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Declaration of their principles. This Declaration-prepared by Dr. O'Keefe, Roman Catholic Bishop of Kildarel_was unanimously adopted, and transmitted to Rome as the act and deed of the Irish Catholics. It is a very important historical document-for the sentiments propounded in it were formally brought under the notice of the head of their Church, and it does not appear that any decided indications of disapproval then emanated from the Sovereign Pontiff. It was republished in 1792 as an authentic exposition of the views of the Irish Roman Catholic body ;4 and as recent events attach to it very peculiar significance, a few of its more remarkable passages may here be quoted.
“Whereas certain opinions and principles, inimical to good order and government, have been attributed to the Catholics, the existence of which we utterly deny ; and whereas it is at this time peculiarly necessary to remove such imputations, and to give the most full and ample satisfaction to our Protestant brethren, that we hold no principle whatsoever incompatible with our duty as men or as subjects, or repugnant to liberty, whether political, civil, or religious. “ Now
we, the Catholics of Ireland ... in the face of our country, of all Europe, and before God, make this our deliberate and solemn Declaration :
“We abjure, disavow, and condemn the opinion that princes excommunicated by the Pope and Council, or by any ecclesiastical authority whatsoever, may therefore be deposed or murdered by their subjects, or any other persons. .
"We abjure, condemn, and detest, as unchristian and impious, the principle that it is lawful to murder, destroy, or any way injure any person whatsoever, for or under the pretence of being heretics; and we declare solemnly before God that
1 According to the inscription on his monument (Fitzpatrick's Life, Times, and Correspondence of Dr. Doyle, i. 169) he was forty-six years R.C. Bishop of Kildare, that is from 1741 to 1787. At his death he was upwards of eighty years of age.
2 Parnell's History of the Penal Laws, pp. 78-9. It was signed by many R.C. clergymen, as well as by many laymen of rank and property. Plowden's Hist. Rev.,
3 This is the utmost that can be said respecting it ; for it never received from the Pope any positive or public sanction.
Plowden's Hist. Rev., i., appendix, 263; Hist. Rez., i. 321, note.
we believe that no act, in itself unjust, immoral, or wicked, can ever be justified or excused by, or under pretence or colour, that it was done either for the good of the Church, or in obedience to any ecclesiastical power whatever.
“We further declare that we hold it as an unchristian and impious principle that no faith is to be kept with heretics. .
“We have been charged with holding as an article of our belief that the Pope, with or without the authority of a General Council, or that certain ecclesiastical powers, can acquit and absolve us, before God, from our oath of allegiance, or even from the just oaths and contracts entered into between man and man.
Now we utterly renounce, abjure, and deny, that we hold or maintain any such belief, as being contrary to the peace and happiness of society, inconsistent with morality, and, above all, repugnant to the true spirit of the Catholic religion. ..
“We declare that it is not an article of the Catholic faith, neither are we thereby required to believe or profess, that the Pope is infallible, or that we are bound to obey any order in its own nature immoral, though the Pope, or any ecclesiastical power, should issue or direct such order; but, on the contrary, we hold that it would be sinful in us to pay any respect or obedience thereto.
“We do hereby solemnly disclaim, and for ever renounce, all interest in, and title to, all forfeited lands, resulting from any rights, or supposed rights, of our ancestors, or any claim, title, or interest therein ; nor do we admit any title, as a foundation of right, which is not established and acknowledged by the laws of the realm, as they now stand. We desire, farther, that whenever the patriotism, liberality, and justice of our countrymen shall restore to us a participation in the elective franchise, no Catholic shall be permitted to vote at any election for members to serve in Parliament, until he shall previously take an oath to defend, to the utmost of his power, the arrangements of property in this country, as established by the different acts of Attainder and Settlement.
“ It has been objected to us that we wish to subvert the present Church establishment, for the purpose of substituting a Catholic establishment in its stead. Now we do hereby disclaim, disavow, and solemnly abjure any such intention ; and, farther, if we shall be admitted into any share of the constitution, by our being restored to the right of elective franchise, we are ready, in the most solemn manner, to declare that we will not exercise that privilege to disturb and weaken the establishment of the Protestant religion, or Protestant government in this country.”]
