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required, the deposing power of the Pope ; and it condemned the spiritual powers of the Pope in this country in words to which no Roman Catholic could swear in their plain sense e.
The limitation was strongly opposed, especially by the Bishops, in the House of Lords. The Archbishop of Canterbury, and the Bishops of St. David's, Peterborough, and Sarum, spoke on the occasion. Bishop Horsley of St. David's expressed an opinion that the longwished for season for the abolition of the penal laws had arrived ; but he objected to the partial provisions of the Bill as calculated to offend the Roman Catholic body, in whose favour it was designed. The Roman Catholics, he said, did not object to the principle that an oath which enunciated the doctrine that Princes excommunicated by the Pope of Rome might be deposed and murdered by their subjects, was impious, heretical, and damnable ; but they did object to the harsh terms which the oath prescribed. The Bishop's speech had its effect, and his object was attained; the proposed oath was expunged, and an entirely different one substituted, which no Roman Catholic could scruple to take, and on taking which he was safe in the enjoyment of his property.
The most important part of the Act we may give in the words of Mr. Charles Butler, who drew it up.
• Amherst's Hist. of Cath. Emanc., i. 166.
It was enacted that ia future no one shall be summoned to take the Oath of Supremacy prescribed by 1 William and Mary, s. 1, chap. viii., and George I. S. 2, chap. viii., or the declaration against Transubstantiation required by 25 Charles II. ; that i William and Mary, s. 1, chap. ix., for removing Papists, or reputed Papists, from the cities of London and Westminster, shall not extend to Roman Catholics taking the appointed oath ; and that no Peer of Great Britain or Ireland taking the oath shall be liable to be prosecuted for coming into his Majesty's presence, or into the court or house where his Majesty resides, under 30 Charles II. s. 2, chap. i. The Act also repeals the laws requiring the deeds and wills of Roman Catholics to be registered and enrolled; and dispenses persons acting as councillors at law, barristers, attorneys, clerks, or notaries, from taking the Oath of Supremacy, or the declaration against Transubstantiation, for acting in those capacities f.
So that thenceforward the Law was opened to Roman Catholics as a profession, although the Army and Navy were still closed to them. From the pass. ing of the Act there was an end to legal persecution for religious opinion in England; freedom of thought
* The first Roman Catholic called to the Bar after the passing of the Act was Mr. Charles Butler himself; the last Roman Catholic before him had been called in 1688.-Amherst's Hist. of Cath. Emanc., i. 184.
was now gained both for Roman Catholic and Pro. testant Dissenters. Civil disabilities remained, but their days also were numbered.
The condition of Ireland served to bring matters to a crisis. At the head of Irish grievances had always stood the Established Church, or the “Anglican Church” in that country. Ever since the Reformation, the profession of the Roman Catholic religion seems to have been regarded by the English legislature as a political crime, and the Roman Catholic religion one the members of which ought to be repressed by disqualifications, rather than as a system of Faith. Let a Roman Catholic be ever so good and religious a man, and ever so useful a member of society, yet if he followed his conscience, if he objected to attend the services of the Established Church, and attended instead the Mass in his own Church, he was guilty of an indictable offence.
The Established Church in Ireland held the invidious position of possessing nearly all the Church property, whilst fully three parts of the population belonged to another faith. We may form some idea of the religious feeling in Ireland, if we imagine what in the present day would be the state of Scotland as to loyalty and security, if the establishment of Episcopacy had been maintained in that country in the same manner in which Protestantism was upheld in Ireland, and if Presbyterians in Scotland had been subjected to the same persecution, and suffered under the same bigotry, as their neighbours in Ireland. And yet there was much greater reason for retaining Episcopacy in Scotland than there was for maintaining Protestantism in Ireland; for when in 1690 Episcopacy was abolished in the former country, it was held in favour, except in the west of Scotland, by a vast majority of the people. History tells us enough of Presbyterianism to leave no doubt that, instead of being a pattern of loyalty and adding strength to the empire, Scotland would have been to England a source of weakness and division.
From the twelfth century to the Reformation Romanism had held undisputed sway in Ireland. But in 1537 Henry VIII. determined to introduce into that country the principles of the English Reformation. This course was directly opposed to the wishes of the people. The advocates of the Pope's supremacy were headed by the Primate of Ireland, Cromer, Archbishop of Armagh, and a large portion of the Clergy; whilst the royal party found a zealous ally in George Brown, who had once been a Provincial of the Friars of St. Augustine, but who had turned an extreme Puritan, and was appointed by Henry the first Protestant Archbishop of Dublin. His labours in the cause of the Reformation met with violent opposition in Ireland; in order to defeat the opposition he advised the King to carry out his scheme by means of the Irish Parliament; and a Parliament was accordingly convened at Dublin in 1537, by which all opponents were silenced; the jurisdiction of the Pope was repudiated; all appeals and money payments to Rome were declared to be illegal; and the King took care, as he had done in England, to enrich himself by the possessions of the religious houses and the confiscation of their property.
After Henry had vested the property of the religious houses in the Crown, and established his own supremacy, he was contented with his work in Ireland; the individuality of the Irish Church became merged in that of the English; and the phrase "the Church of England and Ireland" came in vogue in 1538, and appears again soon afterwards in a Statute of Edward VI. In the reign of Queen Mary the Irish Bishops of the Reformed Church were removed from their Sees; an Irish Parliament met in Dublin in 1556; a Papal Bull was read re-establishing the Roman Catholic religion; the whole assembly of Lords and Commons listened to it on their knees, whilst a solemn Te Deum was sung in thankfulness of the event.
On the accession of Elizabeth, another Parliament was convened in 1560, and statutes, which met with considerable opposition, were passed reversing the acts of Mary ; the Book of Common Prayer was again enforced; the reformed religion became once more the State religion of Ireland; and the Irish people were compelled to attend the services of the