Ireland, Church of

views updated May 11 2018


The Anglican church in Ireland, in communion with the Church of England, claims succession from the Roman Catholic Church established in Ireland in the 5th century by St. patrick and others. Henry VIII demanded from his subjects in Ireland, as he had from those in England, the recognition of himself as supreme head of the Church, and by parliamentary enactments he declared illegal the jurisdiction of the pope (1536). These changes were made possible through the reconquest of the English Pale in Ireland after the Geraldine rebellion (1534). The same changes were formally accepted by the clergy in this area but they obstructed George brown, who was nominated by Henry VIII as archbishop of Dublin. Contacts were maintained with the Holy See in the Gaelic independent lordships. The Anglo-Irish showed greater hostility toward Protestantism under Edward VI and quickly reverted to Catholicism under Mary I. As in England, the church was reconciled to Rome by Cardinal Reginald Pole. Accordingly only those clergy who had married were deprived, and Protestantism was permitted privately to the few English officials.

Elizabeth I to the 19th Century. The Elizabethan religious settlement finally handed over the fabric of the church to the Protestant clergy, who, however, lost the great majority of the people to the Counter Reformation missionaries. Adam Loftus, as archbishop of Dublin, maintained a more puritanical movement than would be permitted in England by Queen elizabeth i. As first provost of Trinity College, Dublin, he imported Cambridge Puritan divines. A more Calvinistic element became strengthened by the Scottish infiltration into early 17th-century Ulster. Substantial endowments were given to the church in the plantations. Under Charles I's viceroy, Thomas Wentworth, Earl of Strafford, working with the Laudian Bp. John Bramhall of Derry, pressure was imposed on landed proprietors to increase diocesan and parochial property while Calvinistic tendencies, particularly in the north, were discouraged. Ulster Scots sympathized with the anti-Laudian Bishop's War in Scotland (1638). After the Irish Catholics rebelled in 1641, the Church of Ireland lost ground. It was treated as disestablished by Oliver Cromwell, and the victorious parliamentarians, who substituted independent Congregationalism, tolerated presbyterianism but persecuted Episcopalianism (anglicanism) as well as Catholicism. After the restoration of Charles II, this reestablished church, while secure in the support of the army and the landed classes, had only one-eleventh of the population of 1,100,000 (there being twice as many Presbyterians) and did not improve its situation further despite penal laws against Catholic and Protestant conformists (see scotland, church of).

Few Episcopalians (Anglicans) favored James II, but after the war in Ireland, only a small minority led by Charles Lesley refused to abjure the exiled monarch and became known as nonjurors. The declaration against transubstantiation, imposed on officeholders after 1689, strengthened the Calvinistic trend of Anglicanism. Presbyterianism, however, did not improve its public situation after the revolution, unlike that in Scotland, where it replaced Episcopalianism as the established Christian denomination. Thus the Irish Protestant episcopal clergy such as Archbishop William King of Dublin and Dean Jonathan Swift, while mainly Tories in church questions, were Whigs in other political issues. Their secular influence was maintained throughout the 18th century by the promotion to the highest church offices of Englishmen such as Primates Hugh Boulter and George Stone; but their useful government contacts were counterbalanced by the increasing resentment of Irish-born clerics who helped to foster colonial antipathy to British paternalism in administration and trade. Only a small fraction favored the United Irish revolutionary movement at the end of the century, and with the rise of the Presbyterian and Catholic middle classes to challenge their monopoly of power, the Episcopalians came to regard as a protection the actof union which amalgamated the Anglican churches as well as the parliaments (1801).

