Snatching victory from the jaws of defeat…

Last minute efforts by leaders of the Massachusetts legislature succeeded as the legislature voted to remove the blatantly anti-Catholic “Know-Nothing” Amendment from the state constitution.

Massachusetts chapter executive director Joe Doyle called the move ” A victory for justice, equality and common sense.”

The 1855 amendment has for more than a century stood as one of the most outrageous examples of 19th century anti-Catholic bigotry in this country. It marred the whole of the Massachusetts Constitution, a masterpiece created primarily by John Adams, and effectively blocked state aid of any kind to a broad range of charitable and human services organizations.

In keeping with mandated procedures, two successive Massachusetts legislatures must approve the change which will then go to a state-wide referendum.

Catholic League officials praised the strong leadership of Senate President William M. Bulger and strong support from the Knights of Columbus, the Ancient Order of Hibernians, and, of course, Catholic League members.

If past history is any indicator, this victory does not necessarily presage eventual repeal of the “Know-Nothing” Amendment. Voters rejected repeal in 1982 and again in 1986. A very expensive advertising campaign by the opposition – liberally laced with “separation of church and state” rhetoric – will of course precede any public referendum.

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