2 MARCH 1918, Page 11


[To THE EDITOR OF TEE " SPECTATOR.") Sm,—To an independent outsider the position of the Roman Catholic Church in Ireland at this moment is a very interesting one. The advent of Sinn Fein has caused a. rupture that is more serious than is apparent on the. surface. Amongst the Hierarchy the political dismemberment is undoubted. On the one hand .we have Cardinal Logue making a fairly strong pronouncement on the side of law and order ; other of the Bishops join less emphatically with their spiritual head; while on the other hand the. Bishop of Killaloe ranges himself openly on the side of Sinn Fein, and rebellion. In his Lenten Pastoral the last-named prelate practicr4 avoids any political allusions, just as carefully as he does any reference to the- absolutely lawless state of the county in which he resides (Clare), where members of his own flock are divided into terrorists and the terrorized.. The other Bishops are care- fully sitting on the fence, saying little or nothing. But it is when we come to the rank-and-file we get a glimpse of the real state of affairs. The parish priests are divided into three sections —the smallest, and possibly the most responsible, like Cardinal Logue, take the side of law and order.; a second, and perhaps lees responsible body, but numerically strong, -say nothing, waiting on events; a third, like the Bishop. of Sinaloa, are actively on the aide of Sinn Fain. Then for the curates. It is safe to say that in the South at all events, and I think in the North also, at least three-fourths are ardent and violent propagandists. of Sinn Fein. The Bishops in some few cases have exercised their authority and restrained their younger brethren from actual platform work, but they fail to prevent them from giving silent support by pen. In many instances they have shown their disapproval by trans- ferring the curates from one scene of action to another, with the result that their influence for mischief is merely distributed, not stopped.. The net result of all this is anarchy of a kind within the Church. Surely this is a condition of things that no thinking member of that Church can regard with satisfaction. The example to the laity must be- ruinous, particularly in a com- munity like the Irish Roman Catholic people, and where se many irresponsible and mostly youthful men and women are concerned the result must be disastrous; For the Church as a body it cannot lead to anything other than an anarchical disruption, and to outsiders, not members, of that body, it- must appear lamentable. It is common wish amongst those outsiders who desire no ill to their fellow-countrymen that this should cease, but until the. Church rulers in Ireland come out into the open and make a concrete move there seems to be nothing to look forward to other