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to Professor Sullivan's strictures. The issues raised have in truth but
slight bearing on the general argument ; but I have thought the trans-
actions connected with the condemnation of the Queen's Colleges by the
Synod of Thurles of sufficient general interest to warrant me in preserving
a record of the facts brought out in the discussion.]

The drift of the passage, it will be seen, was to establish the origin and
character of the opposition to the Queen's Colleges, and more particularly
to show that not even amongst the clergy was the movement a national
one, being distinctly traceable to that section of the body, formerly of
small weight, but since the elevation of Dr. Cullen rapidly increasing in
numbers and power, which represents the extremest pretensions of the
Holy See, and is commonly designated by the term " Ultramontane."
Well, how does Professor Sullivan meet this argument ? In the first
place, by suggesting doubts as to the existence of Ultramontanism as any-
thing more than a maggot in the brain of certain weak and credulous
enthusiasts, or a convenient bugbear for others who seek to practise on
the ignorance and prejudices of the English public. He admits, indeed,
that the word has a certain historical import as the antithesis of Galli-
canism in the Church ; but, as bearing upon modern controversies, and
more particularly with regard to such questions as have been raised by
the new educational policy of the Government the pretensions of the
clergy in reference to human knowledge and the modes of cultivating and
imparting it, " Ultramontanism," Professor Sullivan tells his readers, is a
" phantom," " one of those handy words which float about in society in
search of an idea to which to attach itself ; " so much so, that in using the
word, lest he should be thought to acknowledge any fact corresponding to
it, he is careful invariably to insert it in quotation marks. I do not think
that I need spend words in dealing with this suggestion, more especially
while Mr. Whittle's able sketch of the modern developments of Ultramon-
tanism is in everybody's hands. I beg, therefore, to refer such of my
readers as may desire information on this point to Mr. Whittle's pamphlet,
though I should imagine there are few persons who take an interest in


controversy, whose acquaintance with modern history will not enable
them, even without Mr. Whittle's assistance, to appreciate the candour
and ingenuousness of this portion of Professor Sullivan's reply. That a
collaborates of the Home and Foreign Review, addressing Sir John
Acton, should pronounce Ultramontanism visionary, may perhaps be
thought just a little audacious.

Passing from this, Professor Sullivan takes exception to my account of
Dr. Cullen's appointment, contending through three pages of letter-press,
that the disregard by the Pope on that occasion of the recommendation of
the diocesan clergy was not in defiance of " immemorial usage." Now,
on this I may observe that the establishment of the literal accuracy of the
words placed in inverted commas is by no means necessary, I will not say
to the general scope of my argument for it does not even touch that
but to the special and subordinate point in support of which Dr. Cullen's
appointment is referred to. Suppose, for example, the fact were that the
proceedings of the Papal Court on the occasion in question were at
variance, not with " immemorial usage," but with the ordinary routine
observed in the appointment of Irish Roman Catholic bishops, would my
statement, on being modified in conformity with this state of things, lose
appreciably in force ? Now I think Professor Sullivan will not deny that
the facts are in accordance with this supposition. He tells us, indeed,
that the power exercised by the Pope in setting aside the recommendation
of the diocesan clergy was in conformity with a decree of the Propaganda
issued in 1829. That may be so, and yet the exercise of the power may
have been a very rare one, so rare as to be not unfairly characterized as
" a stretch of papal authority." Will Professor Sullivan deny this ? Will
he mention a single instance from the time the voting system came into
use down to the appointment of Dr. Cullen in which the three names
returned by the clergy were all passed over ? I venture to say that he
cannot do so, though doubtless some instances might be given of this
having occurred since Dr. Cullen's appointment, in pursuance, too, of the
same Ultramontane policy.* Yet, while the fact stands thus, it is surely
rather idle to enter into a lengthy discussion respecting the mode of
appointing Catholic bishops in Ireland in the middle of the eighteenth
century, when, owing to the penal laws, the entire economy of the Roman
Catholic Church was in a state of disorganization. Professor Sullivan
may thus, indeed, succeed in convicting me of using an inaccurate
expression ; and if he thinks the game worth the candle, I cannot grudge
him the fruits of his diligence. But does he thereby deprive Dr. Cullen's
appointment of the significance which I attached to it, as indicating the
anxiety of the Ultramontane party at that conjuncture to place a man of
Dr. Cullen's known character and views at the head of the Roman
Catholic Church in Ireland?

