“We must save ourselves!” cried the mate, running in
Recourse was had to legislative measures to preserve the English colonists from being merged completely into the native population. According to the Statutes of Kilkenny (1367) the colonists were forbidden to intermarry with the Irish, to adopt their language, dress, or customs, or to hold any business relations with them, and what was worse, the line of division was to be recognised even within the sanctuary. No Irishman was to be admitted into cathedral or collegiate chapters or into any benefice situated in English territory, and religious houses were warned against admitting any Irish novices, although they were quite free to accept English subjects born in Ireland (1367). This statute did not represent a change of policy in regard to Irish ecclesiastics. From the very beginning of the Norman attempt at colonisation the relations between the two bodies of ecclesiastics had been very strained. Thus, in the year 1217 Henry III. wrote to his Justiciary in Ireland calling his attention to the fact that the election of Irishmen to episcopal Sees had caused already considerable trouble, and that consequently, care should be taken in future that none but Englishmen should be elected or promoted to cathedral chapters. The Irish clerics objected strongly to such a policy of exclusion, and carried their remonstrances to Honorius III. who declared on two occasions (1220, 1224) that this iniquitous decree was null and void. As the papal condemnations did not produce the desired effect, the archbishops, bishops, and chapters seem to have taken steps to protect themselves against aggression by ordaining that no Englishman should be admitted into the cathedral chapters, but Innocent IV., following the example of Honorius III., condemned this measure.
Notwithstanding its solemn condemnation by the Holy See this policy of exclusion was carried out by both parties, and the line of division became more marked according as the English power began to decline. The petition addressed to John XXII. (1317) by the Irish chieftains who supported the invasion of Bruce bears witness to the fact that the Statutes of Kilkenny did not constitute an innovation, and more than once during the fifteenth century the legislation against Irish ecclesiastics was renewed. The permission given to the Archbishop of Dublin to confer benefices situated in the Irish districts of his diocese on Irish clerics (1485, 1493) serves only to emphasise the general trend of policy. Similarly the action of the Dominican authorities in allowing two superiors in Ireland, one of the houses in the English Pale, the other for the houses in the territories of the Irish princes (1484), the refusal of the Irish Cistercians to acknowledge the jurisdiction of their English superiors, the boast of Walter Wellesley, Bishop of Kildare and prior of the monastery of Old Connal (1539) that no Irishman had been admitted into this institution since the day of its foundation, prove clearly enough that the relations between the Irish and English ecclesiastics during the fifteenth century were far from being harmonious.
In the beginning, as has been shown, the Holy See interfered to express its disapproval of the policy of exclusion whether adopted by the Normans or the Irish, but later on, when it was found that a reconciliation was impossible, the Pope deemed it the lesser of two evils to allow both parties to live apart. Hence the Norman community of Galway was permitted to separate itself from the Irish population immediately adjoining, and to be governed in spirituals by its own warden (1484); and Leo X. approved of the demand made by the chapter of St. Patrick's, Dublin, that no Irishman should be appointed a canon of that church (1515). But though the Holy See, following the advice of those who were in a position to know what was best for the interests of religion, consented to tolerate a policy of exclusion, it is clear that it had no sympathy with such a course of procedure. In Dublin, for example, where English influence might be supposed to make itself felt most distinctly, out of forty-four appointments to benefices made in Rome (1421-1520) more than half were given to Irishmen; in the diocese of Kildare forty-six out of fifty-eight appointments fell to Irishmen (1413-1521), and for the period 1431- 1535, fifty-three benefices out of eighty-one were awarded in Meath to clerics bearing unmistakably Irish names. Again in 1290 Nicholas IV. insisted that none but an Irishman should be appointed by the Archbishop of Dublin to the archdeaconry of Glendalough, and in 1482 Sixtus IV. upheld the cause of Nicholas O'Henisa whom the Anglo-Irish of Waterford refused to receive as their bishop on the ground that he could not speak English.
