The church in Ireland
THE IRISH CHURCH was uniquein that it avoided nearly all the hugeproblems the Catholic Church else-where faced over the last four hun-dred years. It suffered practically no apostacy. In fact, from the beginningof the nineteenth century the Catholic Church in Ireland has gained increas-ingly the loyalty and support of the people.
It was seen as the institution which channelled Irish national aspira-tions of the wealthier farmer class andasthe source of all Irish spiritualvalueswhich were very important in aclose-knit rural society.
Also'is suffered from little intellec-tualdissent either from clergy orlaity. The Modernist dispute hardlyaffected Ireland. This was probablydue to the close links the Irish clergyhad with the people. The Irish clergywerea hard working, pastoral groupwhofrowned upon doctrinal ideaswhich did not affect the lives of thepovertystricken Irish peasants.
TheIrish Church has no nationalobjections to Rome. Cardinal Cullenindeed proposed the Doctrine of In-fallibility at Vatican Council I and wassupported by all but two of the Irishbishopsin 1870. Irish Catholic reli-gious culture was as ardently pro-Roman as it was anti-British and thetwotended to merge as Britain was aProtestant country traditionally hostileto Rome. The Irish Church eagerlyadopted Roman saints, cult and cere-monial.The Irish Church was successfulwhere others were failing because ofthe complete failure of the Irishmiddle classes to industrialise thecountry. There was no radical phaseof urbanisation in Ireland (which inother countries destroyed the Church).The only transformation Ireland suf-feredwas a gradual despoliation ofthe country by famine and povertywhich led to emigration.
The Churchtothis immiserised proletariat ap-peared as the only institution whichwason their side and which was un-changeable in a society where changewasfeared and usually brought greaterhardship and increased emigration.The Catholic Church straddled thelast 200 years as a clearly successfulinstitution in an unsuccessful, back-wardcountry.
This pattern was notaffected by independence just as in-dependencedid not initially changethe industrial substructure of thecountry.However,the changes in the Churchassociatedwith the Council have affec-ted Ireland. These changes were pain-fulfor the Irish Church because of itstraditional insularity and self-confi-dence. The Irish Church moved withthe rest of the Church both because itwas legally forced to and because Irishclericalintellectuals were infected andexcited by the ideas of Vatican II.
Paralleling this ecclesiastical reformthere has been a transformation in theeconomic substructure of Irelandwhich preceded the Council by a fewyears. This has loosened rural familyties, made Ireland a predominantlyurban country and has given manyIrish people the outlook and materialattitudes of international capitalism.Ithas caused a drop in vocations ofalmost crisis dimensions, apathyamongthe laity and lack of depen-denceon the clergy for political, socialand moral guidance.
TheIrish Church remains numeri-callyand influentially stronger thanany other national Church. But theevidence of the Church in othercountries is that the process of secu-larisation, of growing apathy and lackofintellectual and cultic loyalty is acontinuous one which is very difficultto stop once it has started.
Nobody could have predicted theextent of the changes in the Church inIreland during the 1960'S.
Record Number of Vocations
Ten years ago the Catholic Churchwasstill at the peak of the influence,power and wealth which it had en-joyed throughout the 1950s. Voca-tions were at an all-time high. In thecountry at the time the complete lackofalternative employment either in industry or agriculture encouraged ahuge number of vocations. Just whenthe nation as a whole reached thebottom of an economic abyss theChurch prospered. In 1958 there were40Ipriests ordained which was thehighest figure in the history of theChurch in Ireland. By 1960 yet an-other record had been set when447priests were ordained. Theseordinations were the fruit of seminaryentries six years earlier when theeconomywas suffering from intensedepression. The number of students inseminaries was also at an all-time high:in 1958 there were 3,173, a year laterit had gone up to 3,315, while by1961 it reached its highest peak whenthere were 3>409 students, from whichtherehas been a steady decline. InIreland between the years 1956 and1960 there were 3,180 vocations tothe priesthood out of a total finalsecondary year pupil figure of 24,339.This represents no less than 12.5%of all final Catholic secondary schoolpupils.
Despite a steep decrease of 23 % inthe population of the country between1871 and 1961 the number of priestshad increased by 87 %. There were5,723 priests in Ireland at the begin-ning of the 1960s. The ratio increasedfrom one priest to 1,356 people in1871 to one priest to 558 people in1961.
The Church probably attained itsgreatest degree of influence and pres-tige during the 1950s. In 1951, forinstance, the hierarchy used the wide-spreadlack of confidence in the politi-cians caused by their chronic failuretoimpsove the country's economicpositionto destroy a coalition govern-ment. Uniquely among all other in-stitutions, the Church found a situa-tion of rural depopulation, emigrationandpoverty to be beneficial to its in-terests. As a whole the Church in1960 was complacent. The primaryfunctions of the hierarchy seemed tobe the erection of churches and asystematicprogramme aimed at keep-ing religious fervour high based onvehement cold war propaganda andtheofficial approval of popular piety.
An Aged Hierarchy
The Irish Hierarchy in 196o wasthe oldest in the world. Their averageagewas 66.7. If the present regulationconcerning retirement was in force,Dr.Thomas Keogh who was 76, Dr.James McNamee who was 84, Dr.Joseph Mageean who was 78, Dr.56Daniel Coholan who was 76, Dr.Patrick Collier who was 80, Dr. DenisMoynihan who was 75 and CardinalD'Alton who was 77 would have beenaffected.
The major dioceses in Ireland,Dublin and Belfast, were engaged inwidespread, costly building campaigns.Indeed when Dr. Mageean died in1962 the Stormont Ministry of Edu-cationpaid tribute to "his zeal since1944 in the erection of Catholicschools." During the period 1953 to1963, 128 new Catholic secondaryschools were founded in Ireland, theirnumber rising from 441 to 569. Theethos of the period was highly Catho-lic. At all State functions Catholicprelates were accorded precedence.Popular enthusiasm was a high point.In 1956 after a fiery retreat in West-land Row, Catholic students marchedon a Communist bookshop and used astatue of the Virgin Mary, amongotherthings, to smash its interior.Popular enrolment in sodalities andreligious organisations benefitted fromthe lack of spare money to spend onentertainmentand the lack of capitalinvestment in rural dance halls andpublic houses. The era of the show-band was soon to break the monopolyof the sodality and the amateur dra-matic societies in Ireland which wererun by the clergy. The cinema whichwas cheap and which embraced bothsexes and all classes was the only op-position to the Church. This wasrecognised by the hierarchy who regu-larly attacked the cinema for whatever"pornography" was allowed throughthe censors. The Statutes of May-nooth in 1956 reiterated the ban onpriests attending the theatre and dis-couraged them from attending thecinema. The Catholic Truth Societywhich was patronised by the hierarchyledthis campaign, aided and abettedby Lenten pastorals.
In 1960 almost every pastoral at-tackedthe cinema. Eight of Dr. Mc-Quaid'spastorals in the 1950S warnedpeople of immoral plays and films.Thepossible effect of television on theChurch's dominance over the massmedia and over recreational activity wasforeseen by the then Archbishop Con-way in 1959 when he issued a warningonwhat he called "poisonous tele-vision programmes produced by menand women who have lost all sense ofshame."He continued: "see thatthese people do not soil the innocenceof your daughters, corrupt theirmodesty, or poison the minds of yoursons at your own fireside. See thatthe devil does not make an entry intothe very heart of your home throughthe television screen.
"The Church's control of popularcelebrationscan be seen in regularmanifestations of public piety in thisperiod. In 1959, 110,000 Pioneersmarched through Dublin for thePioneer Total Abstinence AssociationDiamond Jubilee celebrations toCroke Park. A year later over 20,000Catholic workers in Belfast marchedthrough the Falls Road in Belfast tocelebrate the Feast of St. Joseph theWorker.
