Seasonal Reflections
16 January 2010

Expanded 12 February 2010


For a real Mass on Christmas, our family must drive many miles through icy hills and vales to a rented Grange hall, and this year the trip prompted me to recall the revealing scene depicted below.  Crazy as it might seem to some readers, for the first time since first seeing the image, I found myself comparing our own plight to that of those poor Irish.  Not that we have troops pursuing us — at least, not yet.  Like the Catholics of penal times, though, we have been ousted from the churches built by our forbears and forced to go elsewhere.  Like them we have been cheated of our patrimony — and not just once, if we count the legacy of past centuries.  Many of us do, after all, have more than a bit of Irish blood in our veins. 

While materially better off here in the purported land of the free, we suffer now from a new form of persecution, one more subtle and hard for many to grasp.  Being ignorant of the past, they fail to discern the ways history tends to repeat itself.  There are also those, of course, who say we should simply put the past to rest and bury bad memories, but ... Considering the insidious nature of the cover up, we disagree.  Silence has only served to aid and abet duplicity in this regard.  If historic insights can help at all to illuminate what underlies the current situation, and possibly provide clues to a remedy, we say it is high time they be exposed. 

The facts are there for those who care to dig, though few who do also spread the word and keep it out there.  Take the image above, which depicts the penal days of 18th century Ireland, when the Protestant government targeted the Mass as well as faithful Catholics.  Produced for the 1932 Eucharistic Congress that was held in Dublin, our copy is framed, with brief a text on the back.  Besides giving a bit of history, this quotes Pius XI as saying “We must never forget the Mass Rocks.”  Profound words which ring true through the years, to be sure, but . . .  How many really listened to them at the time?  Who does today, or knows about the history?  As a child in Catholic schools during the 1950’s, I heard nothing about those bygone days of persecution in Britain and Ireland, and how all that might affect us now.  By the mid to late ‘60’s the message from the pulpit was that we must forget the past and change with the times.  Update, in other words, return to a purified, more “primitive” liturgy.  No one noted that the latter had also been the stated goal of 16th century Protestants.  No one in the mainstream brought up such details, or warned us that old errors could be revived.

Wasn’t all that controversy a thing of the past? 

Expanded 12 February 2010 

With Vatican II, came a new era of young ideas, of ecumenism.  No need anymore to bother with dead issues, of how heretical beliefs conflicted with ours, of how the “reformers” had turned the Mass into a communal meal.  To bring up old complaints in the here and now was hardly apropos and could be viewed as a betrayal of goals mandated by the Council, those calling for ongoing dialogue with non-Catholics, as well as for updating the liturgy.


Or so we were told . . .


Such a shift in focus was not geared to researching the past.  Why bother with how the Church in this country came to be the way it was?  Why go against the flow?  Despite the liberal front, we were expected both to follow orders without question, be open to the “world”, with its mass, or “pop” culture.  This would inspire mushy sermons, guitar masses and “hugs of peace”.  Yuck.  Updated models of priestly behavior abounded.  If the 1940’s on-screen image of a happy-go-lucky Bing Crosby in The Bells of St. Mary’s seemed passé, a new twist could be found in the lives of real-life clerics like anti-war protester Daniel Berrigan.  If Christian modes of prayer seemed dull, fans of Thomas Merton who had read about his conversion to the faith and life as a Trappist monk could now follow his winding path from monastery to Zen sites in the Far East.  There in a Bangkok guest house, his long journey ended abruptly when, exiting from a shower, he touched a defective fan and was electrocuted.


In a weird way his end seemed to symbolize the fate of many other wayward priests, whose venturing into new modes ended sadly, if not tragically.  Take Fr. Richard Ginder, prominent journalist of a conservative bent who in the 70’s startled readers by authoring an apologia for homosexuality.  Subsequently he was defrocked –– and convicted of sodomizing two underage boys –– but died in a car crash before the civil lawsuit could be settled.


Another celebrated cleric was Jesuit Robert Drinan, the first priest elected to Congress with full voting rights.  A member of the ACLU and the ADA, he voted consistently against any restrictions on abortion.  He also authored a book chastising Christians for their long and cruel treatment of Jews, and insisting that we now back the state of Israel.  For him this was a religious duty.  After his big boss in the Vatican made him leave political office, he continued to champion such causes as a writer and professor at Georgetown.


