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Wednesday, September 20, 2017
Date Posted:

Days of Deliverance Part 9: Rome makes the New Irish Confederation invincible

Dr Clive Gillis

If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land. 2 Chr. 7:14

The actual Day of Deliverance following the Irish rebellion and massacre of 1641 was 15th September 1643, “at the hour of 12 of the clock of the said day”.  Unrest continued however until the arrival of Cromwell in 1649-50, but by then the opportunity for Rome to seize Ireland had passed.

Rome had given this rebellion her all, which only served to make her defeat more spectacular.  It brought stinging humiliation to the Society of Jesus, to the Irish Franciscan agent Fr Luke Waddington, and indeed to the Pope himself, for Maffeo Barberini, styled Pope Urban VIII, had taken a great personal interest in the affair.  As with modern Mafia godfathers, the papacy was a family business and Maffeo Barberini had brought shame on the family. 

Maffeo liked helping himself to Peters Pence, but not parting with them.  So when it came to financing Rome’s usurpation in Ireland he granted an extraordinary Jubilee on 15th May 1640 with, no doubt, tempting indulgences on offer to ensure a good financial response.

Cardinal Ludovico Ludovisi

Another reputation besmirched by this defeat was that of Cardinal Ludovico Ludovisi whom Urban had appointed Cardinal Protector of Ireland.  This appointment was a good move because the Bologna Ludovisi family was fabulously wealthy.  The Ludovisi Palace in Rome, now a hotel, is still synonymous with luxury.

Ludovisi had founded the Irish College of St Isidore at Rome in 1628 to supply priests for Ireland.  He continued to support the college from beyond the grave to the extent of 1,000 crowns annually.  Eighty-five crowns were sufficient for one student for one year.  Any priest whose palm was crossed with Ludovisi crowns had to swear on Oath that he would serve nowhere else but back in Ireland.

Exemplary lives

Pope John Paul II speaking from St Isidore’s on 28 March 1998, highly commended these meddling prelates as having led exemplary lives to which today’s novice priests should aspire.  John Paul said, “It is for me a great happiness to welcome you, Rector, Faculty and Students of the Irish School, accompanied by the (Roman Catholic) Archbishop of Armagh … I join you in giving thanks to God for everything that the School has meant to the (Roman Catholic) Church in Ireland and for the Irish community in Rome, from its foundation in 1628”.  (My approximate translation from the Portuguese.)

John Paul II continued, “It is enough to think of the names of how many are linked to the School, to have an idea of its rich cultural foundation: the founders, Cardinal Ludovico Ludovisi and Priest Lucas Waddington (a list of many other meddling Romanists well known in Ireland follows)  … Their example of sanctity and of care should serve as an inspiration for you seminarists, as you get ready to promote a better knowledge of the Gospel amongst the men and the women of our time … to promote active participation … with the Mass, of which spiritual force Irishmen have always drunk deeply to survive in periods of serious difficulties … As future masters of the faith, you should be capable of facing the complexity of the times … entrusting yourselves and your families, to the Intercession of May, Queen of Ireland, I grant my Apostolic Blessing of heart.”

The Confederation

So let us see just what it is that Rome holds up as an “example” and “inspiration” for her young priests to follow.  One doubts that they are taught much of the Confederation of Old Irish and Old English Pre Reformation Roman Catholics that emerged so suddenly fated the massacre of 1641 to take over the Government of Ireland from the British crown.

Ignominious defeat is not good propaganda and the speedy collapse of this Confederation was a most ignominious defeat.  Rome has suppressed the embarrassing story as best she can.  Historian John Gilbert, writing from Dublin in 1881, opened his rather rare history by saying: “The organisation and acts of the Confederation established by a large body of the nobility, (Roman Catholic) clergy, and people of Ireland in the reign of Charles I form an important and, as yet, little known part of the History of the British Empire.”

Rome has managed to confuse the history with her spin.  An example is papal historian Ludwig Pastor’s confident assertion: “The Catholic clergy of Ireland had no share in the rising of 1641.” (!)  He also says, “Not withstanding the cruelty of the English Reprisals (for the 1641 outrage), nearly the whole island fell into the hands of the insurgents.”  This does not make sense.  Either the rebels got the upper hand or they did not.

The Confederation may have stated its aims to be to, “defend themselves… against the Puritans, to maintain the prerogatives of the Crown, as well as the privileges and rights of the Irish Parliament and to reinstate the Roman Catholic Church throughout, as it stood in the reign of Henry VII (that is before the Reformation)”, but the Vatican was really only interested in the last point, reinstating the authority of the Roman Catholic Church.  The Jesuits would decide, as events unfolded, whether power should reside in a Roman Catholic parliament in Dublin or be allowed to remain with the British Crown.  In the event they had to bow to Rome and aim for an RC parliament in Dublin. 