In 196o, 650 students in U.CD.-one in eight-volunteered to help theLegion in proselytising in London,Popular piety with regard to theVirgin Mary rose enormously in the1950s. Most dioceses developed dioc-esan pilgrimages to Lourdes andKnock for the first time and the num-bers going on chartered flights rose towell oved 30,000 in 1958.
This dominance of Catholic culturein Ireland was aided not only by thecontrol by the Church of recreation,and most organisations but also by thecompletely dispirited condition of thepeople.Catholicism formed a largepart of the popular nationalism whichwas encouraged by the border cam-paign of the IRA. The only institutionwhichappeared to be unchanging wasthe Catholic Church. It representedthe Rock of Peter. At this period thehierarchy played frequently on anemigrant theme. Dr. Lucey, for in-stance, said in 1954 that "Americawas a great place to live and it hasgiven Ireland an overseas Empiremore enduring and more ennoblingthan any achieved by conquest." Thehierarchy ignorantly used ultramon-tane expansionist religion to give heartto scattered families populating Ire-land.
The Patrician Year
The Patrician year in 1961 wasprobably the Church's strongest-everperiod. Huge crowds of up to 50,000greeted the visiting cardinals everyday. The Archbishop of Dublinformed a special "yellow beret" corpstoprotect the cardinals from thecrowds.Among the visiting cardinalswere two who represented the mostconservativesections of the U.S.Church-Cardinal Cushing who hadcontributed £35,000 in 1960 fromdiocesan charity funds to BishopBrowne for his cathedral in Galway.(Inthe U.S.A. as a whole Brownecollected in all a sum of £1°4,000.)Anothervisiting cardinal was Mc-Intyreof Los Angeles who was anotorious racialist and was soon to bereprimanded by the Holy Office forhis arrogant refusal to implement in-tegration in Californian Catholicschoolsand his victimisation of pro-negro priests. The Papal Legate,Cardinal Agaganian, who had sufferedin the Ukraine before residing in theVatican was extremely popular withthe crowds who followed him around.The Irish hierarchy issued an officialhandbook for the Year which was acrudemixture of chauvinistic patriot-ism and ultra-papal orthodoxy. Cardi-nal Godfrey of Britain, while just asconservative, was considerably lesspopular since he came from the wrongcountry. Indeed it was rumoured thathe was so discontented at his lack ofequal popularity that half-way throughhis visit he considered going home ongrounds of ill health. Dr. McQuaidwas so pleased with the celebrationsthat all the leaders of the "yellowberets"were given a free holiday inLourdes preceded by a reception inthe Gresham and a dinner at theAirport.
Clearly at this time the complacenthierarchy did not foresee the stormclouds gathering for the Church, nordid they have any notion of the im-mense significance of an event forwhich they had been preparing sincethe beginning of the decade. In July,291960, Bishop Browne was ap-pointed to a preparatory commissionfor the Second Vatican EcumenicalCouncil. Cardinal D'Alton was ap-pointed to the Central PreparatoryCommissionin November, 1961. Hewas the only Irish member and dueto his ill health took only a desultoryinterest in the preparations. A manwho took a more prominent part inthe proceedings and in briefing theCardinal was Dr. William Conway,Titular Bishop of Neve and AuxiliaryBishop of Armagh. Even though atthis stage he was only 48 he wasrapidly becoming the leading per-sonality in the Irish hierarchy. Incompany with Cardinal D'Alton helearned at an early stage the skilfulart of episcopal diplomacy which onthe death of the Cardinal in February1963, ensured his promotion to thechairmanship of the Irish hierarchy.He was furthermore an expert incanon law which was important forthe head of a hierarchy during thetortuous debates in the VaticanCouncil.
No Worries About the Council
TheIrish bishops were ill-prepared for the Council. On September30, 1962, eleven days before theCouncilbegan, all the bishops issuedpastorals which merely stated thattheCouncil would round off the workof Vatican I which had been abruptlyterminated in 1870 due to the out-breakof the Franco-Prussian war.The pastorals went to great painstopoint out that there was nothingshocking about a Council and thatthe Pope was still Supreme Headofthe Church. Obviously the Irishbishops expected that the wholething would be wrapped up in timefor Christmas.
The Irish hierarchy was a ruralhierarchy. The four prelates who hadthe major urban sees in Ireland allcame from rural backgrounds.
Dr.Philbin, who controlled Belfastand had succeeded Dr. Mageean in1961, came from Kiltimagh, CountyMayo; Dr. McQuaid came fromCootehill, County Cavan; Dr. Brownecame from Westport, County Mayo;Dr. Lucey came from West Cork.
The Irish Church was traditionallya rural one and its bishops did notinterfere with each other. They didnot foresee that change would beanything other than voluntary forindividual bishops. Furthermore,since they represented the interestsofa small farming community theyhad absolutely no idea of the ten-sions wracking the Church in Europeandthe U.S.A. which would forcethe Council into several radical pos-tures. When the Council began theIrishhierarchy was particularlyshocked by the attitude of the SouthAmerican bishops who attacked thepiety and humbug of certain speakerson the scheme on the Liturgy. Dr.McQuaid and Bishop Browne wereparticularly taken aback by the atti-tude of some of their friends, suchasCardinal Cushing, on the Liturgy.
When the Irish bishops arrivedthey installed themselves in the IrishCollege in Rome. Much of theirtime was taken up by arguing aboutwhich bishops should have roomswithbaths and hot water since theCollege did not have enough to goaround. However, Dr. Herlihy, theenergetic and tactful Rector, soonsmoothed matters out and a numberof baths were installed. The bishopshad no press office in Rome. Theyhad only oneperitus(theological ad·visor) while other hierarchies hadmany.Theperituswas MonsignorCremin who was brought at Dr.McQuaid's insistance. Most of thebishops never availed of him. Theproblem ofperiticame home to theIrish bishops only when- the schemaon Revelation was discussed. Muchof it was based on exegesis, whichmostof the bishops knew little of.Then they hurridly arranged a seriesoflectures on the Bible by the staffof the Irish College and one or twowent to meetings of IDOC to hearwhat the radicals thought. They alsobroughtDr. Daly, a lecturer Queens University, to Rome. He wasinfluential in persuading many of thebishops to accept the basic theologybehind the schemas eventually accep-ted by the Fourth Session in 1964.
Hostility of the Hierarchy
As well as ignoring the press thebishop's were actively hostile to it.Dr. Kyne, Bishop of Meath, con-sidered that the whole Council shouldbesecret. On November 22 in 1964,Dr. Kyne broke into a press con-ference held by the bishops on re-turn from Rome to say "foreignnewspapers have given a false ac-countof the Council and they shouldbe discounted by all people."
The Irish newspapers were equallyunaware of the significance of theCouncil. Only theIrish Independent,in deference to its readership, had areporter at the pomp and ceremonybits of the First Session. When Dr.Rodgers and Dr. Philbin gave lec-tures on the First Session on RadioVatican on October ~I and Novem-ber 18, 1962, in 'English, RadioEireann expressed no interest inbroadcasting them. The lectures werevery complacent and still foresaw anearly end to the Council.
The Irish bishops formed with theEnglish, Yugoslavian, Polish, Scottishand Portuguese hierarchies the mostconservative lobby in the Council.They were influenced by CardinalBrowne (no relation to the Bishopof Galway) who was raised to car-dinal from the position of head ofthe Dominicans in 1962. He was oneof the most conservative of the Curia.Heensured that the Irish episcopacy,unlike the U.S. one, did not deviatefromthe procedures for debate laiddown by the Curia. During the Coun-cil he frequently visited the IrishCollegeto brief the Irish bishops,who distinguished themselves by say-inglittle or nothing during the FirstSession.They were out-silenced onlyby the Portuguese bishops who didnot speak during the whole Councilandwho made frequent and deter-mined demands to be allowed returnhome.