Not that he was the norm.  Many Catholic politicos still ran big city machines and rode in St. Patrick’s Day parades.  It was, after all, the heyday of the Kennedy clan, though they strove to appear more sophisticated.  The assassinations of John and Bobby only served to hallow the image, though this would be tarnished by subsequent revelations of the dead president’s seedier side — and of brother Teddy’s.  Undoubtedly other dark secrets concerning their fall were buried with them.  As for how this connected to any sort of ancestral past it is hard to say.  Despite the large family, patriarch Joseph Kennedy was no saint, though he did value his Irish roots.  As U. S. ambassador to Great Britain, he became the first in that position to make an official trip to Ireland.  While in Dublin, he received an honorary university degree from the hands of Eamon de Valera, and later he helped finalize a treaty between England and Ireland.


A hard political player like his father, JFK still made a sentimental stop in the land of his ancestors before returning home from Europe in 1963.  At New Ross, Co. Wexford, the President told an admiring crowd how his great-grandfather had sailed from this spot for the U.S., carrying with him a desire for liberty and a “strong religious faith.”  That immigrant’s great grandchildren have “valued that inheritance,” he added.


 Yet in order to win the votes of non-Catholics, he himself had compromised that legacy, stating publicly that the division between Church and state was “absolute,” so his religion would in no way influence his decisions as president.  In this respect he was truly a liberal, typical or not.  Neither of my parents voted for him, though Dad did seem to admire his large family.  In retrospect I can see some similarities.  JFK and my father were the same age, with the same sort of light eyes, wavy brown hair, and Irish ancestry.  Like Kennedy, Dad had served as a naval officer during World War II.  He and my grandfather Kelly were also natives of Boston, though Dad grew up in the Midwest.  After graduating from what is now MIT, my grandfather had moved away –– and up a ways in the corporate world.  He also did well in the stock market, until the crash.  Unlike Joseph Kennedy, he lost a lot of money, leaving his son wary of any future investing.  It took an “in” to make it in that game, Dad always said.


My grandfather voted but once for FDR, whom Dad continued to despise.  Though an isolationist (like Joseph Kennedy), when war seemed inevitable he had let his father maneuver him into officer training.  At the time it had seemed the patriotic American thing to do.  While I was growing up, he seldom alluded to those years spent in the engine room of naval vessels during the war, except to say he was glad when it ended.  Nor did he say much about his family, least of all his grandfather Kelly and where he came from.  Not until after his death did I finally ask the question of a visiting aunt who, to my surprise, had an answer: it was somewhere in County Mayo, an area in the far west of the island that was especially hard hit by famine both in the 1840s and later in the 1870’s.  A sense of desperation seemed to echo in the words my aunt repeated to me: “County Mayo, God save us!”


Later I would read how the village of Knock in that same county was the site of an apparition in August of 1879.  A group of locals, varying in age, saw an outside wall of their parish Church light up with a heavenly scene: a live lamb on an altar from which rose a cross, while angels circled overhead.  To the left stood Our Lady, St. Joseph, and St. John the Evangelist, the latter holding a book that was open, one witness said, to the Apocalypse.  He also held up a hand with two fingers raised, though no words were spoken.  In an article for “The Fatima Network,” Irish writer Deirdre Manifold interprets his gesture as being an apocalyptic sign, a reference to “that which looks like a lamb and speaks like a dragon.”  If this is so, we have to wonder: was the vision meant to be prophetic?  Was it warning those people that the great cornerstone of their faith, the Mass, would be taken away by deceptive means?


Has this prophecy actually come true in our day?


Through the years, the reality of it all has hit us in various ways, some of these less obvious than others.  In retrospect I realize that my father, who had attended a Jesuit high school, saw much of it long before I did.  Unfortunately his insights coincided with a post-war crisis of faith — and a growing sense of frustration.  Attending a religion course for adults, for instance, he was amazed to find that some of the leading lights in our parish did not believe the devil really existed.  While an admirer of Thomas Merton’s early writing, he seemed indifferent to a later book by the monk that I brought home in the early 60’s.  Appropriately entitled Disputed Questions, it abounded in its errors which I unfortunately imbibed temporarily.  During this time of liturgical changes, Dad seldom went to Mass, though he said the Rosary.  Once I also caught him sneaking into the cathedral downtown for a visit over his lunch hour.  Another day, while touring the interior of a new church devoid of old-style statues, he spoke some revealing words; “This isn’t the same Church,” he told me.  “They’ve taken out the Blessed Mother.”  He added that whereas he had some problems with the old ways, he had no respect whatsoever for this “New Church.”


New Church?  What was that?


