Church and Politics
Should Governor Alfred E. Smith be Excommunicated for His Letter to Marshall.
© 1927, by Rev. Michael O'Flanagan All rights reserved.
Lecture delivered by Rev. Michael O'Flanagan at Tara Halls New York City, Thursday evening, June 30 1927 on Church and Politics.
Mr Chairman, faithful friends and supporters of the Republic of Ireland:
I am very glad to have at last an opportunity of speaking to a few people here in New York. I have been here now about three months - that is, I have been in the United States, for of course I have not spent all that time in New York. But all the time that I have been here I have longed for an opportunity of speaking, though it be but to a small fraction of the great crowds who came to listen to me here on the last occasion. I do not blame the Irish people of New York because the crowds are smaller now than they were at that time. Neither can I discover any reason why I should blame myself. I have not changed one tittle from the principles which inspired the gatherings of four or five years ago, principles which will inspire greater gatherings before many more days pass by.
My present visit to New York, however, has come at an opportune time. Last April, a few days after my arrival, the columns of your papers carried matter furnished by a man in a very prominent position, which reminded me of a speech I had made in this City in 1924, a short time before I went back to Ireland. I think it was at a meeting held in the Earl Carroll Theatre, and some of you will perhaps remember that I quoted some extracts from the works of Bishop England. It was therefore a very pleasant surprise for me to find on my return to America this time, a big controversy carried on through the press in which the name of that same Bishop England figured prominently.
I will read for you some of the statements Bishop England made, and from which I quoted in the Earl Carroll Theatre.
You can imagine the pleasure it gave me when I saw the same words quoted by Governor Smith in his answer to Mr. Marshall. Here is Governor Smith's quotation from Bishop England, as printed in one of your New York papers:
"Let the Pope and Cardinals and all the Powers of the Catholic World United, make the least encroachment on the American Constitution, we will protect it with our lives. Summon a General Council—let that Council interfere in the mode of our electing but an assistant to a turnkey of a prison—We deny its right, we reject its usurpation."
I preached the same doctrine with regard to Church and State, with regard to interference of ecclesiastical authority in civil affairs—I preached the very same doctrine that Bishop England preached—I preached that same doctrine here three years ago, the same doctrine Governor Smith resurrects today in his answer to Mr. Marshall.
Governor Smith made that same point in several other observations. He quoted from Archbishop Ireland for example. Archbishop Ireland said:
"To the Catholic obedience to law is a religious obligation binding in God's name, the conscience of the Citizen...... Both Americanism and Catholicism bow to the sway of personal conscience."
I quoted more fully from Bishop England than Governor Smith thought well to quote. Here is how Bishop England follows up the passage quoted in Governor Smith's letter:
"We believe the Pope is Christ's Vicar on Earth, supreme visible head of the Church throughout the World and lawful successor of Peter, Prince of the Apostles. We believe that a General Council is infallible in doctrinal decisions. Yet we deny the Pope and Council united, any power to interfere with one tittle of our political rights, as firmly as we deny the power of interfering with our spiritual rights to the President and Congress. We will obey each in its proper place. We will resist the encroachment of one upon the rights of the other."
That is the doctrine which Governor Smith has applied to America, and that is the doctrine I have ventured to apply to Ireland. If that doctrine is good enough for America, I venture to say that that doctrine is not one whit too good for Ireland. I have not seen that any Catholic Church Authority here in America has ventured to impose any penalty on Governor Smith for preaching that doctrine. I have not heard that he has been denied Absolution. I have not heard that he has been refused Holy Communion at the Altar rail because he ventured to say that the law of the land should be obeyed in civil affairs and the law of God in religious affairs, and if any religious authority were to interfere with the citizen in the exercise of his rights in civil affairs, that that religious authority should be resisted.