It can be clearly shown that the Pope has again and again asserted the prerogatives disowned by the subscribers to this Declaration. It can also be demonstrated that the Jesuitswho wield so much influence in the Church of Rome-have repeatedly advocated the obnoxious principles here condemned ; 2 and the Vatican Council of 1869-70 has affirmed the doctrine of the Pope's Infallibility. Those who signed this Declaration may have had very little hope that Romanism would ever recover its ascendency in Ireland ; they here employ language very different from what was current among their co-religionists in the days of the Catholic Confederation; and yet, if they were true to their Church, it was not to be expected that they would continue to be satisfied with the domination of the Protestant establishment. But it would be alike unjust and ungenerous to denounce the subscribers to this memorial as guilty of hypocrisy or falsehood. The views in reference to oaths and engagements, here repudiated, are either so absurd in themselves, or so abhorrent to our moral instincts, that they must always be offensive to honest and unsophisticated Romanists. The Jesuits had now lost much of their power all over Europe ; 3 and it is obvious that
1 This Declaration may be found at length in Parnell's History of the Penal Laws, pp. 79-82 ; in Plowden's Ilist. Review, appendix lxxxviii., and elsewhere.
See vol. i., pp. 343, 400, 420, 421, 423, 459, 463, 467, 498, 499, of this work. In the famous Bull Unam Sanctam Boniface VIII. asserted that Jesus Christ granted a temporal as well as a spiritual sword to the Church--that the whole human race is subject to the Roman Pontiff, and that all dissenting from this doctrine are heretics, and cannot expect salvation.
3 In 1759 the Jesuits were expelled from all the Portuguese territories. They had already greatly lost ground in France. See Murdock's Mosheim, by Soames, vol. iv. 423, 404 405.
those who dictated this Declaration were not imbued with the spirit of Ultramontanism.
In 1759 Ireland was threatened with an invasion from France. The members of the Roman Catholic Committee availed themselves of the opportunity of drawing up an address to the Lord Lieutenant, in which they declared that “when a foreign enemy was meditating” to interrupt “the happiness and disturb the repose so long enjoyed under a monarch who placed his chief glory in proving himself the common father of all his people,” they were “ready and willing, to the utmost of their abilities, to assist in supporting His Majesty's Government against all hostile attempts whatsoever.' So depressed was now the condition of the Roman Catholic body, that it was deemed presumptuous for them to forward the loyal document directly to the head of the Irish Government. It was therefore handed to Mr. Ponsonby, the Speaker of the Irish House of Commons, to be by him presented to his Grace the Duke of Bedford. For a few days it remained unanswered; and some, who had discouraged the movement, began to say that the address would be treated with contemptuous silence. But the Lord Lieutenant acted more wisely. In due time a most gracious reply was received ; those who had charge of the address were invited to appear in the House of Commons; Mr. Anthony McDermott, one of their number, was requested to read it; and the Speaker then expressed the satisfaction with which he contemplated the whole proceeding. Thus, seventy years after the Revolution, Irish Romanists for the first time received a kindly recognition in the Irish Senate House. Others, emboldened by the intelligence of this reception, followed the example of the committee; and crowds of addresses, breathing a spirit of exuberant loyalty, quickly reached the Castle of Dublin from Roman Catholics in all parts of the kingdom.3
1 The address is said to have been written by Charles O'Conor, of Belanagare. Mitchel's llistory of Ireland, p. 8c.
Haverty, p. 696.
FROM THE ACCESSION OF GEORGE III. TO THE ESTABLISHI
MENT OF IRISH INDEPENDENCE. A.D. 1760 TO A.D. 1782.
THE accession of George III, to the crown called forth the congratulations of all classes of the Irish people. The members of the Established Church reckoned confidently on his favour; and the tolerant spirit hitherto evinced by the princes of the House of Hanover emboldened non-conformists to expect that the new King would pursue the mild policy of his predecessors. His promising character recommended him to his subjects; and expressions of their regard poured in on him from all quarters. Even the Irish Quakers signalized themselves by a dutiful address. The Synod of Ulster and the Presbytery of Antrim joined together in approaching the throne with the assurances of their ardent loyalty; and, as these two bodies had lately been drawing more closely to each other, they agreed on this occasion to style themselves “ The Presbyterian ministers of the Northern Association in Ireland." The Irish Roman Catholics also presented to His Majesty a complimentary address, in which they state that they “are unfortunately distinguished from the rest of their fellow-subjects;" and venture to indulge a hope that they "may not be left incapable of promoting the general welfare and prosperity."
1 This address may be found in Plowden’s Hist. Rev., i., appendix, p. 275. Arthur Young, writing in the early part of the reign of George III., describes “the whole worsted trade" as “in the hands of the Quakers of Clonmel, Carrick, and Bandon." See Parnell's llist. of the Penal Laws, pp. 101-2,
2 Hist. of Presb. Church in Ireland, iii. 322.