His words struck me as absurd.  I knew of no “New Church.”  I still believed that the changes going on were under the control of a valid hierarchy headed by a true pope.  How could we lowly lay people even begin to question them?  Determined to help my father see the light, I continued to bring home some of the latest works by Catholic writers, including the shocking one by Fr. Richard Ginder, who had, after all, been featured as a columnist in our Catholic newspaper.  While Dad did glance at the book, he refused to comment.  Of others I showed him, the only one he read avidly, in a matter of hours, was Hostage to the Devil, a chronicle of exorcisms by former Jesuit Malachi Martin.


That one he really liked, as did my younger brother.


On a spring day in the mid 70’s when Archbishop Fulton Sheen came to town, Dad offered to drive me downtown for the event; he obviously hoped the renowned prelate would clue us in as to what was going on in the Church.  But this was not to be.  To my dismay, the first half of the program consisted of performances by local Catholic school choirs, introduced by their smiling bishop.  When Sheen finally emerged, he did little more than swirl around stage in his cape and crack dumb jokes.  One, for instance, took aim at modern nuns whose short skirts revealed their varicose veins.  I didn’t laugh — not once.  Afterwards I reported this to Dad, and as I did, saw his expression turn sour.  Sounding irked, he called it “typical” of the way Catholics handled things . . .


That was that.  He spoke no more of the matter.  Maybe he thought it was hopeless.  Back in the 50’s my mother and he had cheered on Joe McCarthy, but when he died so did their interest in exposing conspiracies, communist or otherwise.  Mine did not, however.  I continued to read books like that by Whittaker Chambers concerning Alger Hiss and other spies.  For a government class in public high school I wrote a research paper about the former Wisconsin senator, using a variety of sources.  After typing into the wee hours of the morning it was due, I walked into class late to turn in my paper.  Seeing the title, “Witch Hunt in Washington,” the young teacher, who had just earned a master’s degree, broke into a huge grin.  This did not last, though.  Soon he would read how in the end I had made McCarthy not the subject but the object of a witch hunt.  When I got back my paper, it was full of huge red marks and expressions like, “HOW CAN YOU SAY THIS?”


My grade was a “B-plus.”


As it happened, the boy across the aisle from me, the son of a liberal Presbyterian minister, had written his paper on the same topic.  Of course we compared our results.  He had got an A minus, even though he had used only one source, the Bill Buckley book McCarthy and His Enemies.  I had also used this –– plus one or two other books, and a string of magazine articles, some of which quoted transcripts from actual hearings.  Being honest, Chip said my paper looked good, and admitted he had done all his reading and writing hastily in one evening.  I had spent weeks on my paper.  Because he was one of only two in our large senior class with straight A’s, however, no teacher would dare give him a B.  Furthermore, he was a star basketball player, headed for Harvard on a scholarship, and would eventually end up a Rhodes Scholar.


Was this politics or what?


Considering how I fared on my “witch hunt” paper, it’s undoubtedly a good thing my teacher did not know, as I would only decades later that my mother’s father was descended from prominent Puritans of Salem, Mass., who for a time really were involved in hunting witches!  Yet another eerie coincidence is that one of my Dad’s great-great grandmothers on his mother’s side was a McCarthy.  At the time I did not know this either, though Dad should have, since she was buried in the Pennsylvania city he visited regularly during his youth.  Nor did I know then that Joe McCarthy had been a friend of the Kennedys, and that JFK was one of a very few senators who had not voted to censure their Wisconsin colleague.  Nor that Kennedy, unlike his predecessors, had expressed publicly his opposition to secret societies and secret oaths.


In recorded excerpts from a speech that he gave to the American Newspaper Publishers Associations in 1961, now available online, he warns against a “monolithic and ruthless conspiracy” that relies on “covert means,” on infiltration, subversion and intimidation for expanding its sphere of influence around the world.  This is an obvious reference not just to Communism, but also to the underlying threat of oath-bound societies associated with Freemasonry.  Considering the number of former U.S. presidents who were Masons, it is interesting that he should put such a sinister spin on the brotherhood — and that in November of 1963, only months after his salute to the old sod, he would be fatally shot while riding by Dealey Plaza, the former site of the first Masonic Hall in Dallas.


 Is this all merely coincidental?


