- The culture, history and people of Ireland and the Irish

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  1. The reproach which is brought upon Irish Christianity mainly by the extravagances of a section of my co-religionists, to which I have been obliged to refer, came home to me not long ago in a very forcible way. I happened to remark to a friend that it was a disgrace to Christianity that Mussulman soldiery were employed at the Holy Sepulchre to keep the peace between the Latin and Greek Christians. He reminded me that the prosperous and progressive municipality of Belfast, with a population eminently industrious, and predominantly Protestant, has to be policed by an Imperial force in order to restrain two sections of Irish Christians from assaulting each other in the name of religion.

  2. '_Pro salute animae meae_' was, I am reminded, the consideration usually expressed in the old charters of manumission.

  3. One of the unfortunate effects of this passion for building costly churches is the importation of quantities of foreign art-work in the shape of woodcarvings, stained glass, mosaics, and metal work. To good foreign art, indeed, one could not, within certain limits, object. It might prove a valuable example and stimulus. But the articles which have actually been imported, in the impulse to get everything finished as soon as possible, generally consist of the stock pieces produced in a spirit of mere commercialism in the workshops of Continental firms which make it their business to cater for a public who do not know the difference between good art and bad. Much of the decoration of ecclesiastical buildings, whether Roman Catholic or Protestant, might fittingly be postponed until religion in Ireland has got into closer relation with the native artistic sense and industrial spirit now beginning to seek creative expression.

  4. The following extract from a statement of the Most Rev. Dr. O'Dea, the newly elected Bishop of Clonfert, is pertinent:--'There is another cause also--i.e. in addition to the absence of university education for Roman Catholic laymen--which has hindered the employment of the laity in the past. Till very recently, the secondary Catholic schools received no assistance whatever from the State, and their endowment from private sources was utterly inadequate to supply suitable remuneration for lay teachers. It is evident that a celibate clergy can live on a lower wage than the laity, and they are now charged with having monopolized the schools, because they chose to work for a minimum allowance rather than suffer the country to remain without any secondary education whatever. Two causes, then, operated in the past, and in a large measure still operate, to exclude the laity from the secondary schools,--first, these schools were so poverty-stricken that they could not afford to pay lay teachers at such a rate as would attract them to the teaching profession, and, next, the Catholic laity as a body were uneducated, and, therefore, unfit to teach in the schools.'--_Maynooth and the University Question_, p. 109 (footnote).

  5. See, inter alia, an article "Ireland and America," by Rev. Mr. Shinnors, O.M., in the Irish Ecclesiastical Record, February, 1902. 'Has the Church,' asks Father Shinnors, 'increased her membership in the ratio that the population of the United States has increased? No. There are many converts, but there are many more apostates. Large numbers lapse into indifferentism and irreligion. There should be in America about 20,000,000 Catholics; there are scarcely 10,000,000. There are reasons to fear that the great majority of the apostates are of Irish extraction, and not a few of them of Irish birth.'

  6. This view seems to be taken by the most influential spokesmen of the Roman Catholic Hierarchy. See Evidence, _Royal Commission on University Education in Ireland_, vol. iii., p. 238, Questions 8702-6.

  7. I may mention that of the co-operative societies organised by the Irish Agricultural Organisation Society there are no fewer than 331 societies of which the local priests are the Chairmen, while to my own knowledge during the summer and autumn of 1902, as many as 50,000 persons from all parts of Ireland were personally conducted over the exhibit of the Department of Agriculture and Technical Instruction at the Cork Exhibition by their local clergy. The educational purpose of these visits is explained in Chap. x. Again, in a great number of cases the village libraries which have been recently started in Ireland with the assistance of the Department (the books consisting largely of industrial, economic, and technical works on agriculture), have been organised and assisted by the Roman Catholic clergy.

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