Bishop England goes on to say that it should be resisted even with the sword. He says that it has often happened in the past history of Europe that Catholic kings and emperors were at war with the Pope, and although at war with the Pope they remained good Catholics. I wonder whether the Chaplains of these good Catholic kings and emperors were asked to deny them the Sacraments? Bishop England does not make this a purely imaginary case because he says it happened in the past history of Europe. He takes it for granted that the army of the Pope may be on one side in a civil fight, and a good Catholic may be on the opposite side.
Now let us see how this doctrine of Bishop England is received on the other side of the Atlantic. I will read you a portion of a letter I received from my Bishop shortly after my return to Ireland in the early part of 1925. My Bishop, writing from Sligo under the date of April 6th, 1925, states:
"I received from the Chancery Office, 23 East 51st Street, New York, a communication dated April 14th, 1924, in which it is stated that: 'On Sunday evening, March 16th, Father O'Flanagan addressed a meeting in the Earl Carroll Theatre, New York City, in the course of which he criticized rather severely the Irish Bishops, and also criticized His Holiness, the Pope, etc.'"
That was the complaint made to Ireland from the Chancery Office of Cardinal Hayes because of the speech I made in the Earl Carroll Theatre. In that speech I criticized nothing more than the politics of the Irish Bishops and of the Pope. I preached substantially the same doctrine that Governor Smith preached in America—the only difference being that I applied it to Ireland. I wonder if the Chancery Office here got busy on Governor Smith's answer to Mr. Marshall? Have they applied to Governor Smith the same doctrine which they applied to me?
My Bishop's letter continues:
"Your patriotic mission developed into a scandalous campaign against the Church...... so utterly unworthy of a Priest that no decent Catholic could listen to it without protest...... And this was brought up to date by your scandalous escapades in Ireland and elsewhere. Your public harangues to excited mobs...."
I would like to draw your attention to that. Political meetings in Ireland are excited mobs in the words of the Bishop who is the author of this letter. I do not know whether or not you would be accounted as a mob, though you are just as much, and just as little excited as the splendid assemblies of Irish manhood and Irish womanhood to which the Bishop so contemptuously refers.
"Your irreverent reference to the Sacraments."
I think I ought to explain that. I said that when the Irish Bishops refused the Sacraments to the young heroes of Ireland fighting for Irish Independence, they were guilty of making a weapon of the Sacraments on the side of England. I say now it was not I who spoke disrespectfully of the Sacraments but it was the Bishops of Ireland who acted disrespectfully towards the Sacraments. We never heard of them refusing the Sacraments even to the murderous Black and Tans—those who were Catholics amongst them. They waited before refusing the Sacraments until it was a question of the noblest men that Ireland has produced in her whole modern history, engaged in a heroic fight that challenged the admiration of men in every part of the World. I will go on with the letter:
"Your public declaration that you have been and still are acting under lay control—thus secularizing yourself and repudiating proper ecclesiastical discipline, etc., by all these you have shocked and scandalized the clergy and laity and even the self-respecting non-Catholics of the Diocese of Elphin"
Where the Bishop speaks of lay control I presume he means civil control. In civil affairs I have recognized and intend in future to recognize no other control than civil control.
Lirsten again to the words which Bishop England uses:
"Let the Pope and Cardinals and all the Powers of the Catholic World United, make the least encroachment on the American Constitution, we will protect it with our lives."
He—a Bishop—promises to resist the Pope in defense of the American Constitution.
But if a Bishop has a right and a duty to resist the interference of the Pope in secular affairs, I say that a priest has an equal right and duty to resist a Bishop when he uses his authority to force an individual priest into his kine of political action.
"You have excluded yourself from Ecclesiastical Discipline...... you have shocked self-respecting non-Catholics and the Clergy."
Even the poor Freemasons of Sligo were horrified.
"You have throughout manifested your total disregard and utter contempt for Ecclesiastical Discipline......... Under the circumstances I find it my painful but obvious duty to withdraw from you, as I do hereby, all faculties, including permission to celebrate Holy Mass."