* In one instance even the form of taking votes was dispensed with. The person named on this
occasion when it was thought desirable not to consult the clergy of the diocese -was the Dean
of the Catholic University.


But, secondly, I am " equally incorrect " in what I have said about
Dr. Cullen's office of "apostolic delegate." Indeed, I could hardly have
been otherwise, seeing that, as Professor Sullivan informs me, I do not
even know what the term " delegate " means. On this point, however, he
is good enough to enlighten me, as well as, with much condescension, to
explain how, in a certain sense, every bishop in Ireland is an " apostolic
delegate," and to set forth, besides, other subtle and abstruse distinctions
in ecclesiastical technology, which, lest I should again betray my igno-
rance, I shall not venture further to describe. But, while thanking him
for his recondite information, I must honestly confess that, after much and
painful pondering of what he has said, I am quite unable to discover
wherein my error consists. What I said was that " it was avowedly to
advance the aims of the Ultramontane policy that he (Dr. Cullen) was
sent to Ireland, the better to equip him for which service he was furnished
with the further authority and distinction of apostolic delegate." This
was my version, and the orthodox version as rendered by Professor
Sullivan is as follows : " Nor has he ever been appointed apostolic
delegate simply. He was appointed on the 6th of April, 1 850, in order
that he might canonically convoke the Synod of Thurles, and for the
causes which might arise out of the special legislation of that Synod ; and
he was so appointed because he was Archbishop of Armagh and Primate
of all Ireland." It seems to me that this is only saying somewhat more
circumstantially than I did that he was appointed apostolic delegate, " the
better to equip him for advancing the aims of Ultramontane policy."

So much for Dr. Cullen's appointment. Coming next to what I have
said respecting the occurrences at the Synod of Thurles, I am told that
on this subject I have displayed, " if possible, still greater ignorance."
Professor Sullivan, in the first place, controverts my statement as to the
source from which the original suggestion of a National Synod to pro-
nounce upon the Queen's Colleges came. My statement implied that it
came from the Roman Court. Professor Sullivan asserts that it proceeded
from a meeting of Roman Catholic bishops, held in Dublin in 1849, and
presided over by Archbishop Murray. But on this point his informants
have misled him. No doubt the resolution which he quotes was passed
at the meeting of 1849, but this resolution was taken in conformity with a
suggestion contained in a papal rescript of the previous year that dated
nth October, 1848, and addressed by Cardinal Fransoni to Dr. Slattery,
then Archbishop of Cashel, as will be seen by the extract I subjoin in a
note.* As regards this point, then, it would seem that my ignorance was

* " Inter caetera, SSmo. Domno. nostro probante, illud commemorandum vobis censuit Sacra
Congregatio, ut Sacerdotalet convrntus ex ordine, et ad SS. Canonum et librorum liturgiconHn
tramiiem in postcrum fiant ; alioquin sententiarum varietas indies augebitur, nihilque boni ex
hujusmodi conventibus, qui potius saecularem quam religiosam speciem prse se ferant, exurget ad
Ecclesiasticam disciplinam, cui solummodo inservire debent, rite dirigendam : proindeque utilli-
mum [sic] erit acta conventuum ad Apostolicam Sedem transmitter, sicuti etiam statis temporibus
litteras dare de statu vestrarum Ecclesiarum prout sancitum est, ut opportuna hinc responsa

It was in obedience to the words I have italicised that the determination was taken to transfer


nearer the mark than Professor Sullivan's knowledge. The Holy See
did " originate the idea of the Synod," and " Ultramontanism had [some-
thing] to do with the matter."

