Rodgers proved a valuable acquisition toward the crew,
The new administrator of Armagh, Robert Wauchope, though suffering from weak sight, was recognised as one of the ablest theologians of his day. He took a prominent part in the religious conference at Worms (1540) and at the Diet of Ratisbon (1541). He attended the Council of Trent during its earlier sessions, and rendered very valuable assistance, particularly in connexion with the decrees on Justification. The date of his consecration cannot be determined with certainty. Probably he was not consecrated until news of the death of Cromer (1543) reached Rome. In 1549 he set out for Scotland, and apparently landed on the coast of Donegal in the hope of inducing O'Neill and O'Donnell to co-operate with the French and the Scots. His efforts were not, however, crowned with success. Finding himself denounced to the government by O'Neill and by George Dowdall, who had been appointed to the See of Armagh by the king, he returned to Rome where he was granted faculties as legate to Ireland, but he died in a few months before he could make any attempt to regain possession of his diocese. Before the death of Cromer Henry VIII., against the wishes of some members of his council in Ireland, who favoured the nomination of the son of Lord Delvin, had selected George Dowdall, late prior of Ardee, to succeed him in Armagh. Dowdall went to London, in company with Con O'Neill, and received from the king a yearly pension of ￡20 together with the promise of the Archbishopric of Armagh. Though he must have given satisfactory assurances to the king on the question of royal supremacy, Dowdall was still in his heart a supporter of Rome, and as shall be seen, he left Ireland for a time rather than agree to the abolition of the Mass and the other sweeping religious innovations that were undertaken in the reign of Edward VI.
At the urgent request of Robert Wauchope Paul III. determined to send some of the disciples of St. Ignatius to Ireland to encourage the clergy and people to stand firm in defence of their religion. St. Ignatius himself drew up a set of special instructions for the guidance of those who were selected for this important mission. The two priests appointed for the work, Paschasius Broet and Alphonsus Salmeron, together with Franciscus Zapata who offered to accompany them, reached Scotland early in February 1541, and, having fortified themselves by letters of recommendation from the King of Scotland addressed to O'Neill and others, they landed in Ireland about the beginning of Lent. Their report speaks badly for the religious condition of the country at the period. They could not help noting the fact that all the great princes, with one exception, had renounced the authority of the Pope and had refused to hold any communications with them, that the pastors had neglected their duty, and that the people were rude and ignorant, though at the same time not unwilling to listen to their instructions. In many particulars this unfavourable report was well founded, especially in regard to the nobles, but it should be remembered that these Jesuits remained only a few weeks in the country, that they were utterly unacquainted with the manners and customs of the people, and that it would have been impossible for them to have obtained reliable information about the religious condition of Ireland in the course of such a short visit. It should be noted, too, that they placed the responsibility for the failure of their mission on the King of Scotland who failed to stand by his promises.
During the last years of Henry VIII.'s reign St. Leger continued his efforts to reduce the country to subjection not by force but by persuasion. The religious issue was not put forward prominently, and with the exception of grants of monastic lands and possessions very little seems to have been done. The Deputy's letters contain glowing reports of his successes. In the course of the warm controversy that raged between him and John Alen, the Chancellor, during the years 1546 and 1547, the various reports forwarded to England are sufficient to show that outside the Pale the English authorities had made little progress. Although St. Leger was able to furnish a striking testimony from the council as to his success, and although a letter was sent by the Irish princes in praise of Henry VIII. (1546), proofs are not wanting that Henry's policy had met with only partial success. According to a letter sent by Archbishop Browne in 1546 the Irish people were not reconciled to English methods of government, and according to the chancellor, the king's writ did not run in the Irish districts. The Irishmen who pretended to submit did not keep to their solemn promises. They still followed their own native laws regardless of English statutes, and the king could not get possession of the abbeys or abbey lands situated within their territories. Even the council, which sought to defend the Deputy against these attacks, was forced to admit that his Majesty's laws were not current in the Irish districts. One of the last steps taken by the council at the suggestion of Henry VIII. was the appointment of a vice-regent in spirituals for the clergy, to grant dispensations as they were granted in England by Cranmer, so as to prevent the Irish from having recourse to Rome for such grants.
Henry VIII. died with the knowledge that he had done more than any of his predecessors for the subjugation of Ireland. "The policy that was devised," writes Cusacke, Lord Chancellor of Ireland, "for the sending of the Earls of Desmond, Thomond, Clanrickard, and Tyrone, and the Baron of Upper Ossory, O'Carroll, MacGennis, and others into England, was a great help of bringing those countries to good order; for none of them who went into England committed harm upon the King's Majesty's subjects. The winning of the Earl of Desmond was the winning of the rest of Munster with small charges. The making of O'Brien an Earl made all that country obedient. The making of MacWilliam Earl of Clanrickard made all that country during his time obedient as it is now. The making of MacGillapatrick Baron of Upper Ossory hath made his country obedient; and the having their lands by Dublin is such a gage upon them as they will not forfeit the same through wilful folly." As far as religion was concerned, however, there was very little change. The Mass was celebrated and the Sacraments were administered as before. Here and there some of the bishops and clergy might have been inclined to temporise on the question of royal supremacy, but whatever documents they might have signed, or whatever appointments they might have accepted from Henry's agents, the vast body of the princes, bishops, clergy, and people had no desire to separate themselves from the universal Church. Henry VIII. had, however, rendered unintentionally an immense service to religion in Ireland by preparing the way for the destruction of royal interference in episcopal and other ecclesiastical appointments and of the terrible abuse of lay patronage that had been the curse of the Catholic Church in Ireland for centuries. All these abuses having been transferred to the small knot of English officials and Anglo-English residents, who coalesced to form the Protestant sect, the Catholic Church was at last free to pursue her peaceful mission without let or hindrance from within.
