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concurring in opinion. I have frequently lamented the degrading obligation, which carries upon the face of it a systematic excess of mistrust and suspicion, of superadding a solemn declaration* to my solemn oaiħ, that I swear without any intention of deceit or treachery: in other words, that my oath is nec fictum nec dolosum. I am free to say, I have ever heretofore placed the imposition of this revolting condition to the illiberality of the Government, which could enforce so debasing an exaction for no other purpose, than to traduce the religious principles of that set of jurors, from whom it was required. Henceforth I revoke my judgment, and with reluctant confusion I admit, that from the practices of some, whom that Government was entitled to consider Roman Catholics, the exaction of the humiliating declaration, was not even redundant. Little did I ever expect to live to see a public instrument, bearing all the marks of authentic emanation from the metropolis of Christendom, attempted to be circulated through our distant churches, countenancing, sanctioning, and even enjoining the practice of swearing with equivocation and mental reservation against the plain and ordinary sense of the words of the oath. In the given case of the oath proposed to be imposed upon the Roman Catholic Clergy by the Relief Bill, Monsignor J. B. Quarantorti appears to speak feelingly, as if it were not precisely and exclusively the case of his Majesty's subjects. The rescript, under an affected tenderness for the truth of the Catholic religion, deals out some exclusive generalities, viz. that « it is evidently by divine authority the special
* And I do solemnly in the presence of God profess, testify, á and declare, that I do make this declaration, and every part « thereof, in the plain and ordinary sense of the words of
this « oath, without any evasion, equivocation, or mental reser& vation whatever, and without any dispensation already a granted by the Pope, or any authority of the See of Rome, á or any person whatever, and without thinking, that I am, « or can be acquitted before God or man, or absolved of this « declaration, or any part thereof, although the Pope, or any « other person or authority whatsoever, shall dispense with or « annul the same, or declare that it was null or void.» Such is the conclusion of the oath prescribed to be taken by English Roman Catholics by the 31st of his present Majesty. The like declaration is contained in the oath prescribed to be taken by the Irish Roman Catholics by the 13th and 14th of his present Majesty, with the sole alteration of the additional words after God, and of his only Son Jesus Christ, my Redeemer.
duty of the ministers of the church every where -« to propagate the Catholic faith (the only one that « can lead to eternal felicity), and to refute errone« ous doctrines. This is taught by the precepts of & the Gospel, and by the example of the Apostles « and their successors.» These are, perhaps, the single lines in the whole instrument, to which, upon their isolated merits, a sound Roman Catholic might without hesitation subscribe. Our adversaries will not fail to urge, that, qui versatur in generalibus, versatur dolosè. One point only, says the rescriptor (or rescriptors), « requires some expla« nation, and that is, the second part of the oath,
by which the clergy is so restrained, as not to be permitted to hold any correspondence with the
Sovereign Pontiff and his Ministers, which may « directly
or indirectly subvert, or in any way disK turb the Protestant Government or Church.» And sad work truly have these rescript-doers made of their explanation, or declaration, as the litteral sense of the Latin runs*. An hypothesis is as
* It will be observed, that in applying the words of the re. script, I have followed the authenticated translation of it, which appeared in the public papers, under the signature of
sumed, which neither in reason or fact applies to the part of the oath to be explained. The mere conversion of a Protestant to the Catholic faith never requires, and most rarely is the result of a correspondence with the Pope and his ministers ; it may be always effected without it.
Take it not ill of me, Sir John, that I repeat to you a line or two of my former letter.
former letter. I do it to convince you, that I am at issue with you upon principle; and that my principles do not vary.