Nevertheless, I think it is extremely probable that Professor Sullivan
may be correct in what he says of the " alarm " created at Rome, on the
news arriving there of what had taken place at the meeting in Dublin.
That meeting was presided over by Dr. Murray, and Dr. Murray was then
the strenuous advocate of the cause of the Queen's Colleges. Considering
the position which Murray then occupied in the Irish Church, it would
have been only natural that he should have been selected for the dignity
of presiding at the forthcoming Synod, and, had this happened, we now
know, beyond controversy, what would have been the result. In short, it
is plain that Dr. Murray, while accepting the suggestion of the Sacred
College, that "meetings of the clergy should in future be held in due
order, and agreeably to the course of the sacred canons and rituals," was
by his prompt action availing himself of his great and deserved in-
fluence in the Irish Church on the point of taking the game out of the
hands of the Roman Court. We can, therefore, have no difficulty in
understanding the " alarm " with which the intelligence of the proceedings
at the meeting of 1849 was received in that quarter. The moment was
evidently critical, and the Roman authorities met the danger with their
accustomed address. The death of Dr. Croly occurring just at the time,
Dr. Cullen was appointed to succeed him, and was at once invested with
the authority of " apostolic delegate," " in order," says Professor Sullivan,
" that he might canonically convoke the Synod of Thurles, and for the

the consideration of the question of the Colleges from the informal Dublin meeting of 1849 to a
regularly constituted Synod, as expressed in the resolution quoted by Professor Sullivan. That
this was the relation in which the two incidents stood to each other, is placed beyond doubt by the
following passage from a letter, addressed by Dr. Murray a few months subsequent to the Dublin
meeting (22d Dec. 1849), to the Cardinal Prefect of the Sacred Congregation. Having referred to
the Dublin meeting, he continues : " His peractis, decretum est, ut quae in hujusmodi conventibus
agi solebant, ad aliud tempus opportunum rejicerentur, cum nempe, ut santtissimus Pater Nosier
tnonere dignatus est, synodice conveniremus." And in the letter of instructions to Dr. Cullen
from the Sacred Congregation (t8th April, 1850), the same words are thus referred to: "Eoque
praesertim hortationes in Apostolicis Litteris contentas dirigi significes oportet" As I am
referring to this letter, I may take the opportunity of reciprocating Professor Sullivan's good
offices by a word or two of "useful" information. In more than one passage, he scoffs at my
statement that the main reason for summoning the Synod was to obtain a decision on the Colleges,
adding " Of the sixty-nine pages containing the printed decrees of the Synod, two only are
occupied with the Queen's Colleges," which proportion he would apparently have his readers
believe represented their proportional importance amongst the subjects discussed. But what says
Cardinal Fransoni ? " Licet Hiberniz Episcopi ea. potissimus de causa plenariam Synodum
celebraturi videantur nt quoad Collegia uni/brmis disciplina per Hiberniam rttinenda communi
deliberatione statuatnr," &c.

In another place, for having said that the Synod was summoned for the purpose of condemning
the Colleges, I am lectured in the following fashion : " A Synod is a deliberative body, and its acts,

like those of Parliament, are passed by the votes of the majority How then could the

Synod have been summoned for the purpose of doing an act the nature of which could not have been
predicted when the Synod was summoned?" How indeed? But illogical as the idea is, the
Sacred Congregation, I am afraid, entertained it. Cardinal Fransoni, in his letter of instruction,
writes as follows : " Quod vero alias controversias special eorumdem Collegiorum causa excitatas
Episcoporiim erit, pra-fatis Reseriptis seduh perfensis, nt fideles afi its Collegiis frequentnndis
rctrahantur," &c.


causes which might arise out of the special legislation of that Synod."
Just so ; and by this means the policy of the national party in the Irish
Church, and with it the hope of gaining the priesthood to the support of
the Colleges, was effectually frustrated. I do not know whether Professor
Sullivan will think that the case as thus presented loses in force with a
view to the purpose 'of my argument ; but, if he does, he is welcome to
the benefit of the fuller statement. To me it seems that the more we go
into details, the more conspicuous the essentially foreign character of the
ecclesiastical opposition to the Queen's Colleges becomes.