The Latin Mass
Inthe First Session the only Irishspeaker was Dr. McQuaid. He spoketwice on the schema on the Liturgy.Onthe first occasion he spoke aftera notable speech by Cardinal Bacciofthe Curia. The debate was openedby Cardinal Gracias of Madras who58talked of the scandal of the LatinMass in India. He was followed byCardinal Bea, Cardinal Meyer ofChicago, and Bishop Descuffi ofSmyrna, who all agreed that Latinshould be eliminated in whole or inpart from the Liturgy. Then CardinalBacci rose to put them right. Hedenounced such scandalous talk asheretical and reminded them ofFather Rosmini who had been ex-communicated for saying the LatinMass, put a chasm between the laityand the priest. This was receivedvery poorly by the bishops, someof whom laughed. Dr. McQuaidfollowedeagerly to support CardinalBacci's thesis. He said that eachbishop should not have to submithis judgement to a national confer-ence of bishops. This attitude wastheseed of a later dispute whicharose between Dr. McQuaid and theIrishbishops over Liturgy in theperiod following the Council. The.Irish bishops agreed with him ingeneral apart from Dr. Morris ofCashel, Dr. Murphy of Limerick,and Dr. Birch of Kilkenny. Othersvacillatedbetween the views of Dr.McQuaid and the views of many ofthe American bishops. Some con-sideredthe matter to be trivial, suchas Dr. Lucey of Cork (who was laterto be the most diehard bishop onLatin once he got home and realisedit would affect episcopal Home Rule).Oneof the few Irish bishop's to takeaconsistently progressive line wasDr. McNamee, Dr. Daly's predeces-sor, who had advocated vernacularin the liturgy since 1920.
While the Irish hierarchy wasweathering the Vatican Council therewere significant changes in the Irisheconomy which would have affectedthe Church in Ireland irrespective ofchanges in the religious superstruc-ture of the Catholic Church as awhole. Increasing industrialisationmeant a rapidly expanding urbanpopulation and a consequent reduc-tion of the rural power base of theChurch. Rev . Jeremiah Newman haspointedout that of 429 students whoentered Maynooth in the years 1956-1960, 311 or 72.5% came from theopen countryside or from towns witha population of less than 1,000. Ob-viously a reduction in the rural popu-lation must have already been affect-ing the Church. Furthermore, edu-cational opportunity was wideningfor non-clerical students chiefly (atthis time) because of marginally in-creasedfamily wealth. This had animmediate effect on vocations. Ac-cordingto a survey on vocations,submittedto the hierarchy inFebruary, from the beginning of thedecadethere has been a steady de-cline in all kinds of vocations whilethe immediate effects of this havebeen mitigated by a rapid increasein pupils taking the Leaving Cer-tificate. Thus there have been manymore pupils qualified to enter semin-aries but in fact the number takingthis option has been smaller. Thepercentage of Leaving Certificatepupils entering seminaries at thistime had fallen to only about 7 0/0,Another significant event whichchanged the Irish Church at this timewas the death of Cardinal D' Alton.He had been an inefficient chairmanof the Irish bishops and at the firstsession of the Council youngerbishops were not considered by himas capable of speaking at the Coun-cil.
The death of Cardinal D'Alton lefttheway open for a new pragmaticconservative chairman: ArchbishopWilliamConway.
During the earlier parts of theCouncil most interest in Ireland wasfocussed not on the deliberations ofthe world bishops but on Pope John.He epitomised the open, friendly,trusting spirit of many of the Vaticanreforms. His encyclicals,Mater etMagistraandPacem in Terris,had ahugeeffect in Ireland. The secondencyclical especially embarrassedsome members of the Irish hier-archy in that it vitiated everythingthey had said about the ill-fatedMother and Child Scheme. But evenpeoplesuch as Bishop Browne ofGalway, who disagreed fundamentallywiththe political position of PopeJohn,recognised that here was a manof God whom the Irish people werelisteningto and loved deeply andaccordingly tempered his more frene-tic anti-socialist outbursts.
Death of Pope John
John's death shook the Irish nationand impressed the spirit of VaticanII upon even the most conservativemembers of the laity. Before thebeginning of the Second Session ofthe Vatican Council, which beganon September 29, Pope Paul hadbeen elected almost unanimously bythe College of Cardinals.
In the last three sessions the Irishdelegation was still one of the mostconservative but like other episco-pacies its position was moderated bycontact with other hierarchies, par-ticularlysome of the younger Irish-American bishops. Clearly the bishopsdid not yet expect that, under pres-sure from liberal bishops, the reformsof Vatican II would be mandatory. Atthe end of the Third Session CardinalConway declared that "some peoplewouldhave a certain nostalgia for theold entirely Latin Mass and that isperfectly understandable and thebishops must take it into account."Thehierarchy still seemed to thinkreforms would be implemented spas-modically and at their leisure.
Dr. Philbin rapidly emerged as themost stubborn, articulate conservativeamong the bishops. He remained incontact with members of conservativefactions in other English-speakinghierarchies and by the end he was oneof their leaders. During the last ses-sion he presented a petition on behalfof seventy bishops to reopen the de-bate on the "Constitution of theChurch in the Modern World." Whenhe spoke on this he claimed that non-Christians were oppressed by sin. Heclaimed furthermore that the docu-ment was letting the Church down inadmitting in front of non-believersthat it had faults. He said that insteadof talking about media, communityandwitness it should stress the Paul-ine and Augustine doctrine of theCentralityof Grace and Man's com-plete dependence on God. He movedthatthe document as it stood, (andwasfinally passed) should be thrownout.
CardinalConway represented theattitude of most of the Irish hierarchy.Hespoke frequently praising Ireland.Hiscontributions to the debates ontwo declarations were especially in-teresting in that he was by the end ofthe Council a spokesman for the con-sensus opinion of the Irish Church.On"Religious Freedom" he deman-ded that the refusal of State grantsto Catholic schools be condemned asan abuse of religious freedom. Clearlythis was aimed at Stormont.
On the "Church in the ModernWorld" he said the document failed topraise the contribution of Christianmarriageto civilisation, that it shouldexplicitly attack divorce, that it shouldcondemn illegal methods of contracep-tion, and that it was too timid in theface of modern science. Dr. Philbinspoke on Revelation, where he be-trayed a deplorable lack of knowledgeconcerning modern biblical science,and asked that scriptural scholars begiven a formal warning by the Coun-cil. When he finished speaking he hada row with the Press who had inter-preted the Latin for warning in toosevere a' manner. The only otherbishop to speak at all was Dr. Luceyof Cork who, with his nationalismbristling, declared that Ireland had re-ligiousfreedom and had the burialservice in the varnacular.
None of the bishops spoke on ecumenism, but most were highly scepti-cal. The Northern bishops consideredthat it would be impossible to imple-ment, and the Southern bishops failedto understand why it was necessary.
Liberal on the Virgin Mary
Perhapsthe most notable instanceof the Irish bishops not taking a con-servative line was on the question ofthe Virgin Mary. The Polish bishopsandmany South American bishopswanted her declared Mediatrix of allGraces and Co-Redemptrix. Naturallythe Irish bishops were canvassed onthis matter but apart from Dr. Mc-Quaid and a few older bishops theyrefused seemingly because they dis-agreed with the debased form ofscholastic theology which led to suchthinking.
Their most reprehensible behaviourwas over the question of war. ManyEuropean, English and Americanbishops wanted the use of atom bombsto be outlawed. The most eloquentspeech in favour of a ban or condem-nationof the atom bomb was CardinalOttaviani, which received a lot ofpublicity. The Irish bishops expressedno particular interest in this matterbut voted with notorious hawks suchas Cardinal Spellman and most of theAustralian hierarchy who were all forthebomb.
