Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
March 18, 1954
NUMBER 44, PAGE 2-3,14b

Why She Joined The Catholics - A Letter To And From Clare Boothe Luce

Luther W. Martin, Rolla, Missouri

Some seven years ago, Clare Boothe Luce who was then Congresswoman from Connecticut, wrote a series of three articles for McCall's Magazine, allegedly giving the "Real Reason" why she became a convert to Roman Catholicism. At that time, this writer had a brief exchange of correspondence with Mrs. Luce on the subject of her religious beliefs. This correspondence has not been made public. However, due to the fact that Mrs. Luce is now U. S. Ambassador to Italy, and due to the fact that our own brethren and other non-Catholics have been, and are being, persecuted in Italy, I consider it quite appropriate to publicize our ambassador's erstwhile attitude toward religion in general and the truths of the Bible in particular.

March 10, 1947

Honorable Clare Boothe Luce Congresswoman

Connecticut House Office Building

Washington, D. C.

Honorable Mrs. Luce:

Of recent date, I have noted your series of articles in McCall's, dealing with your experience with liberalism and psychoanalysis. I now await with "'bated breath" the last of the series which (I hope) is scheduled to reveal the facts upon which you based your decision to become a Catholic.

Now it may be, that this letter is completely superfluous, (it will be if all my questions below are answered in your last article) but for one, I would like to know WHY Catholicism was your choice, over and above some other so-called "Christian" organization?

Have you ever considered becoming simply a "Christian"? — not a Methodist Christian or a Catholic Christian, since scripture fails to include those names? — but a Christian similar to those described in the New Testament? Have you ever searched for a band of people who worship according to the New Testament pattern, rather than after some writing of mankind? I would not advocate your returning to liberalism — far from it! I would advocate your taking a stand upon the principles and practices of New Testament Christianity.

With this letter, I am enclosing a copy of the "Gospel Advocate," (Dec. 12, '46), in which is published an article entitled, "A Brief History of Catholicism," and also a copy of a tract entitled, "Unsaved Christians — Are you One of Them?" Since you have evidently devoted some time to a sincere search for spiritual truth, I would appreciate very much your using a little more of your time (I realize your time is valuable) and investigate the organization of which you have now become a member. I regularly so ,scribe to the St. Louis Register, the official organ of the Archdiocese of St. Louis, (Mo.) and I note, naturally, that they are very elated at your entrance into the Catholic Church.

It is unfortunate that Catholic historians are so "pro-Catholic" in their handling of historical data; and likewise, it is unfortunate that non-Catholic historians become so anti-Catholic when they deal with facts of religious history.

I am a member of the church of Christ. It is not a denomination. It was founded by Christ. Religiously, we wear no name other than that of "Christian." Since Christ is the head of His church, we have no earthly headquarters.

Each local congregation is autonomous. Ministers of the church of Christ always preach upon biblical subjects, never upon current events, politics, or affairs of state.

Mrs. Luce, I am sincerely interested in the salvation of the souls of men. Please forgive me, if I have bored you.



Nearly two months later, I received a reply from Mrs. Luce, written from- the Waldorf-Astoria, in New York City. We give it in its entirety below.

May 13, 1947

Mr. Luther W. Martin

2 Stonewall

Lanett, Alabama

Dear Mr. Martin:

Your letter did not bore me, and this delayed answer was intentional since I put aside your letter for a less harassed time. I have been overwhelmed with mail recently about the Real Reason.

Perhaps you have read the last article in McCall's by now and some of your questions have been answered. Nevertheless I should like to send on a few comments to you.

The French historian de Maistre said, "History has been a conspiracy against the truth." It is unfortunate, as you say that bias affects the critical judgment of so many so-called historians. I read your "A Brief History of Catholicism," and really I cannot agree that it is a history at all. You have set down a number of dates running from 110 A. D. to 1870, and you seem to think that because a doctrine or practice was mentioned at such a date, it originated at that time and had never been heard of before that time. That is a false view of the history of the Catholic Church.