Catholic Emancipation. Catholic emancipation (1829) inaugurated the breakdown of Protestant ascendancy that attempted to arrest its own decline by improved relations with the Presbyterians, led by Henry Cooke; by a more aggressive missionary policy among impoverished Catholics; and by a more exact insistence on its rights to tithes from all occupiers of agricultural lands without reference to their religion. The oxford movement had few Irish supporters except for people like William Maziere brady. The repeal of the union movement had even fewer, so that when disestablishment was urged it gained the support of many nationalists. Although the majority of the clergy opposed William Gladstone's Act of Disestablishment (186971), the establishment of the Church Representative Body and the organization of an annual synod in which a majority of participants were lay proved highly successful. Inevitably, as most of the Catholic clergy supported the home rule movement, the Protestants generally were among the Unionists. Episcopalian clergy were prominently identified with the Covenant against home rule in 1912, but since 1920, though not supporting political moves to end Irish partition, the Church of Ireland, like the Presbyterian and Catholic churches, continues to stress the essential national character of its organization. While their numbers in the Republic of Ireland are smallbeing less than 5 percent of the wholein Northern Ireland, where 60 percent of the population is Protestant, they claim nearly 30 percent.

Bibliography: Catalogue of Manuscripts in Possession of the Representative Church Body (Dublin 1938). w. m. brady, The Irish Reformation, or the Alleged Conversion of the Irish Bishops at the Accession of Queen Elizabeth (London 1866). Journal of the Session of the General Synod of the Church of Ireland (1870). r. d. edwards, Church and State in Tudor Ireland (London 1935). t. j. johnston et al., A History of the Church of Ireland (Dublin 1953). h. j. lawlor, The Reformation and the Irish Episcopate (2d ed. London 1932). w. d. killen, Ecclesiastical History of Ireland, 2 v. (London 1875). r. mant, History of the Church of Ireland, from the Reformation to the Union of the Churches of England and Ireland, 1801, 2 v. (London 1840). w. a. phillips, ed., History of the Church of Ireland, 3 v. (London 193334). j. s. reid, History of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland, ed. w. d. killen, 3 v. (Belfast 1867). j. h. todd, St. Patrick, Apostle of Ireland (Dublin 1864).

[r. d. edwards/eds.]

Church of Ireland

views updated Jun 11 2018

Church of Ireland. Building on 4th-cent. traces, Patrick evangelized Ireland (c.432) and developed a distinctively Celtic Christianity, but with the partial Anglo-Norman conquest of Ireland the church again joined mainstream western Christendom. Though Henry VIII established the Church of Ireland after his Irish break with Rome (1536), the Reformation was less popular than in England. Despite parliamentary suppression of the monasteries (1537), they continued in Gaelic areas, friars pursued their ministry, and Jesuits arrived (c.1545). Elizabeth's Irish Parliament (1560), after hastily, but reluctantly, passing Irish Acts of Supremacy and Uniformity, was as hastily dissolved. The Reformation largely failed. Gaelic, which most Irishmen spoke, was forbidden in worship and the established church was inextricably associated with the colonizing offices of state. After 1580 missionary priests poured in, but Anglo-Scottish colonization of Ulster (c.1610) made it the bastion of protestantism, Ussher's 104 Irish Articles (1615) were Calvinistic in ethos and Cromwell further antagonized Irish opinion by confiscating catholic land and allowing protestants economic predominance. Despite the spirituality of some, such as Jeremy Taylor, the established church was increasingly associated with colonization, unpopular, and lacking vibrant spirituality. William III's promise of toleration (1691) was a dead letter until 1791. After the Anglican archbishoprics were reduced to two and bishoprics by eight (1833), the church, always predominantly evangelical, was disestablished (1869). Today with two archbishoprics and twelve dioceses, it has a total membership (1990) of 437,000 (340,000 in the North and 97,000 in the Republic).

Revd Dr William M. Marshall

Church of Ireland

views updated May 29 2018

Church of Ireland Anglican Church in Ireland. It claims to be heir to the ancient Church of the island of Ireland. At the time of the Reformation, it ended papal jurisdiction and introduced doctrinal and disciplinary reforms similar to the Church of England. It is territorially divided into two provinces, Armagh and Dublin. The Archbishop of Armagh is Primate of All Ireland. The Church of Ireland was the legally established Church until 1869.

Church of Ireland

views updated May 18 2018

Church of Ireland

Elizabethan Era

Ute Lotz-Heumann

Since 1690

Alan R. Acheson

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Church of Ireland

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