The implementation of Vatican de-crees was discussed first at length atameeting of the hierarchy in May-nooth, on June 23, 1964. There wasconsiderable disagreement among thebishopsabout ecumenism and liturgy.Bishop Lucey and ArchbishopMcQuaidvehemently opposed thesuggestion that changes in the Massbe implemented nationally. Somebishops were in favour of postponinganychanges as long as possible. How-ever, Cardinal Conway came out fullyfor immediate change in the Massand stressed that it would come in-evitably anyway. Disagreement wassuch that no statement was issuedon the subject. Agreement was, how-ever, reached on ecumenism. Theydecided that there would be noofficial change in the policy of a con-tinued ban on ecumenical contactsuntila directory was issued in Rome.This, in effect, gave acarte blanchetobishops like Dr. McQuaid to stopalmost all ecumenical contacts intheir diocese. Clues to the attitudesof some bishops can be seen in thestatements of Dr. Philbin and Car-dinal Conway at the end of theThirdSession of the Council.
Dr. Philbin trenchantly statedabout liturgy that "the question iswhether they want greater participa-tionin the Mass or continue in silentcommunion of spirit with the priest."Dr. Conway said on ecumenism "thatmen cannot be asked to sacrificeprinciples as the price of goodwill."
At this crucial juncture it appearedthat the Irish bishops were solidlyagainst change. When the theories ofVatican II had to be translated intohard realities it seemed that the Irishbishops would opt for what theyknew had worked for a long time.
Brilliant Lay Theologians
During the early 1960'S the Churchin Ireland reluctantly moved alongwith the times. It moved slowly andunwillingly due to pressures imposedon it from outside. But even if theIrish Church appeared to suffer froman abysmal lay ignorance and from atheologically backward clergy theseedsof change had already takenroot.
By the end of the Council a smallgroup of laymen capable of compre-hendingthe thinking in the universalChurchhad formed. Such people asJohn Horgan, Louis McRedmond andSeanMcReamoinn had become self-made theologians. The existence ofsuch a group, combined with thepower of the mass media, meant thatrapid religious change was made moreeasilyacceptable to Conservative Irishpeople and priests. These new laytheologiansmeant that any possibilityof reaction to the reforms of Vatican IIwas lessened. Furthermore anothernewinfluence was rapidly developing.The theology of Vatican II had beendisseminated widely among youngpriestsin Ireland. Every year Glenstalheld a Liturgical Congress which wasattended by over 100 young priests,magazines such as "The Furrow",edited by Dr. McGarry, "Doctrine6 0and Life", edited by Fr. Austin Flan-nery, popularised the new theology inalmost every seminary and convent inthe country. Thus a large number ofpriests were intellectually equippedfor change. They too were led by agroup of priests including Fr. Mackey,Fr. Hurley, Fr. McDonagh, Fr. Stackand Dom Paul McDonnell, who hadre-educated themselves theologicallyas the Council progressed. Un-doubtedlythis group's influencespread into the Irish Hierarchy gradu-ally through its intellectual influenceon younger members of the hierarchy.
In the last five years change in theChurch has still depended almost en-tirely on the diplomatic wrangling ofthecountry's Hierarchy. There hasbeen no devolution in authority norhas there been any attempt to usurpthehierarchies' prerogative of consul-tation before any change is attempted.But the influences on the Hierarchyhave widened in scope and in inten-sity.
The Church Responds to NewProblems
The second half of the 1960'S sawcertain hopeful signs of renewal fortheIrish Church. The older genera-tion of clergy has lost a great deal ofitsinfluence. The ruling body of theChurch, the Hierarchy, is now splitbetween liberals and conservatives.Criticismof the Church has prolifer-ated among the laity and youngermembers of the clergy.
Oneof the immediate reasons forthisaccelerated rate of change hasbeen the unprecedented death-rateamong the hierarchy in the decade.Most of the bishops who died wereeducated in the most conservativeperiod of Church teaching in the1920S. By the 1930S the Church hadbecome disenchanted with the ideaof a corporate state and in the 1930SMaynoothwas possibly one of themost advanced seminaries in WesternEurope.
During the 1960s there have beentwelve new appointments to the hier-archy. Undoubtedly the people ap-pointed have been of a high calibreandsome of them have proved to bedynamic progressives. The appoint-ment of Dr. Herlihy and Dr. Dalywere directly due to the VaticanCouncil.Dr. Herlihy filled the vacantsee of Ferns when a popular andprominent candidate for the see wholivedin Wexford died before he wasdue to be appointed. Although Dr.Herlihywas a Corkman he wasplaced in the diocese of Wexford.During the Council he impressed thebishops as a scholarly and pragmaticheadof the Irish College. Since hisappointment he has proved to be afairly liberal bishop. Dr. Cathal Dalywas a theological advisor to the hier-archy during the Council and alsoimpressed the bishops. He is prob-ably the most theologically and philo-sophically articulate member of thehierarchy and has had an educativeeffect on the less intellectual memberof the hierarchy.
Another bishop to impress himselfupon the hierarchy was Dr. Birch.When he was a Professor in May-nooth prior to his appointment in1962 he was an extremely conserva-tive and cautious individual, who hadalways been unpopular with rankand file clergy, but when he becamebishop he changed for the better.Consistently he has led the hierarchyin social and liturgical innovationwhichhas made him extremely un-popularwith some bishops such asDr. McQuaid.
New and Better Bishops
Better men have been appointedbishops because the hierarchy felt itnecessaryto concede something toVatican II and to regain contact withthe people. Bishops Harty andMurphy have proved to be excellentbishops for their dioceses. Dr. Hartyparticularlyhas helped educate agroup of bishops in the economics ofthe West. Most of the rural Westernbishops,as well as Dr. Lennon andDr. McCormack, have a considerablymore sophisticated and less reaction-ary understanding of the role of capi-tal and of the State in providing em-ployment and welfare for the peoplethan the older bishops. Dr. Harty wasawell-known sympathiser with theE.!.strike in Shannon and in factcarried picketers in his car. He hasfrequently attacked the abuse of tIrish worker by foreign monopolyfirms such as General Electric, whichrefuses to allow its workers to beunionised.
Gradually over the decade the oldguard bishops were placed in a minor-ity in the hierarchy. This was reflectedin the election of Bishop Casey toKerry in 1969. He was nominated forRome's endorsement only by a major-ity of two votes. Cardinal Conwaypushed for his appointment but hewas stoutly resisted by ArchbishopMcQuaid,Bishop Farren, BishopBrowne and other bishops. Somebishops such as Bishop Browne con-sideredthat he should not be appoin-ted because he was not an academicand all other bishops beforehandwithoutexception had been, andothers were not happy about some ofhis statements on politics. Probablythe reason he was appointed was be-cause some bishops wanted the elec-tionof Enda McDonagh, which wasanathema to Bishop Browne and mostother bishops. Enda McDonagh hasfinally been out of favour with nearlyall bishops because of his participationat an anti-Vietnam war prayer meet-ing outside the U.S. Embassy inDublin last November. All the oldguard bishops are completely infavour of U.S. policy in Vietnam dueto their fear of atheistic Communism.Bishop Browne in particular is infavour of a Goldwater solution toVietnam.
After the Council the Church inIreland experienced a new phenome-non. The Council had a greater effecton younger priests than on the laity.Students in Maynooth became discon-tented and the staff of Maynoothrecognised that there would be a hugedrop-out rate if certain reforms werenot implemented. At the same timediocesanpriests especially in Dublinbegan to demand more autonomyfromtheir parish priests, many ofwhom were episcopal hacks and livedinmortal dread of the Archbishop.Someof these liberal priests beganappearing on television and had anenormouseffect on public opinion.They helped focus lay attention onwhat the hierarchy should have beendoing.
When the Council ended com-mittees were set up to regulate therate of change in the Church. Theonly Irish bishop, apart from CardinalConway,on these committees wasDr. Lucey, who was on a committeeon Religious. He fought reforms forconvents and monasteries consistently.Most committees were dominated byliberalsjust as the debates at theCouncil had been. The directoriesissuedby these committees forced theIrish hierarchy to recognise finallythat change for the Church was goingto be universal. Cardinal Conway whowas in closest contact with Rome re-cognised this clearly and in his brief-ings to the bishops stressed that Ire-land should take a middle course inreforms.