The next point on which, according to Professor Sullivan, I have
misrepresented the proceedings at Thurles, is in my statement as to the
number of votes by which the condemnation of the Queen's Colleges
was carried. I said that they were condemned by a majority of one ;
whereas, says Professor Sullivan, "the simple condemnation of the
principles on which the Colleges were established was carried unani-
mously." No doubt Professor Sullivan has certain technical grounds
for this statement ; but I beg you to observe the value of his contra-
diction as regards the question in dispute between him and me. The
proposition which was carried unanimously was that contained in the
first of the nine decrees passed respecting the Colleges. As will be seen,
by reference to the words which I give below,* it contained merely a
formal recognition of the authority of the Pope, coupled with an accept-
ance of what had been said respecting the Queen's Colleges in the
rescripts of the two previous years. These rescripts, it is true, con-
demned what they described as the principle of the Colleges ; but it
is well known that Archbishop Murray and the bishops who agreed
with him held that the condemnation did not apply to the facts of the
case, that, in fact, it was founded on a misunderstanding : t conse-
quently, the acceptance of the rescripts implied nothing as to the
practical issues in debate. The passing of the first decree was thus a
purely formal proceeding ; and it was this which was carried unani-
mously. On the other hand, the practical issues were contained in the
resolutions which followed, those, namely, which prohibit ecclesiastics
from "taking or retaining" any office in the Colleges under pain of
suspension ipso facto, and which declare the Colleges to be " talia quce
omni ratione .... rejicienda et evitanda" These, I say, were the
decrees on which the practical* question as to the attitude which the
Roman Catholic clergy were to assume towards the Queen's Colleges
depended ; and these were carried by a majority of one. Such is the

* "Cum in Romano Pontifice, Christ! in terns vicarium, et Sancti Petri successorem agnos-
camus et veneremur, cui divinitus munus optimis doctrinis fideles instituendi, et a pestiferis et
veneno infectis pascuis arcendi, commissum ; libenti animo, et eo quo par est obsequio monitis et
rescriptis assentimur, quae respiciunt quaestionem de Collegiis Reginae apud nos nuper erectis,
quaeque, ipsius Christ! vicarii auctoritate munita, a S. Congregatione de Prop. Fide nobis sunt

t Accordingly Dr. Ennis (Dr. Murray's envoy at Rome), in urging the petition in favour of
the Queen's Colleges, pleads: "The consenting to such a demand cannot offend any party;
*'/ will not contradict or revoke the letter which has been transmitted."


state of facts in view of which Professor Sullivan thinks himself justified
in charging me with a grave misrepresentation of the proceedings of the
Synod. When a writer aims at giving in a few words the gist of a
complicated transaction, he is fortunate if, in doing so, he does not leave
himself open to contradiction on incidental and irrelevant points. My
statement, I acknowledge, is not free from vulnerability of this sort ; and
Professor Sullivan is entitled to whatever credit belongs to a victory
achieved by taking advantage of such flaws.

But his greatest triumph in this line has yet to be recorded. On my
story of the sick bishop and the role taken by his representative in the
proceedings of the Synod he is particularly severe. He finds it "difficult
to conceive " how " any man of intelligence, however ill-informed, could
have penned this passage." " Dr. Cullen," he asserts, " did not secure
the 'majority of one' 'through an accident improved by an artifice.'
Dr. Cullen did not appoint a delegate of opposite views to ' fill the place '
of a ' sick bishop.' No ' sick bishop ' was ' upon recovery not restored
to his place till the vote upon the Colleges had been taken.' No bishop
'fell sick,' and 'recovered;'" and so the volley of contradictions is
prolonged through all the modes of negation. Having, however, ascer-
tained the facts to the best of my means of information, I make bold
to affirm that my statement as to the " sick bishop," and the effect of the
occurrence on the decision of the Synod, was, for all the intents and
purposes of the discussion, substantially correct.

The facts of the transaction, as nearly as I have been able to ascer-
tain them, were as follows : Dr. French, Roman Catholic Bishop of
Kilmacduagh and Kilfenora, was, at the time of the meeting of the
Synod of Thurles, in a delicate state of health. The business of his
diocese was administered by his Vicar-General, the Rev. Michael Nagle,
and the views both of Dr. French and of Mr. Nagle were known to be
favourable to the Queen's Colleges. It was generally expected that the
Vicar-General would have represented his Bishop in the Synod, in which
case the vote of the diocese of Kilmacduagh and Kilfenora would have
been given in favour of the Colleges. What happened, however, was
this : Dr. McHale, Archbishop of Tuam, from the first amongst the
most violent of the opponents of united education in every form, was
Metropolitan of Dr. French, and, I suppose, in virtue of this character,
claimed the right of nominating his proxy in the Synod. He accordingly
named Dr. McEvilly, then principal of his college at Tuam, now Bishop
of Galway. Dr. McEvilly's views on the question of the Colleges are
pretty well known. It is he who has commenced in Galway the practice
of refusing the sacraments of the Church to the poor people who send
their children to the Galway Model school, and his position during the
period in question, at the head of Dr. McHale's college, leaves no room
for doubt that his views on the subject of education then were not
different from what we now know them to be. Amongst the names
appended to the decrees of Thurles, Dr. McEvilly's appears as procurator


