Britain--Maynooth--Universal Toleration.

We have purposely abstained in the text from the question, What ought government to do? We do not see that it can do much in the way of positive legislation, beyond what it has already done in the Ecclesiastical Titles Act. We trust that no provocation on the part of Rome will tempt us to abandon the principle of toleration. If we are just, we shall be strong. Let there be one nation on the earth magnanimous enough to act on the principles of civil and religious liberty. There would be found a mighty moral influence in the example. Toleration is twice blessed;--it blesseth him that gives and him that takes. But this is consistent with the vigorous and united resistance of an aggression which embodies the political fully as much as the spiritual element, and which strikes at the country's independence not less than at the country's faith. Government has yet much to do in the way of undoing its recent policy. Let us instance Maynooth. To legislate against the papal aggression, and endow Maynooth, is as glaring an absurdity as it would be to enroll soldiers to resist an invading army, and build barracks and buy forage for the enemy's troops; or as would the passing of a law for burning witches, and the endowing of chairs for teaching witchcraft. The more palpable decadence of Ireland dates from the erection of Maynooth. Before the institution of this school the Irish priests were educated in France, then the least ultramontane country in popish Europe. They could not be there without imbibing a certain portion of the spirit of the "Gallican liberties." It was argued, that by educating them at home, we should have a class of priests more national, and more attached to British rule; at least we would have gentlemen and scholars, who would humanize their flocks. These have since been shown to be miserable sophisms. Maynooth is a thoroughly ultramontane school. We have exchanged the French-bred priest, ill-read in Dens, with low notions of the supremacy, and proportionally high notions of the British crown, for a race of crafty, jesuitical, intriguing, thorough-trained priests of the ultramontane school, who recognise but one power in the world,--the pontifical; and who are incurably alienated from British interests and rule. The loud and fearful curses fulminated from the altar, which come rolling across the Channel, mingled with the wrathful howls of a priest-ridden and maddened people, proclaim the result. These are your Maynooth scholars and gentlemen! These are the pious flocks, tended and fed by the lettered priests of Maynooth! Better we had flung our money into the sea, than sent it across the Channel, to be a curse, in the first place to Ireland, and a curse, in the second place, to ourselves, by the demoralizing and anti-national sentiments it has been employed to propagate. The better a priest, the worse a citizen. And whom has government found their bitterest enemies? Who are the parties who have invariably withstood all their plans for civilizing Ireland? Why, those very priests whom they have clothed, and educated, and fed. Is it to be longer borne, that the hard-earned money of a Protestant people should be given to endow an institution which has covered Ireland with anti-national and dehumanizing doctrines,--which is sowing the same malignant principles broadcast in our colonies, and which threatens to issue in the descent upon Britain of an avalanche of Irish savagery? Let government also withdraw titles of dignity and pensions from Canadian, Australian, and all other colonial priests. Of course they will raise a great outcry about equality of rights and toleration; but so will they aye and until you give them the right of burning all whom they call heretics. Moreover, government ought to demand of continental states, that wherever there are a dozen British Protestants,[1] they should have a chapel for their worship, and a burial-ground for their dead. It is intolerable that British Protestants in popish countries should neither be allowed to worship save in a granary or hay-loft, nor even to bury their dead but in an out-field or highway. Our government might go farther in principle, though we are not prepared to say, in present circumstances, in expediency. Man hag two classes of rights,--his rights as a citizen, and his rights as a man. The first set of rights are limited to the country of which he is a member; the second attend him all over the globe. The government of which he is a subject is bound to maintain him in the exercise of the one class of rights. It is the duty of the consociated governments of the earth to maintain him in the possession of his rights as a member of the human family, and which are the rights of the Roman, the African, the Indian, as well as of the Briton. Should one government wrongfully deny its subjects, not their rights as citizens, but their rights as men,--not those which they possess in contradistinction to the subjects of other states, but those which they possess in contradistinction to the beasts below them, as made in the image of God, then the other governments may lawfully interfere and put down the wrong. Should the majority of these governments prove neglectful of their duty, the task would devolve on the strongest government. On this principle did the governments of western Europe combine to put down the slave-trade. They said to the King of Dahomey, We do not meddle with the political government of your kingdom; but you deny to your subjects their rights as human beings. You sell them like cattle to the slave-master. We forbid the barbarity. And so the slave-trade was put down. But if there are two rights which are inseparable to the human being,--which cannot possibly be disjoined from reason and responsibility,--they are a free conscience and a free Bible. These are the rights of man all over the earth, simply because he is a man. But the rights of man and the duties of government (we use the term in its universal sense) are co-relative. We hold it to be not less the right of the governments of Europe, and, failing them, of the British government to say to the King of Spain, or to the King of Rome, "It is not less a barbarity in you to imprison or to burn your subjects for reading the Bible, than it was in the King of Dahomey to sell his subjects to the slave-trader. We forbade authoritatively the African barbarity: we now authoritatively forbid the Romish barbarity." That Britain would be warranted to act thus we have not the shadow of a doubt: as to the expediency of this policy, in present circumstances, we are not so clear. And yet it would be a noble thing were that one country which alone understands and practises toleration to become the champion of human rights all over the world; and the day is not distant, perhaps, when, if it would maintain its own independence, it must adopt this policy.

