Category Archives: Archbishop John Charles McQuaid
The following letter from the Most Rev. John Charles McQuaid, Archbishop of Dublin and Primate of Ireland, was read out in all the churches of the Archdiocese of Dublin on Sunday, July 9th, 1961:
Very Reverend and Dear Father,
I wish to thank you for your share in the success of the Dublin Congress of the Patrician Year. I am grateful for the spiritual preparation that you organised in your parish.
It is a duty, but very much more a privilege, to thank the Faithful for their most generous co-operation. The very great numbers of those who went to Confession and received Holy Communion are an immediate proof of the Faith with which our appeal was answered. The marked place in the Congress taken by young persons, boys and girls, is to me perhaps the most consoling feature of all the week, for where the youth are interested, the future is secure.
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Many thanks to Fr. Seán Coyle for these fascinating reminiscences:
Vatican II and the Church in Ireland:
The Irish bishops seemed to convey a sense of obedience: ‘This is what we’ve been asked to do so we’ll do it’. As I recall, they didn’t keep the people particularly well informed about the Council. Those who did were journalists as Kevin O’Kelly of RTE, Sean Mac Reamoinn [see here – Shane] and Louis McRedmond. All of these were committed Catholics even if the first two might have leaned towards the ‘liberal’ side’. This is not a negative comment. I’m not sure about Louis McRedmond, whether he was ‘liberal’ or ‘conservative’. These were journalists of integrity.
My Dad was a daily Massgoer and a man of habit but I never heard him comment on the change. He was also a builder’s foreman and when the EEC, as it then was, introduced metric measures into building he took it in his stride.
In the Archdiocese of Dublin Archbishop McQuaid ordered that one Mass every Sunday be in Irish. Someone said to him ‘You are starting a revolution!’ He replied. ‘No, preventing a rebellion!’ Some criticised having a Mass in Irish. This used to raise my hackles as it was usually from the kind of person who had ‘always gone to the 9 o’clock Mass and I don’t understand this language’ and who would never consider the possibility of going to Mass at 7, 8, 10, 11 or 12! [see also: Liturgical Reform in Ireland – Shane]
The introduction of English Masses in one or two breac-Gaeltacht parishes has caused great controversy on occasion.
I was on duty that day outside Croke Park as a member of the Congress Volunteer Corps, a group of Fifth and Sixth Year students from Catholic boys’ schools in Dublin. I had just finished my Leaving Cert in nearby O’Connell Schools. You can see members of the CVC in the video. The uniform was simple: dark trousers and white shirt, which we provided ourselves, a beret – yellow for those without any special jobs and other colours for those with specific responsibilities – epaulettes and a stick. The stick wasn’t to beat anyone with but could be helpful in crowd control, indicating a line. One of the members of the CVC was the now Archbishop Diarmuid Martin.
One memory I have of that morning is seeing Sean T. O’Kelly, then in retirement, Frank Aiken and one or two other older members of Fianna Fail getting out of a very modest car. They got a big cheer from those nearby. Sean T was a very popular man and gave a wonderfully entertaining talk at the National Stadium during the Congress. He had everyone eating out of his hand. [see also this delightful clip of President O’Kelly going to Mass and the St. Patrick’s Day parade in Dublin on 17th March, 1950 – Shane] May they all rest in peace.
One thing I remember vividly was the 90,000 raising the roof with Credo III. I also felt an outsider, ( I don’t mean because I was outside the stadium) as I had never been taught it in 14 years in Catholic schools. The singing raised the hairs on the back of my neck.
The CVC, organised by the late Monsignor Tom Fehily, was formally disbanded by Taoiseach Sean Lemass outside Dublin Airport after Cardinal Agagianian flew back to Rome. However, it was soon to become the Archbishop’s Volunteer Corps that was to be involved in various projects in the Archdiocese of Dublin. It was later opened to girls. I’ve an idea that the AVC is no more but am not sure.
Some of us went on the Dublin Diocesan Pilgrimage to Beauraing, Belgium, that August, a wonderful experience. We were subsidised by the Archdiocese and paid only £5, which even in those days was a great bargain. We did ceremonial duty in Beauraing. The present Archbishop of Dublin was in the group that travelled.