Fear of Mass Apostasy
Probably the chief element in per-suadingthe Irish bishops to acceptchange was the lack of reaction bythe priesthood and the laity to initialtentativeliturgical changes decided atthe stormy June meeting of the hier-archy in 1964. Bishops such as Dr.McQuaid,Dr. Browne and especiallyDr. Lucey, thought that bringingEnglish into the Mass would resultin mass apostasy and widespread dis-belief and puzzlement among thetranquil faithful. They were favour-ably surprised when most of thefaithful slumbered on and a minoritybecame enthusiastic. This persuadedthemto accept change in a grudging,halfhearted manner. Only BishopLuceyremained intransigent. He re-fused to put either the Kyrie, theCreed or the Gloria in the vernacularand doled out severe reprimands tolocalpriests who wanted to move thealtar. He told the hierarchy that theuse of a table as an altar was blas-phemous despite the fact that thebishops agreed to allow the use oftemporary altars.
In other countries an immediatesequel to the Council was the polar-isation of the clergy into bitterly hos-tile camps. In England and Americawhere the Irish bishops had manycontacts the clergy split into a groupwho followed the bishops, a groupwho demanded the return of theLatin Mass and a group who dis-obeyed the bishops and experimentedwith the Liturgy. The Irish bishopswere pleased when such did not hap-pen in Ireland. This can probablybeaccounted for by the class back-~round of the Irish clergy. Most Irishpriests, even in Dublin and Belfast,come from small farm backgroundand quite rightly were not as en-thused with trivial matters such asminute changes in the Liturgy aswere more upper-class priests andlaityin other countries, e.g. Britain.They were content to wait forchangesand continued to see theirmain role as a pastoral, organisa-tional one on behalf of their parish-ioners. Thus the Irish Church didnot suffer from prima donna upper-class liberals and conservatives. Thisallowed the Irish hierarchy to con-tinue to implement reforms withoutbeing upset unduly by noisy priests.
Themost crucial meeting of thehierarchy was held in June, 1965. Atthis meeting some discontent was ex-pressedwith the control of episcopaldecisions by the hierarchical standingcommittee. This standing committeehad eight members which includedDr. Browne, Dr. Mcquaid, Dr.Lucey and Dr. Philbin, the conserva-tive hardliners. This committee coulddecide on the agenda for all hier-archicalmeetings and took all de-cisions which needed urgent atten-tion between the infrequent meetingsof the whole hierarchy. To balancethepower of the older bishops in atactful manner the June meeting de-cided on the formation of eight com-missions. These were chaired bydifferent members of the hierarchyand were on liturgy, university edu-cation, post-primary education, massmedia, religious orders, primary edu-cation and emigration.
This proposal was poorly receivedby the older bishops. Other decisionswere also opposed by them. Thebishops agreed by a sizeable majorityto introduce more vernacular into theMass. A Communications Centrewas also set up with a sizeablegrant from the Catholic TruthSociety. Another decision taken bythe bishops was to set up the Nat-ional Council for the Laity. Nobishop objected to this since eachbishopwas permitted to appoint oneperson to it and no element of demo-craticelection was considered. Im-mediatechanges in religious coursesin schools were also decided upondespitethe strenuous objections ofDr. Browne who held that the oldcatechism and rote learning was es-sentialand of Dr. Mcquaid who wassuspicious of national catechetics.This meeting appears to have set theChurch in Ireland quite definitely ona path of cautious change.
McQuaid Embarks on a Different Course
The outcome of this meeting was toforceDr. Mcquaid on a course radi-callydifferent from the rest of thehierarchy.He objected to almosteverythingdecided upon by the hier-archy and was worried by discussionamong the bishops on the future ofMaynooth the fruits of which were6 2made public a year later. He deliber-ately embarked on a policy of dis-engaging Dublin from the rest of thecountry. He set in motion plans tostop Dublin clerical students studyingin Maynooth. He began to plan theplanned giving campaign which was tofinance the expansion of Clonliffe asarival to Maynooth. At the same timehe set up Mater Dei as an Institutefor nuns and brothers. This was adeliberateeffort to stop Maynoothbeing developed as such a centre,which the rest of the hierarchy wished.Dr. Mcquaid was particularly wor-ried by attempts by many bishops tolegalise academic freedom for clericalpriests in academic circles. He sawthat he could only control the teach-ingof priests if he directly controlleda big seminary. In 1969 the logic ofhis plans were seen when the lastDublinstudent left Maynooth. In thesame year he personally initiated apurge in Clonliffe. He effectively re-movedFather O'Mahony from a posi-tion of authority in Clonliffe andMaterDei and Sister Antonina, O.P.,from Mater Dei. Just recently MotherJordana has also been purged. At thesametime he both rescinded earlierreforms in the Institutions and ex-pelled a few students who had con-sidered the earlier reforms to be in-adequate. Tension between the hier-archyas a whole and Dr. Mcquaid isseverein this matter. Clonliffe is theonly seminary that takes recruits fromallover the country and whichpoachescandidates from other bish-ops. This practice has been stopped inretaliation by bishops who run otherseminaries. The fruits of Dr. Mc-Quaid's behaviour can be seen in thefact that vocations to Clonliffe havefallen almost twice as fast as for otherseminaries and that while the drop-outrate in all seminaries has increased toalmost 50 % it is now nearing 75% inClonliffe. This will mean a shortage ofpriests in Dublin before 1975.
Dr. Mcquaid's policies have beenmade easier by the fact that he con-trolsall decisions for 750,000 Catho-lics which is over 25 % of the total. Ineffect he controls a mjority of theurban Church. Since most bishopscomprise part of the small farm lobbythey are not really interested inDublin and in fact are rather afraid ofit.At meetings of the hierarchy Dr.Mcquaid refuses to discuss urbanproblems since he considers them tobehis sole responsibility and stavesoff any possible critcism by referringto the unique problems of his arch-diocese.
Of course during the decade Dr.Mcquaid has come under increasingcriticismfrom liberal elements andaccordingly found it necessary to ap-point a Public Relations Office toexplain his actions to the people ofDublin. Two other sources of frictionbetween Dr. Mcquaid and the rest ofthe hierarchy have been Trinity andTelefis Eireann. Most bishops wantedthe removal of the ban on TrinityCollege in 1966 and when the mergerwas announced wanted the appoint-ment of chaplains to Trinity. Dr. Mc-Quaid opposed both and in fact in1967 reiterated the old strictures onTrinity in his Lenten pastoral. Onlyat the last meeting of the hierarchydid Dr. Mcquaid reluctantly relentand agreed to appoint chaplains in thenear future.
Telefis Eireann (like Maynooth) isgoegraphically in the Archdiocese ofDublin. Technically it is under thecontrol of the whole hierarchy butthroughoutits history Dr. Mcquaidhas sought to gain direct control ofreligiousprogrammes. Fortunately,the Head of Programmes was aDominican, Father Romuald Dodd,who canonically could not be got at.