I there proposed to you a review in substance of our differences, and added *, «I relish this action « upon the substance: it is a manly function: it does
away petty, low, disgraceful propensi« ties to drivelling, and nibbling, and quibbling « about verbal inaccuracies of expression.»When then I am about to lay open to you one of the most conclusive objections to the instrument signed by Monsignor J.B. Quarantotti on the 16th of February, 1814, I owe it to that candor, with which I ever wish to treat my difference of opinion from your's, or that of any other person. "I take not upon myself to blame the Vice-Prefect of the
J. Hodgson, Vicar-General. I do not therefore altogether submit to the accuracy of that version. I before remarked, that in the most operative words of the decree, the English version left that merely optional (and therefore brought the decree to a mere nullity), which the Latin words rendered imperative. So here, the Latin words, Clerus obstringitur nullam habere se posse cum summo Pontifice ejusque ministris communicationem, are unwarrantably softened by the English words—the clergy is so restrained, as not to be permitted to hold any correspondence with the Sovereign Pontiff and his Ministers. The prohibitory injunction and sworn abstinence from such correspondence, appear to me more compulsory and auslere from reading the Lalin, than the English words.
* Historical Letter to Sir J. C. Hippisley, p. 37.
Propaganda, whether armed with pontifical powers or not, for maintaining the lawfulness of the oath said to have been contained in the Relief Bill. The most learned may differ upon certain formulas. Besides, I have not the whole context of the oath before me, and therefore I am not qualified to remark upon it. Very orthodox men may
upon the relative and absolute import of the words and terms, in which an oath is expressed. My objection is, that the rescript formally dogmatizes, and practically systematizes a principle, upon which no two sound men can differ. It recognizes a power, which undertakes to justify the taking of an oath contrary to the plain and obvious sense of the words of it, according to the sense put upon it by others, than the juror. The rescript most explicitly points out a sense, in which the proposed oath cannot be taken by a Roman Catholic. Understood in this sense, the oath cannot lawfully be taken, as being repugnant to the Catholic faith. What does it direct in consequence? It imposes a duty upon the Bishop of Halia, the Vicar Apostolic of the London district, to solicit an alteration in the words of the oath. One does not very readily see through each link of the chain of this vast and exclusive duty imposed upon Bishop Poynter by Monsignor J. B. Quarantotti. Why not a word about the Archbishop of Dublin? Yet Monsignor J. B. Quarantotti assures us, that he had examined the letters which had been transmitted to him « both by your Lordship (i. e. Dr. Poynter,) and " the Archbishop of Dublin.» The fact is, that Dr. Troy had informed him, that the Irish Bishops one and all reprobated the proposed Relief Bill, and condemned the oath and ecclesiastical clauses contained in it. Well was he aware, that they would not lend their efforts to second his ardent wishes, that this act chill it should have been), so much desired, might at length be passed. The Vice-Prefect was solicited from a single quarter to spiritualize the views and objects of the English Catholic Board, and I must allow some credit to his delicacy for not offering to any other Roman Catholic Prelate the indignity, of imposing an injunction upon him to co-operate in establishing the system of swearing with mental reservation. You were told above two years hack, that* the English Catholics should for this once lead the way and also, that the rejection by anticipation of all ar« rangements respecting the Irish Hierarchy, was « a very improper resolution : it was not called
for: and as it disgusts our friends, and furnishes « arms to our enemies, it must be considered as an « unwise measure.» You, Sir John, could have been at no loss to trace the advice, under which this
very special and wholly new commission was confided to the Bishop of Halia alone, had it not been for a countervailing (1) « decided resolution « of the English. Catholics to accept of no boon, « which does not equally advance the Irish Catho
lics in their view of Catholic Emancipation. On behalf, however, of about six millions of his Majesty's Roman Catholic subjects, throughout the whole extent of the British Empire, the following extraordinary commission is imparted to the Bishop of Halia, with more air of authority, I allow, than of confidence. « To you therefore it belongs, with « all humility and earnestness, to supplicate the
High Court of Parliament, that in order to quiet and secure the consciences of the Catholic
* Vide Hist. Let. to Sir J. C. Hippisley, p. 84. Mr. Butler's Letter of Instruction to the Honorable Baronet.