Commenting on a previous post, Keiran Fagan also helpfully noted:
I was there too, only I had a red beret, as I was a “minder”, aide de camp Fr Tom Fehilly called it, for Cardinal Paolo Marella. It was a seriously cool gig for a 16-year-old, riding around in the front of a big Austin Princess limo, opening doors for the cardinal and making sure nobody, not even a reverend mother, got to put milk in his inevitable cup of tea. I saw up close John Charles McQuaid and Eamon de Valera who was totally blind by then. John Charles had three great cars, a Citroen Light 15 (Maigret had one) a Hudson Fluid Drive limo with eight cylinders I think, and a beautiful Citroen DS. I even got to sit in the back of Dev’s 1947 or 8 blue Rolls Royce ZJ 5000 while it was parked in the yard in Dublin Castle. Great times, but I don’t recall any religious epiphany moments. Says more about me than anything else I reckon.
Writing in 1974, John Feeney (the late journalist and editor of The Catholic Standard) described the Patrician Year Congress as the summit of Dr. McQuaid’s tenure as Archbishop of Dublin. Feeney was very much a Vatican II Catholic. At UCD he founded the ecumenical Student Christian Movement. He also became chairman of Pax Romana and leader of Grille, a left-wing Christian movement. As a leading Catholic radical, Feeney had reason more than most to resent McQuaid’s conservative views. Nevertheless in a critically sympathetic biography, he gives a largely positive assessment of the archbishop’s legacy and challenges some of the lazy caricatures then being propounded by vituperative critics.
Feeney contrasts the pre-revolutionary tranquility that characterized the Patrician Year celebrations in 1961 with the post-conciliar chaos soon to emerge. He believed that the Irish Catholic laity and hierarchy were deeply attached to the old order and were ‘oblivious to the vast changes in the whole world outlook of Catholics which was to come’: “There was little evidence after the election in 1958 of Pope John that the nature of Catholicism would change greatly…matters were much the same as ever for the majority of Irish Catholics. They had a saintly, loveable Pope who commanded respect but there was little understanding of the new thinking he was initiating…almost three years after the election of Pope John, there seemed to be little change in Dublin…the success and triumphs of the 1950s continued.” The faithful, Feeney asserts, responded enthusiastically to the Congress with “a mixture of nationalism, religious fervour and civic pride” and he quotes the pious report of the Irish Catholic Directory: “A majestic carillon pealed, a silver-voiced fanfare of military trumpets sounded in Royal Salute, ninety thousand lips moved in silent prayer.” For Feeney, the Patrician Year celebrations give “a glittering bejewelled spectacle of Catholic life just before the Council — it was a garden party before the outbreak of war, before the realities of the Church in the world impinged too strongly on Ireland.”
The following letter from the Most Rev. John Charles McQuaid, Archbishop of Dublin and Primate of Ireland, was read out in all the churches of the Diocese of Dublin on Sunday, 10th May, 1942:
On the 13th May will occur the 25th anniversary of the Episcopal Consecration of His Holiness Pope Pius XII. The whole Catholic world will celebrate the event with an intimate fervour that finds its explanation in the words of Our Divine Lord Jesus Christ: “Thou are Peter and upon this Rock I will build My Church.” (S. Matt. xvi, 18.) We salute in Pius XII the Vicar on earth of Jesus Christ Himself.
At all times, Catholics offer to his august person the tribute of a faith and love which recognize in him the Father of Christendom, the infallible Guardian of Christian revelation and the supreme Judge of Christian morality.
In this event, however, of the Pope’s Episcopal Jubilee, all the faithful will see a providential occasion of asserting, in these days of confusion and fear, their unity of mind with the teachings of the Holy Father and their eagerness to co-operate with his efforts to re-establish Christian life. In the unique loneliness of his sacred office, Pius XII must surely be gladdened by the expression of firm loyalty and filial sympathy which this Jubilee will evoke.
In this city and diocese of Dublin, where the life of prayer and charity is so marked, our faithful people will welcome this opportunity of manifesting their union with the Holy See and their affection for the present Holy Father.