for Dr. French Procurator Rev mi - Ep*- Duacensis et Fenaborensis
[Kilmacduagh and Kilfenora].* Such, I believe, are the facts of the
transaction, if I have misstated them, I shall be glad to be corrected
by Professor Sullivan from his better sources of information, and I
think they justify me in making the following assertions : That during
the sitting of the Synod, a bishop known to be favourable to the Colleges
was sick [in my former statement I said, " fell sick "] ; that his place was
filled with a procurator [in my former statement I said, "delegate"]
of opposite views ; t and that this procurator actually voted on the
decrees involving the essential issues in a sense adverse to the Queen's
Colleges, adverse, also, to the opinions known to be entertained on the
subject by the bishop he was supposed to represent : in a word, I think
the facts I have stated justify me in adopting my former language,
and asserting that " the condemnation of the Colleges (in the only sense in
which the public are concerned with the act) was carried by a majority of
one," and that "this slender triumph was obtained by questionable means
through an accident improved by an artifice." In truth, had I, when
writing my former paper, informed myself as fully respecting the details
of these transactions as I have since done had I known then as much
about them as I have no doubt Professor Sullivan knew when he under-
took to refute me I might have very materially strengthened the ground
of the charge ; for I might have stated, that, of three bishops who were
absent from the Synod through illness, two were represented by pro-
curators, who voted on the question of the Colleges in opposition to
the views which the bishops they were supposed to represent were
known to entertain. One of the bishops thus "represented" was Dr.
French, whose case we have just examined. The other was Dr. Egan,
of Kerry, who was also favourable to the Colleges,:}: but whose procurator,
Mr. O'Sullivan, P.P. of Kenmare, following the example of Dr. McEvilly,

"There is something painfully grotesque," says Professor Sullivan, p. 53, "in the ignorance
which could imagine it possible that Dr. Cullen would dare to exclude from the Synod one of the
bishops summoned to attend it, or that he would venture to appoint a ' delegate ' of another bishop ; "
and he asks triumphantly, " Of whom would the person so appointed be the delegate f Certainly
not of the bishop who did not delegate him as his representative." Will Professor Sullivan kindly
inform us of whom Dr. McEvilly was the delegate ?

t It is true he was appointed by Dr. McHale, not by Dr. Cullen ; but Dr. Cullen presided at
the Synod of Thurles, and no opposition was offered to the appointment, which was entirely
favourable to the objects Dr. Cullen had in view. Is it uncharitable to assume that the occurrence
took place with Dr. Cullen's cordial sanction and approval ?

t Dr. Egan's name stands second in a list of seven Irish bishops, appended to a document
published in 1850, entitled "Breves Vindiciae contra calumnias in Duobus Libellisyanno 1848
Romae typis excusis, contentas," and addressed to the Cardinal Prefect of the Sacred Congregation.
The "calumniators" were Archbishop McHale and Bishop O'Higgins. That the bishops who
signed the " vindication " were favourable to the Colleges appears from the whole document it
was indeed their course upon this question which had been the ground of the attack. If there be
any doubt upon this point, it will be removed by the following extract appended to the "vindi-
cation " : " Quamvis ab initio, novis instituendis Collegiis nullum pnestiteram favorem, attamen,
quia firmiter mihi persuasum est, Episcopos,'qui eorum institution! non resistebant, sola conscientia
fuisse actos, nomen etiam meum huic eorum defensioni subscribere decrevi. EDVARDUS WALSH,
Ossoriensis." The date of the document is 8 Jan., 1850, six months before the Synod was held.


voted against them. By what "artifice" the "accident" in Dr. Egan's
case was "improved" for the benefit of Ultramontanism and the edifica-
tion of the faithful, Professor Sullivan will perhaps, out of the fulness
of his knowledge, inform the public. These things I might have stated ;
and I might also have referred to the introduction into the Synod of
the Abbot of Mount Mellary. Lest I should bring down upon myself
another lecture on the ecclesiastical antiquities of Ireland, I shall not

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Online LibraryJohn Elliott CairnesPolitical essays → online text (page 24 of 27)