That is the reception that the doctrines of Bishop England get in Ireland. You will not be surprised when I tell you something about that same Bishop England. He was a priest in the Diocese of Cork, and in spite of his name, he was an Irishman. He had a newspaper there which was too democratic to suit the taste of the Bishops of Ireland at the time. What do you think the good Bishops of Ireland did? They sent a petition to the Pope, signed by nearly every Bishop in Ireland, begging His Holiness to please make Father England a Bishop in some foreign country, so as to get him out of Ireland.
He was just the kind of man who was needed here at the time. Because Bishop England had made himself objectionable to the Bishops of Ireland by his democratic sentiments a hundred years ago, that is the reason why you have had in the early history of the Church in America a Bishop who was democratic enough to be quoted today by a Catholic who may become a Candidate for the highest office in the land.
The doctrines of Bishop England find support also in the writings of a few of the most enlightened and most tolerant Bishops in the history of this Country.
If these doctrines are good enough to preach they ought to be good enough to practice. If these doctrines are merely preached—if they are not practiced—the quoting of them by Governor Smith is a mere piece of ecclesiastical window dressing.
It may be objected that it is quite enough for the laity to practice these doctrines, but that it is not necessary for the clergy to do so. Bishop England does not think so. He thinks Bishops ought to put them into practice, because he says "We will resist with our lives."
Yet if you even take the most cursory glance at the history of Ireland you will find that these doctrines have been violated generation after generation, from the time the first King of England polluted the soil of Ireland in 1172, down to the Year of Our Lord 1927.
When King Henry II came to Ireland in 1172 we were represented as a very bad lot in Ireland. We were so bad that the Pope was compelled to send us over the King of England to protect us against errors in Faith and Morals. Notwithstanding that we were so bad, we had a living Saint Archbishop of Dublin—Saint Lawrence O'Toole. Wonderful, isn't it? And we have not had a saint there since then. From the time Pope and King united to reform us the halo of canonization has departed from the Archiepiscopal See of Dublin.
Under the feudal system, when a Bishop died his Successor was selected partly by the King and partly by the Pope. When Saint Lawrence O'Toole died the King, Henry II, invited a number of the Clergy of Dublin over to a Monastery in England. There he got them to select as Archbishop of Dublin a man who was not even a priest, John Comyn. If he was not a priest he was something better—he was an Englishman.
John Comyn was sent over to Italy to the Pope and within six months was ordained a Priest and consecrated Archbishop of Dublin by Pope Laucius III.
You have read of Adrian's Bull, and the excuse for it that Adrian was an Englishman, and because he was an Englishman he sent Henry into Ireland, but Pope Lucius, who consecrated Henry II's favorite, was not an Englishman.
John Comyn was Archbishop of Dublin from 1181 to 1212. When he died he was succeeded by Henry of London. In addition to being Archbishop, Henry was Lord Chief Justice of Ireland from 1213 to 1215, so that on Sunday he celebrated Mass in Saint Patrick's Cathedral, Dublin, and on Monday he was sitting in judgment on patriotic Irishmen who refused to accept the authority of King Henry II in Ireland.
In 1220 this English Archbishop put out the fire that had been kept burning for hundreds of years in honor of St. Brigid at Kildare. To burn a fire in honor of St. Brigid was condemned as superstition seven hundred years ago, but it is a pious practice today to burn candles in honor of the Little Flower. Archbishop Henry was practically English Governor of Ireland till 1224.
Would it not be nice for Tim Healy now, when going on a visit to England, if he could tell the Archbishop to carry on the affairs of State while he was away? The difference between those days and the present time is only a difference in appearance. If the Bishops are not sitting on the Bench today they are sitting secretly behind the Bench. Those of you who are old enough to remember the Fenian days, and those of you who are young enough to have been in the fight against the Black and Tans, know that every time you struck at a policeman you found the Bishop's Mitre behind the policeman.
Henry of London was followed by Luke the Norman. He was the Treasurer of the King's Wardrobe before being made Archbishop of Dublin. He was succeeded by Fulk de Saundford, born in Oxfordshire. He was followed by John de Derlington, from the Diocese of Durham.
