Ireland, The Catholic Church in
IRELAND, THE CATHOLIC CHURCH IN
The Republic of Ireland (Eire) encompasses fivesixths of the island of Ireland. It is located west of Great Britain, from which it is separated by the North Channel, the Irish Sea and St. George's Channel. Under English control for centuries, the island was split into two political divisions during the early 20th century. Following a rebellion that resulted in the severing of political ties to Great Britain, the Republic of Ireland achieved political independence in 1949. The six counties in the north of the island were established as Northern Ireland in 1920 and are now a part of the United Kingdom and Northern Ireland. Comprising a rolling plain rising to low mountains and dotted with numerous lakes, Ireland has a number of good harbors. Formerly an agricultural economy, Ireland's exports of machinery and other equipment, computers, pharmaceuticals and animal products accounted for most of its gross domestic product by 2000. Ireland is a member of the European Monetary Union.
The Republic of Ireland is divided into 26 counties, with six additional counties in Northern Ireland.
The article that follows is divided into two parts. Part I is concerned primarily with the growth and development of the Catholic Church in the island, beginning with its Christianization in the 5th century, while part II covers the Church in the Republic of Ireland. For information on the Church in Northern Ireland, see northern ireland, the catholic church in.
EARLY CHURCH IN IRELAND
Goidelic Celts occupied the island of Ireland as early as the 6th century b.c. They were eventually joined by Bretonnic Celts and Picts. Remaining beyond the borders of the vast Roman Empire, Ireland had established trade connections with Roman-occupied Britain and Gaul. By the 5th century a.d. missionaries entered Ireland, among them patrick, son of Calpurnius, who evangelized the north and west in the mid-5th century. Paganism still survived among ruling families, particularly in the south, into the 7th century.
Development of Monasticism and Missionary Activity . Early missionaries established an episcopal system, but the rapid emergence of monastic centers of learning led to the subordination of the bishops in a monastic system, dominated by great rival foundations. Gaelic expansion to the Scottish highlands led Irish Christians to the same area. Among them was St. Columcille (Columba) from whose foundation at Iona, missionaries converted the Picts of Scotland and the Anglo-Saxons in northern England. Conflict with Roman missionaries over such peculiarities of Christian tradition, as the date of Easter and the tonsure, culminated at Whitby (664). While the Irish missionaries were expelled from Northumbria after Whitby, their greatest achievement in the history of Christianity was the conversion of the Picts and the inauguration of the mission to the Anglo-Saxons, whose bad relations with British Christianity are noted by the Venerable Bede, who also acknowledges a lasting tribute to the work of the Irish, and to the value of their schools (see monasticism, early irish).
Meanwhile other missionaries from Ireland entered the former Roman Empire to the west. St. columban established
foundations at Luxeuil (590) and Bobbio, and helped introduce the penitentials and the system of frequent private confessions. However Irish Catholics' insistence on monastic immunity from episcopal jurisdiction led to the same struggle between Celtic and Roman traditions that had been addressed at Whitby, and it again brought about their eclipse. By the mid-8th century the victory of the Roman tradition in Ireland was complete.
Unification and the Viking Invasion . The emergence of the Uí Néill high kings coincided with the unification of the allied groupings of minor kingdoms (mór thuaithe ). While there was no absolute central monarchy, the Uí Néill maintained a northern hegemony for some five centuries before power passed to Munster and then to Connaught. The first Scandinavian raids in the late 8th century led to the emergence of more warlike rulers who were able to resist the Viking invaders.
The Viking incursions resulted in the decline of monasticism, as many church buildings were robbed of their treasures. By the 10th century, the Scandinavians had settled along the coast, and organized trading communities linked to their northern homelands and to other Scandinavian communities in Britain. Although by the early 1lth century a Danish dynasty dominated England, similar efforts failed in Ireland. After the Battle of Clontarf (1014) saw victory at the hands of high king Brian Boru, the Scandinavian communities of Dublin, Waterford, Cork and Limerick were made subordinate to their neighboring Irish rulers. While many Scandinavians had by now converted to Christianity, they snubbed their Irish neighbors by sending their higher clergy to the archbishop of Canterbury for consecration.
Repeated threats from Viking invaders prompted a reorganization of the monasteries to preserve them from attack, conserve their resources and increase their prestige. In such fashion the influence of armagh, Derry, Kildare and Clonmacnoise increased. However, a rivalry eventually developed that led to political strife: by the 11th century many of these communities were dominated by lay heads, recognized as the successors (comharbai ), or coarbs, of the founders. Bishops were maintained by the Church for the purposes of ordaining clergy but remained subordinate to the coarbs. Attempts to reform this system occurred intermittently but had little success at first, as they concentrated on poverty and austerity in rivalry with the rich and powerful institutions of the old regime. By the 11th century a move to reestablish episcopal jurisdiction had gathered some force. Associated with the political centralization policy of the O'Briens and the Uí Néill of the north, it resulted in an alliance between St. malachy and the reformed Cistercians of Clairvaux, particularly with St. bernard. While Malachy tried to break the control of the hereditary Uí Sinaich family of Armagh, his efforts proved unsuccessful; however his enterprise succeeded in the next generation.
For over a century following Clontarf, provincial kings tried to dominate Ireland, and ecclesiastical synods were held. A synod at Rath Breasail (1111) sought to divide the country between the metropolitans of Armagh and Cashel until the Synod of Kells (1154) gave an additional archbishopric to Tuam and to Dublin, in the chief Hiberno-Scandinavian community in the east.
Norman Conquest to the Death of Henry VIII: 1172–1547 . The succession of the Plantagenet Angevin dynasty to the Norman kingdom of England in 1154, extended its king's ambitions to Wales, Scotland and Ireland. In 1166 high king Rory O'Conor (1116?–98) ejected Dermot MacMurrough from his Leinster Kingdom, who sought the support of several Cambro-Norman lords and knights to support him in returning to Ireland. English King henry ii, encouraged by Pope adrian iv (Nicholas Breakspear; the only English pope) to secure the rights of the Church in Ireland, supported MacMur-rough in the invasion of Leinster and Meath, and then visited Ireland in 1171 to secure his power there. Henry confirmed Richard de Clare, second Earl of Pembroke and Strigul (known as Strongbow; d. 1176), as lord of Leinster and Hugh de Lacy (d. 1186) as lord of Meath, while retaining Dublin and the other Scandinavian towns in his own control. Most of the independent Irish kings accepted Henry II as lord of Ireland, as did Rory O'Conor who by the Treaty of Windsor in 1175, restricted his own claims to Connaught and to preeminence over Irish kings outside the Anglo-Norman lands of southeast Ireland given him by Henry.
Ecclesiastically the new Angevin Lord of Ireland was reinforced by letters from Pope alexander iii, Adrian IV's successor, to Henry, to the clergy and to the lords and people of Ireland, according full papal recognition of Henry's new leadership. Ecclesiastical pronouncements attributed the invasion to divine displeasure with the Irish, for purchasing slaves from the English. Thereafter the chief ecclesiastics in the east of Ireland followed the Anglo-Norman custom of church contributions made by payment of tithes, although in the rest of Ireland the older system of voluntary gifts reinforced the wealth secured from ecclesiastical lands.
The Anglo-Norman conquest failed to extend over the whole country and Gaelic influence remained, mainly in the northwest, the west and the southwest. By the late 13th century independent Irish kingships were controlled by the families of O'Neill and O'Donnell, O'Conor, O'Brien, MacCarthy and MacMurrough. An ethnic war soon waged with the realization that the Anglo-Norman colony of the east had not merely been arrested but was shrinking into decay. After the assertion of Scottish independence by Robert Bruce (1274–1329) at the Battle of Bannockburn, his brother Edward invaded Ireland and, until his defeat and death in 1318, devastated the greater part of the English colony from the northeast to the southwest. Thereafter, a policy of sharp separation was adopted by the leading Anglo-Norman lords, and the Pale—an area around Dublin formally ruled by England—was formally established.