But though attempts were made by legislation to keep the Irish and English apart, and though as a rule feeling between both parties ran high, there was one point on which both were in agreement, and that was loyalty and submission to the Pope. That the Irish Church as such, like the rest of the Christian world, accepted fully the supremacy of the Pope at the period of the Norman invasion is evident from the presence and activity of the papal legates, Gillebert of Limerick, St. Malachy of Armagh, Christian, Bishop of Lismore, and St. Laurence O'Toole, from the frequent pilgrimages of Irish laymen and ecclesiastics to Rome, from the close relations with the Roman Court maintained by St. Malachy during his campaign for reform, and from the action of the Pope in sending Cardinal Paparo to the national synod at Kells (1152) to bestow the palliums on the Archbishops of Armagh, Dublin, Cashel, and Tuam. Had there been any room for doubt about the principles and action of the Irish Church the question must necessarily have been discussed at the Synod of Cashel convoked by Henry II. to put an end to the supposed abuses existing in the Irish Church (1172), and yet, though it was laid down that in its liturgy and practices the Irish Church should conform to English customs, not a word was said that could by any possibility imply that the Irish people were less submissive to the Pope than any other nation at this period.鈥淲鈥
After the Normans had succeeded in securing a foothold in the country, both Irish and Normans were at one in accepting the Roman supremacy. The Pope appointed to all bishoprics whether situated within or without the Pale; he deposed bishops, accepted their resignations, transferred them from one See to another, cited them before his tribunals, censured them at times, and granted them special faculties for dispensing in matrimonial and other causes. He appointed to many of the abbeys and priories in all parts of the country, named ecclesiastics to rectories and vicarages in Raphoe, Derry, Tuam, Kilmacduagh, and Kerry, with exactly the same freedom as he did in case of Dublin, Kildare or Meath, and tried cases involving the rights of laymen and ecclesiastics in Rome or appointed judges to take cognisance of such cases in Ireland. He sent special legates into Ireland, levied taxes on all benefices, appointed collectors to enforce the payment of these taxes, and issued dispensations in irregularities and impediments.鈥淲鈥
The fiction of two churches in Ireland, one the Anglo-Irish acknowledging the authority of the Pope, the other the Irish fighting sullenly against papal aggression, has been laid to rest by the publication of Theiner's /Vetera Monumenta Hibernorum et Scotorum/, the /Calendars of Papal Letters/, the /Calendars of Documents (Ireland)/ and the /Annats/. If any writer, regardless of such striking evidence, should be inclined to revive such a theory he should find himself faced with the further disagreeable fact that, when the English nation and a considerable body of the Anglo-Irish nobles fell away from their obedience to Rome, the Irish people, who were supposed to be hostile to the Pope, preferred to risk everything rather than allow themselves to be separated from the centre of unity. Such a complete and instantaneous change of front, if historical, would be as inexplicable as it would be unparalleled.鈥淲鈥
Nor is there any evidence to show that Lollardy or any other heresy found any support in Ireland during the fourteenth or fifteenth centuries. During the episcopate of Bishop Ledrede in Ossory (1317- 60), it would appear both from the constitutions enacted in a diocesan synod held in 1317 as well as from the measures he felt it necessary to take, that in the city of Kilkenny a few individuals called in question the Incarnation, and the Virginity of the Blessed Virgin, but it is clear that such opinions were confined to a very limited circle and did not affect the body of the people. About the same time, too, the dispute that was being waged between John XXII. and a section of the Franciscans found an echo in the province of Cashel, though there is no proof that the movement ever assumed any considerable dimensions. Similarly at a later period, when the Christian world was disturbed by the presence of several claimants to the Papacy and by the theories to which the Great Western Schism gave rise, news was forwarded to Rome that some of the Irish prelates, amongst them being the Archbishop of Dublin and the Bishop of Ferns, were inclined to set at nought the instructions of Martin V. (1424), but the latter pontiff took energetic measures to put an end to a phenomenon that was quite intelligible considering the general disorder of the period. The appeal of Philip Norris, Dean of Dublin, during his dispute with the Mendicants, to a General Council against the decision of the Pope only serves to emphasise the fact that throughout the controversy between the Pope and the Council of Basle Ireland remained unshaken in its attachment to the Holy See. Although the first measure passed by the Parliament at Kilkenny (1367) and by nearly every such assembly held in Ireland in the fifteenth century was one for safeguarding the rights and liberties of the Church, yet the root of the evils that afflicted the Church at this period can be traced to the interference of kings and princes in ecclesiastical affairs. The struggle waged by Gregory VII. in defence of free canonical election to bishoprics, abbacies, and priories seemed to have been completely successful, but in reality it led only to a change of front on the part of the secular authorities. Instead of claiming directly the right of nomination they had recourse to other measures for securing the appointment of their own favourites. In theory the election of bishops in Ireland rested with the canons of the cathedral chapters, but they were not supposed to proceed with the election until they had received the /congé d'élite/ from the king or his deputy, who usually forwarded an instruction as to the most suitable candidate. As a further safeguard it was maintained that, even after the appointment of the bishop-elect had been confirmed by the Pope, he must still seek the approval of the king before being allowed to take possession of the temporalities of his See. As a result even in the thirteenth century, when capitular election was still the rule, the English sovereigns sought to exercise a controlling influence on episcopal elections in Ireland, but they met at times with a vigorous resistance from the chapters, the bishops, the Irish princes, and from Rome.鈥淲鈥
Towards the end of the fourteenth century, however, and in the fifteenth century, though the right of election was still enjoyed nominally by the chapters, in the majority of cases either their opinions were not sought, or else the capitular vote was taken as being only an expression of opinion about the merits of the different candidates. Indirectly by means of the chancery rules regarding reservations, or by the direct reservation of the appointment of a particular bishopric on the occasion of a particular vacancy, the Pope kept in his own hands the appointments. Owing to the encroachments of the civil power and the pressure that was brought to bear upon the chapters such a policy was defensible enough, and had it been possible for the Roman advisers to have had a close acquaintance with the merits of the clergy, and to have had a free hand in their recommendations, direct appointment might have been attended with good results. But the officials at Rome were oftentimes dependent on untrustworthy sources for their information, and they were still further handicapped by the fact that if they acted contrary to the king's wishes the latter might create serious trouble by refusing to restore the temporalities of the See. Instances, however, are not wanting even in England itself to show that the Popes did not always allow themselves to be dictated to by the civil authorities, nor did they recognise in theory the claim of the king to dispose of the temporalities.鈥淲鈥