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the Pope and the reception of the pall from him or his Legate were omitted, thus undoing the act of the Synod of Kells 385 years before, and rejecting the foreign authority which had then been imposed on the Irish Church. The acts thus passed were generally well received, many of the bishops and clergy freely taking the required oaths; while the princes and chiefs, weary of the intolerance and exactions of the hierarchy, shewed great readiness in the matter, pledging themselves by formal indentures to uproot the Papal Supremacy as an unrighteous usurpation. For the first time in her history Ireland was unanimous in her allegiance to one acknowledged sovereign. Ancient feuds and differences of race were alike forgotten, and English and Irish were for the moment one people. This unanimity was the more remarkable, as being in defiance of the threats, excommuni. cations, and interdicts with which the Pope sought to uphold his forsaken cause m.
27. Objection has been sometimes taken against
| How many, it is impossible to say. It is recorded, however, that on one occasion no fewer than two archbishops and eight bishops, with divers others, took them together at Clonmel. The Primate with his suffragans and clergy seem to have been the chief recusants.
m The bull of Pope Paul III., bearing date A.D. 1535, affected to dethrone Henry, to absolve his subjects from their allegiance, and to give away his dominions to any who chose to take them. It likewise debarred him from Christian burial, and consigned him to eternal damnation. It was not however published for nearly three years after this date, when it was solemnly confirmed by a second bull, dated December, 1538. In this latter year also, the Pope caused to be circulated in Ireland an oath of allegiance to his own authority in all things, as well spiritual as temporal, and abjuring all acts made by any heretical powers. Ware's Antiq., p. 152.
the regularity, and indeed the validity of these proceedings; viz. that the Papal Supremacy, having been in the twelfth century accepted by the Church, in the Councils of Kells and Cashel, ought to have been now in like manner abolished by a regular ecclesiastical synod, and not by means of an Act of Parliament; and that its rejection in this manner cannot be considered an act of the Church, but one of the State only. The fact is, however, that neither at Kells or Cashel was there any such formal and regular acknowledgment of the Supremacy as could be held to require a formal and regular renunciation, much less of such a supremacy as had come in the sixteenth century to be claimed and exercised. The authority recognised in accepting the palls or receiving the legates was altogether vague and indefinite, and only gradually assumed those vast proportions which overshadowed all other authority, embracing almost every relation of life and property; and if these claims were indeed unfounded, unwarrantable, and unscriptural, no supposed irregularity in the manner of their rejection could give continuance to an obligation which they never justly possessed. Liberty was the Church's right, of which she was fully justified in availing herself, however it might be brought about. But in truth, the alleged irregularity is only apparent. The parliament by which these acts were passed was not a lay body, but a mixed one,—the Upper House, in fact, comprising more bishops than lay peers,—and in this respect was similar to nearly all the councils that had legislated for the ancient Church of Ireland. The very Synod of Kells itself consisted of abbots, bishops, kings, princes, and chieftains; and of a like character were
the Synod of Ængus before, and the Synods of Athboy and Drogheda shortly after, in all of which questions of Church as well of State policy were decided". At all events, if a strictly ecclesiastical council should be supposed needful for the purpose, this defect was supplied in the reign of Queen Elizabeth, when the various acts rejecting the papal and establishing the regal supremacy, were formally ratified by a synod of the Church.
28. The overthrow of the Pope's jurisdiction was the principal step towards the reformation of religion in Ireland during the reign of Henry VIII., who indeed, as is well known, held all the other distinctive doctrines of Romanism to the end of his life, and was not likely therefore to have contemplated any such general Reformation as afterwards took place. The step which he did take, however, was all important—the necessary preliminary to every subsequent reform, however needful or however universally desired. As long as the supreme authority of a power which boasts to be unchanged and unchangeable was acknowledged, no improvement could possibly take place in the existing state of things; and even if Henry, blinded by ambition, did try in some degree to transfer to himself the power of which he deprived the Pope, and if the compliance of Parliament, both in England and Ireland, did bestow on him titles and powers which could not be justified
* That of Cashel was perhaps an exception. See above, p. 81.
• The notorious "Statute of the Six Articles " which he caused to be passed only seven years before his death, declared it to be heresy to deny, and a capital crime to oppose, the doctrines of transubstantiation, communion under one kind, the celibacy of the clergy, private masses, &c.
either from the Word of God, or from the canons of the ancient Church, the evil was comparatively light and of short duration, and the true limits of the Royal Supremacy were soon afterwards fixed in the reign of Queen Elizabeth, who distinctly renounced, by a public declaration, all spiritual powers, and claimed such only as lawfully belong, according to Scripture and the decrees of the Catholic Church, to a Christian sovereign.
29. But while the Church of Ireland owes to Henry, if not her complete reformation, at all events the possibility of any reformation, she owes to him likewise a great and irreparable wrong in the secularization of the monastic endowments, which in Ireland consisted not only of lands but, to a very large extent, of tithes likewise. The alienation of these to the monasteries themselves in the first instance was a great injury and injustice to the parishes, to which were left only the lesser or vicarial tithes, and frequently not even these. Some slight compensation for this despoilment was afforded by the existence of the monastery in the neighbourhood, and sometimes by the services of the monks. But when these establishments were suppressed, the tithes, instead of being restored to the parochial clergy, were, together with the other property, bestowed by letters patent on such persons as “the king delighted to honour” and to aggrandize P. The result was, that in a vast number of instances the remaining revenues of the parishes were utterly inadequate to support the clergymen on whom the whole charge of the spiritual duties now devolved, while the results of this again were
P No fewer than 382 monasteries were suppressed by Henry in Ireland. See Ware, quoted by Mant, i. 40.
unions, pluralities, ruined churches, scattered congregations; and though, in process of time, many of these impropriations were bought back, and other sources of revenue made available by the grant and increased value of glebes, this sequestration of the ancient property of the clergy has proved, especially in the southern parts of the country, where the glebes are for the most part inconsiderable, one of the most formidable obstacles to the proper discharge of the Church's duties 4.
30. From the rejection of the Papal Supremacy may be dated the close of the second and commencement of the third period in the history of the Irish Church, in which, having resumed her position as a National Church independent of Rome, (as she had been for the first seven hundred years of her existence,) she proceeded to purge herself from those errors and corruptions which had by degrees grown upon her.
31. For such a reformation, the minds of thoughtful men had for some time been gradually prepared by the proceedings of the German and Swiss reformers. Not a few of the bishops and clergy, both in England and Ireland, were the open opponents of the teaching.as well as of the authority of Rome, and the same sentiments were likewise very general among the more intelligent and educated of the laity. The young Prince Edward himself had, from his infancy, imbibed principles favourable to a reformation, and accordingly, on his accession to the throne, steps were at once taken to bring about some important changes,
9 At the present time, tithe rent-charge to the amount of over £80,000 per annum, or about one-sixth of the whole, is in lay hands, and yields no advantage to the Church..