Within Irish parliaments Anglo-Norman institutions had been established on a small scale, and futile attempts were made to both exclude persons of Irish race and assuage conflicts between recently arrived and already-established English immigrants. To the Church this meant dealing with two wholly dissimilar ways of life. Within the English Pale conditions were similar to those in contemporary England and France: under the administration of bishoprics dispensed by the English king as rewards for faithful service a parochial system existed, while military orders such as the Templars were located at strategic points in Ireland to restrict attempts at Gaelic ascendancy. While some degree of civilized life was possible within walled towns, military conditions prevailed in the Gaelic spheres. The poorer civilization that inevitably resulted required a different kind of Church participation. Indeed, the glory of the Island of Saints and Scholars had ended.
During the 15th century the English Pale shrank to a small area, nowhere more than 30 miles distant from Dublin. Great Anglo-Irish lordships existed, notably the Fitzgeralds of Kildare, the Butlers of Kilkenny, the Talbots of Wexford, the Fitzgeralds of Desmond and the Burkes of Connaught. Between these lords a perennial condition of war existed. No longer a war of English versus
Irish, it now became a struggle for high kingship and culminated in the hegemony of the Earls of Kildare, who dominated the Pale and were made the English king's lieutenants. This situation prevailed until 1534, when henry viii broke with Rome and was obliged to enter Ireland to defeat a Fitzgerald crusade against him.
Coming of the Reformation . In contrast to England, where papal power had long been under monarchic control, the appointments of the Holy See in Ireland were regarded with reverence. In part the papacy acted as umpire in the strife between Gaelic and Anglo-Norman administration, and it also aided in the Gaelic takeover of decayed English areas as immigrant populations dwindled. While the English government occasionally enforced
statutes of provisors and praemunire, these proved unsuccessful for most purposes, and by the time of Henry VIII's break with Rome the influence wielded by the Holy See was not easily eradicated. Despite this loyalty, after Henry conquered the Kildare lordship and reestablished his power in Dublin, he was able to nominally enforce recognition of his claim to be head of the church.
At the Dublin Parliament of 1536–37, Henry's viceroy Lord Leonard Grey spearheaded the extinction of the Kildare order and abolished Papal authority. The claim of Henry VIII as head of the church was then asserted, as well as the English king's right to regulate and confiscate monasteries. This proved disastrous. While the diocesan clergy in the now-enlarged Pale acquiesced, other regular clergy withdrew to the independent Gaelic areas, which maintained contact with Rome. This tradition made it impossible to secure the same State dominance over the Church that was achieved in England. The conquest of Ireland continued to involve Tudor monarchs through the 16th century. While the Tudors eradicated the independent lordships, a tradition of resistance in Church matters was established; the forces of the Counter-Reformation secured sufficient foothold to enable the Irish to build an effective independent Catholic Church in the succeeding centuries.
As early as 1538 Irish resistance made pessimists of Henry VIII's reformers in Ireland, such as George Brown, Archbishop of Dublin and Edward Staples, Bishop of Meath. At first they credited such resistance to the alleged treason of Lord Leonard Grey, but Grey's removal (1540) and execution changed nothing. His successor, Sir Anthony St. Leger, accelerated the dissolution of the monasteries within the Pale and used confiscated monastic wealth to enlarge his administration. In 1542, under St. Leger's influence, Henry VIII was made King of Ireland, abandoning the title "Dominus Hiberniae" as being tainted with Papal concessions. Throughout the country a policy of surrender and regrant was instituted, whereby various lords were induced to submit to the king, to secure from him the conversion of their elective chieftainships into hereditary peerages, and, theoretically, to extend Anglicanism. Bishops were similarly dealt with. The policy of surrender and regrant, which abandoned Irish Law in favor of English Common Law, was paralleled by the episcopal surrender of papal bulls and the regrant of their offices to the bishops under English law from the new Supreme Head. While Henry lived there was thus a nominal consent to his pretensions, the more distant from Dublin, the more nominal: but even within the Pale Church policy was subordinated to State necessity in marked contrast to contemporary England. Ultimately, ecclesiastical faculties were delegated to a commission [see reformation, protestant (in british isles)].
Under Edward VI many of the extreme penalties of Henry VIII were repealed, although his administration of Ireland was severe. Just as England took up arms against Scotland to compel the Scots to agree to the marriage of their queen with the English boy king, so the military policy of intimidating the Irish chiefs and extending royal authority, particularly in the Counties of Leix and Offaly, was carried out. The religious changes occurring in England—the abrogation of the Mass and the substitution of a communion service as incorporated in the Book of Common Prayer—were extended to Ireland, but reactions in the Pale against reformers preaching against transubstantiation made it clear that England would have to proceed slowly to gain even a nominal acquiescence. The Second Prayer Book, incorporating the Ordinal for consecrating clergy without making them sacrificial priests, was not specifically extended to Ireland.
On the accession of the Catholic Mary I (see mary tudor, queen of england), the speed with which the Mass was restored illustrated how even in the most English areas, Protestantism had gained no foothold. At the cost of good relations, the Protectorate had successfully intimidated the more independent Irish lords from becoming involved in the war with Scotland and France. Efforts to secure an Irish alliance with England's enemies also proved abortive: even the papal agents could not remain in Ireland due to lack of support and the fear that Dublin's military might strike down the northern chiefs among whom the papal negotiators had taken refuge.
Mary's reign exposed the similarity between the methods of each of the Tudor sovereigns in Ireland, Catholic and Protestant alike. In dealing with Parliament, coercive methods were used to secure an acquiescent majority. A policy of colonizing the midlands was planned and given statutory approval. King's County and Queen's County were established in place of Offaly and Leix in honor of Mary and her husband philip ii of Spain, and the independent Irish were driven from these areas as a prelude to the plantation which commenced under Elizabeth I. As in England, Cardinal Reginald pole issued a bull of reconciliation with the Holy See that was incorporated in an act of parliament, reestablishing papal jurisdiction and guaranteeing absolution for the alienation of Church lands. While there was no persecution of Protestants in Ireland, the Tudor Irish continued to subordinate Church interests to those of the English State; specific key Englishmen were given immunity from persecution and granted permission to hold services in their homes.
On the accession of the Protestant elizabeth i those same officials who had presided over Parliament under Mary returned to the policy of Edward VI and the Book of Common Prayer. As before, there was no nationwide enforcement of the new law. A few bishops near Dublin were compelled to acquiesce, and two who refused were deposed. For the rest, the queen was careful to avoid any situation that might fuel a conspiracy appealing to the Catholic population. Such a policy was successful; no general rebellion broke out until the end of Elizabeth's reign, even though she was excommunicated (1570) by pius v in 1570. Papal efforts to maintain an Armagh archbishop and a nuncio were thwarted by the arrest and incarceration of Richard Creagh (1525?–85) and David Wolfe (d. 1578?) whom the pope appointed to these offices. They were not proceeded against to the point of execution, and ultimately they both escaped from prison, though Creagh was rearrested and died in the Tower of London.
During the mid-1500s various unsuccessful efforts were made to interest France and Spain, as well as the papacy, in a Catholic rebellion in Ireland, and Pope grego ry xiii finally decided to sanction such an expedition. It secured little support from Spain and none elsewhere. English
influence in Ireland was sufficiently strong to intimidate sympathizers and by 1583 the movement had collapsed. Elizabeth commenced the second plantation scheme on the extensive Munster lands, thus transferring a substantial number of titles to English colonists, who failed, however, to bring over a sufficient number of supporters to alter the complexion of the southern population as a whole.
In the last decade of Elizabeth's reign, a formidable rebellion by Hugh O'Neill (1550?–1616) and Hugh Roe o'donnell (1571?–1602) secured substantial support from the Church. For the first time it was openly involved in the struggle against Elizabeth in Ireland, perhaps in consequence of the 1584 execution under martial law of Archbishop Dermot o'hurley, whose arrest soon after his return from Rome did not reveal his complicity in any anti-English conspiracy. Northern bishops supported the rebels, even going so far as to operate the decrees of the Council of Trent. In this situation, Elizabeth was obliged to acquiesce in the direction of her viceroy to terminate Catholic persecution. Spain intervened momentarily but unsuccessfully, and in 1601 Elizabeth's forces defeated the Irish outside Kinsale, which was then occupied by
Don Juan del Aquila. In 1603, during the last days of Tudor reign, the war ended, and James VI, on his accession as James I, agreed to pardon and ennoble the leading Irish rebels.
