Зображення сторінки
PDF
ePub

bishops, who took the Oath of Supremacy, and conformed. All the other bishops remained in their several sees, and from them the present bishops of the Church in Ireland have derived their orders, and thus prove the right of the Church whose bishops they are, to be considered the same body corporate as that which existed in Ireland previous to the Reformation. To affirm otherwise is to declare that submission to the Pope is essential to the existence of a Church as a corporate body, and that the renouncing the Papal supremacy is equivalent to forfeiting the rights and privileges of an Established Church

The case then stands thus. By the law of the land previous to the Reformation, the Church in Ireland held certain property by virtue of its being a body corporate in connection with the State. At the time of the Reformation it renounced a foreign and usurped jurisdiction, whilst it retained its existence as a corporate body by virtue of the continued succession of its bishops. This body corporate has continued to exist by perpetual succession from that day to the present hour, and is now acknowledged by the State as the national Church of Ireland, holding that portion of the Church's revenues which is still spared to it. It is true that the Pope has since the Reformation introduced a foreign succession, and formed

SUCO

c“The Church, like every body corporate, may alter her laws without changing her identity. As an independent Church professing fallibility, she has claimed a right of acting without the consent of any other : as a Church she claims, and has always exercised, a right of reforming whatever appeared amiss in her doctrine, her discipline, or her rights.”—Burke, Works, vol. vi. pp. 92, 93.

a new body corporate by his own mere authority, and in defiance of the law both of Church and State ; and by this new body it is that the rights, privileges, and property of the ancient Irish Church are claimed. Such a claim, however speciously put forward, will, when fully examined, be found to rest solely on the assumed right of the Pope to dispose of the Church property of Ireland, by virtue of the Supremacy inherent in himself. It is not convenient openly to put this argument forward, but this is the real ground on which it rests d.

6. Such being the true position which the Established Church now holds in Ireland, let us proceed to consider how it first acquired the property which now belongs to it.

Previous to the conquest of Ireland by Henry II., the whole Church property of Ireland was under the control of the Co-arbs, who were the regularly appointed successors of the more eminent founders of Churches in Ireland. Besides ecclesiastical buildings this property consisted chiefly of endowments of land

d“What is the meaning of a title by succession ? It is this, That the hierarchy at each successive stage of transmission have derived their office from their predecessors by the canonical mode of continuing that office. And wbat is the testimony of authentic records as to the succession in the Reformed Church? It is summed up by Mr. E. P. Shirley in the Preface to his volume of State Papers relating to the Church in Ireland. 'It is evident,' he says, 'that although from the distracted state of the times the Reformation was necessarily very imperfectly carried out in Ireland, the true succession of bishops in the Church was ever preserved, and that solely in the line of prelates acknowledged by the State. The Romish intruders into their diocese have derived their orders from Italy and Spain, AND NOT FROM THE IRISH CHURCH.'”—(Speech of Rt. Hon. Joseph Napier at the Norwich Congress, p. 5.)

and voluntary offerings. The goods of the Church in those days were usually divided into four parts, one for the use of the bishop, another for that of the clergy, a third for the poor, and a fourth for the building and repairing of churchese. From time to time the owners of land throughout the country made provision for the clergy placed amongst their tenants and dependants by erecting houses for them and annexing glebes, and gradually, although before the English Conquest very imperfectly, the clergyman began to receive the tithes of the land forming the parish over which he presided. The payment of tithes was first formally enjoined by the Synod of Kells in A.D. 1152, but it was not till after the Synod of Cashel in A.D. 1172 that they became a regular part of the Church's system. When the English power was introduced into Ireland, the English law, both ecclesiastical and civil, passed into that country, and prevailed as far as the English authority extended. Shortly afterwards, at the Synod of Dublin in A.D. 1186, presided over by Archbishop Comyn, it was decreed that tithes should be paid to the clergy; but although this took effect within the English Pale, it was long before it was enforced throughout those parts of the country that were occupied by the Irish people.

7. It is, however, essential to the understanding the true condition of the early Irish Church, to remember that before the twelfth century there was no diocesan episcopal jurisdiction, properly so called, exercised in Ireland. The country was first divided into dioceses at the Synod of Rathbreasil in 1110. The duties of Irish bishops during the early ages of

• See Gelasius, Epis. ix. ad Episc. Lucania, c. 27.

ere

Christianity in that country were of necessity chiefly missionary. They resided for the most part in monasteries, for the state of society in which they lived made it next to impossible to lead a peaceable and religious life, except in a community exclusively Christian. In process of time these monasteries were formed in different localities, and became the centres of religion and civilization to the country around them. These communities were often situated at a long distance from each other, and it therefore became necessary that each should be able to supply the rites of the Church, whether episcopal or priestly, to all its inmates. Hence it became customary to have a bishop attached to every monastery of importance. He had no diocesan jurisdiction, and was bound to render absolute obedience to his monastic superior, but it would be a great mistake to suppose that because there was no diocesan episcopacy, in the modern sense of the term, in Ireland at this time, that the distinction between the orders of priest and bishop was not fully known and carefully preserved. Dr. Todd has clearly proved that bishops in those days alone consecrated churches, administered the rite of confirmation, consecrated other bishops, and ordained priests and deacons". In process of time their jurisdiction was extended over the minor religious houses in connection with the greater monasteries, and when any petty king or chieftain embraced Christianity, he provided one or more bishops for his clan along with other clergy. The district which owed allegiance to the chief thus became the proper sphere of labour of the bishop and

See this subject fully treated in Dr. Todd's learned Introduction to his “Life of St. Patrick," p. 5.

IS

CA

his clergy, and this was the first approach to diocesan jurisdiction in the Irish Church. Afterwards, when dioceses were regularly formed, many of them became co-extensive with the territories of the tribes to which they were severally attached. Thus the diocese of Dromore, which was an independent see till 1842, was very nearly co-extensive with the ancient Lordship of Iveagh, and those of Kilmacduagh, Kilfenora and Ross, nearly occupy the territories formerly possessed by ancient Irish clans.

8. In these early times large grants of lands were given to the Church by the native princes and lords of Ireland. A considerable portion of the property now held by the Bishop of Meath was granted to Kieran of Clonmacnoise (now united to Meath) in the sixth century, nearly six hundred years before Rome had any jurisdiction in Ireland; and the condition of the old Irish bishops generally, previous to the twelfth century, was probably very similar to that of Bishop Aidan in England, who, according to Bede (iii. 17), “ Had no possession of his own, save his Church and the lands adjoining ith.” As the diocesan and parochial system gained ground, the monastic bishop became the bishop of the diocese, at first without definite boundaries, but at length, after the synod of Rathbreasil was held, with properly defined jurisdiction, and his clergy likewise became settled in their parochial cures. The property of the monastery thus became that of the see, and till the introduction of the tithe system, the clergy were supported by it and the voluntary offerings of the people.

9. But as Rome acquired supremacy in Ireland, 8 See Dr. Reeves'" Eccles. Antiq. of Down and Connor," p. 303.

See King's “ Primacy of Armagh," p. 31.

Rath and his clerithe property on the introdu

« НазадПродовжити »