The Roman Catholic Church in Ireland and the Fall of Parnell, 1888-1891

The Roman Catholic Church in Ireland and the Fall of Parnell, 1888-1891

The Roman Catholic Church in Ireland and the Fall of Parnell, 1888-1891

The Roman Catholic Church in Ireland and the Fall of Parnell, 1888-1891

Synopsis

Larkin presents an original thesis on the development of the modern Irish state, maintaining that Parnell forged a de facto state that was strengthened and consolidated before the conventionally accepted dates for the emergence of the Irish state. This unique political system survived attacks by the British Conservative government and Parnell's own challenge to the system and his subsequent defeat. Larkin argues that Parnell's failure lay in the power of his system to transcend its creator.

Originally published in 1978.

Excerpt

Rome indeed sacrificed a great deal of her power and influence in Ireland by insisting that the Irish Bishops enforce her will over the Decree. But why did Rome persist in pursuing a policy so patently at odds with her own real interests in Ireland? Rome's motives were, of course, mixed, but only a confirmed cynic could maintain that they were entirely discreditable. Part of the answer is certainly that the pope and his advisers were genuinely concerned about the moral welfare of the Irish people and that they had become convinced that both the Plan of Campaign and Boycotting were not fit instruments for a Catholic people, no matter how noble or exalted the ends for which those means were to be used. There were, however, several other reasons why Rome pursued the policy she did in Ireland, and though these were not perhaps discreditable to her good intentions, they were certainly unflattering to her judgment.

First of all, Leo XIII, ever since he had succeeded Pius IX in 1878, had had his heart set on establishing diplomatic relations with all the non-Catholic, European great powers. By 1888 he had brought the Russian and German empires within his diplomatic orbit, and only the British remained outside. Leo XIII believed, in fact, that he had been called by God to fulfill a twofold mission: both teaching, which required him to speak to the modern world through his encyclical letters, and diplomacy, by which he would reconstruct the temporal power of the papacy in a new and imaginative way. Only when the vicar of Christ on earth was placed on a level of diplomatic equality with the other sovereign princes of the . . .

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