The Rise of the Stuarts . The accession of the Stuarts in 1603 created serious problems in integration and ultimately led to civil war in the three kingdoms (1638–53). James I, was easily intimidated by his English ministers, despite his goodwill toward certain Irish lords; successive viceroys in Ireland reestablished the colonial and Protestant policies of Elizabeth. The Ulster chiefs, fearful of being imprisoned for conspiracy, fled to mainland Europe, and a project for colonizing six of the Ulster counties was approved and carried out. The only successful colonization project, this effort involved the lowland Scots and border English, who, by the end of the 1600s, had transformed the greater part of the northern province into Presbyterian and Anglican communities. Simultaneously, power passed finally from the old English and Irish upper classes to new colonists and landowners who secured grants on successive confiscations under James I, Oliver cromwell and William III. In addition, considerable property changed hands through the effect of economic erosion, as a more primitive order of society gave way before the more expansive demands of a more sophisticated society. Only in religious matters were the Stuarts obviously unsuccessful. Gaelic culture and traditional English medieval patterns were subordinated to the more cosmopolitan Protestant society, but the mass of the people continued to give allegiance to the Holy See. Ecclesiastics such as the Protestant archbishop Adam Loftus were great believers in coercion and, after the accession of James I, the justification for such a policy was reiterated. Government, however, was slightly unnerved at the restoration of Catholic worship in many of the Anglo-Irish towns on Elizabeth's death and, while this was abrogated, there was slowness to go with the ecclesiastics along the lines of coercion. With the Guy Fawkes conspiracy in England, a renewal of coercion was approved, but the policy of expelling the Catholic clergy and compelling local officials to conform did not prove successful. By the end of James' reign the government reluctantly agreed to informal toleration.
Era of Political Upheaval: 1600–1660 . The reign of Charles I witnessed a great increase in power among the new colonists, and paralleling this, the Catholic Church was able to build itself up extensively throughout the country. Imitating the Scots, who took up arms against attempts to extend Anglicanism over their Calvinistic kingdom, Catholic Ireland attempted unsuccessfully to take over the whole kingdom and reestablish its religion. After the English Parliament and the king became involved in war, many Anglo-Irish attempted to reconcile with their monarch by allowing him to use their resources against Dublin. The Catholics in support of war were divided; centuries of history made it clear that a papal policy denying the legitimacy of English Protestant monarchical rule would find no success. The split was revealed after Irish and Anglo-Irish were brought together in a quasi-parliament at Kilkenny. Successive papal representatives Pier Francesco scarampi and Giovanni Battista rinuccini (1592–1653) attempted to secure royal acquiescence in the public restoration of Catholicism. While initial negotiations were not ratified, a later peace secured ratification despite the continued opposition of Rinuccini, who ultimately withdrew in protest on the eve of Cromwell's conquest. The nuncio's own explanation was that the Anglo-Irish feared losing estates founded on the plunder of the monasteries as well as a Gaelic Irish resurgence.
The defeat and execution of the king at Cromwell's hands led all opponents of Parliamentarianism to combine in Ireland in support of his son charles ii, though almost inevitably this committed Charles to incompatible Calvinist concessions in Scotland and Catholic concessions in Ireland. The Cromwellian war in Ireland led to the defeat of the Royalist allies. There were no pitched battles, except the Battle of Baggot Rath (Rathmines) in 1649. A number of towns were stormed, including Drogheda and Wexford, and the garrisons put to the sword, together with any clergy found in the fortresses. The excuse was that these had been involved in the massacre of innocent Protestants in 1641 or subsequently. Strategically, these methods prompted surrenders at a number of other points, but the war as a whole did not end until 1653, after Cromwell had been replaced by his son-inlaw Henry Ireton (1611–51) and after an Irish army led by Bishop Heber McMahon had been defeated in the north.
The civil war in Ireland was followed by a decree of the Commonwealth classifying the people of Ireland into categories determined by their relative disloyalty to the state. In the first category, certain specified persons were guilty of treason and declared to have forfeited their lives and property. All Catholics were to lose their lands, but those proving constant good affection to England would be permitted to enjoy property valued at two-thirds of what they had held previously. Catholics, however, would be permitted to hold land only in Connaught; land in the three remaining provinces was divided among loyal Protestants, land speculators who had advanced money to the government to fund the Irish war, and soldiers to whom the Parliamentarians owed wages. So far as the rest of the Catholics were concerned, if they could prove their non-involvement both in the murder of Protestants and of taking up arms against the Parliamentarians, they could remain in Ireland. Those implicated in the murder of Protestants were in danger of being executed. Those who fought the Parliamentarians were permitted to transport themselves beyond the seas. All Catholic clergy were deemed to be enemies of the state and, by a special indulgence, if not convicted of complicity in the Protestant massacres, might be transported abroad.
During the seven-year period before the restoration of the Stuart monarchy, no toleration was accorded to the Catholic clergy. The saying of Mass became a treasonable offense, according to the oppressive measures Parliamentarians extended to Irish Catholicism. In reality, however, after the war few of the clergy suffered an extreme penalty for celebrating their priestly functions, although many suffered imprisonment, deportation to the West Indies, or exile to the European mainland. So far as the Catholic laity was concerned, the Elizabethan recusancy penalties against those failing to attend Protestant Sunday services were not enforced. In fact, the Commonwealth prohibited interfering with any man's conscience, except where idolatry was concerned, and by 1658 reports indicated an increase in instances where Catholics met for religious purposes. Despite such personal freedoms, the organization of the Church was severely obstructed: few among the regular or higher clergy dared to remain within Ireland.
The Restoration and Further War: 1660–91 . After the Restoration Charles II became king, and the Anglican Church, which had been dispossessed, came back. Concessions were made to Catholicism due to the private toleration accorded by the new king, though such toleration was contrary to current laws regarding religious. While Catholics were rarely persecuted for the exercise of their religion, some higher clergy were not permitted to return. An attempt was made to allow innocent Catholics to make a remonstrance or declaration of loyalty to the king, denying absolutely the right to withdraw allegiance in terms regarded as offensive by the Holy See. This remonstrance originated with Peter walsh (1618?–88), a Franciscan who secured the patronage of Irish nobleman James Ormonde, and whose opponents were exposed to persecution and banishment while Ormonde ruled Ireland. General conditions, however, were not unsatisfactory, and the Treaty of Limerick (1691) attempted to secure for Catholics the same immunities they had enjoyed under Charles II. So far as political power and landed property were concerned, however, Catholics were reduced to a very insignificant position. In any attempt to reverse this situation Protestants unified in opposition, and Cromwellian supporters finally forced Ormonde into abandoning the restoration of Catholics loyal to Charles II, and into passing the Act of Explanation to provide a legislative bar to them in the future. In the 1670s secret negotiations with louis xiv provided Charles with adequate means to maintain himself without the Parliament, while also enabling him to issue a Declaration of Indulgence for Catholics and Dissenters. The resulting outcry in England caused the indulgence to be withdrawn. At the end of the decade, the allegations of Titus Oates (1649–1705) regarding a Catholic plot (see oates plot) to bring in a French army of occupation resulted in the judicial murder of Oliver plunket, Archbishop of armagh on July 1, 1681, the death of Peter Talbot, Archbishop of dublin while in prison and the execution of several others on perjured testimony. The Church again became dislocated, but reestablished its position through royal connivance in the last years of Charles' reign.
Under james ii Catholicism obtained great favors and the Church's position improved. An attempt was made to financially endow the Catholic hierarchy by keeping a number of Protestant bishoprics unfilled. Official positions became open to Catholics, particularly in the army. The land question was again under consideration. Many Protestants fled to England in fear of their Catholic neighbors. But an alliance of Anglicans and Nonconformists invited James's son-in-law, William III of Orange, to "restore order," and James fled to France (1688). James was then invited to Ireland, where the Catholic Richard Talbot (1630–91), first Earl of Tyrcon-nell, had been appointed viceroy; in 1689 a Parliament in Dublin attainted absentee Protestant landowners, decreed the restoration of deprived Catholics, asserted the independence of Ireland from English Parliamentary legislation and affirmed a general toleration in religion.