Next came John de Saundford, who was already a Justice on the King;s Bench, and who after his Ecclesiastical elevation to the See of Dublin got further civil promotion to the position of Lord Justice of Ireland.
William de Hothum, Provincial of the Dominicans in England, came next. Richard de Ferings succeeded. He resided for the most part abroad, leaving the Diocese to be governed by Thomas de Chadsworth, whose election to the Archbishopric of Dublin the Pope had twice annulled.
John Lech was the next Archbishop sent over to govern the Archdiocese of Dublin by agreement between the Pope and King of England. In addition to his Ecclesiastical Duties he was able to serve the King more directly by filling the office of Lord Treasurer of Ireland. In 1317 Pope John XXII wrote to him to excommunicate Robert Bruce and his followers, and likewise Edward, his brother.
Robert Bruce set Scotland free in spite of the Pope's excommunication, but his brother, Edward, failed in Ireland. How far his failure was due to the papal censure may be judged by those who know the immense influence wielded by the Pope in Ireland today, and who realize how much greater it must have been six hundred years ago.
In those days excommunication was a sufficiently strong weapon to bring the proudest Monarch in Europe to his knees. You should read the article on Adrian IV in the first Volume of the Catholic Encyclopedia. This article will show what a high and mighty person was the English Pope who gave the King of England permission to invade Ireland.
For over four hundred years there was not an Archbishop of Dublin who was not an Englishman, and an English politician to boot. Go again to the Catholic Encyclopedia and read the article on the last of them—John Allen—the last of twenty three. The article was written by Bishop Shahan, Rector of the Catholic University. It says that Allen brought to an end the inglorious reign of the shifty political Archbishops of Dublin. However, those Archbishops mentioned were politicians open and above board, and the inglorious reign has been continued almost without interruption by their successors, behind the scenes down to the present hour.
While John Allen was cited as the last I do not know whether he ought to be called the last or the second or third last. There were two others who succeeded him.
John Allen died before Henry VIII broke with the Pope. He was succeeded by George Browne. George was Archbishop of Dublin when Henry VIII made himself sole head of the Church in Ireland, and Henry VIII had no more enthusiastic supporter than George Browne, Archbishop of Dublin. There are in existence letters written at the time by George Browne to Lord Crumwell and to Henry VIII himself. As soon as Henry VIII made himself head of the Church the Priests were ordered to preach sermons denouncing the Pope and telling the people what a bad man he was. In England these orders were carried out. But not so in Ireland. Writing to Lord Crumwell Archbishop Browne complained that he was unable either by gentle exhortation or by threats of sharp correction to induce any, either religious or secular ones to preach the just title of their most illustrious prince. He complained that he had not the same support from the civil authorities that the Bishops of England had; but he adds:
"If your Lordship would send.... such a straight commandment as I perceive the King's grace hath sent of late unto England to the Sherriffs of every shire I would so execute mine own office and prick forward others that be underneath me, by the authority thereof, that his grace and your Lordship should well allow my faithful heart and diligent service."
The priests were afraid of the Archbishop to preach for the Pope. They were afraid of their consciences or of the people to preach against the Pope and so they adopted the convenient expedient of ceasing to preach altogether. What happened in Dublin was not at all exceptional because the great majority of the other Bishops all over Ireland followed the same course as the infamous Archbishop of Dublin.
George Browne remained Archbishop of Dublin in rebellion against the Pope, ruling the clergy of Dublin until the end of the reign of Edward VI.
When Queen Mary came to the throne she proclaimed the Catholic Church again as the official Church of the State. Then George Browne was excommunicated and driven out. He was succeeded by another Englishman—Hugh Curwen.
Hugh Curwen remained Catholic Archbishop of Dublin while Queen Mary lived but when Queen Mary died and when Queen Elizabeth came to the throne Hugh Curwen did what George Browne did—he threw over the spiritual master who was far away for the temporal master who was close at hand.
