Page images
PDF
EPUB
[ocr errors]

attention than mine; and would have much more weight with their brethren.

If there should be an objection felt to an arrangement of that kind, you think it would not be an objection growing out of the nature of the Roman Catholic religion, but an objection of a political kind ?-Not certainly out of the Catholic religion. · If there should be coupled with a general measure for the settlement of the Roman Catholic question you have alluded to, in the course of your examination, any arrangement made for a provision for the Roman Catholic clergy by the State, do you think there can be any objection to this, that before that provision should be received, or before any person should be entitled to claim it, there should be a certificate from a commission, such as has been already alluded to, of the loyalty and domestic education and nomination of that bishop ?

-To that I, for my part, could have no objection ; indeed I think it very reasonable, that before a man could eat the bread of the state, the king of that state should have a full and perfect knowledge of who he was.

You have already mentioned, that in order to make the influence of the Roman Catholic clergy efficacious for the purposes of the public good, they should preserve their character of independence, of which every body must feel the good sense ; but do you conceive, that what is now about to be suggested would at all interfere with their so preserving an independent character, if, in the first place, a certain and fixed provision were allotted for the dignitaries of the Roman Catholic church; and if, after that, a table of the priesthood were to be arranged, not by name, but by classes ; suppose you were to say there were to be three classes of them, who should have each of them a different rate of salary, so that one-tenth of them should be the first class ; four-tenths of them the second class ; and the remaining five-tenths the third class ; would you think it at all interfering with the independence of character of the priesthood if, through such a commission as has been mentioned, persons were to be certified to the government, upon their admission to those classes, not giving the government any power but that of receiving a certificate from such commission, of the fitness of the person? -I think respecting them, as I before thought respecting the bishops, namely, that before they received a salary from the state, every thing respecting them, which the Crown wished to be informed of, ought to be communicated to it.. • In the course of your last examination, you gave it as your

opinion that, in case there should be any provision for the Roman Catholic priesthood made by the State, and that there should be a classification of parishes, with respect to the amount of the stipend paid to the incumbent in each parish, it would still be necessary to leave to the Roman Catholic prelate of the diocese an absolute control over the appointment of the priesthood, and over their transfer from one parish to another, of greater value ?-I did state that; nor do I think such control would at all interfere with what has just been inquired into, because when a man would be appointed, by the bishop having this control, it might be made obligatory on him, the bishop, to notify to the commission the description of person so appointed ; and until such notification had been made, he might not be entitled to receive any thing, notwithstanding his appointment by the bishop. I added, that when such appointment would be made of this person, he should not continue there, and be permitted to receive his salary, independent of the bishop; so that although he might commit a canonical fault, for which he would deserve to be dismissed from his parish, he would still be entitled to receive the salary, to the exclusion of the man who might be placed to succeed him ; I would therefore desire, that if a priest were placed in a parish, and thereby entitled to receive his salary during his life-time, that in case the bishop notified that such a person was suspended by him, or otherwise removed from his situation, or that he had been obliged to resign it through infirmity or incapacity, and that another had been appointed in his place, I would desire, that this statement of his bishop should be attended to by the commissioners, and that the person last appointed should become entitled to the salary; and that the former person, though originally entitled to it, should lose his right.

Supposing the bishop were to appoint an individual priest to a certain parish, do you propose that the exercise of his functions in that parish should be suspended until the commission had certified his loyalty to government; or do you mean that the receipt of a stipend from the Crown should be suspended until that certificate were received ?-No; upon the priest being appointed to a parish, I conceive that he should produce to the commission the title by which he was appointed, and that then they would state to government what kind of person he was; and upon such statement being made, that he should be entitled to receive the salary. I also think that, if afterwards such priest should misbehave, or become incapable of discharging his duty as a parish priest, the bishop

should have henceforth, as he has at present, a power of punishing him, and even removing him from his situation altogether, and placing another in his stead ; in which event I would expect that this man, so removed from his situation, would no longer be entitled to the salary; but that the person appointed by the bishop to succeed him, should acquire a right thereto, upon producing his title, but not before.

Supposing a prelate were to appoint a person, and that the commission were to withhold his certificate to government, in what situation would the person appointed be !-In that case, there would be two remedies ; first, the bishop might guard against the inconvenience, because he could give the appointment to the parish only provisionally, that is, he could appoint a priest to the parish, on proviso that he was approved of by the commission; so that in case they did not approve of him, he ceased to be the titular of that parish; or if the bishop pleased to give him an absolute title to the parish, and the commission afterwards disapproved of him, in that case the man would continue to live in the parish, and support himself in the best manner he could. Among the causes for which a priest can be removed from his parish, are these ; if he be unable to discharge the duties of his state, if he be. come infamous, or if he be odious to the people; upon one or other of those causes, which entitle a bishop canonically to remove a man from his parish, this person might be removed, so that I think that is not a matter which could create any difficulty at all.