James, however, failed to win the support of more than a handful of Irish Anglicans, and when his troops were excluded from Ulster towns he was unable to storm them. On the arrival of William III's army they rallied to his standard. William defeated James at the Battle of the Boyne, and thereafter James retired to France, while a Franco-Irish army waged a series of pitched battles before being advised to surrender following a campaign lasting more than two years. Unlike Cromwell, William III was prepared to make some Catholic concessions if only to end the war in Ireland and allow him to concentrate on his main objective: Louis XIV on the European mainland. In the articles agreed upon at Galway and Limerick (1691) Catholics willing to accept William's regime were guaranteed their lands, but provisions to tolerate Catholicism were not ratified by subsequent Irish Parliaments, from which Catholics were excluded by an act of the English Parliament.
The position of the clergy was somewhat different. The Holy See had accorded James II the right to nominate the higher prelates, a right indirectly accorded to his brother Charles II on at least one occasion. As James II still claimed to be king, and set up his court at St. Germains in France, he continued to exercise these claims, which the Church continued to accord to him. Catholic Europe recognized the exiled Stuarts until the death (1766) of "James III."
Irish Catholic clergy hoped, in the event of a second Stuart Restoration, to get back to the situation visualized in Rinuccini's time. At the same time the Catholic clergy sympathized with the Anglican doctrine of divine hereditary right. Certainly the refusal to take an oath in Ireland, abjuring the Stuarts, affected the vast majority of priests tolerated by Penal Statute, while only a small minority of Irish Anglicans became nonjurors. This was the Protestant justification for the later Penal Laws against the Catholic clergy, just as the laws against the laity were justified by fear that they would become strong enough to secure or compel the restoration of their forfeited lands.
1691–1848 . From the English standpoint, after the Glorious Revolution of 1688, a fear existed that the Protestants in Ireland might become too independent. The same restrictions were put on the Irish Parliament's powers as were imposed upon colonial legislatures in the New World. In place was the same discrimination against Ireland in commercial export rivalry with Britain as existed in the colonies. In consolation for these restrictions, Irish Protestants were permitted to pass statutes discriminating against Catholics. Beginning with the war between William III and Louis XIV and extending until the end of the reign of George I in 1727, a series of acts were passed bringing Irish laws into line with British anti-Catholic legislation. Acts against the clergy decreed the banishment of all regulars and prelates. Parochial clergy, restricted to one per parish, were obliged to swear allegiance to the Protestant sovereign. When the oath of abjuration was imposed in 1709, the system broke down, as only some 30 out of more than 1,000 obeyed the law. The extreme penalties could no longer be applied, as Protestant sovereigns were constantly pressured by their Catholic allies, such as the Holy Roman Emperor. Returned exiled clergy, therefore, might be imprisoned but were not executed.
A declaration against transubstantiation imposed on all office holders proved to be effective in excluding the Catholic laity from political power. Similar restrictions were employed by municipal corporations and by professional guilds. Succession to Catholic estates operated under a discriminatory law that directed their division between all male children (gavelkind). Social discrimination deprived Catholics of the right to carry swords customarily conceded to all gentlemen. In local areas levies were imposed on Catholics to pay damages for Catholic invading forces in time of war. By the end of the 18th century, Catholic land holdings, which had dropped to 15 percent by 1704, had fallen to about eight percent. Although few nonpropertied people conformed to the Established Church, some 4,000 upper-class Catholics conformed during the century.
During the 18th century the Church was severely handicapped in its organization. By 1750, however, imprisonment of clergy was a thing of the past. In 1745, despite the Stuart invasion of Scotland, Philip Dormer Stanhope (1694–1773), fourth Earl of Chesterfield and Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, refused to close the Catholic chapels. He insisted that there was no danger from the Irish clergy and that the only dangerous papist in the kingdom was the reigning beauty Miss Eleanor Ambrose (1720?–1818). Catholic lay addresses of loyalty were privately accepted by the Hanoverians throughout the reign of George II (1727–60). After the accession of George III, the Dublin clergy offered prayers for the Hanoverian royal family, and the first steps to repeal the penal laws were taken in the 1770s.
By the time George III took the throne Parliamentary opposition to self-government had increased. The Protestant ascendancy organized volunteer corps to maintain order and defend England against possible invasion from France, since most regular troops were in service in North America. Among the Protestants seeking self-government there were few supporters of Catholic relief; Henry Grattan (1746–1820) was noteworthy. Government supported relief bills to remind Irish Protestants of their continued dependence upon England, if only due to the growing strength of Catholicism. By 1782, however, Protestant support of further concessions for Catholics had increased, and when the volunteers took up the question of reform, they were induced to pass resolutions favoring further Catholic relief.
The outbreak of the French Revolution revived the question of Parliamentary reform, and the Catholic Committee, which had played a substantial part in securing the first relief acts, demonstrated some sympathy toward the reformers. The bishops, however, largely influenced by the few upper-class Catholics, discouraged any alliance; ultimately French Revolutionary excesses led the bishops to accept government patronage for the establishment of Maynooth and even created some favor for the Union in 1800. The condemnation of the United Irishmen's Rebellion in 1798 was very general among the bishops, most of whom were prepared to accept the situation of a second-class establishment if the right to sit in Parliament were conceded to the Catholic laity at the time of the Union. However, democratic developments under Daniel o'connell led bishops to reconsider a close association with the Protestant British government. A rising tide of nationalism opposed such an association, and the Irish hierarchy ultimately realigned its attitudes with the climate of Irish national opinion. When emancipation was finally conceded in 1829, several bishops resented the inflated property-ownership qualification imposed on those Catholics wishing to exercise the voting franchise.
Rising poverty among many rural Irish Catholics became an issue during the early 1800s, and in a property-dominated legislature, agricultural poverty was inconsequential. At the other end of the scale, Catholic wealth overall was increasing due to the rise in Irish exports and the superior initiative and resourcefulness of Catholic merchants. After the Battle of Waterloo in 1815, agricultural rents began to fall; nevertheless there was a substantial degree of church building in the years following Catholic emancipation (1829). From 1824, with the establishment of the Protestant New Light (New Reformation) movement, relations between Anglican and Catholic churches began to deteriorate. Protests from the farming community against tithe payments to the Protestant established clergy gained a sympathetic ear from Catholic clergy.
Break with Vatican over Education Question . A nondenominational primary school system was organized under a national education board set up in 1830 that included Archbishop Daniel murray of Dublin among its members. The Protestant Episcopalian clergy resented this, since they considered education endowed by the state to be a monopoly of the Established Church. The Archbishop of Tuam, John machale, broke with the board's policy of subsidizing schools, contending that the government connived to send Protestant missions to the pauper Catholics at Killala, and set about organizing Catholic schools with the help of teaching brothers.
The education question became the most significant issue for Church-State relations during the next 75 years. MacHale's objections to the primary school system secured an increasing number of supporters among the bishops, as the National Education Board weakened before a Presbyterian onslaught that secured the exclusion of Catholic priests from schools under Presbyterian management. Moreover, in the west of Ireland, the Protestant missionary activities were sufficiently successful among the poverty-stricken Killala peasants to make MacHale suspicious of all Protestant-dominated organizations, and ultimately of the government. On the other hand, Murray believed it to be in the Church's interest to cooperate with the government; he took an active part in the activities of the National Education Board whose policy, he felt satisfied, did not favor proselytism. Most bishops initially agreed with Murray, who resented MacHale's attacks upon the Board and stated that the Tuam prelate did not object until after the Board rejected the application for recognition of a school under MacHale's own patronage. However, MacHale gradually won over a number of bishops to his viewpoint, particularly after the refusal of the Board to dismiss a Connaught teacher who had become a Protestant. Both sides appealed to Rome, which after lengthy consideration recommended that bishops settle the matter individually. But Rome's simultaneous condemnation of clerical interference in politics aggravated the situation.
The MacHale party justified its adherence to Repeal of the Union on the basis of religion rather than politics, holding that British treachery in failing to implement Catholic emancipation fully necessitated its action. The people, alienated from the colonial ascendancy, had turned to it for leadership. O'Connell's organization of the Repeal movement in the last days of the government of William Lamb, led Viscount Melbourne (1779–1848) to incorporate inducements to the clergy, particularly to MacHale as the most popular ecclesiastic in Ireland. It is a moot point whether O'Connell could have revived general interest in Repeal had it not been for MacHale.
