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-it was said, that to establish an episcopal see, requires many arrangements, which the actual cir: cumstances of the English catholics did not admit; -but, if bishops were to be a constituent part of the christian hierarchy when Christ sent his disciples, as sheep in the midst of wolves * ;—and if they were continued without the slightest intermission, during all the persecutions of the church, it seems difficult to suppose a possible existence of circumstances which could make the establishment of bishops impracticable or inexpedient. Besides, the English catholics could not but observe, that their brethren in faith in Ireland had always, notwithstanding their severe troubles, preserved their national episcopacy. The other objection to the appointment of bishops was, that it might offend the British government: but, while every thing else in the catholic religion offended the British government, it must be of little consequence, that this also offended them. Add to this, that, so far from offending government, it was, throughout the reigns of Elizabeth and James, the wish of all their friends in

power, that they should obtain from Rome the appointment of regular bishops in ordinary.--It was justly observed that, after such bishops are installed in their sees, they are only removable for a canonical crime, and by a canonical proceeding. Such bishops, therefore, might disregard and even resist with impunity such illaudable bulls as those of Paul the third, of St. Pius the fifth, Gregory, and of Sixtus Quintus, which had so greatly injured


* Matt. x.

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the catholic cause, and guard their flocks against them. In fact, so generally was it understood that the appointment of bishops would be acceptable to Elizabeth and her ministers, that the catholic opposers of the measure used this very circumstance as an objection to it;-observing, that it was impossible to suppose that any plan could be acceptable to their adversaries, if they did not foresee that it would essentially prejudice the catholic religion*.


At first, however, the whole catholic body seems to have been unanimous in favour of the measure. Father Persons himself presented to the pope and cardinals a memorial, containing nine reasons, to convince them of its necessity and advantage: an objection arising, from the difficulty of furnishing the expense for two persons in this employment and dignity, he prevailed on Don Francisco Sarmiento, bishop of Jaen in Spain, to make an ample provision for their support t.

* "The reason," says Mr. Charles Plowden (Answer to Panzani's Memoirs, p. 123,)" by which the pope was chiefly

influenced, was his knowledge, that the principal petitioner "for a bishop held a private correspondence with the queen's "ministers, to whom he knew that all means of extirpating "catholicity were equally welcome, and who were most plainly "fomenting the pretension of a party, whom they certainly "intended to overwhelm, together with their opponents, in ❝ one common destruction. The cautious pontiff would not “concur in a measure which Elizabeth patronized.”—This observation, suggested in this place, must not be accepted without some qualification: the writer believes, that on this and some other occasions, the views of Elizabeth and some of her ministers were friendly to the English catholics.

+ Modest Defence, p. 68. More's Hist. 1. iv.

For some reason, father Persons afterwards changed his mind, and the scheme of an English episcopacy, either direct or indirect, was abandoned. The plan of an archpriest remained : it was intimated, but certainly without sufficient ground, to the Roman see, that it was the general wish of the English catholics that this plan should be adopted.

Under these impressions, cardinal Cajetan, the protector of the English nation, addressed a letter to Mr. George Blackwell, an English priest, who had resided during some years at Rome, and by his learning and conduct had gained the esteem of several respectable persons, and particularly of cardinal Bellarmine and father Persons. It bears date the 7th of March 1598: his eminence mentions in it, with great feeling, some disagreements among the catholics, and their general wish for the introduction, among them, of a system of subordination. He then announces to Mr. Blackwell the command of the pope that he should be archpriest over the secular clergy; gives him unlimited power to restrain or revoke their sacerdotal faculties; to remove them from place to place, at his pleasure; to summon them to him, to convene meetings of them, to propose to them such things for their observance as he should judge proper, and to punish the refractory by deprivation or censures.

He names six persons to be his assistants, and empowers him to appoint others; but all the assistants were to be subordinate to him; he prescribes the mode of filling up their numbers. "The jesuits," he


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“ neither have nor pretend to have any juris"diction or authority over the clergy, or seek to

disquiet them; it seemeth, therefore," continues the cardinal, a manifest subtlety and deceit of “ the devil, complotted for the overthrow of the « whole English cause, that any catholic should a “ practise or stir up emulation against them.” This letter was accompanied by private instructions, which prohibited the archpriest and his twelve assistants from determining any matter of importance, without advising with the superior of the jesuits and some others of the order.

It is not surprising that, under the circumstances, in which this letter was promulgated, it gave general dissatisfaction to the secular clergy. Accustomed, as the catholics of England have long been, to the actual lowly state of their ecclesiastical economy, we cannot easily enter into the feelings of our ancestors, and particularly of the ancient clergy, when they beheld their hierarchy extinguished and blotted out, probably for ever, from the list of national churches in communion with the Roman see: this too, at a time, while this venerable remnant of their ancient church produced martyrs and confessors, an edifying priesthood and an edifying flock. It embittered the measure, in their view, that the arrangement substituted in its stead, was a novelty, was wholly unknown in the christian world, and must deprive them and their descendants, though never so much wanted as at that time, of that sacrament which divines had described as the ordinary means instituted by Christ to strengthen and en

courage the faithful; in professing their faith before the persecutor * Several circumstances also led them to believe that a just representation of the state of the English catholics had not been laid before the pope; particularly that he had been induced to believe, what was contrary to the fact, that the arrangement, which had been adopted, was agreeable to the wishes both of the secular clergy and the laity. : It was also observed, that the obligation of advising with the jesuits, which the letter of the cardinal imposed on the archpriest, was a virtual subjugation of the seculars to that portion of the regular clergy. A further, and, as the writer thinks, an unanswerable objection to the legal authenticity of the document, was the want of evidence, which showed, that the pope had empowered the cardinal to make the arrangement promulgated by his letter, or had approved of it, after it was made. Nothing is more certain than that when a person professes to act under authority, no one is bound to acquiesce in his proceedings, until the document conferring the authority, under which he professes to act, is produced. · On these grounds, the dissatisfaction with the arrangement was great, and most of the seculars paused, before they acquiesced in the superiority conferred by the cardinal on the archpriest. He

. proceeded, however, to enforce it, but did not act with the meekness, which prudence certainly recommended.' He branded all, who opposed it, with the ignominious appellation of schismatics, and

* Dr. Kellison's Hierarchy of the Church, p. 5, 8.

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