore, Maryland, on the 23rd of July 1834, and was educated at St Charles College, Ellicott City, Maryland, and St Mary's Seminary, Baltimore, where he finished his theological training and was ordained priest on the 30th of June 1861. After a short time spent on the missions of Baltimore, he was called to be secretary to Archbishop Martin J. Spalding and assistant at the cathedral. When in 1866 the Second Plenary Council of Baltimore considered the matter of new diocesan developments, he was selected to organize the new Vicariate Apostolic of North Carolina; and was consecrated bishop in August 1868. During the four successful years spent in North Carolina he wrote, for the benefit of his mission work, The Faith of our Fathers, a brief presentation of the doctrines of the Roman Catholic Church, especially intended to reach Protestants; the books passed through more than forty editions in America and about seventy in England, and an answer was made to it in Faith of our Forefathers (1879), by Edward J. Stearns. Gibbons was transferred to the see of Richmond, Virginia, in 1872, and in 1877 was made coadjutor, with the right of succession, to the Archbishop (James R. Bayley) of Baltimore. In October of the same year he succeeded to the archbishopric. Pope Leo XIII. in 1883 selected him to preside over the Third Plenary Council in Baltimore (1884), and on the 30th of June 1886 created him a cardinal priest, with the title of Santa Maria Trastevere. His simplicity of life, foresight and prudence made him a power in the church. Thoroughly American, and a lover of the people, he greatly altered the attitude of the Roman Catholic Church toward the Knights of Labor and other labour organizations, and his public utterances displayed the true instincts of a popular leader. He contributed frequently to periodicals, but as an author is known principally by his works on religious subjects, including Our Christian Heritage (1889) and The Ambassador of Christ (1896). For many years an ardent advocate of the establishment of a Catholic university, at the Third Plenary Council of Baltimore (1884) he saw the realization of his desires in the establishment of the Catholic University of America at Washington, of which he became first chancellor and president of the board of trustees.

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