With the return of Sir Robert Peel (1788–1850) and the Tory party to power in 1841, the cold war condition worsened. While Melbourne had resented the Repeal movement, the Tories were determined to defeat it. For ten years Peel had quietly resisted the extremists in his own party who loudly advocated repeal of the emancipation and parliamentary reform acts. Now in office, he felt strong enough not merely to ignore these extremists. Repealers would not be countenanced; while the O'Connellites continued to cite Tory bigotry in confirmation of their oft-expressed fear of a renewal of Protestant tyranny, Peel set out to develop a Catholic policy that would divert the clergy from O'Connell.
Peel proposed to increase the endowment of Maynooth, provide a public organization for Catholic charities, and establish a system of university colleges for the education of the middle classes. While Murray considered this satisfactory evidence that the government could be trusted, MacHale condemned the successive Parliamentary measures introduced to implement this policy (except for the increased endowment of Maynooth) and described the Tory policy as a conspiracy to enslave and destroy the Church. He won the support of the majority of the bishops on the Colleges bill, and the result of his appeal to Rome was that for the next 60 years nondenominational education in Ireland was linked with the Anglican system of Trinity College, Dublin, in condemnation by the Church.
The Land League and the Rise of Irish Nationalism . A new era began in Ireland after the appointment of Paul Cullen as archbishop and apostolic delegate in 1849. The 1848 rebellion of the Young Irelanders had proved abortive, largely because of the catastrophe of the great famine (1845–50) but also through the discouragement of the clergy. Cullen, having experienced revolution in Rome, was determined to oppose it in Ireland and endeavored to keep the clergy out of politics. Economic issues dominated the famine-haunted people, and the next national party was organized for Tenant Right. Its failure in the early 1850s was attributed by its supporters to Cullen; they overlooked their own inability to provide leadership like O'Connell's or to resist the attractiveness of office under favorable British governments.
The Irish hierarchy's organization of a Catholic university attracted considerable attention during this same period, particularly through the appointment of John Henry newman as rector (1854–58) and the publication of his lectures on the idea of a university in Dublin. However, the Catholic University, like the Tenant Right movement, failed through public apathy and ecclesiastical dissensions and Newman soon retired. MacHale's interest weakened as Cullen's power grew, and denominationalism was accepted by the state in primary education about 1860. Disillusioned by British government partiality toward the Piedmontese attack on the Papal States, Cullen meanwhile revised his views on staying out of politics. The 1860s saw a revival of international interest in military activity in the wake of the Crimean War and the unification of Italy. The U.S. Civil War had involved many Irish exiles, who thereafter turned their minds toward supporting the Fenian movement for establishing an Irish Republic. Under Cullen's influence this movement and its organization, the Irish Republican Brotherhood, were condemned by Rome, although some clerics continued to give it secret support. Cullen organized the National Association to pressure Parliament to improve the middle class tenantry, secure disestablishment of the Protestant Episcopalian Church and win government endowment for an acceptable university system. He deserted Benjamin Disraeli (1804–81) and the Conservative party for W. E. gladstone (1809–98) and the Liberals. The Liberals successfully negotiated the first two points in the program but failed on the third; they blamed Cullen and the Irish hierarchy for allegedly misleading them on the minimum requirements for Catholic recognition. The defeat of Gladstone (1874) by Irish votes permanently weakened the clergy's influence in politics. While Cullen disapproved of the Home Rule movement inaugurated by Isaac Butt (1813–79) to secure self-government for Ireland through a Parliament subordinate to that of the United Kingdom, he failed to prevent Butt's heading a party of some 60 of the 105 members representing Ireland at Westminster. Constitutional Fenians reinforced Butt. Cullen's National Association withered despite the efforts to revive the memory of O'Connell as a Catholic leader, which only resulted in the substantial diminution of O'Connell's stature in nationalist recollection. Butt was successful in only one measure—the reorganization of the Peel university plan into Royal University Act which permitted indirect endowment of Catholic university colleges and the conceding of university degrees by examination and without attendance. It was a disappointing achievement. The bishops closed the Catholic University and transferred the buildings to University College, Dublin, under the supervision of the Society of Jesus (1880). It was reconstituted as a chartered state college in 1911.
Butt's failure to secure Home Rule weakened that movement seriously. After the threatened famine of 1879, the position of the tenantry again dominated Ireland. Parnell, leader of the Land League, secured clerical support in the south and west against Cullen's successor in Dublin. In the election of 1880 advocates of Home Rule opposed one another on the land issue, with Parnell gaining a decided majority following. The following year Gladstone, having replaced Disraeli in 1880, introduced a new Land Act which only secured endorsement by the House of Lords through the intimidating tactics of Parnell's Land League. The revival of the Home Rule movement, supported by an increasing nationalist element (formerly Fenian) and by Irish-and other Americans, created serious difficulties in England. Efforts were made to renew diplomatic pressures in Rome. Ecclesiastical condemnations of political extremism and of a land policy aiming at the destruction of landlordism (partly accentuated by Irish ecclesiastical investment in land) widened the breach between nationalism and Catholicism. Even Home Rule was in danger of condemnation but for the conversion of Gladstone and the majority of the Liberal party; anti-Irish sentiment in England defeated the prime minister's first Home Rule Bill (1886) and led to his replacement for virtually 20 years by a Unionist government dominated by the Tories.
The Unionist experiment, "Kill Home Rule by kindness," was a repetition of the anti-Repeal policy of the 1840s. As on that occasion, a group of Irish bishops led by William walsh of Dublin indicated their acquiescence in the government policy of improving the Catholic position with regard to education. On this, however, Walsh was quickly disillusioned, and the question was not settled until the Liberals passed the Irish Universities Act in 1908. Other Unionist aspects of Irish policy were more successful. Buying out the landlord interests in the Land Purchase Acts settled what was probably the second most contended issue in Victorian Ireland. The Local Government Act of 1898 permitted democracy to operate at county level and swept away most of the remaining local political powers of the landlords. The Unionists were nonetheless unsuccessful in reducing the Irish desire for self-government.
During the brief restoration of Liberal government (1892–95) Gladstone again failed with his second Home Rule Bill. Meanwhile Parnell had died; his party was divided, and the bishops were somewhat uncertain of their position after the reactions to clerical interference in his fall. Thereafter the hierarchy largely withdrew from politics, and the nationalist-leaning Irish Parliamentary party's influence declined. Irish attention was beginning to be attracted by more radical forms of nationalism, in part a reaction to the British imperialism of the Boer War years (1899–1902). After the Unionist electoral defeat in 1906, Protestant Ulster's organization against Home Rule developed. By 1912 Ireland was divided on the issue, largely on a sectarian basis, with Anglicans and Presbyterians overwhelmingly pro-Unionist. The third Home Rule Bill (1912–14) was passed after the veto power of the House of Lords had been virtually abrogated.
The Easter Rebellion . The provisions of the 1914 Home Rule Bill were suspended as a consequence of the outbreak of World War I, but they foreshadowed the partition of Ireland into two separate political areas. In a sense, this had already been foreshadowed in the academic sphere by the provisions of the University Act establishing the Queen's University of Belfast separately from the National University of Ireland, whose constituent colleges lay in the three southern provinces. Only in the field of political labor did there appear to be substantial unity in the prewar years, and even here, the covenant against Home Rule broke down the good relations of a few years earlier.
At the outbreak of war, both the nationalist Irish Parliamentary party, led by John E. Redmond (1856–1918), and the Irish Unionist Party, led by Sir Edward Carson (1854–1935), pledged their support in the struggle against German imperialism. On this issue, nationalist opinion in Ireland was divided. A minority, holding that Redmond had abandoned the traditional Irish national position, organized themselves into the Irish Volunteers and split from Redmond's National Volunteers, many of whom joined the British Army against Germany. Carson and other Irish Unionists joined the war cabinet. Irish nationalist opinion of the moderates resented the decision of Secretary for War Herbert Earl Kitchener (1850–1916) to deny separate organization for Irish troops. A minority of the Irish Volunteers, in contact with U.S. and German sympathizers, rebelled in 1916. This second, or rather third, attempt to establish an Irish Republic was quickly defeated. One of the most conservative bishops, Edward Thomas O'Dwyer (1842–1917) of Limerick, expressed the general resentment at British severity after the rebellion.
