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Ireland is, at present, divided, in regard to ecclesiastical circumstances, into four provinces, which are named ARMAGH ; DUBLIN; Casuel; and Tuam. An Archbishop presides over each province. The Archbishop of Armagh is styled Lord Primate and Metropolitan of all Ireland; and the Archbishop of Dublin, Lord Primate of Ireland.
The number of diocesses is thirty-two ; but, in consequence of various circumstances, injurious to the resources and general prosperity of the country, it was found necessary, at different periods, to unite several of the poorest of the sees ; and there are now only twenty-two prelates, twenty sees being united under ten bishops.
The Province of Armagh contains ten diocesses : the archbishopric of Armagh, and the bishoprics of Dromore; Down and Connor, united; Derry; Raphoe ; Ardagh (at present united to the archbishopric of Tuam); Clogher ; Kilmore; and Meath.
The Province of Dublin contains five diocesses : the archbishopric of Dublin,* and the bishoprics of Kildare ; Ferns and Leighlin, united ; and Ossory.
The Province of Cashel contains eleven diocesses: the archbishopric of Cashel, united with the bishopric of Emly; and the bishoprics of Waterford and Lismore, united; Cork and Ross, united ; Cloyne; Limerick, Ardfert, and Aghadoe, united; Killaloe and Kilfenora, united.
The Province of Tuam contains six diocesses : the archbishopric of Tuam, and the bishoprics of Clonfert and Kilmacduagh, united; Elphin ; Killalla ; and Achonry.
The Bishop of Meath has precedence of all Irish suffragans ; and the Bishop of Kildare is next in rank. The other bishops take place according to the date of their consecration.
The form usual in England of electing bishops by respective deans and chapters, on the issue of the writ termed Conge d'elire, was abolished in Ireland early in the reign of Elizabeth ; and the crown has ever since collated to all vacant sees by letters-patent.
* The bishopric of Glendalogh was added to the archbishopric of Dublin in the year 1214.
Four bishops, or one archbishop and three bishops, sit by rotation in the House of Peers of the united empire.
The same cause which led to the union of many of the bishoprics has also produced a frequent union, or consolidation, of parochial districts. Thus, the number of parishes in Ireland is greatly superior to that of benefices. Such unions of parishes take place, either by an act of parliament, an act of council, or by the authority of the diocesan, sanctioned by the consent of his metropolitan. From this circumstance of consolidation, the income of many church-livings is very large. The increase of tillage has been evidently favourable to the emoluments of the clergyman; and, at the present time, the benefices of Ireland are well known to be generally more productive than those of England. No clergyman is allowed to hold more than two livings; but the distance between them is not limited, as in the sister country.
CONSTITUTION OF THE Roman Catholic Church OF IRELAND. The state of the Roman Catholic clergy of a country, in which a great majority of the population adhere to the antient forms of religion, cannot fail to be a subject on which the reader requires information. The following particulars are chiefly collected from the communication of a Catholic clergyman, first printed in Newenham's “View of Ireland," and reprinted, with some comments, in Townsend's “Survey of the County of Cork." The accuracy of the statement afforded in Mr Newenham's publication has never been questioned, but we have still deemed it desirable to submit to the revision of well-informed persons in Ireland the compendium presented in this work.
The Roman Catholic Church of Ireland is composed of four archbishops and twenty-two bishops. The archbishops take their titles, as in the Established Church, from Armagh, Dublin, Cashel, and Tuam. Of the bishops, eight are suffragans of Armagh ; namely, the Bishops of Ardagh; Clogher; Derry; Down and Connor; Dromore; Kilmore; Meath; and Raphoe. Dublin has but three suffragans, Leighlin and Ferns; Kildare; and Ossory. Six are suffragans to Cashel, namely, the Bishops of Ardfert and Aghadoe; Cloyne and Ross; Cork; Killaloe ; Limerick ; and Waterford and
Lismore. Pour are subject to Tuam, viz. Achonry, Clonfert, Elphin, and Killalla. There is, besides these, the bishop of the united diocesses of Kilmacduagh and Kilfenora, the one in Connaught, the other in Munster, who is alternately suffragan of Tuam and Cashel.
The Roman Catholic, as also the Established Church, has a dignitary in Galway, termed a warden, who has nearly episcopal jurisdiction, and is no farther subject to higher powers than that he is liable to the triennial visitations of the Archbishop of Tuam.
Every bishop has a vicar-general, of his own appointment, who holds his office only durante beneplacito, and whose jurisdiction ceases on the death of the prelate.
Every diocess has also a dean, appointed by the cardinal protector, i. e. that cardinal in Rome who has the peculiar direction of all ecclesiastical matters appertaining to Ireland : and also an archdeacon, named by the bishop. These two are mere nominal dignities, having neither power nor emolument annexed to them.