The better to provide for the worthy celebration of the Jubilee, we exhort all the faithful, in particular the children, to approach the Sacrament of Penance and to receive Holy Communion on the 17th May, the Sunday within the Octave of the Ascension. In this Diocese, Exposition of the Most Blessed Sacrament is hereby prescribed for at least some hours on that day, in all Churches and Oratories where the May Devotions are usually held.
It is indeed fitting that the Jubilee of the Holy Father should fall in the month of Mary. To her has been committed by God the task of confounding the powers of evil; to her also it belongs, under God, to lead men gently to the true knowledge and love of her Divine Son.
We would urge you, then, to ask all the Faithful who gather this month about the feet of Mary, to beseech God to bless the Sovereign Pontiff with the gifts of wisdom and strength demanded by his most difficult office. Obedient to the instructions of the Holy Father, let us pray in particular for a just and Christian peace, in which full honour will be paid to the absolute rights of Our Divine Lord, Jesus Christ.
You will, in fine, remind the faithful that we must endeavour, each in his own life, to prepare that peace by strict adherence to the supernatural standards of Christian living; in particular, by the practice of justice and charity towards all men without exception, by an effective compassion for the poor, by willing self-denial in the special duties of our state, and by the generous acceptance of the sufferings that may be our lot.
The following regulations, of an initial character, concerning the use of the vernacular in the Sacred Liturgy, shall come into effect throughout the Archdiocese of Dublin, on Sunday, March 7.
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The following letter was sent by Bl. Pope John XXIII to the Most Rev. John Charles McQuaid, Archbishop of Dublin and Primate of Ireland, on the occassion of the Centenary of Holy Cross College, Clonliffe (then the Major Seminary of the Archdiocese of Dublin):
The forthcoming celebration in your diocesan See, on the occasion of the Centenary of the foundation of the Major Seminary of the Archdiocese of Dublin is, to Our mind, entirely fitting and opportune. For if a Seminary, by reason of its object and its importance, has always been regarded by this Holy See as illustrious and worthy of veneration, it is indeed suitable that this Seminary, bearing the title of the Holy Cross and so distinguished in its beginnings and in its achievements, should be acclaimed.
The foundation of the Seminary in the year 1860 was the work of a most distinguished and eminently praiseworthy man, Paul Cullen, Archbishop of Dublin, and former Rector of the Irish College and of the Roman College of Propaganda, who was raised to the Cardinalate by Our Predecessor, Pius IX, of happy memory, in recognition of his magnificent services on behalf of the Chair of Peter and of the Universal Church. He thought it wise to link the College, which was destined for students of Philosophy and Theology, to the Catholic University, which he had established six years before to the great benefit of the whole of Ireland.
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The Cardinal Legate greeted by the Taoiseach and the Abp. of Dublin
The papal legate for the Patrician Congress, Cardinal Grégoire-Pierre Agagianian, was given a spectacular reception when he arrived in Dublin on Saturday, 17th June, 1961. Travelling in the Aer Lingus Boeing Jet Padraig he landed in Dublin Airport (profusely decorated in papal and Irish flags and emblems) at approximately 12.45 p.m.
In the Padraig’s Golden Shamrock compartment, which was reserved for the Legate’s suite and the Dublin escorting party, a special Decal of the Papal Arms was fitted to honour the Legate. After boarding the plane in Rome, he was greeted by Arthur Walls, General Sales Manager of the airline, with an illuminated welcome scroll in a polished oak case, bearing the inscription “CÉAD MÍLE FÁILTE”. Upon arriving off the Irish coast his plane was escorted by four Vampire Jets under the command of Commandant G. O’Connor. After the plane had been joined by the escorts, a special message of welcome from the Most Rev. John Charles McQuaid, Archbishop of Dublin and Primate of Ireland, was flashed from Dublin Airport. As soon as the Cardinal alighted from the plane, the jet escort flew over the airport and dipped wings twice in salute. The papal anthem was played by the Number One Army Band and a 21-gun salute was thundered out by the 10th Battery of the 2nd Field Artillery Regiment from McKee Barracks under Captain Hugh McGrillen.
Upon his descent from the plane, the Legate was met at the bottom of the steps by the Archbishop of Dublin, who introduced him to prominent dignitaries, including the Taoiseach [Prime Minister] Seán Lemass, the Tánaiste [Deputy Prime Minister] Seán MacEntee, the Papal Nuncio, and the Minister for External Affairs, Frank Aiken.