What happened at the Reformation in England was this: When Henry VIII made himself head of the Church he was supported by all the Bishops in England except Bishop Fisher of Rochester.
Bishop Fisher remained loyal to the Pope and had his head cut off. It was easy for Henry to cut the head off one bishop when he had the support of all the others. In this way King Henry held the bishops, the bishops held the priests and the priests held the people.
In Ireland King Henry also held the bishops but the bishops did not succeed in holding the priests to the same extent in Ireland. They failed entirely to hold the people.
The people deserted the Churches. Some of the priests, outlawed from their Churches, followed the people and started saying Mass for them in woods and glens, or secretly in the homes of the people. This is the origin of the custom still extant in Ireland of holding stations for Mass and Confessions twice a year in the homes of the faithful.
Archbishop McHale, sixty or seventy years ago, took occasion to lecture the Bishops of his day, when he said:
"If the Irish people ever lose the faith it will not be the fault of the people."
If the Irish people kept the Faith at the time of the Reformation the credit is due to the Irish people themselves and not to their ecclesiastical superiors. And if the Irish people desire to keep the Faith in the future they will have to shake off the interference of the Church authorities in their political affairs as well as the co-relative interference of politicians in their ecclesiastical affairs.
We were given the right motto by O'Connell over a hundred years ago when he said:
"We take our religion from Rome, but our politics from home."
It is the accepted belief of the Irish people that they have a right to the control of their own political affairs and not to allow a Church organization to interfere in them. That is the accepted, or at least the professed belief, of the leading ecclesiastics in America as well as in Ireland. The only trouble is that they do not put it into practice—they do not live up to it. We take our politics from Rome without being conscious of it.
A Catholic Bishop is inevitably a big political figure in the City where he resides. A Catholic Cardinal is nearly always a figure of National importance. To whom does he owe his political importance and his political influence? Not to his fellow citizens but to an external power over which his fellow citizens have no control. Today a man may be a mere cipher in the political life of his country. To-morrow he receives a pallium or a red hat and hundreds of pivotal people are compelled, more or less, to follow his lead in political affairs, while a murmur from him is enough to stir the political whispering galleries of a whole nation.
Who has been the most effective enemy of the Irish Republic in the United States for the past five years? The Archbishop of Baltimore. Who has made him an enemy of the Irish Republic I do not undertake to say, but who made him effective it is easy to tell. Those who conferred on him the pallium of the archdiocese which contains the Capital of America.
That the Cardinal Archbishop of New York is one of the most powerful, if not the most powerful figure in the political life of the City, will be conceded by anyone who sees even a small distance beneath the surface. He is all the more powerful because he is so perfectly disguised. He is so perfectly disguised that he may himself have but an imperfect idea of the immense political influence he wields. He may be of very sweet and dignified appearance, as befits his position, but the people of New York know next to nothing of the secret springs from which his political influence flows. On the biggest day of his life, when he returned to New York with his Cardinal's Hat, he rode up Fifth Avenue sharing the cheers of a million Irish-American innocents with the Ambassador of the Empire of the Black and Tans. His Chancery Office sent complaints against me to Ireland because I had ventured to expound doctrines which now afford a welcome shelter to Governor Smith—the doctrines of Bishop England. About the same time one of his officials sent word to the Carmelites that they were not to allow me to say Mass at their Church in East 29th Street any more. Evidently there is one law for a Catholic Candidate for the Presidency of the United States and another for a defender of an Independent Republic in Ireland.
In our own day the principal exponent of the doctrines of Bishop England was Archbishop Ireland of Saint Paul. Archbishop Ireland believed that he had a right to form his own political affiliations, without considering the wishes of Rome. He never got a Cardinal's Hat. The supreme virtue required of Bishops is obedience. The most satisfactory kind of obedience is unquestioning, absolute and unlimited. But the obedience expected of a Cardinal is greater still. A Cardinal is expected to be able to guess what is desired of him without waiting to be told. A Cardinal is a prince of the Church. A good little prince like the Prince of Wales, knows how to anticipate the wishes of his daddy. In the same way, a Prince of the Church is expected to say and do what the Vatican wishes in respect of everything, including the Irish Republic and the Irish Free State.