On the death of a bishop, the clergy of the diocess are empowered by the canon law to elect a vicar capitular, who is invested, during the vacancy of the see, with episcopal jurisdiction : but if such election does not take place within a specified number of days after the demise of the bishop has been notified to them, the archbishop of the province may appoint, of his own authority, the vicar. The clergy, in the mean time, assemble, and fix their choice on one of their own body, or sometimes on a stranger, and petition the Pope that he may be appointed to the vacant see.
The bishops of the province also hold a consultation, and present to the Pope the names of two or three eligible persons, one of whom is usually appointed; for the recommendation of the prelates has always more weight at Rome than the petition of the inferior clergy.
The appointment of the Irish bishops lies in the cardinals, who compose the congregation de propaganda fide. Their nomination is submitted by their secretary to the Pope, by whom it is usually confirmed. In former times Irish officers, in the service of foreign princes, frequently exercised an influence, through the recom
mendation of their respective courts, in the nomination of prelates ; but, according to a decree lately issued by the congregation, no foreign recommendation is now to meet with notice.
There is in all Roman Catholic countries a custom that is frequent in Ireland, of appointing assistant, or coadjutor, bishops. In the event of old age, infirmity, or any accidental visitation of Heaven, whereby a bishop is rendered incapable of attending to the laborious duties of his station, he
meritorious clergyman to be his coadjutor, and to succeed him at his death. His recommendation is almost invariably attended to at Rome; the object of his choice is appointed and consecrated, taking his title from some oriental diocess, which title he relinquishes on his succeeding, at the death of the old or infirm bishop whom he was appointed to assist. While retaining the oriental title, though in character, and by consecration, a bishop, he is called a bishop in partibus, because the see, from which he takes his designation, being under the dominion of some eastern power, is described, in the language of the office from which the bull of appointment is issued, as being in partibus infidelium.
The emoluments of the bishop arise from three sources ; his parish, which is usually the best in the diocess; the licences; and the cathedraticum.
The parish emoluments are stated in our notice of parish priests. The licence is a dispensation granted by the bishop in the publication of banns, for which a sum, never less than a crown, and according to the abilities of the parties, amounting at times to half-a-guinea, or a guinea, is paid. And as it very seldom happens that the parties are inclined to have the banns published, the generality are married by licence, which adds very considerably to the episcopal revenue. The cathedraticum is a yearly sum, generally from two to ten guineas, given by each parish-priest to the bishop, in proportion to the value of his parish, for the purpose of assisting in the support of the episcopal dignity. There is no law to enforce this tribute, nor any obligation in paying it; yet it is a very ancient practice, and is never omitted.
Parish priests are appointed solely by the bishop; and if col
lated, or having three years peaceable possession, they cannot be dispossessed; otherwise they may be removed at pleasure. A collation is a written appointment, signed by the bishop, by which he confers a parish on a clergyman, and confides it indefinitely to his care. Coadjutors, or curates, are appointed also by the bishop, and are moveable at will.
The parish priest is supported by voluntary contributions, if that can be called voluntary which is established by ancient custóm and general prevalence. His income springs from various
The Easter and Christmas dues consist in a certain sum paid by the head of every family to the parish-priest for his support, and in consideration of his trouble in catechizing, instructing, and hearing the confessions of the family. The sum is greater or smaller, in proportion to the circumstances of the parishioner. In country parishes it is generally a shilling at Easter, and a shilling at Christmas : some give half-a-crown, some a crown, and some few a guinea a-year. There is no general ecclesiastical law to enforce the payment of these " dues ;” but as the mode was struck out in what has been denominated the Council of Kilkenny, under Rinnuccini, it has continued ever since to be practised, and from custom bas acquired the force of law.*
The sum paid at weddings varies in different diocesses. In the diocess of Cork, by an order of the bishop, no clergyman is warranted in demanding more from the parties than half-a-guinea, but the sum usually given by the bridegroom is a guinea, in addition to which a collection is frequently made among the friends of the parties, for the benefit of the parish-priest. The parochial
Some statements, useful in forming an estimate respecting the income of the Roman Catholic clergy, "are presented in Mr. Wakefield's Account of Ireland.” A Catholic prelate, corresponding with that gentleman, observes, “ As bishop, I never received more than £165, and as parish priest, £350 currency. A dozen of my brethren, I think, receive more ; but others much less. As to other parish priests, the majority of them do not receive above a hundred guineas a-year, and there are many who do not get £60; these are supported chiefly by the bospitality of the parishioners."-Account, &c. v. ii. p. 551.