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The Irish hierarchy issued the following statement in 1960 at their October meeting in St. Patrick’s College, Maynooth:
The Hierarchy propose to celebrate in 1961 the fifteenth centenary of the death of Saint Patrick, the most commonly accepted date for the death of the Saint being 461 A.D. The opening ceremony is planned for St. Patrick’s Day in the Primatial City of Armagh, so closely associated in Irish tradition with the life and work of our National Apostle. The ceremony will be followed, it is hoped, by other celebrations arranged by direction of the local Ordinaries, in places particularly associated with St. Patrick, such as the holy mount of Croagh Patrick, or noted as centres of especial devotion to the Saint, such as St. Patrick’s Purgatory, Lough Derg.
Eminent dignitaries from abroad, especially from dioceses or institutions under the patronage of St. Patrick, will be invited to participate in the national celebrations. Invitations will be extended also to representatives of continental centres of Patrician devotion, and to representatives of countries evangelised by Irish missionaries.
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The following sermon (posted below) was given by the Most Rev. John Charles McQuaid, Archbishop of Dublin and Primate of Ireland, at thanksgiving devotions in the Dublin Pro-Cathedral on the 9th December, 1965. Following the devotions — which had been organized in response to the specific requests of Pope Paul VI — the Archbishop imparted Benediction, at which the Te Deum was sung.
The sentence quoted in the title is often represented by Establishment commenters (whether media, academic, or ecclesiastical) as epitomical of Archbishop McQuaid’s reactionary attitude towards change in the Church.
During the first session of the Second Vatican Council, Archbishop McQuaid distinguished himself as the only member of the Irish hierarchy to make a contribution — and did so from a predictably conservative standpoint. As a lover of Latin language and culture, he viewed proposals for an all-vernacular liturgy as tantamount to vandalism. He also expressed his opposition towards suggestions that competence over the local liturgy be transferred from individual bishops to national episcopal conferences. Xavier Rynne (the chronicler of the Council) records that “Archbishop McQuaid of Dublin came out once more against any thought of change”. Sensing the progressive trajectory of the Council (as well as the lack of receptivity towards his conservative positions) he remained aloof from the next three sessions.
Archbishop McQuaid took a low view of ‘aggiornamento’ and found it very hard to adapt to the rapidly changing Church of the 1960s. Indeed, he has been demonized ever since as an obscurantist authoritarian. His implementation of the liturgical reforms was very conservative, and frustrated more radical, younger clergy (some of whom would later defend his legacy against lazy liberal caricatures).
For five long years the bishops of the world have been sustained by your constant prayers. In the very laborious session of the Council we have felt the power of your prayers, and if the Council was concluded in a spirit of peace and unanimity we owe that grace to God the Holy Ghost and to the intercessions of Our Blessed Lady.
On Wednesday, 2,300 fathers parted. It was a sad moment, for we shall never again see one another in this life. Drawn from every corner of the world, the Bishops had prayed and worked together for a long time.
Now is our work completed: in union with the Pope, our decrees were drafted, voted on and preached. One could not but feel that God the Holy Ghost had guided our deliberations and gently brought them to a firm conclusion. You may, in the last four years, have been disturbed by reports about the Council. May I, who have assisted at every meeting of the Council, assure you that the Council was a wondrous example of dignity, seriousness and courtesy.
You may have been worried by talk of changes to come. Allow me to reassure you. No change will worry the tranquility of your Christian lives. For, time after time, Pope John XXIII and our present Holy Father have insisted — but the point has been sadly missed — that our deliberations in the Council had only one purpose: to search the deposit of the Faith, to look more deeply into the teaching of the Church.
The Council has one meaning only for us — in all its constitutions and decrees: how can each one of us in his personal and family and social life be faithful to the teaching of Jesus Christ, Our Lord, as the Church makes known that teaching in the Vatican Council.
As the months will pass, the Holy Father will instruct us gradually how to put into effect the enactments of the Council. With complete loyalty, as children of the one, true Church, we fully accept each and every decree of the Vatican Council.
