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Further progress of the catholic claims. 183
Further progress of the catholic claims-Decla
ration of the general committee--Instructions
W HEN any body of men are struggling for an attainable good it is not often that they will rest satisfied with half measures, or that, while any portion of what they desire is yet ungranted, they will wholly desist from endeayours to complete the gratification of their wants. This feeling, so natural to human nature, has been made a subject of reproach against the Roman catholics of Ireland, who have been accused of discontent because every concession they have obtained has only led the way to fresh demands; but before
this was urged against them as an offence it was incumbent upon their accusers to shew that every reasonable grant had been made to that persecuted body, and that what they still persisted in demanding was neither reasonable, legal, nor just. Their opponents, however, very wisely for: bore froin arguing on these points, and were satisfied if they could provoke a feeling of popular indignation by holding up the catholics as a restless, discontented body, whom nothing could satisfy short of absolute dominion and ascendancy.
Nor was this the only artifice employed against them by their enemies. They were equally diligent in asserting, that the ulterior and real views of the catholics were to accomplish a sort of emancipation that was inconsistent with the safety of the established authority, and that, in fact, there existed an inherent, an intrinsic character about catholicisin, which was necessarily hostile to civil freedom and to a protestant hierarchy, This was a formidable engine of delusion; it was admirably fitted to work upon men's fancies, and by rousing in their minds phantoms of unreal danger, indefinite notions of mysterious and obscure evils, it served to generate a sentiment of hostility in the popular voice against all concession in principle, which sycophants in power, and demagogues out of power, might equally use against the fundamental rights of the majority of the nation.
To counteract the malignant influence of these Their declaration : 185 insidious reports, which were circulated and exaggerated with ceaseless industry, the catholic body adopted a plan at once dignified, moderate, and becoming. They published the following declaration of their tenets, which was signed, generally, by the catholics of all descriptions throughout the kingdom, clergy and laity. It received the warm approbation of their supporters, and it imposed silence on many of their opponents. The reader will admit that it was precisely calcuJated to produce this effect.
Dublin, March 17, 1792, Declaration of the Catholics of Ireland.
.“ Whereas certain opinions and principles, inimical to good order and government, have been attributed to the catholics, the existence of which we utterly deny; and whereas it is at this time peculiarly necessary to remove such imputa- : tions, and to give the most full and ample satisfaction to our protestant brethren, that we hold no principle whatsoever incompatible with our duty as men or subjects, or repugnant to liberty, whether political, civil, or religious. Hi “ Now we, the catholics of Ireland, for the removal of all such imputations, and in deference to the opinion of many respectable bodies of men and individuals among our protestant brethren, do hereby, in the face of our country, of all
Europe, and before God, make this our deliberate and solemn declaration. ." Ist. We abjure, disavow, and condemn the opinion that princes, excommunicated by the pope and council, 'or by any ecclesiastical authority whatsoever may therefore be deposed or murdered by their subjects, or any other persons. We hold such doctrine in detestation as wicked and impious; and we declare that we do not believe, that either the pope, with or without a general council, or any prelate or priest or any ecclesiastical power, whatsoever, can absolve the subjects of this kingdom or any of thein, from their allegiance to his majesty king George the third, who is by authority of parliament the lawa ful king of this realm.
"2dly. We abjure, condemn and detest, as unchristian and impious, the principle, that it is lawful to murder, destroy, or any ways injure any person whatsoever, for or under the pretence of being heretics, and we declare solemnly before God, that we believe that no act in itself unjust, immoral or wicked, can ever be justified or excused, by or under pretence or colour, that it was done either for the good of the church, or in obedience to any ecclesiastical power whatsoever. .“ 3rd. We further declare that we hold it as an unchristian and impious principle, that ' no faith is to be kept with heretics.' This doctrine we detest and reprobate, not only as contrary to our religion, but as destructive of morality, of society,
The catholic declaration.
and even of common honesty, and it is our firon belief that an oath made to any person pot of the catholic religion is equally binding as if it were made to any catholic whatsoever.
« 4th. We have been charged with holding as an article of our belief, that the pope, with or without the authority of a general council, or that certain ecclesiastical powers can acquit and and absolve us, before God, from our oath of allegiance or even from the just oaths and con- . tracts entered into between man and man
“ Now we do utterly renounce, abjure and deny that we hold or maintain any such belief as being contrary to the peace and happiness of society, inconsistent with morality and above all repugnant to the true spirit of the catholic religion.
" 5th. We do further declare that we do not believe that the pope of Rome or any prince, prelate, state or potentate, hath or ought to have any temporal or civil jurisdiction, power, superiority, or preeminence, directly or indirectly within this realm.
“ 6th. After what we have renounced, it is immaterial in a political light, what may be our opinion or faith in other points respecting the pope: however, for greater satisfaction we declare that it is not an article of the catholic faith, neither are we thereby required to believe or profess • that the pope is infallible,' or that we are bound to obey any order in its own nature immoral, though the pope or any ecclesiastical power should issue or