While Melchers and the German Catholic community were mobilized to resistance by Ireland’s speech, Americans in general (and that means Protestants) cheered it. A Baptist minister described the Catholic Church as follows:
There are two distinct and hostile parties in the Roman Catholic Church in America. One is led by Archbishop Ireland. It stands for Americanism and a large independence. It is sympathetic with modern thought. It believes the Roman Catholic Church should take its place in all the great moral reforms. It is small but progressive, vigorous, and brave.
The other party is led by the overwhelming majority of the hierarchy. It is conservative, out of touch with American or modern ideas. It is the old medieval European Church transplanted into The Nineteenth Century and this country of freedom, interesting as an antiquity and curiosity, but fast losing its power and consequently growing in bitterness.
Statements like this did not help Ireland’s cause and they certainly did not endear him to the authorities in Rome. Ella B. Edes, a Brahmin convert to Catholicism who served as a secretary to Cardinal Simeoni of the Propaganda Fide—the Roman Congregation that oversaw the American Church at the time—and spy-agent provocateur for Archbishop Corrigan of New York, remarked that “Ireland is the stuff of which heretics are made.” Edes had perhaps the most viperfish tongue to ever grace the halls of the Vatican—no small distinction—and Simeoni to whom she reported the back-alley gossip of the American Church was pathologically anti-American. This is not to say that Edes’ wasn’t witty nor to say that Simeoni’s fears were unfounded. But distrust of Ireland in Rome undoubtedly had much to do with Spalding’s never rising above Peoria and Ireland’s never getting a red hat. Both men had the talent to go further in their careers than they did, but neither knew his Achilles’ heel and it marked them each for disappointment.
In the immediate fallout, the Schools Question ended up in Rome for a decision and that will be part of the story of the first Apostolic Delegate.