The following press release was issued by the Irish hierarchy following their meeting at St. Patrick’s Maynooth on the 21st-22nd June, 1966:
THE DEVELOPMENT OF MAYNOOTH
The Second Vatican Council has called for the development of Catholic University facilities, especially in the sphere of philosophy and theology, in order to show the harmony of Christian teaching with true human culture and scientific development, and to provide all priests, religious and laity with the fullest opportunity of Christian formation.
The Irish bishops at their June meeting have had under consideration how this development could be secured in this country, and propose to develop Maynooth as an open centre of higher studies, and to extend its facilities and courses so as to meet the requirements, not merely of priests, diocesan and regular, but also of brothers, nuns and laity.
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The following press release was issued by the Irish hierarchy following their meeting at St. Patrick’s Maynooth on the 22nd-23rd June, 1965:
Among the matters discussed were:
In addition to proposals for more extensive use of the vernacular, draft texts of the “Prayer of the Faithful” and of the funeral service also were considered, and were referred to the Episcopal Liturgical Commission for revision.
A number of decisions also were taken to ensure the proper formation of the students of Maynooth in the doctrine and principles of the Constitution on the Liturgy. A Professor of Sacred Liturgy has been appointed and will pursue special studies at a liturgical institute before taking up his duties.
Liturgical actions in the college are to be carried out in conformity with the new liturgical norms. One of the oratories in the college is to be remodelled with an altar facing the congregation in order to familiarise the students with the new structure of the ceremonies.
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Donald J. Thorman: “It seems to me that if labels are useful, the one I’d have to pin on today’s laity: The Uncertain Catholic. The characteristic note of today’s American Catholic is confusion, indecision; we are treading water, waiting, wondering what is going to happen next. This is the age of the question mark. We no longer feel certain we have all the answers to all of men’s problems. We are no longer certain if we know all the right questions.” (America, Jan. 14, 1967, p.39)
Celledoor Miscellany has reposted these historic articles from back issues of Life magazine, which I highly commend to your attention. They give a vivid insight into the collapse of the ecclesiastical ancien régime following the Second Vatican Council and the internal turmoil facing the Church in the United States. Overall they make for very depressing reading.
I recently happened upon a succinct but comprehensive little booklet, concerning the same theme, entitled Keeping Your Balance in the Modern Church by Fr. Hugh J. O’Connell, C.SS.R., PhD. It was published in 1968 by Liguorian Pamphlets and bears the imprimatur of the Archbishop of St Louis, John J. Carberry. (Interestingly my pamphlet is also signed in pen by the conservative Archbishop John Charles McQuaid of Dublin.) It is a must read for any Catholic who has ever asked himself: ‘How did everything that was so good get so bad?’ While Fr. O’Connell’s pamphlet is largely specific to the American situation, it seems to me that strong parallels existed between all the churches of the English-speaking countries. All these local churches were dominated by Irish immigrants or their descendants in countries which had remained unconquered by Nazi Germany during the Second World War, and where there existed no serious prospect of a communist takeover. None of these characteristics hold true for the countries of the Rhine basin, whose prelates led the push for change in the Church at the Second Vatican Council. Furthermore all the English-speaking local churches were known to have exhibited comparatively less enthusiasm for the pre-conciliar ressourcement and liturgical movements while (or perhaps because) they were still able to boast of high levels of Mass attendance, vocations, popular catechetical knowledge and devotional practice.
Fr. O’Connell contends that the American Catholic Church was caught off guard by the Second Vatican Council:
The Church in North America — laity, priests, nuns and even bishops — was almost completely unprepared for the way things turned out at Vatican Council II. This was the result of a number of factors.
1) Americans had remained relatively untouched by World War II. They experienced little of the ferment and unrest, the need to reassert the value of the individual person, which in Europe flowed from the struggle against Nazism and Fascism.
2) Americans, including theologians and bishops, had little or no acquaintance with the new personalist and existentialist philosophy. This had been developed in Europe, chiefly outside the church. Introduced by certain European theologians, this philosophy exerted a powerful influence on the deliberations of Vatican II and on Catholic life and teaching since the Council.
3) American Catholics were for the most part unaware of the writings of Protestant theologians, both orthodox and liberal. The ecumenical temper of the times brought these ideas to the attention of Catholic theologians, particularly in Germany, France and Holland.
