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be accounted as worthy of the least credit if af.. tempted to be stated as the faith of the great body of Roman Catholicks. Does it not then appear saspicions, that to a measure professing to concern the whole of the catholick body in Ireland, there should only appear the names of one hundred persons, and that among those there should not be a single member of the priesthood?
But now to a minute consideration of the RETITION itself. It begins by stating the attachment of the petitioners to his Majesty's person, family, and government, on which we shall make no invidious remark, nor upon the encomium passed upon “ the admirable principles of the British constitution” farther than to express our surprize, that if the Irish Catholicks really do hold that Constitution in admiration, their country should have exhibited such repeated and shocking scenes of outrage, .treason and murder, in direct opposition and hatred to that constitution. We next meet with something truly extraordinary. To prove their regard for the sacred obligation of an oath, the petitioners state “ the oaths which they have solemnly and publicly taken as tests of their POLITICAL and MORAL PRINCIPLES,” and they then confidently appeal to the sufferings which they have long endured, and the “ sacrifices which they still make, father than violate their consciences (by taking oaths of a Religious or SPIRITUAL import, contrary to their beliet) as decisive proofs of their profound and scrupulous reverence for the sacred obligation of an oath."
What we dislike here, is the distinction set up between oaths of a political and moral, and those of a religious and spiritual import. We are not aware that the law makes or authorizes any such distinction; but accounts all oaths to be so far religious or spiritual, as they impose a religious or spiritual obligation on the minds of the persons who take them. If the Roinan Catholicks are accustomed to take oaths, which being in their estimation religious and spiritual, are more sacred and binding, than those which are merely of a political or moral expediency, so far from being entitled to the objects of their claim, they ought to be watched with a jealous eye. We do not know that the laity of that communion take such oaths, but we have every reason to believe that the oaths of canonical obedience taken by their bishops and priests, are of such a nature as to render any particular oaths of a
political political kind, little better than the strong cords with which the Philistines bound Samson*.
After specifying the oath of allegiance which they have taken; they “ reject and detest as unchristian and impious” the principle that“ it is lawful in any ways to injure any person or persons whatsoever, under pretence of their being heretics, and also that unchristian and impious principle,--that no faith is to be kept with heretics.”
It is by no means our wish to question their sincerity on these points, no doubt the petitioners have the greatest abhorence of such abominable positions; yet has the Church of Rome, or any one of the Popes, or the College of Cardinals ever endeavoured to wipe out the charge lying against her, as countenancing the principle that faith is not to be kept with heretics, and that heretics convicted are to be punished? The Council of Constance gave a remarkable and infamous example of the first, by violating the safe conduct afforded to John Huss, and thus established the principle that no faith is to be
* In the oath taken by every Priest ordained in the Romish Commua nion, he swears that“ The Holy Catholic and Apostolical Roman Church, I acknowledge to be the Mother and Mistress of all Churches, and to the Pope of Rome, successor of the blessed Peter, Prince of Apostles and Vicar of Jesus Christ, I promise and swear true obedience.-All things also delivered, defined, and declared by the Sacred Canons, and by the general Councils, and especially by the Sacrosanct Council of Trent without doubting, I receive and profess; and likewise all things contrasy thcreto, and whatsoever heresies have been condemned, rejected, and anathematized by the Church, I equally condemn, reject, and anathematize." The oath of canonical obedience taken by every Bishop and Vicar Apostolic (i. e, the Roman Catholic Bishops in Ireland, and those in England) is still more remarkable. It is as follows:
“ I (N) elected bishop of the Church N. from this hour will be faithful and obedient to the blessed Peter the Apostle, and to the Holy Roman Church, and to our Lord the Pope N. and to his successor canonically entering - The Roman papacy and the Royalties of St. Peter, I will be their assistant to retain and defend (saving mine own honour) against every man. The rights, honours, privileges and authority of the Holy Roman Church, and of our Lord the Pope, and his successors aforesaid, I will be careful to preserve, defend, augment and promote. Neither will I be in Council, or Act, or Treaty in which any measure may be devised sinister or prejudicial to their persons, rights, honours, state and authority. The Rules of the Holy Fathers, the Apostolical Decrees, Ordinances, or Dispositions, Reservations, Provisions and Mundates, I will with all my might observe, and cause to be observed bj others."
After having taken such slavish oaths, it is no wonder the Romish Bishops and Clergy disavowed in 1791, the declarations of Lord Petre and the English Catholics, which corresponded with the sentiments in the Irish Petition !
Vol. VIII. Churchm. Mag. April 1805. 00 kept kept with heretics, by the highest authority acknowleged among Roman Catholics. When the petitioners say that they hold it " unchristian and impious to believe that it is lawful in any ways to injure any person or persons whatsoever, under pretence of their being Heretics,” we may charitably suppose that they speak the truth of their hearts; but is this the position, or has this been the practice of their Church? That it is not the position of the Roman Church, is evident from the numerous anathemas denounced by the council of Trent against all those who deny any of her articles of faith, and he must be an utter stranger indeed to the history, constitution, policy and spirit of that Church, who does not know that her anathemas are more serious things, when power is in her hands, than mere verbal or spiritual denunciations. That it has not been her practice, all history will prove, and no one more perhaps than that of our own country. The petitioners proceed to "renounce, reject, and abjure the opinion, that princes excommunicated by the Pope and Council, or by any authority, whatsoever, may be deposed or murdered by their subjects or by any person whatsoever.” On this declaration we cannot but pause and consider; and we must here again request our readers to bear in mind that, what the faith of these individuals may be, is one thing, and what the opinion and practice of the Roman Church, another.