No priest who stands on the side of Ireland's right to Independence can get fair play in any diocese in any part of the world. Some of you may be old enough to remember the famous case of Dr. McGlynn here in New York. Dr. McGlynn supported Michael Davitt when fighting for land reform and he supported the single tax theory of Henry George. He was not only suspended, but excommunicated for five years, and at the end of that time restored without withdrawing a single doctrine that he preached. But the poor man was sent up the Hudson and spent the last five years of his life in Newburgh. In one of his letters after his restoration, he said he remained true to his principles, but that he could not fight for them with a cudgel any more. That meant, of course, that he could not fight with effective weapons. Possibly it may be because I have Dr. McGlynn's example that I have made up my mind to fight for a free and independent Ireland with whatever weapons I can lay my hands on.
When I went home to take part in the by-elections in 1925 I was accused of trying to introduce a new religion into Ireland. Well, if the religion that is preached in Governor Smith's article is a new religion I am afraid I will have to plead guilty to the charge. If it is a new religion don't you think they ought to tell us? The time may come when people may make up their minds to live by it and to live up to it, when the Pope will not be able to make any man a big citizen any more, because if we live up to these doctrines the Cardinal's Hat will not have the weight of a feather as far as the civil life of America is concerned, and when it ceases to have any weight in civil life, then it will have far greater weight than ever in religious life. It is not merely bad for the State to be interfered with by the Church, but it is even worse for the Church to interfere with the State. The Orangemen in Ireland, like the KKK in America, are not fighting a mere shadow, but a reality. They may be fighting badly, crudely and ignorantly, fighting in such a way as to make conditions worse rather than better. But it is not they who should be fighting—if we fought there would be no necessity for them.
Let us see what happened in Ireland when the first attempt was made to do for the tenant farmers what Michael Davitt accomplished thirty or forty years later.
A famine had devastated Ireland. A million had died of starvation. Another million had been driven over the sea. There was plenty of food in Ireland to supply the wants of all the people. The people allowed the food to be taken out of Ireland to feed the people of England. The people did not resist. They were told that the famine was the Will of God and that they would lose their souls if they resisted God's English Government in Ireland. One priest in Ireland spoke out boldly against this monstrous perversion of Christian Doctrine. He was Fr. John Kenyon of Limerick, the friend of John Mitchell and John Martin. Father Kenyon was met by a threat of permanent suspension from his Bishop. Father Kenyon retired to the seclusion of his presbytery, and the people of Ireland continued to starve without a struggle.
Three years later the famous Callan Curates made another attempt. Father O'Shea and Father O'Keeffe of Callan, County Kilkenny, founded a Tenants' Protective Association. Like wildfire the new League spread all over Ireland. It was taken up enthusiastically by the Presbyterian Farmers of the North and by the Catholic Farmers of the South. Father O'Shea was invited to address meetings in Protestant Antrim and Down while Presbyterian Ministers came up to Catholic Leinster to plead for tenant rights there.
This was all right till Cardinal Cullen, who had recently been made Archbishop of Dublin, wrote to the Bishop of Ossory and told him to keep Father O'Shea off the platform. The Bishop ordered Father O'Shea not to attend a meeting in Kilkenny and Father O'Shea unfortunately thought it his duty to obey this wicked and tyrannical order. In this way these priests were pulled away from the Tenants' Right Movement. The people lost heart and the movement lost ground, and the disgusted Presbyterians turned their back on it altogether. It is hard to talk about these things in restrained language. The Presbyterians naturally said:
"What is the use in our facing suffering and danger to join with a large body of people who can be pulled away by the nominee of a man who lives over in Italy—whose actions are controlled by motives we know nothing about."