One statement early in your article rather amused me. You say: "The Roman Catholic movement broke away from the Greek." That is like saying that at the time of our American Civil War, it was the North that seceded! The real history of the Greek Schism can be found in any good history.

You have emphasized the preponderance of Greek-speaking clerics at all the early Councils. There is nothing remarkable about that. Even the Evangelists and St. Paul wrote in Greek. This was the language of literature and culture, as Latin was the language of law and government.

Your list of Popes who, you say, "contradicted" one another is not convincing. The source you quoted is Elliott's "Delineation of Roman Catholicism," which can hardly be considered a first-rate, unbiased authority. The very first instance of this supposed "contradiction" is a poor one: Pope John XII (955-964) and Pope Nicholas III (1277-1280), more than three hundred years later. Pope Nicholas settled a dispute among the Franciscans, by approving the stricter observance of poverty for them; Pope John XII was talking about an entirely different question. There was no question of Papal infallibility in what these Popes said on worldly possessions and poverty. We claim infallibility for the Pope only when he speaks officially as Head of the Church for the whole Church, or some question of faith or morals.

I will recommend to you here an excellent history of the Catholic Church by a Catholic priest who writes objectively and honestly and fairly, pointing out the good and the bad. It is "Outline History of the Church by Centuries," by the Rev. Joseph McSorley, published by the B. Herder Book Company, St. Louis, Missouri. You can probably borrow it from a library.

If you read the Gospels carefully, I think you will find that Christ our Lord did found a church, a visible society with St. Peter as its foundation stone. (Matthew 16:16-19) I am convinced that the Catholic Church of today is this church established by Christ, so I cannot become what you call "simply a Christian." I think the Catholic Church is very similar to the church described in the New Testament, and I am enclosing a pamphlet which will, I hope, make this clear to you, `The Apostles, Too, Were Catholics."

With all good wishes to you,



Within a week after receiving the above letter from Mrs. Luce, I mailed the following in reply.

May 23, 1947

Honorable Clare Boothe Luce

Waldorf-Astoria Towers

New York City, New York

Honorable Mrs. Luce:

Your recent reply to my letter of March 10th, was sincerely appreciated. However, with your kind indulgence, I would like to submit the following comments.

In the second paragraph of your letter you indicate the possibility that the last of your articles in McCall's may have answered some of my questions. To the contrary, however, I must confess my inability to gain the answers to my questions from any of the three installments purporting to give the "Real Reason. Hence, this further reply.

In your third paragraph, you state concerning my writings," seem to think that because a doctrine or practice was mentioned at such a date, it originated at that time and had never been heard of before that time." Mrs. Luce, I beg you to please read the paragraph titled "Conclusion," in my article entitled, "A Brief History of Catholicism." It reads as follows:

"The dates of the various innovations subscribed to by the Catholic movement, as given in this discussion, can generally be found in the encyclopedias and church histories now extant. It must be considered, however, that the changes in Catholic doctrine, practice, or organization had first to be thought of, attract followers and proponents, before they ever became the subject of a debate or controversy among the members of a council, and then finally be decreed by a vote of said council to be or become the official law or practice of the church. This fact is mentioned because some priest who may have a bit of information regarding Catholic history may attempt to discredit the dates given herein, since the first traces of some of the doctrines may have been pushed around by minorities until they gained sufficient power to be presented before the councils." (Gospel Advocate, December 12, 1946)

Thus, Mrs. Luce, if you had given attention to the "Conclusion" of my "Brief History" you would not charge me with having a "...false view of the history of the Catholic Church."

