RETROGRESS OF EDUCATION IN IRELAND.
THE movement in favour of intermediate education in Ireland has afforded a good opportunity for the Irish Catholic Church to illus- trate its new position and its subtle policy. At Belfast, it was remarked that even Dr. Denvir refrained from joining the move- ment. At Cork, the Roman Catholic leaders came out in open opposition to the scheme. They swamped one meeting. When another was announced, the supporters of mixed intermediate education were permitted to assemble, and to pass resolutions un- molested. But the Roman Catholics got up a counter-demonstra- tion, and several Bishops, wearing their robes of office, sanctioned the gathering, and helped to pass resolutions in favour of sepa- rate sectarian education.
What is the meaning of this ? The Roman Catholic Church is notorious for its capability of adapting itself to circumstances, and for never losing sight of its traditional policy. Ere Catholic Emancipation was carried, Protestant liberal support was eagerly solicited and eagerly accepted. A borrowed light, shed by liberal principles, fell upon and coloured the views of the Roman Catho- lic leaders. They gained character and power. But when they had obtained what they wanted the old hue returned. The Papal Court, which has succeeded in negotiating the Austrian Con- cordat, which has gained great successes in Naples and in France, sought to bring under its complete control the Irish Catholic Church also. In Ireland the Papal Court took advantage of the interference of the priests in political matters to bring them into subjection, and the Roman Catholic laymen, fearful of showing any disapproval of Papal policy, which would have been eagerly exaggerated by fanatical Protestants, stood quietly by while they were delivered over to Rome. The change in the mode of appoint- ing Bishops showed how far the Papal policy had ventured to go. It had been the custom to select one of three candidates recom- mended by the priests of the diocese. Usually the " dignissimus" was chosen, but gradually the Papal court selected the " dignior" or the " dignus " ; until, in the case of Dr. Paul Cullen, the rule was violently set aside, and a monk, bred in Italy, and of course imbued with the designs of Rome, was appointed Primate. This was the more remarkable since his predecessor was a man of mo- derate and tolerant views, respected by all parties. It indicated the change that had been consummated.
In no department has the Ultramontane aggression been more apparent than in that of education. When first established, the Roman Catholics were among the warmest supporters of the Na- tional system : under the new impulse from Rome, they have abandoned a national Irish and accepted an alien Roman policy. We do not mean to say that the National Schools have not many true friends among the Roman Catholics ; but these are the men who have disregarded the signal from beyond the Alps. The leaders of the new movement have of late shown their hand by 'their determined hostility to every plan of education which does
• not provide for the separation of the sects, even during the hours of secular instruction. The greatprinciple of the National system
—united secular, separate religious instruction—is now openly and unsparingly denounced. Side by aide with the schools of the Board, the schools of the Christian Brothers are growing u in every diocese ; and in these schools the whole course of education, secular and religious, is imbued with thorough papal principles. The policy of the Ultramontane party is now to join with the Church Education Society, in demanding separate grants for re- ligious sects. That is the next step. Alliance with Liberals won emancipation ; alliance with Tories is relied upon to complete the work, and to bring the education of the Roman Catholic youth of Ireland directly under the control of the Papacy. It is easy to see that a blow to the wise policy which dictated the National system will be struck if the Ultramontane party should carry its point. The children of the two religions will not only be separated, but the Roman Catholics will be brought up in a mode that will make them better subjects of the Pope and worse subjects of the Queen. The new formula is obedience to the will of the Church. Hence the Cork opposition, into support of which the mob are of course led by the priests ; and those who should take a more enlightened view of the welfare of their country are also constrained to follow, lest they should display to Protestant eyes the scandal of a rebellion in the church.
Such is the position of the Roman Catholic Church in Ireland— aggressive and grasping as of old, bent entirely upon aggrandizing its power, and regardless of the national interests of the country in which it works. Such is the cause of that opposition to inter- mediate education on non-sectarian principles, principles calculated to eradicate religious antipathy, that bane of Ireland, which we see in these enlightened days.