Gibbons, James

Gibbons, James, 1834–1921, American churchman, cardinal of the Roman Catholic church, b. Baltimore. Ordained in 1861, he became secretary to the archbishop of Baltimore in 1865, vicar apostolic of North Carolina in 1868, bishop of Richmond in 1872, and coadjutor to the archbishop of Baltimore in 1877. His superior died the same year, and Gibbons succeeded him. He was created cardinal in 1886, becoming the second American to be elevated; he was the only American cardinal for most of his tenure. An advocate of the benefits of democracy for the Church, he had good relations with American Protestants and personal friendships with Presidents Cleveland, T. Roosevelt, and Taft. He also was a defender of the Knights of Labor against charges that it was a secret society, and succeeded in ending the papal ban on the group. Most notable among his works is The Faith of Our Fathers (1876), a defense of Catholicism written for conservative Protestants. His reputation was tarnished by his support for Leopold II when the Belgian king's brutal rule of the Congo Free State was attacked.

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