General View of the Roman Catholic Church.

(Extracted from "Battersby's Registry for the Whole World," 1851.)

Pius IX. Pope; conclave of cardinals, 72; patriarchs in the Roman Church, 12; archbishops and bishops, 690; coadjutors, auxiliaries, suffragans, &c. 90; Vicars apostolic, 76; prefects, 9: total, 876.

Bishopricks, with their Population.

  Bishops. Population.
Europe 606 124,993,961
Asia 60 1,155,618
Africa 11 751,751
America 94 25,819,210
Oceanica 10 3,057,007
Grand total 781 155,777,547

Summary of Missions and their Population.

  Vicariates. Prefects. Missionaries. Population.
Europe 32 2 5,816 5,482,522
Asia 26 ---- 339 1,557,000
Africa 6 7 112 231,200
America 9 ---- ---- 1,380,300
Oceanica 3 ---- ---- 60,000
Total 76 9 6,267 164,508,599
Population of the Catholic world 164,508,599

General Statement of the Missions, 1849.

  Bishops Priests
Vicariates Apostolic of Scotland 5 110
Different Missions of the North 3 44
Missions of the Diocese of Lausanne (Switzerland) 1 40
Vicariate-Apostolic of Gibraltar 2 10

Ionian Islands.

Archbishopric of Corfu; Bishopric of Zante 3 26
Delegation-Apostolic of Greece; Archbishopric of Naxia; Bishoprics of Syra, Tino, and Santorina 4 162


Archbishopric of Sophia (Servia); Vicariates-Apostolic of Moldavia and Wallachia 3 38


Archbishoprics of Durazzo, Antivari, and Constantinople; Bishoprics of Trebigne, Scutari, Palati, Sappa, Alessio, and Niepoli; Vicariates-Apoostolic of Bosnia, Bulgaria, and Constantinople (Latin) 10 416
Total for Europe 31 846

Missions of Father Capuchins.

  • Europe
Hospices Missionaries Brothers
Constantinople 8 20 8
Cephalonia 1 2 0
Odessa 1 2 0
Philipopoli 7 7 3
Rhetian Switzerland 17 29 16
Grisons 9 23 10
  43 83 37
  • Asia
Hindostan--Agra 17 19 0
Hindostan--Patna 7 0 0
Mesopotamia 3 8 2
Syria--Palestine 8 13 0
Trebisond 3 7 1
  38 47 3
  • America
Bahia 2 10 6
Para 1 5 0
Pernambuco 2 8 2
Rio Janeiro 3 16 1
Provinces 0 17 2
Venezuela 0 26 1
  8 82 12
  • Africa
Galla 0 4 1
Tunis 4 11 6
  4 15 7
Total 93 236 69

Allocations of 1849 to the Different Missions throughout the World.

Missions. Francs.
Europe 552,780
Asia 1,066,432
Africa 281,480
America 848,951
Oceanica 421,948
Total 3,171,591

The revolutions of 1848-1849 led to a decrease in the collections. The funds have slightly rallied since that time.


This page updated November 19, 1996.

[1] See the able pamphlet, on this subject, of Dr. Thomson of London. [Back]

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