Now this is fun and something I have not heard of before. The Civil War because of the big anniversary is getting some well deserved play this month and year. I intend to hit on that some of course. Catholic Spirit has an interesting piece called Rumors held that Lincoln was at one time a Catholic
Now American Catholics have always on the whole really loved this country despite the rather horrific attacks against them at times. I think this complex Catholic American experience has given rise to the numerous famous American x became a Catholic on his death bed stories and such. The most famous of these is about George Washington that many Catholics still have a tendency to want to believe.
What is strange is I never heard this Lincoln rumor before. One reason for that are the infamous books that say that the Vatican and the Jesuits killed Lincoln. Lincoln is portrayed in these books fearing the Catholic Church.These were best sellers. The most famous being Fifty (50) Years in the Church of Rome The Conversion of a Priest by an ex Priest.You can read those bizarre fantasy land lies from that book and the "Jesuit" plot to kill Lincoln at this anti Catholic site. This garbage is still is around. In fact the infamous Chick Comics references this in one of their silly tracts to this day.
So regardless at the time it was a tough time for Catholics. Especially for many that served and were loyal to the Union. Add to that fact three Catholics were tied to the Lincoln Shooting (two were tried and executed). One gets a sense how perhaps this lie started and thus was wanted to be believed by Catholics that were getting the brunt of it. I am not sure that is how this rumor started but I would not be shocked.Tthe really interesting question is if Archbishop Ireland is going along with making this all up? Maybe he did not believe it but perhaps the climate in 1905 was in one those anti Catholic stages. It does appear that this Priest really existed and maybe Ireland wanted to believe it after living in those times.