British Catholics and Home Rule – June 1893

The Tablet Page 9, 3rd June 1893


The following statement on the Home Rule project, signed by the British Catholic Unionists whose names are appended, has been sent for publication:


Inasmuch as any system of Home Rule must seriously influence the position of the Catholic Church in Ireland, it seems to us incumbent on all Catholic citizens of the United Kingdom carefully to consider the probable effects of such a system upon religion. This obligation has been recognized by certain advocates of Home Rule, who have represented that the Home Rule policy would promote the welfare of the Church, and have urged that it is therefore entitled to the support of British Catholics. Under these circumstances we think it right to break a silence which might be subject to misconstruction, and to state shortly some reasons why we, and as we believe British Catholic Unionists in general, hold it to be a duty to resist Home Rule. The agitation which has been carried on in Ireland since 1879 has been based to a great extent upon the principles which are manifestly identical with those of the European Revolution, so often and so authoritatively reprobated by the Holy See, and, as an inevitable consequence, the movement has been strained by many grievous offences against natural, Divine, and civil law. Many of the teachers who helped to indoctrinate the Catholic people of Ireland with these anti-Christian tenets now stand high in the Home Rule party. They include those whose language has been the most extreme, whose action has been the most reprehensible, and who have exhibited in both the most flagrant disregard for the fundamental doctrines of Christian morals. Amongst them are conspicuous several Catholics who have notoriously taken a chief part in inculcating the use of boycotting and the Plan of Campaign, practices solemnly condemned as sinful by the Holy See. Some at least of their number have not scrupled to display with ostentatious insolence their contempt of this authoritative decision, and sharply to deny the right of the Supreme Pontiff to judge the moral quality of their political acts. None of them, so far as we are aware, have publicly disavowed the condemned methods or publicly withdrawn their scandalous repudiation of the Papal jurisdiction.

It seems to us certain that from these men must come the governors of Ireland under Home Rule, and certain, too, that they would rule her on the principles they have professed. We cannot but believe that such a rule would prove injurious to religion.

We are aware that some Catholics confidently rely upon the influence of the Irish ecclesiastical authorities to mitigate or to avert the evils of such a government, but we must sorrowfully acknowledge that we cannot share this hope. We have ever felt the deepest admiration for the many signal virtues of the Irish clergy. We are familiar with their heroic history. We are not unmindful of the benefits we have received at their hands. We know that now, as always, hundreds of Irish priests wholly devote themselves to their sacred duties, and that their labours bear abundant fruit amongst their flocks.

But these considerations cannot blind us to the undeniable fact that hitherto they have failed to cope with the revolutionary tendencies of the present movement. We cannot forget the repeated boasts of the extreme party that some of the most extravagant developments of their system have been openly countenanced or tacitly approved by the majority of the clergy, nor can we affirm that those boasts have been unfounded. We are not aware that they have been publicly denied or challenged by the ecclesiastics whom they concern, and, while we are unable to point to any body of evidence tending to rebut them, we cannot but remember;with grief many incidents which go far to justify their truth.’

Above all we are unable to ignore the significant circumstance that the politicians whose conduct we have described have been able to retain, and now enjoy, the approbation, the favour, and the strenuous support of the active majority of the Irish clergy.

We can see no adequate reason for supposing that under Home Rule the Irish clergy would be better able to induce their people either to discard revolutionary leaders or to renounce revolutionary causes than they are under the present Constitution of the United Kingdom. It seems to us, on the contrary, certain that Home Rule must inevitably lead to speedy and progressive developments of the revolutionary spirit, and must thereby aggravate those very evils which the Irish ecclesiastical authorities have hitherto failed to combat with effect. For a time, indeed, as politicians, the clergy might acquire fresh powers by successive compromises with the popular movement, but those powers, in our judgment, would infallibly fail whenever it was sought to use them to moderate the popular passions or to check the popular career. We believe that under these circumstances a section of the Irish people must ultimately be brought into conflict with the Church, and we cannot look forward to such a struggle without the gravest apprehensions. It is certain to be fruitful of many scandals. It may result, as similar struggles in other lands have resulted, in spiritual calamities yet more grievous.