Public opinion quickly moved toward the Republican party (Sinn Féin); the hierarchy identified itself with this feeling in 1918 in the expression of disapproval of the proposed conscription of Irishmen to fight in the war. At the general election after the Armistice, Sinn Féin won an overwhelming victory, except in the northeast. The members decided not to enter the United Kingdom Parliament and established themselves as an Irish unicameral legislature (Dáil Éireann) in Dublin in early 1919.
During the next two years a state of war developed between the Republicans and the British government, which made unsuccessful efforts to induce the bishops to condemn the insurgents. A Government of Ireland Act was passed in 1920, under which the six northeastern counties were established as Northern Ireland, with a subordinate legislature under the United Kingdom.
Bibliography: Bibliographies. j. carty, Bibliography of Irish History, 1870–1921, 2 v. (Dublin 1936–40). Bibliography of British History: Tudor Period, 1485–1603, ed. c. read (2d ed. Oxford 1959). Bibliography of British History: Stuart Period, 1603–1714, ed. o. davies (Oxford 1928). Bibliography of British History: The 18th Century, 1714–1789, eds., s. m. pargellis and d. j. medley (Oxford 1951). a. r. eager, A Guide to Irish Bibliographical Material (London 1964). Irish Historical Studies (Dublin 1938—) has annual bibliogs. Literature. Ireland: A Documentary Record, ed. j. carty, 3 v. (v.1–2 3d v.3 2d ed.; Dublin 1957–58). a. bellesheim, Geschichte der katholischen Kirche in Irland, 3 v. (Mainz 1890–91). History of the Church of Ireland, ed. w. a. phillips, 3 v (London 1933–34). t. j. johnston et al., A History of the Church of Ireland (Dublin 1953). w. delius, Geschichte der irischen Kirche (Munich 1954). l. bieler, Ireland, Harbinger of the Middle Ages (New York 1963). e. curtis, A History of Ireland (6th ed. London 1950). m. t. hayden and g. moonan, A Short History of the Irish People, 2 v. (Dublin 1960). r. d. edwards, Church and State in Tudor Ireland (New York 1935). m. v. roman, The Reformation in Dublin, 1536–1558 (New York 1926); The Reformation in Ireland under Elizabeth, 1558–1580 (New York 1930). t. l. coonan, The Irish Catholic Confederacy and the Puritan Revolution (New York 1954). j. g. simms, The Williamite Confiscation in Ireland, 1690–1703 (London 1956). j. c. beckett, Protestant Dissent in Ireland, 1687–1780 (London 1948). w. e. h. lecky, A History of Ireland in the 18th Century, 5 v. (new ed. New York 1893). p. s. o'hegarty, A History of Ireland under the Union, 1801–1922 (London 1952). d. r. gwynn, The Struggle for Catholic Emancipation, 1750–1829 (New York 1928); The History of Partition 1912–1925 (Dublin 1950). j. a. reynolds, The Catholic Emancipation Crisis in Ireland, 1823–1829 (New Haven 1954). j. f. broderick, The Holy See and the Irish Movement for the Repeal of the Union with England, 1829–1847 (Analecta Gregoriana, 55;1951). f. mcgrath, Newman's University: Idea and Reality (New York 1951). d. mcardle, The Irish Republic: A Documented Chronicle of the Anglo-Irish Conflict and the Partitioning of Ireland (4th ed. Dublin 1951). e. r. norman, The Catholic Church in Ireland in the Age of Rebellion, 1859–1873 (Ithaca, NY 1965). Handbook of British Chronology, eds., f. m. powicke and e. b. fryde (2d ed. London 1961). r. n. hadcock, Map of Monastic Ireland (Dublin 1959). Bilan du Monde, 2:495–512. Irish Catholic Directory (Dublin) annual. k. b. nowlan, The Politics of Repeal: A Study in the Relations between Great Britain and Ireland, 1841–1850 (Toronto 1964). Annuario Pontificio has data on all dioceses.
[r. d. edwards]
THE CHURCH IN THE REPUBLIC OF IRELAND
After 1921 Ireland remained partitioned into two political entities. Northern Ireland was now a partially self-governing area within the United Kingdom, with a local parliament exercising limited jurisdiction. The remainder of the country attained its independence as the Irish Free State, a Commonwealth dominion, in 1922. The Free State gradually relinquished Commonwealth associations, abandoning the name "Free State" in 1937, and in 1949 left the Commonwealth to become the Republic of Ireland.
Establishes Commonwealth Government . A Republican majority, led by Sinn Fein activist Éamon De Valera (1882–1975), established the Fianna Fáil party in 1926, and became the main opposition party in 1927. In 1931 the minority Republican party Saor Éire was condemned by the hierarchy in what was regarded as a move against Fianna Fáil. In the following year, however, De Valera became head of the government, holding office for the next 16 years.
A new constitution enacted in 1938 maintained the independence of the country but permitted external association with the king of Great Britain as head of the British Commonwealth. The constitution admitted that civil authority comes from God, the form of government being decided by the people. It maintained the parliamentary system set up under the Irish Free State Act, recognized the special position of the Catholic Church as the Church of the majority of the people and established religious toleration for Anglicans, Presbyterians and other denominations.
The neutrality of the Republic of Ireland during World War II accentuated the resentment respecting the partition of the island. While a small minority remained hopeful that a German victory would result in the reunification of Ireland, most people thought otherwise. The attitude of the state was one of benevolent neutrality toward the Atlantic powers, particularly after the entry of the United States against the Axis Powers. While some communications were established between extremist Republican organizations and Germany, any plans for a German invasion proved abortive. Maria Duce, a small extremist Catholic element under the leadership of Denis Fahey, CSSp, favored Germany, largely because of suspicions of the alliance with Russia and because of objections to Zionism. It also organized a campaign against article 44 of the Constitution, which affirmed toleration for Jews and Protestants.
At the end of World War II Ireland was temporarily excluded from the United Nations, partly because of its wartime neutrality and partly because of Soviet resentment at Ireland's refusal to exchange diplomatic missions. Following the proclamation of the state as the Republic of Ireland in 1949 relations with Britain deteriorated; the British Labour government gave guarantees not to end formal Partition without the approval of Northern Ireland.
The Costello government collided with vested interests when it introduced a moderate form of the legislation of the British welfare state, and its subsequent defeat was in part attributed to what was generally regarded, notably by De Valera and his followers, as unwarrantable clerical interference. On its return to power in 1951 Fianna Fáil introduced a revised Health Act that secured many of the benefits of the earlier act but avoided ecclesiastical consultation.
Ireland Enters International Sphere . After 1955 Ireland took an increasing part in external affairs. Its historic opposition to imperialism led to requests for the loan of Irish troops by the United Nations, particularly in Lebanon, the Congo and Cyprus. In regard to the Cold War with Communist Europe, Ireland remained closer to the position of the United States than to that of Great Britain. The 1960s and 1970s brought about marked changes in Irish society and in the life of the Irish Church. The protectionist policies of the government gave way to free trade with Britain in the 1960s and with the European Economic Community in 1973. A growth in industry and skilled service jobs resulted in a decline in agriculture and an increased level of urbanization. By the 1980s one third of the people lived in the greater Dublin area.
Neither the Catholic Church nor the major Protestant churches, organized on an all-Ireland basis, took account of partition in their administrative structures. In both the Catholic and Church of Ireland (Anglican) churches, Armagh remained the primatial see of all Ireland, having been founded by Saint Patrick. After Vatican II the hierarchy adopted the modern form of an episcopal conference, consisting of all the bishops of Ireland, including coadjutors and auxiliaries as well as diocesan bishops, under the ex-officio presidency of the archbishop of Armagh. This represented little change from the existing structures for consultation, and joint action evolved from the principles formulated by the Synod of Thurles (1850).