Row Over the Merger
In June 1966, the hierarchy initia-tedplans to change Maynooth. Astatement from the hierarchy said"thatin the spirit of the Council,Maynoothwas to be opened toBrothers, nuns and laity." This hasbeena continuing process since 1966.OnOctober 3 of the same year amost important meeting was heldbetweenO'Malley with several De-partment of Education officials andthe hierarchy after which no state-ment was issued. At the meetingO'Malley told them of his plans forfreeeducation. The hierarchy gener-ally approved of free education ex-cept for Dr. Browne who (once again)suspected the all-embracing hand ofthe State. O'Malley, however, toldthemnothing about the merger whichwas probably wise since when it wasannounced there was no meeting duefor several months and the bishopscould not form a united front againstthe merger. Drs. Browne, McQuaid,Luceyand Philbin were all extremelyangry that they were not informed inadvance. However, there was littlethey could do about it since theirchief, Cardinal Conway, had alreadyopenly welcomed the statement whenhe said "the UCD and TCD mergercontains a number of good ideas andcouldmark a positive step towards arationalisation of all aspects of thesituation. "
By the beginning of 1967 Dr.McQuaid was extremely worried bysemi heretical tendencies among thehierarchy.He was upset by the Pon-tificalMoto Propriothat bishops of75 and over should retire and wor-ried that Cardinal Conway wouldmoveto Dublin on his retirement.Cardinal Conway was one of the fewcity men in the hierarchy. Dr. Con-'way was personally worried aboutthe fate of Dublin and recognised itsimportance for the future of theCatholic Church in Ireland. The re-sponse of Dr. McQuaid was to setabout ensuring a good successor. Hebegan grooming Monsignor Carroll,the head of Clonliffe, as a puppet forcontinuing his rule. It might benoted, however, that Bishop Carrollis often at a complete loss to knowthe Archbishop's mind. He has evenbeen known to retire to the country-side in some confusion to try andwork things out.
In December 1968, he appointedBishopCarroll, Auxiliary to theArchdiocese.In his general strategyhe was helped by the approval ofPopePaul VI. In 1965 Cardinal Con-way, speaking of Dublin, said: "PopePaul's warm affection for the peopleofDublin developed after he saw thelarge congregation daily at Mass inthecity churches." This refers toPopePaul's visit in 1961 when hewas deeply impressed by the effici-ency of the diocesan administrationand by the Archbishop. In 1968 thePope was going through a roughperiodwhen the bishops of the worldwererebelling against hisHumanaeVitaeencyclical. At the time he wasparticularlymoved by the swift act-ion in support of his position byDr. McQuaid. The Pope increasinglysaw Dublin as the most loyal dioceseinthe world. It is now expected bytheother bishops that the Pope willrefuse Dr. McQuaid's offer to resignwhen he reaches the age of 75 laterthisyear. Thus the problem of asuccessor will be postponed for awhile yet.
The Church in 1968 was rapidlygaining in public esteem after thecritical years after the Council. Anumber of important reforms hadbeen introduced with all due speed.The hierarchy spoke with one voicein public normally through CardinalConway and thus appeared to beunifiedand progressive. Furthermore,in the Diocese of Killaloe the Bishop,Dr. Harty, had introduced lay coun-cils allover the diocese and had al-lowed elections for all promotionswithin the clergy. Liberal priestssuch as Fathers Michael Sweetman,Fergal O'Connor, Enda McDonagh, Austin Flannery, the Radharc team on RTE and Father James Goodmade the clerical Church appear tobe less reactionary than it really wasdue to their relative monopoly of themass media. Then, as in every othercountry,came the shock ofHumanaeVitae.
On the day of its announcement,July 29, Dr. McQuaid resurrected hisperitus,Monsignor Cremin, and heldan "official" news conference. ActuallyDr. McQuaid neither asked the per-mission of the other bishops or of theApostolic Nuncio before he held his"official" news conference. While Dr.McQuaid was giving his imprimaturto the Pope's encyclical, Father JamesGood publicly disagreed with it inCork. The reaction of Bishop Luceywas delayed since he was on holidays.Butwhen he returned on August 13he suspended him from hearing con-fession or engaging in pastoral work,and from preaching. When termopenedin U.C.C. in October it wasdiscovered that Father Good was alsosuspended from lecturing in theology.
Reactions to Humanae Vitae
The other bishops rallied round thePope pretty rapidly. On August 4 ina sermon in Armagh Cathedral, Cardi-nal Conway said: ."This teaching isauthentic and binding not as a mereopinion or point of view but as theclearvoice of the Church to whichour Lord said 'He that heareth youhearethMe'. I have no doubt that itwill be accepted as such by the vastmajority of our people." BishopBrowne characteristically weighed in.Onthe same Sunday he delivered thefollowing pronouncement: "Alreadythe wide use and sale of contracep-tives have produced in many coun-tries an alarming decline in moralitywith serious injury to marriage andfamily life. The Catholic Church up-holds the sanctity of marriage andcondemns divorce and these otherperversions."
On October 9 the hierarchy issueda statement concerning the encyclical,in the course of which they said:"The Pope speaks not as one theolo-gian among many but as the Vicar ofChrist who has the special assistanceof the Holy Spirit in teaching theuniversalChurch." At the same meet-ing they appointed Bishop CathalDaly to write a longer Pastoral Letter.When this Letter was eventually pro-ducedits publication was opposed,but without effect, by two bishopswho seemingly were not convinced ofthe thinking of Pope Paul and main-tained that the best thing to do wastoshut up and let the whole thingblow over.
The reaction of the laity finallyproved that the era of clerical hege-mony in Ireland was at an end. Anopinion held by theIrish MedicalTimesshow that in August 65 % ofdoctors in the Republic disagreed withthe papal ruling. A limited privatesurvey initiated by the hierarchyshowedsimilar attitudes among thelaity. The clericalistSunday Indepen-dentattempted to prove the oppositebyholding a "write-in" opinion poll,which contained slanted and biasedquestions. Despite this over 75% ofthe poll was against the Pope, andsome20,000 openly disagreed withhim.The findings of the poll were, ineffectsuppressed in that they wereannounced over a month late andwereplaced in the middle of a long,dull article. No doubt if the result hadbeen otherwise the findings wouldhavebeen splashed all over the front64page. The immediate effect was asharp drop in the sales of the pill, theresults of which have been seen in thelast four months with the averagemonthly crop of births rising by al-most 1,000. However, after the initialdrop the incredulous reactions ofChurchmen around the world to theEncyclical must have eased the qualmsof conscience as sales of the pill haverisen to a peak above the pre-Encycli-cal level which points to the fact thatthe long term effect of the Encyclicalwas to make more people aware of thepossible benefits of contraception.
The main source of the Church'spower continues to be the schools.Significantly, due to the demands ofcapitalism for a better trained workforce,tlie main area where there hasbeen some small element of socialisa-tion in the 1960s has been in educa-tion. This has pleased the hierarchywho approved almost unanimously oftheFree Schools Scheme but it hasmeant a growing crisis for the reli-gious owners of the schools. Owing toa rapid drop in vocations the gapbetweenthe numbers of lay teachersand religious teachers has widened toa position where almost all schoolsare predominantly staffed by laity. Inprimary education, for instance, therewerenow only 2,148 religious teachersout of a total of 14,614 according tothe latest statistics available whichapply to June 1966. The survey whichwill be submitted to the hierarchy inFebruaryshows that secondary schoolssuffer from a similar problem.This growing gap means that costsarerising for religious schools be-cause they have to pay increasedsalaries and overheads to the laityandsave less money from govern-ment fees for religious teachers. Pre-ciselyat the time when religiousschoolswere meeting this crisis theywere faced with an additional prob-lem stemming from the free educa-tion scheme. This entailed furtherovercrowding and an even greaterdependence on lay staff which raisedcosts even further. A clue to the ex-tent of this new difficulty for theschools can be seen in the fact thatthe number of pupils taking theLeaving Certificate has risen by54 % in the last two years.
Even the Christian Brothers whichnaturally have been less affected bythe free education scheme becausethe Order has always payed for aconsiderable portion of their pupils,haveexperienced a rapid increase inpupils. In the South Leinster prov-ince of the Order between 1959 and1969 there has been an increase from3,986 secondary pupils to 7,317pupils. In the Munster province theincrease has been from 5,520 to8,782 and in the North Leinster andConnacht province the numbers haverisen from 6,035 to 8,240 despitethe continued depopulation of thisprovince.