Fr. O’Connell believes that the breakdown of theological censorship has facilitated doctrinal dissent and spread confusion among ordinary lay Catholics:
A good many of the religious problems of the average Catholic laymen, priests and nuns, who make no claim to be specialists or scholars, stem from the new air of freedom of theological thought and discussion resulting from Vatican II.
[…] The great danger, as every reasonable man must recognize, is that freedom brings with it the possibility that it will be abused. In the days before Vatican II, there was actually a very considerable amount of theological speculation and innovation; there were battles quite as heated as those going on today. The only difference was that such ideas were quietly presented in theological journals, and were subjected by experts to analysis and investigation, to weighing of reasons pro and con, to a more or less general acceptance or rejection by qualified theologians before they ever came to public attention.
Moreover, among Catholics the shock of new religious ideas on the minds of those who were not experts was cushioned by the censorship of books and articles and by the index of prohibited books. Before a book treating on religion could be published by a Catholic, it had to be submitted for censorship in order to obtain an imprimatur. If the book was considered to contain opinions contrary to Catholic doctrine, to the decrees of the Holy See, or even too wild and revolutionary, permission to print would be denied. To the liberal, who claimed the right to make up his own mind about religious truth, such censorship was intolerable. To the person who felt no competence to judge between truth and error in complex religious questions, it was a comfort.
Fr. O’Connell is convinced that the actual documents of the Second Vatican Council are capable of an orthodox interpretation, though a tinge of regret for their formulation is easily discernible. He likens the conciliar Fathers’ critical adoption of personalism to St. Augustine’s critical use of Plato or St. Thomas Aquinas’ blending of Aristotelian philosophy with Christian revelation.
Then came Vatican II. We have described how the North European group of bishops, headed by Germany and France, exerted a dominant influence in the Council. Moreover, their theologians wrote the revised versions of the more important schemas which served as basis of discussion in the Council. As a result, these schemas reflected a strong tone of personalism.
Of course, as was mentioned before, these documents were debated by bishops of every caste of mind. Some of the schemas were sent back for correction four or five times. The final version blended both the new personalism and the traditional acceptance of objective truth.
Many thanks to Jaykay for recounting his experiences of the post-conciliar liturgical reforms:
The new version came in from the first Sunday in January 1970 – at least in Armagh Archdiocese. That would have been Sunday 4th January. I clearly remember that the church was packed. We kids had got our new books just after Christmas (probably again in Woolworths!) and I recall that it was quite confusing as we hadn’t done any of the preparatory stuff in school before Christmas. Even the priests made loads of “mistakes” (and at that time it was still common for older priests to lapse into Latin if they got distracted e.g. to say “Dominus vobis… erm, eh… The Lord be with you…”). Nobody laughed in those days, of course! We had to learn the new versions of the confiteor and Domine non sum dignus (we were still told to strike the breast at the correct places – something me and some people of my generation still do) but otherwise the Ordinary was unchanged – until 1975.
Cardinal Conway was in charge and was quite conservative, so there was very little, if any, “creativity” on the part of priests. Most of the older priests were also quite conservative so we still had loads of Latin Benedictions, 40 hours, confraternities etc. It really didn’t change until the 80s. It’s still not too bad in my neck of the woods, but the banality is everywhere e.g. no incense at the main Mass on Easter Sunday and the usual flat, boring “let’s get it over with” attitude. No wonder the average age is about 50+!
The following is an editorial from Church and State magazine (the organ of the old Campaign to Seperate Church and State), January, 2010:
“The Age Of My Craven Deference Is Finally Over.” That was the headline on Professor Ronan Fanning’s article on the Murphy Report (Sun. Independent, 6 Dec.). Well, it was almost the headline. Fanning used the collective “our” rather than the personal “my”. But in the case of the Professor of Modern History at the chief College of the National University the personal and the collective merge. The Professor (singular) determines in great part what characterised the plurality of those who went through the educational system to its highest level.
It became well known to us long ago that the paid intelligentsia of the state were craven in their attitude towards the Church. They were sceptics in private but were cynically respectful in public, because they were craven.