For these, amongst other reasons, we, as British Catholics, are opposed to the policy of Home Rule. We respectfully submit them to the attentive consideration of our Catholic countrymen.

Signed by the Duke of Norfolk, E.M., K.G., the Earl of Denbigh, the Earl of Albemarle, K.C.M.G., P.C., the Earl of Gainsborough, Lord Mowbray and Stourton, Lord Beaumont, Lord Braye, Lord North, Lord Petre, Lord Arundell of Wardour, Lord Clifford, Lord Lovat, Lord Howard of Glossop, Lord Gerard, Lora Donington, Lord Ralph D. Kerr, Lord W.B. Nevin, Lord Norreys, the Right Hon. Stuart Knill, His Honour Judge Bagshawe, the Right Hon. Henry Matthews, Q.C.. P.C., M.P., the Hon. J. Somers Cocks, the Hon. Hubert Dormer, the Hon. Walter C. Maxwell, Sir C. M. Wolseley, Bart., Sir William Throckmorten, Bart., Sir Edward Blount, Bart., K.C.B., Sir John de M. Haggerston, Bart., Sir C. F. Smythe, Bart, Sir W. Hamilton-Dalrymple, Bart., Sir William Heathcote, Bart., Sir W. F. Miller, Bart., Sir George Sherston Baker, Bart., Sir Percival Radcliffe, Bart., Sir George Clifford, Bart., Sir Humphrey F. de Trafford, Bart, Sir John Lawson, Bart., Sir Philip F. Rose, Bart., General Sir Arthur Herbert, K.C.B., Lieut.-General Sir Martin Dillon, K.C.B., C.S.I., Sir H. Watson Parker, Count Lubienski Bodenham, Major-General W. H. Graham, Colonel J. E. Butler-Bowden, Colonel R. S Cox, Colonel G. B. Malleson, C.S.I., Colonel F. B. Vaughan, Colonel C. C. Woodward, Colonel H. J. Woodward, K.S.G., Lieut.-Colonel C. Lennox Tredcroft, J.P., Major J. Fishwick Leeming, Major W. Fletcher Gordon, Major J. S. Gape, Major F. Trevor, Captain Mostyn, Captain C. E. Petre, R.E., Captain J. S. L. Wheble, T. W. Allies, F. R. Anderton, C. W. Bagshawe, J.P., F. G. Bagshawe, W. D. Bellasis, C. M. Berington, Robert Berkeley, Henry Blount, J. D. Blount, John Blundell, W. J. Blundell, L. B. Bowring, L. Butler-Bowdon, V. Cary-Elwes, W. Oswald Charlton, J. G. Snead-Cox, Edwin de Lisle, C. 0. Eaton, Michael Ellison, Thomas Eyre, Basil Fitzherbert, W. Fitzherbert-Brockholes, George S. Lane Fox, Howard Galton, Hellier R H. Gosselin, F. E. Harding, James Head, George Herbert, J. A. Herbert of Llanarth, Edgar Hibbert, James F. Hope, J. W. Hornyold, Charles Kent, William Leeming, Herman Lescher, David Lewis, L. Lindsay, R. Longueville, Thomas Longueville, George Manley, A. Maxwell-Stuart, C. Middleton, Richard Mills, J. Monteith of Carstairs, Charles A. Scott-Murray, R. H. C. Nevile, Bernard Parker, George Pereira, Thomas A. Perry, E. Petre, Charles Pollen, F. Riddell, George Sharples, F. StapletonBretherton, Edward Stewart, M.D., Henry Stourton, Charles Stonor, John Reginald F. G. Talbot, John R. C. Talbot, E. S. Trafford, R. Trappes-Lomax, P. K. Wake, C. W. Walker, R. E. Walmesley, E. Granville Ward, Richard Ward, Wilfrid Ward, J. R. Weguelin, Humphrey F. Weld, Walter Weld, Wilfrid J. Weld, H. Weld-Blundell, E. Gresham Wells, M.A., W. Worsley-Worswick. J.P.

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