Such signs of intrigue go way back.  In his monumental book Philip II, William Thomas Walsh traces the occult symbolism associated with Masonry to high-stakes players in Elizabethan England who met in lodges and wrote messages coded with intersecting triangles and all-seeing eyes.  The Queen herself was involved with a far-flung spy network that even managed to infiltrate the Catholic seminary of Douay in France.  Agent provocateurs hatched anti-government plots to implicate vulnerable papists like Mary Queen of Scots, and in her case they succeeded.  She, of course, was beheaded.  In contrast, her cousin Elizabeth, who authorized the execution, is still being portrayed as a victim, never a villain, on stage and screen today.


To be sure an anti-Catholic bias still prevails.  While “bloody Mary” is an academic – and barroom – epithet, who bothers to count all those Good Queen Bess put to death?  Not that she did it all herself.  During the reformation period as a whole, however, it seems “England judicially murdered more Roman Catholics than any other country in Europe, which puts English pride in national tolerance in an interesting perspective.”  So writes Diarmaid MacCullough in his book The Reformation.  And if readers wonder about his background, let us note that, while “not dogmatically Christian,” MacCullough is an Oxford professor who comes from a “long line of Scottish Episcopalian clergy.”


But how many know such history?  What percentage of the public, for instance, has heard the gruesome details regarding Edmund Campion’s fate?  Despite Evelyn Waugh’s informative book about the young Jesuit martyr, he is yet to be celebrated on screen.  The only film about Tudor times I know of that shows the Catholic side of the issues is A Man for All Seasons, and this mostly consists of beautiful scenes and music accompanying lively dialogue.  At the end we see the axe coming down on Thomas More, but no blood, no gore, none of the other martyrs of his day.  Thus, it’s fairly inoffensive.  While the bad guy is indeed a Tudor, in this case it’s Henry VIII, and everybody knows what a louse he was to his wives.


His story abounds in intrigue.  According to William Thomas Walsh, efforts to have his first marriage annulled were exploited by “secret and powerful forces” who sought to rid the Church of her property.  Apparently Queen Catherine sensed this.  In his book Walsh quotes a letter from her to the Pope in which she warns against certain “inventors and abettors” who sought to “rob and plunder” whatever they could.  And they did.  Walsh also says in reference to Catherine’s death early in 1536 that her doctor insisted she had been poisoned.  Though as a Spaniard, how could he be trusted, even if his patient had served as an annoying reminder of broken vows?


The fact remains that after his break from Rome, Henry claimed the spiritual authority of a pope for himself.  Such a concentration of power allowed him to seize the moment, to send in henchmen like Thomas Cromwell to confiscate the wealth of monasteries, to evict monks and nuns, to destroy libraries, schools, hospitals — and other provisions for the sick and needy.  Thus began a process that would continue under the young King Edward, when the coffers of parish benefices and craft guilds were stolen, including the life savings of members. So much for their patrimony! To be sure, some of the loot passed on to the new state Church, a subsidiary of the Crown, which also profited, but most served to enrich the class of ruffians who had emerged to run the show.


Before the split with Rome, a pope had dubbed Henry “Defender of the Faith,” and afterwards the king retained the title, even while disposing of those like Bishop John Fisher who refused to deny such papal prerogatives!  Moreover, the title would continue to be passed down through the non-Catholic centuries to the present day as part of a multi-faceted legacy, a prime contributor to which was Thomas Cranmer.  After backing his king during the long annulment crisis, this man of the cloth was awarded the coveted See of Canterbury, formerly that of the revered Thomas Becket, a true saint, which Cranmer was not.  To be sure, the two Thomases are a study in contrast.  While both confronted the problem of Church versus state, Becket defended one, Cranmer the other.  Indeed the latter Thomas encouraged the usurpation of the one institution by the other: a worldly wise move on his part.  For by standing up to Henry II, Becket was martyred in his cathedral, while Cranmer gave his King Henry what he wanted and survived.


At times Cranmer resorted to subterfuge.  Take the problem he faced in assuming the coveted See of Canterbury: it seems Henry, who retained most of his Catholic beliefs, insisted his clerics be celibate, and Thomas, a secret Protestant, had married during a trip to the continent.  But not to worry!  Our aspiring bishop simply stashed his wife away — at times literally, in a holey chest.  While kept alive and breathing, if not also in the best of spirits, for the record she did not exist.  Whenever necessary she would return to this receptacle — and it worked.  Nobody said a thing, even if some surely suspected.  William Cobbett, non-Catholic author of History of the Protestant Reformation, thinks the king must have known.  Regardless, after Henry died and celibacy for clerics was passé, Cranmer came out of the closet as a married man.


His wife, in turn, emerged from her chest.


