“You don’t need to worry about that,” put in the
While the questions of royal supremacy and the jurisdiction of the Pope were being debated in Parliament (1536-7) the bishops and proctors of the clergy incurred the wrath of Browne and the English officials generally by their courageous resistance to the new proposals, showing thereby that they had no sympathy with the anti- Roman measures. Nor is there any reason to suppose that any considerable body of them adopted a different attitude, though the submission of their English brethren could not have failed to produce some effect on them, particularly as some of them were Englishmen themselves, and many of them must have received their education at some of the English universities. In addition to Browne, who boasted of being only "a king's bishop," the only men who can be proved to have taken an active part in propagating the new views were Edmund Staples of Meath and Richard Nangle, the bishop whom Henry VIII. endeavoured to intrude into Clonfert (1536). The former of these was an Englishman appointed by the Pope (1529) at the request of Henry VIII. As might have been expected he took the side of the king against the Earl of Kildare, and when the struggle began in Ireland between the friends and the opponents of royal supremacy in Ireland he joined the former. Like so many of the other Reformers he showed his anxiety for the gospel by taking to himself a wife and by appropriating for his own use the goods of the Church, but there is no evidence that his efforts produced any effect on the great body of his clergy. Richard Nangle of Clonfert found himself opposed by Roland de Burgo, the bishop provided by the Pope to the See of Clonfert (Feb. 1539) Browne announced that he intended personally to carry the light of the gospel wherever English was understood, and that he had secured a suffragan in the person of Dr. Nangle, Bishop of Clonfert, to set forth God's Word and the king's cause in the Irish tongue. Owing to the state of open hostility existing between Browne and Staples the archbishop did not regard the latter as a fellow-labourer. But evidently at this period these were the only three bishops on whom any reliance could be placed by Henry VIII. Similarly in a document drawn up in 1542 entitled /Certain Devices for the Reformation of Ireland/, Browne and Staples alone were mentioned as favouring the gospel or as capable of "instructing the Irish bishops of this realm, causing them to relinquish and renounce all popish or papistical doctrine, and to set forth within each of their dioceses the true Word of God."
But though none of the Irish bishops appointed by the Pope, with the single exception of Staples of Meath, took any active steps to assist the king, few of them entered the lists boldly in defence of the Roman See, and many of them, like their English brethren, tried to temporise in the hope that the storm might soon blow past. Edmund Butler, the illegitimate son of Sir Piers Butler, afterwards Earl of Ormond, seems to have joined with the rest of his family in acknowledging royal supremacy. He took a seat in the privy council, acted as intermediary between the government and the Earl of Desmond, signed as a witness the document by which the latter renounced the authority of the Pope, accepted for himself portions of the property of the suppressed Franciscan Friary at Cashel, and was present at the Parliament of 1541. Hugh O'Cervallen of Clogher was appointed by the Pope in 1535, but he went to London in 1542 as chaplain to Con O'Neill, surrendered his Bulls of appointment, took the oath proscribed by Henry VIII., and accepted a grant by royal patent of his diocese, together with a pension of ￡40 a year. Needless to say he was repudiated by the Pope, who appointed another to take his place, and was driven from his See. John Quinn of Limerick was reported by Lord Grey to have taken the oath of royal supremacy in 1538, but the Deputy's leanings towards Rome even on this journey were proclaimed so frequently by his opponents on the council that it would be difficult to believe him, did not the name of the Bishop of Limerick appear amongst the witnesses to the submission of the Earl of Desmond. Though his attitude at this period was at least doubtful, it is certain that he stood loyal to Rome once he discovered the schismatical tendency of the new movement, since it was found necessary by the government to attempt to displace him in 1551 by the appointment of one who was likely to be more pliable.