In your fourth paragraph, you take issue with me when I say that the "Roman Catholic movement broke away from the Greek." Now, for another history lesson. As the Apostle Paul had predicted in 2 Thessalonians 2:3-4, there was to be a "falling away" before the "man of sin" who "exalteth himself above all that is called God" would be made known. This "falling away" gradually materialized and was manifest in the first "General Council" of Nice in the year 326 A. D. At this first Council there were 318 bishops in attendance, of which 315 were Greeks and only three were Roman. At the Second General Council, held at Constantinople, 381 A. D., there were 150 bishops present. Only one of these was a Latin, while the 149 were Greeks. The Third General Council was held in A. D. 431 with 68 bishops present, sixty-seven of which were Greeks. Again, just one Roman bishop. If we total the Greek and Roman bishops in attendance at the first seven General Councils, the seventh one being the Second Council of Nice in 787 A. D., we will have a total of 1,460 Greek bishops and only 26 Roman bishops. Mrs. Luce, I leave it to you as to who "got there fustest with the mostest."

In your fifth paragraph you admit that the "Evangelists and St. Paul wrote in Greek." You are right, and so did the Apostle Peter, who by the way, cannot be proven ever to have been to Rome.

In your sixth paragraph you stated, "We claim infallibility for the Pope only when he speaks officially as Head of the Church for the whole Church, on some question of faith or morals." Since you are unwilling to accept Elliott as all historical authority, I will merely ask you a question based upon a Catholic historian. In 1869, one year before the doctrine of Papal Infallibility was pronounced by the Vatican Council, there were numerous Catholic scholars who opposed the teaching of Papal Infallibility. One of these scholars had a volume published under the name of Janus, entitled, "The Pope and the Council." On page 238 of this work he wrote, "The Schism arose from the struggle between two nations for the possession of the Papacy: the Italians wanted to regain and the French to keep it. And thus it came to pass that from 1378 o 1409 Western Christendom was divided into two, and from 1409 to 1415, into three Obediences." Now, Mrs. Luce, according to your own definition, neither of those two or three rival Popes possessed infallibility, yet they each MADE THE CLAIM. On page 239 the same author stated, "There were persons on both sides, since accounted as Saints throughout the whole Church, but who then anathematized one another. . . . . There were two Papal Courts and two Colleges of Cardinals." Mrs. Luce, if you're not willing to accept Elliott, then I can disprove your infallibility idea with your own scholars and their conflicting writings.

Thank you for suggesting the Catholic History by McSorley. When I have opportunity, I'll study it.

in your last paragraph you state, "I think the Catholic Church is very similar to the Church described in the New Testament." Mrs. Luce, you remind me of the story about the four blind men who had opportunity to "see" an elephant for the first time. The first blind man felt of the tough, leathery sides of the elephant and described the animal as being slightly convex, large, tough, and round. The second blind man grabbed the elephant's trunk, and so described the beast as being a snake-like animal. The third blind man got hold of a tusk, and considered the elephant to be similar to a Texas longhorn. The fourth hung on to the elephant's tail and so thought the animal to be serpent-like. Of course as you have no doubt concluded, the blind men just could not see the other facts concerning the elephant, because they did not possess the ability to see.

In applying my elephant story, which is not mine, but will at least illustrate my point, you have failed to thoroughly investigate, learn or see about the facts of the New Testament Church. You think the Catholic Church is similar?

All ask what way? .... in what points? .... in what characteristics?

The first Roman Bishop to assume the "Universal Bishop" title was Boniface in 605 A. D.

The formation of the College of Cardinals occurred in 1059 A. D.

Compulsory Celibacy of the Clergy A. D. 1123.

These and many, many other doctrines and practices common to Roman Catholicism are known today, but are not even so much as mentioned in the New Testament Church.

If you can afford the time to reply to this letter, it will be sincerely appreciated.

Sincerely yours,


No further correspondence was received from Mrs. Luce. From her one letter, her unwillingness to accept the testimony of non-Catholic historians, demonstrates her Catholic coaching. It is my prayer, that Mrs. Luce will accord better treatment to our brethren in Italy, in her position as ambassador, than she shows to non-Catholic history.