Also during this Henry’s reign, his agent Thomas Cromwell arranged for Thomas Becket’s shrine at Canterbury to be pillaged, and here it was a matter of principle, as well as plunder.  In defending the Church, had the 12th century martyr not defied his king?  Was this not treason?  With the new consolidation of Church and State under Henry VIII, sympathy for Chaucer’s “holy, blissful martyr” could no longer be tolerated.  Becket was declared a non-saint, his cult abolished, his remains desecrated.


But Cranmer’s legacy has survived intact.  After Henry died he maintained his position as Archbishop of Canterbury under young Edward and his two Protestant uncles, both of whom served as the king’s “protectors” until one had the other removed, i.e. executed.  Amidst the turmoil, Cranmer continued to lay the foundations for a new state church.  Part of the process involved replacing the old Mass with successive versions of The Book of Common Prayer, authored by the archbishop.  This is still celebrated today as part of the so-called Anglican patrimony.  It has been highlighted in the media recently because of Benedict’s overtures to those of that heritage who might want to cross over in a body to Rome.  Apparently they will be allowed to keep many of their old traditions, including some form of Cranmer’s old prayer book — as indeed some small groups of such crossovers in this country already have.


We hesitate calling them “converts” because of the ambiguity involved.  I mean, who exactly is converting and to what?  Are they actually joining the true Church, or are negotiators on both sides of the issues simply reverting to old tactics?  If, as is suggested in Benedict’s Anglicanorum Coetibus, the Anglican clerics will have to be re-ordained, conditionally or otherwise, before being recognized as such by Rome, what does it really matter, if the Novus Ordo rite is like theirs anyway?  Would this not be a mere technicality?  Back in 1896, remember, Leo XIII declared the “orders” produced by the Anglican rite to be “absolutely null and utterly void.”  If, as many charge, Paul VI’s ordinal is based on a similar model, what does it say about so-called Roman Catholic orders affected since 1969?


Will they have to be redone?


If confused by now, you are not alone.  It might help to read the books we have   previously cited by authors like Michael Davies.  His Pope Paul’s New Mass, for instance, notes the parallels between the Novus Ordo rite and the Anglican prayer book and how they were promulgated.  In both cases, the methodology rested not so much in adding elements as in removing them.  Following a Lutheran model, Cranmer eliminated from his service all mention of the Mass as a renewal of Christ’s expiatory sacrifice.  What emerged instead was a communal meal, a mere memorial of the Last Supper.  The sacrifice of the Cross was relegated totally to the past.  The present congregation, in union with their minister, offers themselves but figuratively to God “in praise and thanksgiving,” their voices echoing in a huge hymn devoid of divine substance.


Ironically, while condemning the papacy, Cranmer himself assumed prerogatives that went way beyond the bounds of that office.  Whereas no pope since Gregory the Great had dared touch the ancient Canon of the Mass, not even to add a few words, Cranmer had the unmitigated gall to change it drastically.  Indeed, you might say he gutted it.  In order to introduce changes gradually, he also made a series of revisions in his liturgy.  He made it legal, of course.  Historian William Cobbett says Parliament obliged by proclaiming each version published during the reign of Edward VI to be the work of the Holy Ghost!  After a brief respite under “bloody” Mary, when Cranmer himself was finally called to account, his ritual would be revived, revised again, and once more ascribed to such divine “dictates.”  In summary, it could be safely said that Cranmer and his successors usurped — and exceeded –– all manner of papal privilege.


And their legacy lives on. . .


Furthermore, neither Cranmer nor his successors showed any tolerance for those of any rank or station who refused to accept the new rite in place of the old.  So what if their ancestors had celebrated the old Mass for eons!  Church and State had entered a marriage of convenience, rendering any rejection of updated rituals a matter of treason.  Attendance of the new rite was required by law.  Protesters could be — and were —hanged, drawn and quartered, while leading players in the religious charade won loot and titles, no matter how often they changed roles.


This included our new queen.  During Mary’s reign, Elizabeth had professed to be a Catholic so as to insure her right of succession.  After the older sister’s death, however, she soon reverted to the Protestant stance that had prevailed under her young brother Edward.  In The Rise and Growth of the Anglican Schism, Dr. Nicholas Sander reports one of the early signs: the new queen ordered a bishop who was on the altar about to say Mass not to elevate the Host at the consecration, as though she were in charge of the ritual!  For good reason the bishop did not comply.  Hearing of the incident, the Archbishop of York now stood firm and refused to crown her.  So did the other older bishops, save one — Bishop Oglethorpe of Carlisle, ironically the same one who had ignored her orders regarding the Host!


