Sayfadaki görseller

us, on account of our adherence to, and connexion with, the Holy See ; nevertheless, the Roman Catholics of Ireland never solicited the predecessors of your Holiness, ati any period of that persecution, to alter, in the slightest degree, that connexion, or make any modification of the existing discipline of our holy Church, to obtain for the Roman Catholics of Ireland, the repeal or mitigation of those cruel laws which proscribed them.

“ With sentiments of most sincere sorrow, we have heard that, notwithstanding the uniform manifestations of our spiritual attachment to the Holy See, it has pleased your Holiness to favour a measure which would enable a Protestant government to control the appointment of our prelates ; against which the Catholic voice of Ireland has protested, and ever will protest with one accord. No spiritual grounds are alleged for the proposed alteration in our ecclesiastical system ; it is not pretended that it would advance the interests of religion, or improve the morality of the Catholic people of Ireland ; on the contrary, it is proposed in opposition to the well known and declared opinions of our spiritual guides, and is offered as an exchange or barter for some temporal aid or concession; it therefore becomes our duty, as Catholics and as subjects, to state, in most explicit terms, our sentiments upon it.

“ It is considered right to assure your Holiness, in the first instance, that although the penal laws, whieh were framed for the oppression of the Catholics of Ireland, have been considerably relaxed during the reign of our present most gracious sovereign ; nevertheless, the hostility to our holy religion continues to exist in full force; and every artifice is practised, and every inducement held out, to seduce the Irish Catholic from the practice and profession of his religion. Rewards are given to every Catholic clergyman who apostatizes from his faith; public schools and hospitals are inaintained, at great expense, in which hostility to the creed and character of Roman Catholics constitutes the first principle of instruction; commissioners are appointed to prevent Catholic institutions receiving any benefit from the donations of pious persons ; societies are es tablished, under the favour of our rulers, for proselytizing the

and bribes offered and given to Catholic parents, for the purchase of their children's faith ; at the same time, that every effort of bribery and corruption is exerted to influ. ence Roman Catholic schoolmasters to seduce the Roman Catho lic children entrusted to their care, from an attachment to their creed. Every member of the legislature, every minister of the

Catholic poor;


government, every judge of the land, every superior naval, military, or civil officer, and almost every individual in official station, is obliged to swear, and has actually sworn, in the following words, viz. - I do solemily and sincerely, in the presence of God, profess, testify, and declare, that I do believe, that in the sacrament of the Lord's Supper, there is not any transubstantiation of the elements of bread and wine into the body and blood.of Christ, at or after the consecration thereof, by any person whatsoever ; and that the invocation or adoration of the Virgin Mary, or any other saint, and the Sacrifice of the Mass, as they are now used in the Church of Rome, are superstitious and idolatrous; and I do solemnly, in the presence of Go«, profess, testify, and declare, that I do make this declaration, and every part thereof, in the plain and ordinary sense of the words read unto me, as they are commonly understood by English Protestants, without any evasion, equivocation, or mental reservation whatsoever, and without any dispensation already granted me for this purpose, by the Pope, or any authority or person whatsoever, or without any hope of any such dispensation from any person or authority whatsoever, or 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 persons, or power whatsoever, should dispense with or annul the same, or declare that it was null or void from the beginning.'

“It is to persons who have taken these offensive oaths of hostility against our holy religion, that we are now required, Most Holy Father to confide the selection and appoiutment of the prelates of our Church; and thus, the efforts of persecution having been found unsuccessful, it is now sought to accomplish, by intrigue, the destruction of that Church, whose pre-eminent perfection has excited the jealousy and the hatred of our religious opponents.

“We cannot suffer ourselves to suppose that your Holiness would knowingly sanction so pernicious a measure ; for, it is our decided conviction, that any such concession to our Protestant Prince, or to his Protestant ministers, of a right to interfere, directly or indirectly, in the appointment of our prelates, would inevitably destroy the Catholic religion in Ireland. Its first consequence would be, a general indignant revolt against the framers or favourers of the detested system, without regard to rank or station ; and it is not difficult to imagine that so la. mentablo a breach would lead to such a state of distrust and dissatisfaction, as might end in the dissolution of that confidential connexion, in spiritual concerns, which at present so happily subsists between the Holy See and the Roman Catholics of Ireland. The prelates and priesthood would be shunned and despised ; the altars and confessionals would be deserted ; a state of irreligion and immorality would succeed in the place of the religious and moral conduct which at present distinguishes · the people of Ireland ; public disorders and private misfortunes would follow, and our neglected Church would become an easy prey to those who now labour for the extirpation of the Roman Catholic faith from this nation.

“We desire to assure your Holiness that the Roman Catholic laity of Ireland feel, towards their prelates and.their priests, the most enthusiastic esteem and attachment; they look up

to them not merely as spiritual guides, but also as confidential friends and faithful advisers. The trials of persecution created a system of mutual affection and support, which enabled each to bear up against the severities of sanguinary laws. These mutual services are not forgotten; the sentiments which they generated remain unchanged ; and, therefore, we never can consent that our pure and pious heirarchy should be contaminated by such a connexion, as must endanger their just influence, and render them objects of dislike and distrust among their faithful flocks.

