20 NOVEMBER 1920, Page 11

[To my Enrroa or ma " Sescrsroa.")

Sia,—Apropos of recent reflection on the question of religious influences in Ireland, it is interesting to recall the well. weighed opinion of that eminent Catholic thinker and historian, the late Lord Acton :— " Ultramentane priests [he writes in 1881] will never perma. neatly be on the side of the State. To nurse their own influ- enceand the religious ( I) faith of the people they always magnify antagonism and persecution. . . . An annul:Lantana clergy is not proof against the sophistry by which men justify murder or excuse murderers. The assassin is only a little more resolutely logical or a little bolder than the priest." Home Rule, we read elsewhere, Lord Acton considered (how- ever theoretically arguable) as practically fraught with disaster

" The people [1886] are so demoralized, both laity and clergy, that we most be prepared to see the hest acheme fail."