He would live to regret it.


As part of the coronation ceremony, Elizabeth took the traditional oath to defend the Catholic faith, but that was mere show.  Once crowned, she proceeded to act as directed by her confidant William Cecil, of whom Cobbett writes: “. . . if success in unprincipled artifice, if fertility in cunning devices, if the obtaining of one’s ends without any regard to the means, if in this pursuit sincerity be … set at naught, and truth, law, justice and mercy to be trampled under foot, if, so that you succeed in your end, apostasy, forgery, perjury, and the shedding innocent blood be thought nothing of, this Cecil was certainly the greatest statesman that ever lived.”


Under Cecil’s influence, Parliament proceeded to pass an act making Elizabeth “supreme governor of the Church.  All members of the clergy, high and low, were required to take an oath recognizing her as such.  Whoever refused was stripped of his goods and benefices and imprisoned for life.  If this oath of supremacy was rejected a second time, the recusant was to be put to death as a traitor.  Not surprisingly, most complied, though not the older bishops.  Those who (unlike Bp. John Fisher) had sided with Henry during his schism, held on during his son’s brief reign, and reverted to Rome under Mary,  now balked at the prospect of more radical change.


That did come, of course.  Once again the Mass was outlawed, and replaced with a version of Cranmer’s prayer book.  While the queen kept a silver crucifix on the altar in her private chapel, elsewhere such objects were seized.  Church statues, stained glass windows, and altars were smashed, and new tables erected for the celebration of the memorial meal.  Any Church property that Queen Mary had given back during her reign was now retaken.  Most of the loot, of course, had never been returned, and never would be.  The profiteers with financial ties to the new religion saw to that.  Instead, private homes were searched for old pictures, missals, devotional books or other contraband, and violators punished.  For a second time the land was thus purged of “graven images” — of Christ and his Mother, and the saints, that is.  Statues or portraits of royals like our exalted “Virgin Queen,” remained in place.  During this enlightened age, astrologer and occultist John Dee, a court favorite — and model for Shakespeare’s sorcerer Prospero — could interpret planetary signs and advise her majesty accordingly; that was allowed, as were his efforts to conjure up angels — all good ones, of course.  Woe unto those idolaters, however, who dared venerate the old Catholic saints!


Was this duplicity, or hypocrisy?  Or both?


When Pope Pius V declared her excommunicated, Protestants cried in outrage, even though Elizabeth had taken charge of a blatantly heretical national Church.  As a woman she could never be ordained; yet here she was running the ecclesiastical show!  By doing all this, of course, she had severed ties with Rome, thereby excommunicating herself — and taking her cohorts along with her.  No wonder those older bishops, including the one who had crowned her, decided they had finally had enough.  Refusing to take the oath of supremacy, they were forced to flee the realm or be imprisoned.


The many Catholic exiles of this time included Dr. Nicolas Sander, an Oxford scholar who was ordained in Rome and later attended the Council of Trent.  He also taught at Louvain and gained a wide reputation in Europe for his pro-Catholic writings.  Perhaps the best known of these is The Rise and Growth of the Anglican Schism, which focuses on the issues in detail.  He notes, for instance, how, contrary to the official line, Cranmer’s vernacular liturgy was bound to be less understood than the old Latin form in areas where the majority spoke not English, but Welsh, Cornish — or Irish.


Not that the Irish, of whom Sander had firsthand knowledge, could not figure out what was going on.  Being, as he says, “before all things Catholics,” they were not about to go along with the charade.  Thus the reception given Adam Lofthouse (or Loftus), the Protestant bishop appointed by Elizabeth to Armagh, ancient See of St. Patrick. A footnote to Sander’s text says:  

. . . to the end of his life, and for years afterwards, there could not be found in — except a few of the large towns — more than ten or fifteen places through the entire province of Ulster, either persons to attend, or a minister of any kind to perform, the Protestant service.  The consequence was, the churches fell into decay, and the parsons in after-times called for Parliament aid to repair them.  When Elizabeth issued a commission to inquire into the ecclesiastical state of Ireland, there could scarcely be found a church or an officiating clergyman.  The Catholic priests were ejected from their churches, many of them preferred to say Mass for their people in private places to exposing themselves to imprisonment or death; on the other hand, very few Irishmen abandoned their religion, and the inferior benefices were not sufficiently tempting for the English apostates.”

(To be continued)

Copyright by Judith M. Gordon 2010