The accession of Edward VI. made no notable change in Irish affairs. The Deputy, St. Leger, was retained in office, as were also most of the old officials. Some new members, including George Dowdall, Archbishop of Armagh, were added to the council, and arrangements were made for the collection of the revenues from the suppressed monasteries and religious houses. A royal commission was issued to the Deputy, the Lord Chancellor, and the Bishop of Meath to grant faculties and dispensations in as ample a manner as the Archbishop of Canterbury. From the terms of this commission it is clear that the royal advisers were determined to derive some financial profit from the royal supremacy. The fee for dispensations for solemnising marriage without the proclamation of the banns was fixed at 6s. 8d. (about ￡3 4s.), for marriage within the prohibited times at 10s., for marriage within the prohibited times and without banns at 13s. 4d., and for marriages to be celebrated without the parish church of the contracting parties at 5s. Similarly, an order was sent that the plate and ornaments of St. Patrick's Cathedral should be dispatched by some trustworthy messenger to Bristol, there to be delivered to the treasurer of the mint. This command must not have been carried out completely, because seven months later (Jan. 1548) the Dean of St. Patrick's was requested to deliver over for the use of the mint the "one thousand ounces of plate of crosses and such like things" that remained in his hands.
From the very beginning of Edward's reign the Protector set himself to overthrow the Catholic Church in Ireland by suppressing the Mass and enforcing the Lutheran or rather the Calvinist teaching regarding Transubstantiation and the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist. The /Injunctions/ of Edward VI. and the /Homilies/ of Cranmer were dispatched for the guidance of the Archbishop of Dublin, and of those who, like him, were supposed to favour religious innovations. In like manner the English Communion service (1548) and the First Book of Common Prayer (1549) were made obligatory in those districts where the English language was spoken or understood. As in England, the great subject of controversy in Ireland during the early years of Edward's reign was the Blessed Eucharist. A Scotch preacher had been sent into Ireland during the year 1548 to prepare the way for the abolition of the Mass by attacking the Real Presence of Christ in the Sacrament of the Altar. The Archbishop of Dublin, who had been noted previously for his radical tendencies, objected to such doctrines, and complaints were forwarded against him to the council. He was charged with having leased or otherwise disposed of the greater portion of the property of his diocese to his children and favourites, with having failed to set forth his Majesty's /Injunctions/ and /Homilies/, with having calumniated the Deputy and held secret communications with the Earl of Desmond and other Irish princes, and with having neglected to preach a single sermon between November 1547 and September 1548, when he took occasion to inveigh against the Scotch preacher who condemned "the abuse of the Bishop of Rome's masses and ceremonies." About the same time the Deputy felt obliged to reprove the Treasurer of Christ's Church for having refused to allow the English Communion Service to be followed in that church, and to warn him of the punishment in store for him if he persisted in his obstinacy.
But if Browne were somewhat backward in adapting himself to the new theories, his rival, Staples of Meath, who had prided himself hitherto on his conservative tendencies, hastened to the relief of the government. He went to Dublin to support the Scotch preacher in his attack on the Mass and the Blessed Eucharist, but if we are to believe his own story his stay in Dublin was hardly less agreeable than was the welcome that awaited him on his return to Meath. His friends assured him that the country was up in arms against him. A lady, whose child he had baptised and named after himself, sought to change the name of her baby, for she "would not have him bear the name of a heretic." A gentleman would not permit his child to be confirmed by one who had denied the Sacrament of the Altar. Many people who heard that the bishop was going to preach at Navan the following Sunday declared their intention of absenting themselves lest they should learn heresy. A clergyman of his own promotion came to him in tears, and having asked permission to speak his mind freely, informed him that he was detested by the people since he had taken the side of the heretics and preached against the Eucharist and Saints, that the curses poured out upon him were more numerous than the hairs of his head, and that he would do well to take heed as his life was in danger.
Sir Edward Bellingham succeeded St. Leger as Deputy, and arrived in May 1548. During the early months of his term of office he was busily engaged against the O'Connors of Offaly, the O'Carrolls, and others, who threatened the Pale once more. His efforts were crowned with considerable success, and during the year 1549 he found himself in a position to push forward with the religious campaign. From inquiries made he learned that in all Munster, Thomond, Connaught, and Ulster the monasteries and other religious establishments remained, and that they followed still the old religious practices. He wrote to the secretary of the Protector asking him to inform his master of the lack of good shepherds in Ireland "to illuminate the hearts of the flock of Christ with His most true and infallible word," taking care at the same time to recommend the Protector to appoint the clergymen who had been brought over from England to vacant bishoprics, so that the public funds might be relieved by the withdrawal of their pensions. The mayor and corporation of Kilkenny were ordered to see that the priests of the city should assemble to meet the Deputy and members of the council. They promised that all the clergy should be present without fail, but, as shall be seen, the instructions of Sir Edward Bellingham and his colleagues produced but little effect even in the very stronghold of the Ormonds (1549). Walter Cowley was sent on a commission into the diocese of Cashel to "abolish idolatry, papistry, the Mass Sacrament and the like," but he complained that the archbishop, instead of being present to assist him, tarried in Dublin although he had been warned that his presence was required. The truth is that, though the archbishop, as one of the Butlers, was willing to go to great lengths in upholding the policy of Edward VI., he had no intention of taking part in a campaign against the Mass or the Blessed Eucharist. The latter written by this prelate (Feb. 1548), in which he praised highly the conduct of Walter Cowley, who played such a prominent part in the suppression of the monasteries and the seizure of ecclesiastical property, is often quoted as a proof that he was strongly in favour of the Reformation, but such a statement could be made only by one who has failed to understand the difference between Ormondism and Protestantism, and the relations of both Cowley and the archbishop to the former.