Effects of Vatican II . The bishops who returned from the Second Vatican Council found an Ireland alerted to Church affairs in a manner never known in the past. The traditional loyalty of Irish Catholics to their faith was as strong as ever, but to this was now added an awareness of change: new emphases in doctrine, in the perception of other churches and in attitudes towards the laity. The people had acquired this conciliar vision partly through homilies and widely reported public lectures sponsored by the religious orders and partly from the secular press, radio and television, that by the final session of the Council were carrying extended daily reports from their own correspondents sent to cover developments in Rome first hand. The result was an emerging recognition of the Church as a human as well as a divine institution in which conflicts of opinion and personality played a part, in which teaching was arrived at through an exhaustively argued variety of viewpoints, and in which the exercise of authority was viewed as a service rather than as an imposition of legalistic dictates. The concern of some bishops that this novel image of the Church would distress Catholics imbued with an older ethos was reflected in the message of Archbishop John Charles mcquaid (d. April 7,1973) of Dublin at the conclusion of the Council in which he promised his people that "no change will worry the tranquility of your Christian lives." Such reassurance was in fact unnecessary. Although conciliar change provoked little resistance or disparagement at first, the Irish thought of change as a phenomenon to be initiated by authority, a service to be provided by an authority now perceived to be service-oriented.
The first result of authority-led reform was the enthusiastic acceptance of a revised liturgy following extensive pastoral preparation; another was in the field of ecumenism as Anglican, Presbyterian and Methodist believers joined Catholics in praying together for Christian unity. Annual ecumenical conferences were organized in County Louth, at Greenhills and another—specifically for theologians and church leaders—at Ballymascanlon, that built on the annual ecumenical conference hosted by the Benedictines of Glenstal Abbey, County Limerick, since the early 1960s. Of more immediate interest to most Catholics, and widely welcomed, was the lifting of prohibitions against attendance at Protestant weddings, funerals and worship services. The "ban" forbidding Catholics to attend Trinity College, Dublin, because of the allegedly Protestant character of Dublin University was rescinded in 1970. In that same year the enthusiasm of Jesuit scholar Michael Hurley resulted in the establishment of the Irish School of Ecumenics, where postgraduate students from all Christian traditions studied theology and related subjects and participated in one another's pastorate.
Led by the Archbishop of Armagh, William Cardinal conway, ecumenical themes and the concept of a servant-church took root among Irish Catholics in the immediate postconciliar years without engendering antagonism or serious division. The responsibility of the local church toward the universal Church prompted the dispatch of Irish diocesan priests to assist the hard-pressed clergy in Peru and other parts of Latin America. Religious orders adopted new objectives in line with the conciliar spirit, often choosing an option for the poor such as setting up schools for the children of nomadic "itinerants" (the scrap-dealing "travellers" who wandered the roads of Ireland). In the early 1970s the Conference of Major Religious Superiors drew on the insights of the individual orders to create "Focus for Action," a program ensuring that the religious remained the most dynamic element within the Irish Church despite a chronic lack of vocations. Vocations to the priesthood in Ireland fell from 1,375 in 1965 to 322 in 1989. By 2000 the number of Masses were reduced due to a shortage of priests and the Holy Ghost Fathers were forced to relinquish management of their schools to secular educators due to a lack of religious. Catholic leaders predicted that the Irish Church would soon require priests from South America and Africa to immigrate as missionaries to the British Isles.
Encouraged by these developments, a thinking laity had begun to emerge, the leaders of which spoke from their own experience about subjects of social and moral significance. Intellectual Catholic journals had a much greater influence than their relatively small circulations would suggest since they addressed themselves to an audience that was theologically aware and conciliar by inclination, including the religious correspondents of the secular media.
Educational Reform . The postconciliar era also saw extensive State-initiated changes in the Irish educational system, despite the fact that the Catholic Church controlled a large number of schools in the Republic. Prior to Vatican II primary or first-level schools—called national schools—received most of their funding, including teacher's salaries, from the Ministry of Education. While the Ministry prescribed the basic curriculum, national schools were effectively denominational due to their management by local Catholic parish priests or Protestant pastors. Most second-level schools, on the other hand, were run by religious orders and charged whatever tuition was required to cover costs not able to be borne by the orders. Paralleling these Church schools were vocational schools owned and run by the state that provided technical, practical or commercial curriculums. The system favored the higher economic classes of Irish society, as the laboring classes could little afford to send their children to second-level schools.
During the mid-1960s government set about improving the opportunities for access to education and at the same time expanding the curriculum. In some cases it meant merging smaller schools within the same community into larger units to achieve the benefits of pooled resources. The state also combined secondary and vocational schools into "comprehensive schools" that taught the humanities, sciences and technical subjects. In 1966 the state assumed the total cost of secondary school administration in return for the abolition of fees, and by the end of the decade most Church-run schools elected to enter the "state scheme" on this basis. Despite the state's involvement, the religious remained at the heart of the system. In 1973 the Church leadership endorsed the state initiatives, and encouraged the continued cooperation and mergers between local schools. In 2000 the Ministry of Education continued to fund all schools, regardless of religious affiliation.
The reform of education continued with much analysis and a sometimes heated exchange of viewpoints on the content of the curriculum, on class sizes, on the career prospects for lay teachers in Church schools. By the 1980s questions involving career prospects were beginning to resolve themselves as the vocations crisis meant that fewer priests, brothers and sisters were available for teaching. By the end of the decade lay staff predominated in all schools, and the appointment of lay principals (headmasters or headmistresses) was increasingly becoming the norm. As trustees, the religious continued to wield control through the management boards but their position was becoming precarious with the hardening of proposals for the state to assume ownership of the schools for which it was bearing the cost. With the bishops, both Anglican and Catholic, opposed to relinquishing owner-ship, the debate continued.
The Church was also central to some of the radical reforms of third-level education undertaken in the post-conciliar years. Its removal of the prohibition on Catholics attending Trinity College, Dublin, resulted in a major influx of Catholic students to that ancient institution, the establishment of a Catholic chaplaincy, and the provision of daily Mass in the college chapel. By the 1980s most Trinity College students were either Catholics or of Catholic background. The university's divinity school, which had been Anglican, became an interdenominational department of Hebrew, biblical and theological studies in 1980. Other universities in Ireland burgeoned in the decades after 1965, and two new universities were founded in the Republic in 1989: the University of Limerick and Dublin City University.
Missionary Efforts . Vatican II's emphasis on respect for local culture and the promotion of indigenous clergy and sisterhoods coincided with the attainment of independence by Third World countries and the fall-off in Irish vocations. Missionary work took on a new character in response to these stimuli. Long-established missionary activity in Africa and Asia by Irish religious had ensured that several generations of Irish Catholics were informed about the work of evangelization, education and medical help. The participation of lay helpers now became a characteristic of most missions, with doctors, nurses and other qualified personnel volunteering for a term of service in association with the missionaries. The principal concentration of Irish endeavor shifted to the relief of famine caused by drought, warfare or destitution. Special agencies were founded, including Trócaire (an Irish word meaning "mercy"), set up by the bishops in 1973. Together with some Irish secular agencies, these organizations became globally respected both for their provision of immediate assistance to the starving and their encouragement of improved methods of husbandry to prevent famine in the future.
Church Addresses Poverty . Through their Justice and Peace Commission, pastoral letters and other statements, Irish bishops took a leading role in protesting against an economic system that failed to address the problem of poverty in Ireland. They pointed to deficiencies in political planning, the criteria of the european union, and relations between workers and employers that contributed to what they saw as major injustices in Irish society, the greatest of which they identified as an unnecessarily high level of unemployment. An even more trenchant and sustained campaign for radical change was mounted by the Conference of Religious of Ireland (CRI), which presented plans, analyses, submissions and protests urging the government to break out of traditional patterns of economic thinking. During the 1990s the CRI became one of the more influential voices affecting the forward planning of successive administrations, and saw some of its proposals being accepted. Following the presidential elections two years later, the Conference again spoke out, noting that "Decisions taken in the past 20 years have resulted in the emergence of a two-tier society" wherein 34 percent of Irish lived below the poverty line. Showing similar resolve, a 1994 initiative by the government to encourage employment in the depressed regions of western Ireland was a direct result of the efforts of local bishops.
Social welfare agencies promoted through Church effort included the Catholic Communications Institute of Ireland, which advised bishops on media matters and maintained a number of book stores, a publishing firm (Veritas Publications), and a video production unit. CURA, an advice and counseling service for women with unwanted pregnancies, operated a confidential telephone contact system throughout the country. The Catholic Marriage Advisory Council provided a confidential service, operated by trained personnel, to help sustain and enrich marriage and family relationships.