Rome senses victory

What Pastor should have written was that Rome was deeply involved in Irish affairs all along, but would not acknowledge it publicly until success seemed assured.  This moment arrived in March 1642.  The Archbishop of Armagh, Hugh O’Reilly, was given the go ahead from the Vatican to convene a Synod of the Roman Catholic clergy of Ulster at Kells in Country Meath.  This had been arranged by Pope Urban’s nephew, Cardinal Antonio Barberini.  With astute business sense, Uncle Maffeo had invested nephew Antonio with the title of Cardinal Protector of Ireland following Ludovisi’s death.  Another nephew, Cardinal Francesco Barberini, was also involved.  Such was the nepotism that prevailed in Rome at the time.

It was decided that money would go from the Pope, through the nephew Cardinals to finance the Confederate troops.  Later the riches of a newly renewed Roman Catholic Ireland were to flow back to even greater measure to the already obscenely overloaded coffers of the Barberini family.   To ensure success, Uncle Maffeo granted nephews Antonio and Francesco “extensive powers” in Ireland.  To ensure that the Roman Catholic hierarchy was paying attention, Maffeo wrote personally to the Irish priests in February 1642.  After all Maffeo had himself “promoted the equipment of five ships with soldiers and munitions … for the Confederate force,” so he must be listened to.

The Synod whitewashed all previous treachery.  It declared the 1641 Rebellion “righteously undertaken”.  Amongst other things, excommunication was decreed for deserting the Confederation and abetting “the enemy”.   Acting through these priestly intermediaries, Maffeo Barberini, “declared the necessity for the establishment of a central authority, in the form of a Council consisting of ecclesiastics and laymen with the power to rule and enforce obedience to its decrees”.  No Roman catholic could now express an honest opinion on 1641, and to implicate the priests in the atrocity was an excommunicable offence.

The 13 Articles

The 13 articles of the Synod are quite frightening.  Articles II, III and IV all threatened excommunication.  Any Roman Catholic who might “aid Puritans” was eternally lost.  Those who would not conform were threatened, especially Thomas Dease, Bishop of Meath, who was charged with deterring Chief Nobles of the Diocese from joining the League.  He was, “now formally admonished to revoke all his words and deeds in opposition to the present war, to sign the Decrees of the present Council and within three weeks submit himself under pain of being canonically reported to the Holy See”.  Maffeo Barbarini was going to brook the scruples of no-one, however distinguished.  The stakes were too high.  After all, he had invested 80,000 gold florins in the project.  The Articles of the Synod of Kells continue:

  • IX - All Ordinaries, Parish priests, Abbots and Priors are within six weeks to contribute … to the maintenance of the army.

  • X - In churches where Mass was not hitherto celebrated, Parish Priests are … to officiate with Portable altars.

  • XII - In each regiment there are to be two Chaplains to administer the Sacraments to soldiers .. and instruct them … and one Special Preacher to preach often”.  (Rome does not usually preach but when winning back Protestant territory the Jesuits use it as a weapon.)

  • XIII - The decrees are to be promulgated verbatim by all Ordinaries and Parish Priests on the first opportunity under pain of suspension.

Thus at a stroke the Reformation would be overthrown.

The meeting at Kilkenny

A countrywide meeting of Roman Catholic priests and Bishops took place at Kilkenny as early as May 1642.  This suggests a high degree of prior readiness.  Probably other Roman Catholic Old Englishmen existed with an outlook like Thomas Dease mentioned above.  But once dragged together in a meeting where Rome’s power was on open view, they would inevitably be too frightened to speak their true feelings.  The Kilkenny Congregation decreed an Oath of Federation should be affirmed by the nobility.  Each RC Province would have a Council and each Provincial Council was to be governed by a supreme Council General yet to be created.  Pastor tells us, “Anyone abandoning the Catholic league and abetting the enemy was to be excommunicated; the Bishops were even to proceed against neutrals”.

Rome now sensed victory.  The countrywide Acts of Kilkenny May 1642, were re-issued in a fuller 29 articles and were more hostile in tone than those of the Synod of Kells.  Pastor tells us that, “Simultaneously … the various orders of the nobility held a convention”.  They had little choice.  The term “chiefly Puritans” recurs again and again as the real target of these measures.  The nobility had been given the Oath of Federation to work upon at their convention.  The very opening clauses presented Rome’s demand that, “the Restoration to the (Roman) Church of the status that obtained previous to Henry VIII…” be enacted forthwith.

The Protestant

And what about the Protestants at this time?  We can rely on pastor to paint their actions as black as he is able.  Yet all he can say is: “The Protestant reply to these decisions (at Kilkenny) was a prohibition of the Justices on May 28th 1642 of all intercourse with the Catholics, and on June 21st the exclusion from the Irish Parliament of those who refused the Oath of Supremacy (that the King is Head of the Church).

Let the lawful Parliament bluster.  Little matter.  A new Roman Catholic parliament would soon meet and usurp its position for the first time on the 24th October 1641.  Let the Protestants do what they will, their days must be numbered.  Rome is in the ascendancy.  Deliverance seemed impossible.  Yet the Lord did move and, because of the great danger the Protestants faced, that Deliverance was all the more glorious when it came.

Footnote: Some Readers may wonder why Charles I is so little mentioned.  His part in the affair is so complicated that it would distract from what might be called, ‘The Secret History of bare faced Papal Usurpation’ from which the Lord delivered his people.

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