Which are we to believe, these one hundred Catholic laymen; or a whole Catholic hierarchy, the decrees of Popes, and the still stronger declarations of a Council held sacred by all of that communion ?- The Roman Church has never disavowed the charge, or yielded up the pretended right of excommunicating anddeposing sovereign princes. On the contrary, her principal writers, and those adorned with the purple too, have gloried in and vindicated it. The Popes have repeatedly exercised this usurped power, and the Council of Trent has expressly sanctioned and defined the papal claims over all sovereign princes, and confirmed to the Pope the right and discretion of excommunication and deprivation: (See Act. xxiv. Sess. Concil. Trid.)
Surely these petitioners then come but with an ill-grace to oppose the deliberate acts of a Council, the faith of which, as Roman Catholics, they are required to accept as divine, and whose catechism they were taught in their infancy to regard as the production of an assembly die rected by the Holy Ghost.
But the petitioners themselves plainly admit that “ Princes” may be “excommunicated by the Pope and Council,” only they deny that any person can be authorized by such Pope or Council to depose and murder them. We would bere ask what difference there is between “excommunicating princes" and the degrading of them? If you place such a power as this in any hands, it is of the most serious and alarming nature to every crowned head. It is at once setting up a superior authority; it is acknowleging that our Sovereign Lord the Pope is greater than our Sovereign Lord the King; and therefore he who considers himself as bound to obey the former, can be no longer a faithful subject of the latter, than as far as agrees with the papal decrees and determinations.
We may here see then what is meant by the distinction drawn in the front of the petition between oaths of a political and moral, and those of a religious and spiritual, import; and consequently persons who hold in so high and sacred a regard the authority of the Pope, even though they call it but a spiritual authority, cannot safely be admitted into the possession of power under Protestant princes.
The Popes have frequently issued Bulls of Excommunication and deprivation against Sovereigns, and in so doing no Roman Catholic divine, that we know of, has denied their right. We have a glaring instance of the papal usurpation and arrogance, in this respect on the face of our own annals. When Queen Elizabeth came to the throne, she directed the English resident at Rome to signify the same respectfully to Pope Paul IV, who baughtily replied, that," the kingdom of England was a fief of the Holy See, to which Elizabeth could not .succeed, not being legitimate : And that she had been very bold in taking the title of Queen and the go vernment without his leave. That she did not deserve to be heard ; but that he was willing to act with fatherly goodness, and so would do all he could, without prejudicing the dignity of the Holy See, provided she would renounce all her pretensions, and freely put all her Intes rests into his hands *.”
To this arrogant Pontiff, succeeded Pius V. who at first went a more crafty way to work, and endeavoured to win * See the Candid Catholic Historian Du Pin, vol. vii. P
great princess to submission, by gentle letters and courteous promises. She was, however, too well advised to be so deceived; and resisted every attempt made to bring her dominions again under the papal yoke. On this every foul engine was made use of to propagate sedition in her dominions, colleges were set up at Rome and other places for educating missionaries to be sent to England and Įreland, and whose main instructions were to counterfeit extraordinary zeal as protestant preachers, and in secret to draw her Majesty's subjects off from their allegiance and religion. The Pope also thundered out from the Vatican, his Bull of Excommunication and Deprivation against her, in the preamble to which he states that “ He who reigns above, to whom all power in Heaven and in earth is given, has consigned his one Holy Catholic Church, out of which there is no salvation, to the sole government of St. Peter, the Prince of the Apostles, and his successor the Bishop of Rome. This Successor he has constituted SUPREME OVER ALL NATIONS AND KINGDOMS to root out, and to pull down, to destroy, to build and to plant; to the end that the faithful being incorporated by mutual charity, may be preserved in the unity of the spirit, and presented unblemished and acceptable to their Saviour.” It then goes on to state with great warmth and precision the secession of England from the Roman Church, and roundly calls the queen, “that vassal of iniquity.” Having dwelt on the endeavours which had been used to move her Majesty by gentler means, bis Holiness at once declares her excommunicated and deposed, and at the same time absolves her subjects from their allegiance and their oaths; thus, “ In virtue, therefore, of his authority, who has been pleased to advance us to the Supreme Seat of Justice, though disproportionable to so great a weight, We, out of the plenitude of our apostolical authority, declare the aforesaid ELIZABETH un heretic, and an encourager of heretics ; ' and that those who adhere to her in the practices above-mentioned, liè under the censure of an Ana. THEMA, and are cut off from the unity of the body of Christ: We likewise declare the said Elizabeth deprived of the pretended right to the kingdom above-mentioned, and of atl dominion, dignity, and privilege whatsoever : and that all the nobility and subjects of the said realm who haye SWORN TO HER IN ANY MANNER WIIATSOEVER, ARE ABSOLVED BOR EVER FROM ANY SUCH OATH, AND TROM