What is the process of canonical removal ?-If a priest, for instance, commit violence upon one of his parishioners, or if he get intoxicated publicly, a complaint is lodged with the bishop, by the person who has been witness of the excess, or who has sustained the injury ; the bishop writes to this person, or sends him a general citation to come before him; the person making the accusation, or a second person, proves upon oath, before the bishop, if his word be not taken, that he received this injury, or that he saw this excess; and upon that the bishop has a right to suspend that priest from his office, or to remove him altogether, if it be a very heinous offence.

What is the nature of the certificate, which you think the proposed commission might give to the government ?-I do not know the words which should compose it; they might set forth, That the bearer is to our knowledge, or that he has been reported to us by his bishop of such a place, to be a moral man, a peaceable and loyal subject. Something equi

valent to that would be sufficient; but it would not be my business to frame such certificate.

If you would admit the appointment of such a commission, for the purpose of giving to government a security with respect to the peaceable conduct and loyalty of the priest to be appointed, it is presumed you would have no objection to the same security being given by that commission, with respect to the character of a prelate to be appointed ?-Yes, I would have a vast difficulty.

Will you explain why, permitting the interference of such commission with respect to a priest, you would object to it in respect to a prelate ? - In the first place, the priests are very numerous, and it is very possible that a person of objections able character might obtrude himself into a parish, on account of the neglect of the bishop, or the influence of others ; and therefore I think there might be persons against whom it would be necessary to guard. In the second place, I think a matter of that kind would operate as an insult, in some degree, to that individual, but one that he would merit; yet I would not regard that in any degree as resting upon the order to which he would belong. In the third place, I think very decidedly, that the government might think it worth their while to influence the election of a bishop, but I think they would never descend to an interference, in that indirect way, with the very trifling office of parish priest in Ireland. These are the reasons which occur to me at present, and these ap. pear to me quite sufficient, why I should establish that distinction in my mind. The order of office or bishop is so much raised over that of a parish priest, that an argument with regard to the one class, cannot in any case apply to the other.

Your objection is, with respect to a certificate being required of the loyal character of the bishop ?-Yes.

Would the same reasons apply to a certificate of his having been born in Ireland, or educated in Ireland, or of his domestic nomination ?-No, I should have no objection to that being included in the certificate.

In fact, the nomination of the bishops being domestic, the loyalty of the priest being provided, the loyalty of the prelates would also be provided for !---Very true, because the bishop springs out of the priesthood.

In the event of that order of things which has been described, being established, the prelate would, in the capacity of priest, have already obtained a certificate of his loyalty, through the medium of his commission Certainly.

Would you allow a certificate, that the priest or prelate

about to be appointed, had been educated in Ireland, and that that certificate should be a sine qua non, of his subse. quent appointment ?--I think, by introducing that, you go to exclude from the Irish church, perhaps, some of the most deserving prelates who may hereafter live in it; for instance, a young man may go through a course of studies in Ireland, and, he may afterwards go abroad, and study at a foreign university, in order to perfect himself in knowledge; now, if such a regulation as is mentioned were made, that priest so improved by travelling abroad, becoming acquainted with other languages, and extending his knowledge of those sciences with which he ought to be particularly conversant, would be excluded from a dignified office in Ireland, that, I think, would be very painful.

Supposing there was a power given to the government of the country, on the recommendation of the Commissioners, of dispensing with that condition, in the case of any person of exemplary merit, should you then see any objection to it?-In our church, the idea of dispensing with any established law is very odious, particularly since the holding of the Council of Trent; dispensations are looked upon with great jealousy; we consider every use of them as tending to relax the salutary discipline of the church. ,

Suppose it was wound up in the law itself, that no person should be appointed without a certificate of domestic nomination, except a person so recommended, it would then not be a dispensation, but an exception ?-If there should be a particular case of that sort provided for by law, I cannot dccide; but as to vesting in the Crown a right of dispensing with the law, it is a principle which I, bred an ecclesiastic, and having a kind of horror of dispensations, do not like to see placed any where. ; , ,

Do you think it desirable, that either by a provision of this kind or by an Act, the, ecclesiastics of this country should be excluded from foreign education ?-I think it is very advantageous to young ecclesiastics to travel abroad, and to spend some time at universities ; I may be wrong in that opinion, for I have received myself a foreign education, and I may be on that account partial to it; but, however, I am of opinion, that men's minds are much enlarged, and their feelings much improved, by residing in foreign countries for some time, and by comparing the institutions of those countries with our own; travelling holds out many advantages which naturally flow into the mind, by communication with mankind. I think it would therefore be a great injury to the Catholic church, to haye men who might have studied abroad, excluded from any

« PreviousContinue »