The fact that some of the bishops surrendered the religious houses of which they were commendatory priors, as for example, Edmund Nugent of Kilmore, Milo Baron of Ossory, and Walter Wellesley of Kildare, and accepted pensions from the king as a compensation for the loss they sustained by the suppression of the monasteries, creates a grave suspicion of their orthodoxy, though it does not prove that they accepted royal supremacy. Baron was undoubtedly in close communication with the government officials, and Nugent seems to have been removed by the Pope. Again, several of the bishops, Roland de Burgo of Clonfert, Florence Kirwan of Clonmacnoise, Eugene MacGuinness of Down and Connor, and Thady Reynolds of Kildare surrendered the Bulls they had received from Rome, and accepted grants of their dioceses from the king. Such a step, however, affords no decisive evidence of disloyalty to the Holy See. For years a sharp controversy had been waged between the Kings of England and the Pope regarding the temporalities of bishoprics. The Popes claimed to have the right of appointment to both the spiritualities and the temporalities, and gave expression to these claims in the Bulls of appointment. The kings on their part asserted their jurisdiction over the temporalities, and to safeguard their rights they insisted that the bishop-elect should surrender the papal grant in return for a royal grant. Such a custom was well known before any schismatical tendencies had made themselves felt in England, and compliance with it would not prove that the bishops involved looked upon the king as the source of their spiritual jurisdiction. The main point to be considered in case of the bishops who surrendered their monasteries or their Bulls is what kind of oath, if any, were they obliged to take. If they consented to swear the form of renunciation prescribed for Irish bishops by the king their orthodoxy could not well be defended, but it is possible that, as Henry VIII. did not wish to press matters to extremes with the Irish princes, he may have adopted an equally prudent policy in case of the bishops, and contented himself with the oath of allegiance.
Fully cognisant of the importance of winning the bishops to his side, Henry VIII. took care to appoint his own nominees as soon as a vacancy occurred. By doing so he hoped to secure the submission of the clergy and people, and to obtain for himself the fees paid formerly to Rome. During the ten years, between 1536 and 1546, he appointed Dominic Tirrey to Cork, Richard Nangle to Clonfert, Christopher Bodkin, already Bishop of Kilmacduagh to Tuam, Alexander Devereux to Ferns, William Meagh to Kildare, Richard O'Ferral, late prior of Granard to Ardagh, Aeneas O'Hernan (or O'Heffernan), late preceptor of Aney, to Emly, George Dowdall, late prior of Ardee, to Armagh, Conat O'Siaghail, a chaplain of Manus O'Donnell to Elphin, and Cornelius O'Dea, a chaplain of O'Brien of Thomond, to Killaloe. Though there can be little doubt that some of these received their appointments as a reward for their acceptance of royal supremacy, it is difficult to determine how far they were committed to the religious policy of Henry VIII. It is certain that none of them, with the possible exception of Nangle, took an active part in favouring the cause of the Reformation in Ireland once they understood the real issues at stake, and that the fact of their being opposed in every single case by a lawful bishop appointed by the Pope rendered it impossible for them to do much, however willing they might have been to comply with the wishes of the king.鈥淵n鈥t鈥
During this critical period in Irish history Pope Paul III. was in close correspondence with several of the Irish bishops and lay princes. Time and again the officials in Ireland complain of the "Rome-runners," of the provisions made by the Pope to Irish bishoprics, of the messengers passing to and fro between Ireland and Rome, and of the Pope's co-operation in organising the Geraldine League in 1538 and 1539. It should be noted, however, that the silly letter attributed by Robert Ware to Paul III., wherein he is supposed to have warned O'Neill that he and his councillors in Rome had discovered from a prophecy of St. Laserian that whenever the Church in Ireland should fall the Church of Rome should fall also, is a pure forgery published merely to discredit the Pope and the Roman See. Undoubtedly Paul III. was gravely concerned about the progress of a movement that threatened to involve Ireland in the English schism, and was anxious to encourage the bishops and princes to stand firm in their resistance to royal supremacy. In 1539 reports reached Rome that George Cromer, the Archbishop of Armagh, who had resisted the measures directed against the Pope during the years 1536-38, had yielded, and as a result the administration of the See was committed (1539) to Robert Wauchope, a distinguished Scotch theologian then resident in Rome. What proofs were adduced in favour of Cromer's guilt are not known, but it is certain that the official correspondence of the period will be searched in vain for any evidence to show that Cromer accepted either in theory or in practice the ecclesiastical headship of Henry VIII. He held aloof from the meetings of the privy council, never showed the slightest sympathy with the action of the Archbishop of Dublin, and though his name appears on some of the lists of the spiritual peers in the Parliament of 1541, the official report of St. Leger makes it certain that he did not attend. It is quite possible that the Archbishop did not find himself in agreement with the political schemes whereby the Irish princes and the King of Scotland were to join hands for the overthrow of English authority in Ireland, and on this account the King of Scotland was desirous of having him removed to make way for his agent at the Roman Court.鈥淵n鈥t鈥
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.鈥淵n鈥t鈥
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.鈥淵n鈥t鈥
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.鈥淵n鈥t鈥