Page images
PDF
EPUB

ations and calumnies they had laboured under since the reformation of the national religion : this declaration was unanimously adopted; it was signed by many clergymen and gentlemen of rank and property, and sent to Rome, as the act and deed of the Irish Catholics. It is as follows:

" Whereas certain opinions and principles, inimical to good order and government, have been attributed to the Catholics, the existence of which we utterly deny; and whereas it is at this time peculiarly necessary to remove such imputations, and to give the most full and ample satisfaction to our Protestant brethren, that we hold no principle whatsoever, incompatible with our duty as men or as subjects, or repugnant to liberty, whether political, civil, or religious.

“ Now we, the Catholics of Ireland, for the removal of all such imputations, and in deference to the opinion of many respectable bodies of men, and individuals among our Protestant brethren, do hereby, in the face of our country, of all Europe, and before God, make this our deliberate and solemn declaration:

“ Ist. We abjure, disavow, and condemn the opinion, that princes, excommunicated by the pope and council, or by any ecclesiastical authority whatsoever, may therefore be deposed or murdered by their subjects, or any other persons. We hold such doctrine in detestation as wicked and impious; and we declare that we do not believe that either the pope, with or without a general council, or any prelate or priest, or any ecclesiastical power whatsoever, can absolve the subjects of this kingdom, or any of them, from their allegiance to his Majesty King Geoge the Third, who is by authority of Parliament, the lawful King of this realm.

“ 2d. We abjure, condemn, and detest, as unchristian and impious, the principle, that it is lawful to murder, destroy, or any ways injure any person whatsoever, for or under the pretence of being heretics; and we declare solemnly before God, that we believe that no act, in itself unjust,

immoral, or wicked, can ever be justified or excused by, or under pretence or colour, that it was done either for the good of the church, or in obedience to any ecclesiastical power whatsoever.

[ocr errors][merged small]

“ 3d. We further declare, that we hold it as an unchristian and impious principle, that no faith is to be kept • with heretics. This doctrine we detest and reprobate, not only as contrary to our religion, but as destructive of morality, of society, and even of common honesty; and it is our firm belief, that an oath made to any person, not of the Catholic religion, is equally binding as if it were made any

Catholic whatsoever.

to

[ocr errors]

“ 4th. We have been charged with holding, as an article of our belief, that the pope, with or without the authority of a general council, or that certain ecclesiastical powers can acquit and absolve us before God, from our oath of allegiance, or even from the just oaths and contracts entered into between man and man.

“ Now we do utterly renounce, abjure, and deny, that we hold or maintain any such belief, as being contrary to the

peace and happiness of society, inconsistent with morality, and, above all, repugnant to the true spirit of the Catholic religion.

" 5th. We do further declare, that we do not believe that the pope of Rome, or any other prince, prelate, state, or potentate, hath, or ought to have, any temporal or civil jurisdiction, power, superiority, or pre-eminence, directly or indirectly, within this realm.

“ 6th. After what we have renounced, it is immaterial, in a political light, what may be our opinion or faith in other points respecting the pope ; however, for greater satisfaction, we declare, that it is not an article of the Catholic faith, neither are we thereby required to believe or profesș,

that the pope is infallible, or that we are bound to obey any order, in its own nature immoral, though the pope, or any ecclesiastical power, should issue or direct such order

but, on the contrary, we hold, that it would be sinful in us to pay any respect or obedience thereto.

66 7th. We further declare, that we do not believe that any sin whatsoever, committed by us, can be forgiven at the mere will of any pope, or of any priest, or of any per. son or persons whatsoever; but that sincere sorrow for past sins, a firm and sincere resolution, as far as may be in our power, to restore our neighbour's property or character, if we have trespassed on, or unjustly injured either; a firm and sincere resolution to avoid future guilt, and to atone to God, are previous and indispensable requisites to establish a well-founded expectation of forgiveness; and that any person who receives absolution without these previous requisites, so far from obtaining thereby any remission of his sins, incurs the additional guilt of violating a sacrament.

