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A TOUR OF OBSERVATION.
WITH REMARKS ON
IRISH PUBLIC QUESTIONS.
JAMES MACAULAY, M.A., M.D., EDIN.,
AUTHOR OF “ ACROSS THE FERRY."
IRELAND in 1872” is a wide theme, upon
which one might expatiate through many volumes. I confine myself to points which now most occupy public attention, and to matters which seem chiefly to determine the existing social and political situation.
We are always hearing about the improved state of Ireland. In its material wealth there are proofs of prosperity and progress, yet its government remains the difficulty of statesmen. Are the disturbing elements social, political, or religious ? I endeavour to show how far each of these classes of questions affect the general condition of the country. I have only a few prefatory remarks to make.
In speaking of the Catholic influence, I am careful to distinguish between the Irish Catholics and the Italian Catholics or Ultramontane party. To understand this distinction, it is necessary to consider the change that has been gradually made in the constitution and administration of the Catholic Church in Ireland. When the struggle for Emancipation was going on, several of the leading prelates of that Church were examined before a committee of the House of Commons. Dr. Doyle was the principal witness, then the most distinguished and most representative man among Irish Catholics. Being asked as to the authority of the Pope, Dr. Doyle said it was purely spiritual, and that “his power was limited by decrees of council and also by usage." Being asked as to the mode of electing bishops in Ireland, Dr. Doyle said, “The Pope does not at present, and he could scarcely presume to, nominate any one except such person as we recommend." In fact, the usage was for the bishops to send to Rome a list of three, dignus, dignior, dignissimus, and the Pope invariably appointed the person thus recommended as the worthiest and fittest.
But all this is changed now. In the conspiracy for increasing the Papal power in Ireland, the first step was to disregard the recommendation of the bishops in filling a vacancy. It was first done in the case of Dr. Cullen, known to be a trusty agent of the Vatican, who had lived many years in Rome, and is far more an Italian than an Irishman in spirit. Ever since, the appointments have been made of men who would be subservient to the same policy, and now the whole of the bishops, with, I believe, two exceptions, are Ultramontanes. The appointment of parish priests and of curates is in the hands of the bishops, and they take care to appoint men who will be most under their control. If any parish priest shows symptoms of independence, a curate coadjutor is planted beside him. The well-organized power of the hierarchy prevents outspoken protest, or effectual resistance to the crafty power by which the liberties of the Irish Church are being crushed. The new doctrine of Papal Infallibility has removed the former limits to the Pope's power, imposed by “decrees of council, and also by usage.”. His authority is now supreme, not only as the head of the Church, but it extends to every diocese and to every parish. The independence of the Irish Catholic Church is thus destroyed; and, not content