Whenthe hierarchy agreed to ac-cept the free school scheme theteachingorders were furious. It waswidely considered by them that thehierarchy's acceptance of the schemewas influenced largely by the govern-ment's agreement to grant specialpreferential grants to diocesan schoolsfor boarders. This special grant tap-ped an old source of tension betweenthe hierarchy and the Religious.Some bishops like to keep a completecontrol over schools and refuse toallow any religious schools in theirdioceses. The Bishop of Derry, Dr.Farren, allows no Catholic Ordersin his diocese. Dr. Lucey only allowsteaching brothers: Until recentlymost western dioceses did not allowmale religious orders in their areaalthough they encouraged nuns. Thismainly stemmed from rivalry overvocations. It also meant that educa-tion for boys in rural areas was lack-ingwhile there was extreme com-petition from among convents forpupils.
This pattern of rivalry has dimin-ishedin recent years because voca-tions tend to be less tied to the oldschool background. But there remainsasevere economic conflict betweenthe hierarchy and the religious. MostOrders feared free education becauseit left their financial future in doubt.Its advent has brought their vocationscrisis to a point of collapse. On theother hand it is in the interest of thehierarchy to encourage free educa-tion. More Leaving Certificate pupilsmean more secular vocations andmore pupils in diocesan schoolsmeansmore power and prestige forthe diocesan bishops.
The tension between the hierarchyand religious is made even more severe by the power structures inmost dioceses. The most influentialmen with a bishop are parish priestswhorun primary schools and have aninterest in continuing or achievingpay parity for their teachers withsecondaryschools. The subordinateparochial clergy are probably thesecond most influential group andtheyare usually involved in voca-tional schools either in teaching re-ligion or on vocational committees.They, too, have an interest in main-taining parity with the secondaryschools.
These tensions came to a headwith the secondary school strike inFebruary 1969. This was encouragedby most religious orders, but it wasopposed by the hierarchy in general.Indeed some members of the hier-archy advocated that the strike bebrokenby diocesan schools and thatthe hierarchy refuse to close downsecondary schools. The clinching fac-tor which stopped them confrontingthe secondary school heads was inthefact that it would have beenimpossible to keep their schools openwithout lay teachers.
The intrusion of Cardinal Conwayinto the dispute was probably one ofthe main factors which ended thestrike. Certainly a position is beingrapidly reached where the interests ofthe hierarchy and the Orders will becompletely different. The vocationscrisis has not yet really upset thehierarchy very much but the contra-diction between owning and control-ling secondary schools while in aminority position on the teaching staffis driving some religious orders fromeducation.
The crisis in vocations has nowbegun to reach alarming levels. How-ever, the effect of the decline in voca-tionshas not really been felt yetbecause of the great surplus of olderpriestsfrom the last generation. For-merly the problem of diocesan priestswas underemployment, now they arebeginningto be over-extended. In Dr.Lennon's diocese of Kildare andLeighlin priests are no longer servingin Britain for a period because of ashortage of priests. In Dr. Daly'sdiocesethere are plans afoot to usereligious in pastoral work due to ashortage of priests. Dr. Lucey is be-ginning to find that his adventurousschemes for Peru are not helpful tothe diocese (he is worried about thepolitical effect of Peru on the priests,on the shortage of priests in his dio-cese and the huge number of priestswho are volunteering to go to Perutherebyadmitting a certain lack ofinterest or commitment to working inCork.)
However, the long-term prospectsarepoor for the Church. It is doubtfulif it will be able to maintain its hugeclericaladministration throughout the1970s. The seriousness of the situationcan be seen in that in 196o a peak of447 priests ordained had been ob-tained which has gone down graduallyto 376 in 1967. The fruits, however,of a serious decline in the number ofentries to the seminary which beganat the time of the Council were seenwhen quite dramatically in 1968 thenumber of priests ordained droppedto 300. In 1969 there has been a slightbut negligible improvement to 309.This decline from a peak in 196oprior to the Council has affected allsections of the priesthood (and sincethe religious Orders most urgentlyneed ordinations must exacerbatechronic overcrowding in religiousschools). In 1960 there were 94 priestsordained for diocesan work while in1968there were only 69. In 1960 therewere 141 priests ordained for foreigndioceses (usually in the U.S.) while in1968this had gone down to 97. Thethreemissionary societies for whichthere are statistics available (DalganPark,Kiltegan Fathers and S.M.A.)dropped from a figure of 45 to 31 inthe same period. The religious Orderssuffered the most severe drop from159 ordinations to 103.
The really serious nature of thesituation can be appreciated only ifone examines the numbers enteringthe seminaries over the last two years.The number ordained in the earlyseventies depends entirely on thenumber who have entered in the lastfew years and on the drop-out rate.Boththe numbers entering the semi-nary and the number who are drop-ping out bode ill for the Church in themid-I 970s. The increasing number ofdrop-out and the fall in entries isshown by the steady decline in thetotal number of students in Irishseminaries although they fail to showthe huge disparity between the size ofa class which began five years ago andthe tiny size of beginning classes inseminaries now. In 1961 there were3,409 students in seminaries and insuccessive years the figures have fol-lowedthis steady decline; 3,313,3,284, 3,205, 3,195, 3,064, 2,750,2,584 and in 1969, 2,235. There hasbeen a huge decline in the last fewyears particularly and over the decadethenumber in seminaries have fallenby over 1,000 or almost 40%.
These statistics are not as bad assimilar statistics from convents andforvocations to the Brothers. Theintake in Juniorates for Brothers hasdropped quite sharply in the lastfew years although the ChristianBrothers refuse to comment on theextent of the drop. The Juniorateshave probably been adversely affec-ted by the fact that with free educa-ion boys are unwilling to committhemselvesto a life as a ChristianBrother. The survey which will besubmitted to the hierarchy in Febru-ary includes statistics on vocationsfor the first time. It appears thatvocations to some Orders have gonedownby at least fifty per cent.
The hierarchy's survey shows :clearly an increasing liberalismamong the conservative classes inIreland which acts against young boysbecoming priests,Whereas - formerly the main hopeof small farmer parents was a voca-tionto the priesthood for their child,now they object to their childrenbecoming priests.
The increasingcrisisin the international priesthoodhas affected this class quite a lot.The main reason why small farmerswanted vocations was the prestigeand stability which life as a priestoffered. Nowadays the profession ofthe priesthood is in decline and issuffering from internal contradic-tions, public ridicule and sensational-ist treatment of sexual scandals bythe gutter _pross. The vast publicityFather Charles Davis received whenhe was married, gravely upset manyorthodox vocation-type families. Nowthe conservative family hopes thatthe child will enter the bank or oneof the 'lesser professions and is utilis-ing the free education scheme tobring this about.
Young people from rural back-grounds are shown by this survey tobeaffected by a different culturalclimate than their predecessors.Reasonsthey give for not becomingapriest show markedly new attitudes.Sex ranks higher than any otherreasonsand this is probably due toearlier dating and dance-going thanformerly.The priesthood is still re-spectedbut it now is considered tobe only one of the many desirableprofessions.Furthermore the unrestin the priesthood also affects themany potential vocations who clearlyseeka normal middle-class wealthy,stable existence.
Thenumber of seminary entrieswillprobably faIl at an even greaterrate if such attitudes continue togain a foothold in the declining ruralmiddleclasses. Anv possibility of.attaining stability with regard tovocationsdemands increasing statusforthe priesthood so that it wouldhave a more widely based class ap-peal.However, this has not happenedandis unlikely to happen as since66Dr. Newman published his statisticson Maynooth the background ofstudents has become narrower ratherthan wider.
Certainly the hierarchy have agreater opportunity to support socialreform and renewal in the IrishChurch than have the religiousOrders or most sections of theclergy. They still control a powerfulinstitution and can afford to innovatewherereligious cannot.