“ These are some of the results expected by the favourers of the proposed measure, to follow its enactinent; but there are other objects also in their contemplation. They seek, and ardently desire, to destroy the spiritual authority of the Holy See in this country; and we are confident that their expectations would be ultimately fulfilled, if they could establish the desired revolution in our ecclesiastical system ; because experience has taught us, that wherever any interference of the ministers of the British crown has been allowed, they have ultimately succeeded in obtaining absolute and exclusive control.

“ Your Holiness must be sensible of the injustice of the imputations directed against our venerable hierarchy, by those persons who express a desire to provide further securities for their peaceable and loyal conduct. Their correspondence with the Holy See is, of course, open to the inspection of your Holiness ; and we entertain no doubt but they may, with perfect safety to their political characters, challenge the most scrutinizing and jealous reference to the communications which constitute that correspondence. Again, their conduct at home is watched with more than common vigilance ; the most trifling


instance of disaffection would be gladly exposed, and yet their characters not only remain unimpeached, but the highest officers of the crown resident in this island have borne testimony to their loyalty, and to their laudable exercise of that influence which their station and conduct had obtained for them, over their respective flocks. The ministers of the crown are already invested with ample powers to correct any subject or stranger who may disobey the laws; and no instance has occurred in this country, of any man, of any station, having escaped punishment, in consequence of the insufficiency of the existing laws to provide for his correction.

“ Neither should it be forgotten that our venerable prelates are bound, by most solemn oaths, to observe strictly loyal and peaceable conduct; of which oaths we annex copies hereunto, and humbly submit them to the inspection and consideration of your Holiness.

And we are, therefore, confident that this demand for further securities is not founded upon any apprehension of the existence of a necessity for them ; but that it has originated solely from a desire to enable the enemies of our holy religion, by the admission of such interference and encroachments, to accomplish the destruction of a Church which they have so long ineffectually assailed.

“We feel that we should be wanting in the practice of that candour, which it is our pride to profess, were we not further to inform your Holiness that we have ever considered our claims for political emancipation to be founded upon principles of civil policy. We seek to obtain from our government nothing more

. than the restoration of temporal rights; and must, most humbly, but most firmly, protest against the interference of your Holiness, or any other foreign prelate, state, or potentate, in the control of our temporal conduct, or in the arrangement of our political concerns.

“We, therefore, deem it unnecessary, Most Holy Father, to state to your Holiness the manifold objections of a political nature which we feel towards the proposed measure. We hava confined ourselves, in this memorial, to the recapitulation of objections, founded upon spiritual considerations; because, Eus on the one hand we refuse to submit our religious concerns to the control of our temporal chief ; so, on the other hand, we vannot admit any right, ou the part of the Holy See, to investigate our political principles, or to direct our political conduct; it being our earnest desire and fixed determination to conform, esat all times, and under all circumstances, to the injunctions of that sacred ordinance which teaches us to distinguish between spiritual and ternporal anthority, giving unto Cæsar those things which belong to Cæsar, and unto God those things which belong to God.

“Thus, then, Most Holy Father, it appears—while this oh. noxious measure is opposed by every order of our hieraroby, that we, for whose relief it purports to provide, feel equa ly ardent and determined in our resistanco to it; solemnly declaring, as we now do, that we would prefer the perpetuation of our present degraded state in the empire, to any such barter, or exchange, or compromise of our religious fidelity and perse


“We, therefore, implore your Holiness not to sanction a measure so obnoxious to the most faithful and disinterestedly-atjached portion of the universal flock. Our hostility is founded on experience and observation ; whereas, the remote situation of your Holiness renders it necessary that the Holy See should rely upon the representations of others, who may have been interested in the practice of delusion or deceit; for the Roman Catholics of Ireland never can believe, that their revered pontiff, who had endured so much of suffering in maintenance of his spiritual station, would, knowiugly and intentionally, invade or oppress the conscientious feelings of a Catholic people, who had endured nearly three centuries of persecution, in consequence of their devotion to the same religious system.

“ If this our determination be erroneous, we should regret that we and our ancestors had not long since discovered the error; as the Catholics of Ireland could, by making such sacri. fices, have already obtained relief from the penal code which oppressed theň. But, we do not lament our perseverance; on the contrary, we are confirmed in our conviction, that a conscientious adherence to the same course will ultimately obtain the approval of the Holy See, and ensure the admiration of every faithful member of the Christian Church.

“ If it shall please our temporal rulers to impose this obnoxjous regulation upon us, we must bow down our heads.before the ordinance of the All-Seeing Providence; and, humbly confiding in his merciful protection, meet this new trial with the same religious spirit as bas enabled us to survive every similar persecuting provisions. Grievously, indeed, would we lament, if our enemies should succeed in alienating the mind of your Holiness from so many millions of faithful children. Should it, however, unhappily appear that the influence of our oppa


[ocr errors]
« ÖncekiDevam »