“ 8th. We do hereby solemnly disclaim, and for ever renounce all interest in and title to all forfeited lands resulting from any rights, or supposed rights, of our ancestors, or any claim, title, or interest therein; nor do we admit any title, as a foundation of right, which is not established and acknowledged by the laws of the realm as they now stand. We desire further, that whenever the patriotism, liberality, and justice of our countrymen shall restore to us a participation in the elective franchise, no Catholic shall be permitted to vote at any election for members to serve in Parliament until he shall previously take an oath to defend to the utmost of his power the arrangement of property in this country, as established by the different acts of attainder and settlement.

“ 9th. It has been objected to us, that we wish to subvert the present

church establishment, for the purpose of substituting a Catholic establishment in its stead: Now we do hereby disclaim, disavow, and solemnly abjure any such intention; and further, if we shall be admitted into any share of the constitution, by our being restored to the right of elective franchise, we are ready, in the most solemn manner, to declare, that we will not exercise that

privilege to disturb and weaken the establishment of the Protestant religion, or Protestant government in this country.”

Though this declaration did not produce any change of conduct on the part of the English.government at that time, its failure can only be attributed to the obstinacy with which the principle of governing Ireland, upon the system of separate interests between the Protestants and Catholics, was adhered to. This declaration, though at first ineffectual, was republished in 1792, and may surely be expected at last to open

the

eyes of mankind to the true character of the Irish Catholic, and to secure to them the reward which it deserves, the unlimited confidence of their king and fellow subjects, and the entire restoration of their constitutional rights.

In the year 1759, when it was known that a French force, under the command of Conflans, was collected to invade Ireland, the conduct of the Catholics on this, as it had uniformly been on similar occasions, was loyal in the extreme. Mr. O'Connor, Dr. Curry, and Mr. Wyse, had sometime before, in 1757, succeeded in establishing a general committee of the Catholic body, formed by delegates of parishes, and the principal Catholic nobility and gentry. As soon as this invasion was announced to parliament by a message from the Duke of Bedford, this committee was summoned to meet; and Mr. O'Connor having submitted to it the following address to the Lord Lieutenant, it was unanimously approved of.

May it please your Grace,

We, his Majesty's dutiful and faithful subjects, the Roman Catholic gentlemen, merchants, and citizens of Dub

lin do, with the greatest respect, approach the illustrious representative of the best of Kings, with our hearty congratulations on those glorious successes, by sea and land, which have attended his Majesty's arms, in the prosecution of this just and necessary war.

“ We gratefully acknowledge the lenity extended to us by his most sacred Majesty, and by his royal father, of happy memory. Our allegiance, may it please your Grace, is confirmed by affection and gratitude; our religion commands it; and it shall be our invariable rule firmly and inviolably to adhere to it.

“ We are called to this duty, at the present time in particular, when a foreign enemy is meditating desperate attempts to interrupt the happiness and disturb the repose, which these kingdoms have so long enjoyed, under a Monarch, who places his chief glory in proving himself the common father of all his people: and we sincerely assure your Grace, that we are ready and willing to the utmost of our abilities, to assist in supporting his Majesty's government against all hostile attempts whatsoever.

• Whenever, my Lord, it shall please the Almighty, that the legislative power of this realm shall deem the peaceable conduct of his Majesty's Catholic subjects of Ireland, for many years past, an object worthy of its favourable attention, we humbly hope means may then be devised, to render so numerous a body more useful members to the community, and more strengthening friends to the state, than they possibly could have hitherto been, under the restraint of the many penal laws against them. We most humbly beseech your Grace to represent to his Majesty these sentiments and resolutions of his Majesty's faithful subjects, the Roman Catholics of this metropolis, who sincerely wish, that a peace honourable to his Majesty, and advantageous to his kingdoms, may be the issue of the present war; and that the people of Ireland may be long governed by your Grace, a Viceroy, in whom wisdom, moderation, and justice, are so eminently conspicuous."

On that occasion, also, the wealthy individuals of this persuasion offered to accommodate the go

« PreviousContinue »