Supposing you were a Republican Army man, and you had agreed to take a barrack with your Presbyterian comrade. When the night came for you to act, when you got near enough to be in a certain amount of danger, suppose you turned to your Presbyterian comrade and said "Excuse me for deserting you, but Father So-and-so has just told me that what we propose to do is a sin." Would you blame the Presbyterian if he said "A man who is tied by a secret string in that way is not worth bothering about. I am going home to mind my own business for the future." That is what happened at the time of the Tenants' Right Movement.
In the time of Wolfe Tone Antrim and Down were stronger in the Republican Movement than any place in the South or West. Today the bulk of the people up there are on the side of England. I have a great deal of sympathy for their point of view. If I felt that I had to choose between the rule of England and the rule of Rome—I speak of course of civil affairs—I would prefer to be ruled by England. Bad as the rule of England is, it is at least ruled in the open. But rule from Rome is like the rule of a secret society. Nobody can be held definitely responsible for anything.
You will remember that one of the things quoted against me in my Bishop's letter was a solemn denunciation by the Archbishop of Brisbane.
When Mr. O'Kelly and I went to Brisbane in 1923 some people there were preparing to celebrate the birthday of King George of England. The daily papers of Brisbane were full of discussions as to who should occupy the place of honor along side of the Governor General on the King's Birthday. The Governor General was Sir Matthew Nathan. Sir Matthew Nathan had been Under-Secretary in Dublin Castle in Easter Week 1916. After Pearse, McDonagh, Clarke, Connelly and the rest were put to death Sir Matthew was promoted to be Governor of Queensland in Australia.
The important subject discussed in the Brisbane papers was, which of the two—the Protestant Bishop or the Catholic Archbishop—should have the honor of sitting at the right hand of the Governor General at the celebration of the King's Birthday. The argument was a hot one, and Matthew Nathan finally decided to look the records and see which of the two was consecrated first. He found that Archbishop Duhig was consecrated first and so gave him the place of honor. When the day of the celebration came the Protestant Bishop was so offended that he stayed away and Archbishop Duhig had the glory all to himself.
This was the kind of stuff that was served up for the amusement of the grown up children of Brisbane when we were there. We had a few things to say about Nathan. Archbishop Duhig had to come to the rescue of the man who had so signally honored him. So he wrote a long letter, from which my Bishop quoted, saying that no decent Irish Catholic would listen to me. But ten thousand decent Catholics in Brisbane listened to me again a few days later and cheered me to the echo when I pointed out to them some of the things I have pointed out to you here tonight.
That is one indication of how the game is played. The King has his Governor General in Australia and the Pope has an Archbishop there, and they both get on well together. There was one young priest, who, in spite of all, had the courage to be with us on the platform. A short time afterwards he was sent out into the "bush." In Brisbane he met the same treatment that he would have met in New York or Dublin. For the priest who loves Eire and scorns to sell her, you have the Hudson River in New York, the Wicklow Mountains in Dublin or the Bush in Australia. The most a priest is allowed to do on the side of Ireland is to whisper "Oh, we are with you, we sympathize with you, but we cannot say anything. You know the position we are in."
The priest who takes the side of Ireland consistently and openly in any part of the World will be banged about from post to pillar or sent to some congregation, so small and obscure that it does not matter what he does. If that does not break his spirit he will finally be suspended, and the very people on whose side he stood will not want him anymore.
When I went back to Ireland to take part in the by-elections I was told by some who were prominent on my own side that they were better off without me. "Go back" they said, "tell the Bishop you are sorry for what you did. To be supported by a suspended priest will do us more harm than good."
In the part I took in the fight for the Republic in Ireland I was never afraid of the other side. I was not afraid of Redmond or Dillon, of Bishop or of Pope, but I was always more or less afraid of the people who were on my own side. I had reason to be, for many of them wavered. But there has always been this encouraging feature, that the wavering was greatest amongst the leaders, and least amongst the rank and file of the people.