Radical Meeting of the Bishops
The last private meeting of thehierarchy showed some signs of agrowingawareness of the need forchange. The power of Drs. McQuaidand Browne was finally broken. Thecommittees which were set up threeyears earlier could not set the agendafor hierarchical meetings until the lastmeeting altered the previous arrange-ments. This in effect abolishes thepower of the hierarchy's standingcommitteedominated by the conserva-tive clique. New committees were setup to devise new religious curriculain schools despite the continued op-position of Bishop Browne. Anothercommiteewas set up to influenceRTE religious programmes with agreater accent on teaching adults newtheology.
A very significant decision taken wasto allow lay people to advise all hier-archical committees. The older bish-ops were taken aback in that they werenotappointed to head any of the com-mittees and to salve their fe-dings afinaldecision on the chairman of thecommitteeswas put off until June.Another decision of major importtaken was to introduce sex educationinto all Catholic schools. This wasforced on the hierarchy by Bishop Dalywho quite correctly pointed out thatany charitable defence ofHumanaeVitaewhich was not based on merecelibate ignorance needed a compre-hensive programme of sex educationin the schools. He pointed out alsothat such was required by Pope Paulin his defence ofHumanae Vitae.Ifany school is reluctant to implementthisprogramme then the local curatewill be empowered to draw up a pro-gramme of sex education utilisinglocal doctors and other experts. Theprogramme will include the psysiologyand mechanics of sexuality and anoutline based on the Bible of a lessparanoid theological view of sex.
Some bishops including Dr. Hartyand Dr. Daly demanded greater auto-nomyfor Maynooth and the hierarchyagreed to set up a theological com-missionto investigate cases whereacademics disapprove of disciplinaryaction by bishops. All academics willbe able to appeal to this committee ifthey feel affronted by a bishop's deci-sion on their orthodoxy. This decisiononce again weakened the power of theconservative lobby. Formerly deci-sions on the orthodoxy of Maynoothprofessors were taken by the May-nooth Visitors who comprised (oddlyenough) Cardinal Conway, Dr. Mc-Quaid, Dr. Walsh, Dr. Morris, Dr.Browne, Dr. Farren and Dr. Lucey.Last year during theHumanae Vitaedispute several Maynooth professorsincluding Father Flanagan and FatherWatson were reprimanded in a letterfrom Bishop Lucey for articles theywrote on the birth-control problem.Two years earlier Bishop Browne ofthe same committee and Bishop Phil-bin, a bitter enemy of Mackey, wasinstrumental in stopping Father JamesMackey being appointed to Browne'soldChair. Bishop Daly courageouslysupported Mackey's appointment. Dr.Browne was horrified at the idea ofsucha progressive theologian occupy-ing his venerable seat. At the time theMaynoothProfessors succeeded inhaving a committee sit on FatherMackey'sorthodoxy and it reported tothe Visitors that he was not a heretic.However, under pressure from Bish-ops Browne and Philbin the otherbishops gave in and Father Mackeywasnot appointed. Father Mackey isnow in America as he found it difficultto get a job commensurate with hisability in Ireland.
LessPower for the Hardliners
A vital decision taken by thebishops was to extend the power ofthe National Episcopal Conference.Fomierlydecisions which were notmade mandatory by Rome were takenby the local bishop irrespective ofthe decision of the whole hierarchy.Now all decisions made by thenational meeting of the hierarchy onliturgy and catechetics will be forthe whole country. This was, quitenaturally, resisted by the usual groupof conservative bishops and byothers,such as Dr. Lennon and Dr.Herlihy who were against interfer-ence in their diocese by the rest ofthehierarchy. Other bishops such asDr. Harty were eager to have allrelevant decisions taken by theGeneral Meeting of Bishops. How-ever,in this field the power of theconservative bishops who hold all thekey seats was once again whittled down.
This is generally the position theleaders of the Church are in at themoment. They are poised between ahistory of power based on theirleadership of ignorant, rural reactionand a future of increasing harmonyandco-operation with the forces ofliberal capitalism as represented byFianna Fail in the post-Lemass era.This compromise has been helped by.the fact that recently capitalism inIreland has provided more finance forrural areas in the form of schoolsand agricultural subsidies. So to alarge degree the change has not beena painful one for the hierarchy andit has been aided psychologically bya constant background of adaptationby the whole Church.
During the 1960s the Irish Churchhas not suffered very greatly fromthe mass apostasy experienced bymany European sections of theCatholic Church. A secret surveyinitiated by Dr. McQuaid in West-land Row Parish in Dublin, showsthat only among males of the agegroup 18-25 (which is certainly animportant grouping) is there a signi-ficant lack of loyalty. All other groupshave an attendance rate at SundayMass of over 90 %. There has neverbeen a large rural-urban shift withinIrelandby comparison with otherEuropean countries due to the con-tinuedfailure of Irish capital to in-dustrialiseIreland. In the 1960s andparticularly the latter half of thedecadethe Church kept sufficientlyabreast of the changing times toavoid provoking questions of loyaltyfor the educated classes in Ireland,There have been prominent Church-men who have regretted the Church'scompromisewith the new Irelandwith its lack of censorship and weakmoral habit. Nonetheless, it is ofconsiderablesignificance that evensuch a conservative as Bishop Brownesaw fit in 1967 to drop his zo-year-old ban on dancing in his dioceseduring the Lenten period. This issymptomaticof the Church's increas-ing helplessness in combating a liber-alism which is supported by econ-omicinterests concerned to smashallnon-productive attitudes in Irishsocietyin an effort to encouragegreater expenditure on consumeractivities related to dancing, drinkingor sex. At the last meeting of thehierarchy many bishops expressedconcern at the flood of salacious andfilthy literature and films in Ireland.Yet they decided that there wasnothing they could do about it. Theplain truth of the matter is thatpower has passed from a rural smallfarmer class to an expanding anti-Catholicentrepreneur class. Noweven government departments refuseto listen to the bishops. For fouryears the hierarchy has demandedfrequently in private and by lettera new government policy on ruralindustry but once again because ofthe increasing subservience ofgovernment departments to the econ-omic needs of international anddomesticcapital, they have been ig-nored. Indeed when Dr. Harty haswritten on such matters to govern-ment departments he has not evengota reply. The same story appliesto education, where rationalisation ofprimary education is pushed throughirrespective of what the bishops say.
A New Importance for the Church
This new impotence for the Church has been accepted by some superficialclerical liberals but it is a continuingsource of regret for members of thehierarchy such as Dr. Daly who seethat the effect of foreign capital inIreland has only been marginally bene-ficial financially for the Irish peopleand that the cultural effect has beendisastrous.
TheHumanae Vitaedispute provedthat Ireland has a new middle classwhich ignores and scoffs at the Churchwhenever the Church forces it to shedits hypocritical piety. Prominent per-sonalities merely assumed that theChurch was wrong instead of attack-ing the presuppositions behind theencyclical. No leading liberal wasafraid to attack the Church in publicand to heap ridicule upon it. In factinIreland there was no serious wide-spread debate at all due to the lack ofa large articulate Catholic laity. To alarge extent the middle classes havebrokenfree from the Church withoutever considering the implications ofsuch a move and this will undoubtedlycreate great problems for the Churchin the 1970s.
The Church if it is to tackle theformidable problems it faces mustshow considerable courage and initia-tive.The Church still considers itselfto be a small farm lobby and refusestoaccept the fact that industrialisationhas improved the lot of the Irish peo-ple. It is obviously in the interests ofIrish people that the Church showscourage,instead of being a reaction-ary force fighting progressiv politicalmovements. It must also show con-siderably greater awareness of themeans by which it can oppose the cul-tural degenerancy which goes hand-in-hand with the development of anurban, capitalist society.
The Church met the challenge ofthe 1960'S hesitantly but not withoutsuccess; the problems it now faces arethose which have already crippledthe European Church. Such problemsdemand a more determined and in-telligent response than the IrishChurch has shown itself capable ofoffering so far.