Modern Church Confronts Social Issues . In Ireland as elsewhere, the first severe jolt for the postconciliar Church came with the publication of the encyclical humanae vitae in 1968. While the condemnation of artificial birth control drew protests from a number of the newly articulate laity, Irish bishops stressed the obligation on Catholics to make "a religious submission of mind and will" to authentic papal teaching. Although controversy continued, because the sale of contraceptives was prohibited by civil law in Ireland, the crisis did not at first assume the same proportions as it did elsewhere. However, when the government proposed to modify the legal restriction against contraceptives, the church-state clash that followed revealed a major cleavage within the local church. While bishops accepted legislative authority to determine civil law, they added that the introduction of contraception would undermine the common good and would ultimately lead to the advocacy of abortion. Contraception was finally legalized in the 1980s, in careful stages by a parliament as cautious as the people it represented, and, prophetically, by 1999 a referendum was requested on the legalization of abortion.
The early stages of the contraception controversy coincided with a noticeable alienation of young people from the Church, an increase in resignations from the ministry, a sharp decrease in vocations and a growing criticism of Church affairs by the media. Corresponding to these negative factors was a new fervor among traditionalists opposed to innovative thinking and to all efforts aimed at persuading the Church to conform its teaching to meet and serve the needs of contemporary society.
Unique to this set of common circumstances among Irish Catholics was that polarization occurred within a community shaped by the Catholic ethos. Most advocates of social change were themselves practicing Catholics: theologians such as Maynooth professor Enda Mc-Donagh and the Augustinian Gabriel Daly, and the political observers Garret Fitz Gerald (soon to be prime minister) and Mary Robinson (later to be president of Ireland). Historian Margaret MacCurtain, OP, and anti-poverty campaigner Stanislaus Kennedy, were religious sisters. Some liberals became antagonistic to the Church itself, certain extremists even resorted to antagonistic rhetoric that further hardened the traditionalist resistance to change. In general the greater part of the criticism directed against conservative Church attitudes in Ireland came from believing Catholics.
Genuine concerns existed over the encroachment of materialism to the detriment of the Christian family and the destruction of religious values and traditions. This stance, reflected by Pope John Paul II's address during a pastoral visit to Ireland in 1979, inspired the formation of lay groups dedicated to the defense of the family. Seeing their Church in jeopardy, groups formed to battle parliament's "liberalizing" civil legislation regarding abortion and divorce. Successful in the referendum on divorce in 1983 and the referendum on abortion in 1986, these groups eventually found their positions undermined. With regard to abortion, a clause banning the constitution from addressing abortion was so convoluted that the Supreme Court found that it actually permitted abortion in certain cases. Meanwhile, in 1993 a law was passed that provided an end-run around the abortion controversy by allowing Irish women to obtain abortions by traveling to Great Britain, where they were legal. And a campaign to scuttle a proposal to facilitate the introduction of divorce left many separated couples in a legal limbo; when the proposal was revived, it was passed and divorce became legal in February of 1997. Meanwhile, government legislation began to erode the traditional arena of the church. Passage of the Family Law Act of 1995 compromised canon law by raising the minimum age for marriage from 14 to 18. Church leaders protested the new law as a breach of human rights and a breach of the Church's right to determine the requirements of the holy state of matrimony.
The charge that the Catholic Church determined the laws of the Republic could not readily be countered as long as statute and constitutional law on matters of morality conspicuously conformed to Catholic teaching. The attitude of the bishops, who equated this conformity with the common good regardless of the wishes of citizens who disagreed with the Church, was felt by some to be at variance with the Vatican Council's advocacy of ecumenism and religious freedom. The hierarchical backing given to conservatives in the abortion and divorce controversies further exacerbated Liberal Catholic dis-tress. The perceived non-concilar stance of the Holy See on internal issues—clerical celibacy, the position of women within the Church and the disciplining of theologians—also increased the progressive discontent and deepened the gulf between Irish Catholic factions. Opinion surveys in the 1990s showed substantial support in Ireland not only for the ordination of women but also for the abolition of compulsory priestly celibacy. A consequent concern throughout this period was the appointment of bishops, which in the case of some nominations to prominent Irish dioceses undoubtedly ignored the wishes of the local church.
Overt factionalism surfaced in 1994 when it came to light that the Irish Church had harbored the same problems related to pedophiliac and homosexual clergy, and to priests in illicit relationships with women, that assailed the Church elsewhere in the world. While slow to criticize the human weaknesses exposed in a succession of scandals, Irish Catholics expressed shock over the incompetence of Church authorities in dealing with the problems, especially in the case of clerics accused of pedophilia.
Situation in Northern Ireland . The "Troubles"—the guerilla-style violence in Northern Ireland that characterized that region throughout the second half of the 20th century—posed serious questions for the Church throughout the entire island. While society in the Republic was homogenous—there was little ethnic diversity and 91 percent of the population identified itself as Roman Catholic in 2000—loyalties to nationalist (Republican) or unionist causes sometimes influenced political attitudes and affiliations. This was not the case in the north, however. There only one third of the population identified itself as Catholic, and this minority looked forward to the eventual reunification of the island. The Protestant majority, with political and cultural ties to Great Britain, viewed their Catholics neighbors with suspicion. A local parliament with powers delegated from the British parliament had allowed Northern Ireland to enjoy what was effectively single-party rule until 1972 when that parliament was abolished.
In 1968 police violence in responding to activities of a group fighting discrimination against Catholics in housing, employment and electoral practices rekindled hostilities between the two factions. Over the next few years the conflict hardened into deadly guerrilla warfare as the nationalist Irish Republican Army (IRA)—a body illegal in the Republic as well as in the North—directed violent attacks on extremist groups on the loyalist side. Members of the British army, the police and many innocent civilians died in the bombings, shootings and other acts of violence that followed.
The dilemma for Church authorities was that while they shared the grievance of the Catholic people with regard to civil rights issues, they could not approve the violent tactics of the IRA. Northern bishops led by Armagh's Cardinal Conway vehemently denounced the violence. While they spoke for most of their fellow Catholics they alienated some who saw the IRA as protectors. They also upset others who, while disapproving of the IRA, also disliked their Church's giving comfort to unionists. And when the bishops condemned loyalist and military excesses pro-British commentators saw them as Janus-faced. Conway and his supporters resisted demands to excommunicate members of the IRA as they realized such an exercise would be pointless: Irish nationalists traditionally distinguished between their faith and their Church, believing that the Church in these circumstances acted out of its own interest rather than from ethical considerations. The bishops did, however, forbid the use of military symbolism within church buildings during the funerals of IRA members. Cardinal Conway's successors, Cardinals Tomás Ó Fiaich and Cahal Daly, reiterated the condemnations of all violence, including that from the nationalist side, and increasingly joined with Protestant church leaders to plead for peace, but with little evident effect.
While individual Catholic leaders rallied many to the cause of peace, the hierarchy took a much more subtle position. The Northern tensions were rooted in an historic antipathy between Catholics and Protestants, making ecumenical approaches obvious. However, a virtual halt in ecumenical progress accompanied the polarization of opinion among Catholics in the Republic. No Irish enthusiasm was officially voiced for the active pursuit of Anglican-Roman Catholic reunion. In the North, where thoughtful people felt that a major contribution towards the long-term elimination of communal tension could be made by the education of Catholic and Protestant children together in the same schools, official Catholic support was withheld. A few "integrated" schools of this kind were founded but without overt Church approval. In fairness to the Catholic authorities, it must be added that Protestant approval was equally difficult to generate.
The Downing Street Declaration, a joint statement outlining a proposed peace process made by Irish Prime Minister John Bruton and British Prime Minister John Major in December of 1993, led to an IRA and loyalist cease fire the following year. While hostilities erupted again in 1996, they were reduced to intermittent flare-ups as negotiations continued. On Good Friday, 1998, a peace settlement was reached by the IRA and loyalist factions that would create a 108-seat Assembly in Northern Ireland capable of protecting the political rights of the region's Catholic minority. While voters in both sections of the island approved the proposal, by 2001 it had yet to be implemented. Blessing the agreement, Pope John Paul II saw it as an affirmation that a "new era of hope" had begun for the region.
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