More considerations than one have induced me to visit America on the present occasion. I desired to meet as many as possible of the true and loyal friends who have stood by me in the difficult and trying task in which I am engaged. Persistent efforts have been made to drive me out of Ireland—not directly by the State, but by the Church. I have had to bear the humiliation and the shame of being a suspended priest. The many tokens of respect that you have given me have made me feel almost as if that shame had been turned into glory. I was without means of support. I was compelled to subsist on the hospitality of my friends. You here in America took the occasion of the Silver Jubilee of my Ordination two years ago to present to me the very substantial sum of seven thousand dollars.
I did not care to accept this gift in a narrow personal sense. It has enabled me to safeguard some of the historical materials lying neglected in one of our Dublin Libraries. John O'Donovan, the famous editor of the Annals of the Four Masters, was one of the greatest Irish Scholars eighty or ninety years ago. He went around nearly every district in Ireland and collected the historical traditions handed down by word of mouth amongst the people. He spent seven years at this work. He wrote three or four letters every week for the seven years, and those letters are bound in 42 volumes in the Royal Irish Academy in Dawson Street, Dublin. These precious treasures, so full of interesting information about our race, have been lying there for the past ninety years, and not even printed.
O'Donovan was employed by the British Ordnance Survey Department while doing his work. The intention at the time was to have it printed at the expense of the Government. But O'Donovan did his work too well. His letters reflected too much credit upon Ireland. They proved Ireland had a greater history than her master. One small volume dealing with the Parish of Templemore, in which the City of Derry is built, was printed. Then the work of publication was suddenly dropped and the letters have been hidden away, unknown to all save a few scholars, for nearly a century.
Reflecting upon the immense loss that Irish History suffered by the burning of the Record Office, I feared that some day a fight might take place in the course of which these precious O'Donovan Documents would be burned and lost forever. If I could not afford to print them I could at least get them copied by typewriter. On receiving the first installment of my testimonial I employed a typist and set her to work on the O'Donovan Letters. She has been working on them for the past two years, and I expect she will be finished with them during the month of August this year. She has made six copies at the same time. One of these copies has been acquired by the National Library of Ireland, one by University College, Dublin and one by the Public Library of Belfast.
I am now making several additional copies by multi-graph. One complete set is going to the Public Library of New York City. I hope that these precious records, covering as they do every County in Ireland except three, will not lie neglected on the shelves of the New York Public Library. When they are delivered here I hope that some of you will see them for yourselves. Before the end of the present summer I hope to deliver the volumes dealing with the counties of Dublin, Roscommon and Kerry. The other County Volumes will follow during the course of the coming two years. They are also going to the public Libraries of Boston and Bridgeport, the Newberry Library, Chicago, and University Libraries of Harvard and Lincoln, and the Library of the Pennsylvania Historical Society in Philadelphia.
Another thing that brought me to America was to introduce an invention which I had the good fortune of making last summer. I have devised goggles which will enable bathers to see distinctly while their faces are under water. These will add very much to the enjoyment of swimmers. If you wear a pair of them you will be able to see the fish winking at you through the water.
I am leaving for Ireland by the "Leviathan" next Saturday, but I intend to return again in a short time. This time I came with no notice and no time for preparation. Next time I hope to give you plenty of notice in advance. I have tried to condense into this one address enough to make the subject matter of several addresses.
I think I know why so many Irish attempts for freedom have failed in the past. I think I know where lies the road to success in the future. If you desire to hear me again when I return I shall be happy to put my ideas before you more clearly and in greater detail. I want to see the brains of the Irish people set free to think for Ireland, as well as their limbs to work for Ireland. The guidance of the civil affairs of the Irish people must be taken entirely into the hands of the leaders who are chosen by the Irish people themselves. When Ireland thus separates Church from State, Religion from Politics, she will not merely achieve her own freedom, but she will be an example to other Nations, and her exiled children will carry a fiery cross of absolute religious toleration and complete civil freedom through all the countries where they have made a home.
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