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The texts above were first introduced to Irish parishes on the 7th March, 1965. The Ordinary of the Mass remains essentially the same as the 1962 Missal but with the (partial) introduction of the vernacular and the omission of the Last Gospel and Psalm 42 in the prayers at the foot of the altar.
The 1965 Lenten pastoral letters of Irish bishops were almost wholly dedicated to explaining the reforms, most were very eager to remind the faithful that alterations to the liturgy involved no change of doctrine on the Mass as Sacrifice.
The following is the 1965 Lenten pastoral letter of the Most Rev. John Charles McQuaid, Archbishop of Dublin and Primate of Ireland (slightly abbreviated):
The Vatican Council has spent several years in preparing the Constitution that regulates the manner of offering the holy Sacrifice of the Mass. The Fathers have had only one purpose in view: worthily to re-enact the sacrifice of Jesus Christ upon the Cross.
In that unique sacrifice Jesus Christ as Man acknowledged the absolute dominion of God over all creation. He made full reparation for the insult of the sins of men against the Infinite God. He gave adequate thanks to God for all His benefits to mankind. In the certainty of being heard, He entreated and obtained from God every grace that human-kind can need.
The following press release concerning the implementation of Sacrosanctum Concilium was issued by the Irish hierarchy from the Irish College in Rome on the 8th November, 1964.
The Irish hierarchy is happy to announce that the Holy See has approved, by a decree of 4th November, 1964, the decisions made by the bishops regarding the introduction of the vernacular, Irish and English, into certain parts of the Mass.
In accordance with the wishes of the Holy See the changes will be introduced in several stages in order to achieve as smooth a transition as possible in the ceremonies of this central act of Catholic worship.
The bishops are taking immediate steps to have printed texts of the approved translations available for priests and people, so as to permit the introduction of the first stage, where feasible, on the first Sunday of Lent 1965, when the important changes in the ceremonies of the Mass recently announced by the Holy See will come into effect.
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To Our Beloved Son
John Cardinal D’Alton
Archbishop of Armagh
And to Our Venerable Brothers
The Archbishops and Bishops of Ireland
Beloved Son and Venerable Brothers, Health and Apostolic Benediction.
Holy Church, founded by Christ Jesus to free mankind from death, shines throughout the world by her sanctity, is nourished by grace, lives by truth and, in the words of Saint Irenaeus, “as the sun, God’s creature, is one and the same in the whole world, so the light, which the preaching of truth is, shines forth in every place and enlightens all men” (Adv. Haer. 1, 10, 2; MG f. 552). This preaching of truth, Beloved Son and Venerable Brothers, is a special glory of your country — for through the centuries its distinguishing mark has always been: “peregrinari pro Christo”. Irish priests and religious, as is well known, from the coming of the Gospel message to their land, spurred on by the splendid example of Saint Patrick, your illustrious Father and Apostle, went forth and made their way through many European lands to bring them the flame of faith and an unconquerable zeal in winning souls for Christ.
The genius of your nation has won for the Church in Ireland imperishable renown and admiration among the many peoples who owe their Christian origin and development to the burning love of Irish Apostles and to their active priestly ministry. These Catholic people in themselves are a manifest and an eloquent testimony to Catholic Ireland’s missionary character; they show it forth to the whole world and add splendour to its titles to glory.
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The above video features clips of the opening of the Patrician Year celebrations, 17th March, 1961, marked by Pontifical High Mass in St. Patrick’s Cathedral, Armagh. The celebrant was the papal legate, Cardinal James Francis McIntyre, Archbishop of Los Angelus.
Irish state dignitaries were very prominent in attendance, not least President Éamonn de Valera and the Taoiseach [Prime Minister] Séan Lemass. Church prelates and state leaders, escorted by prominent local clergy, walked in solemn procession towards the Cathedral, walking past vast, cheering crowds. President De Valera was seated in a special blue and gold draped prie-dieu, affixed with the national emblem of a golden harp, while Mr. Lemass was also accorded a special prie-dieu. As Cardinal McIntyre entered through the massive oak doors, the cathedral organ thundered out the papal hymn Tu es Petrus, and His Eminence proceeded through the highly colourful and lavishly decorated cathedral to the marble-canopied throne on the Gospel side of the high altar, where he occupied a seat upholstered by white silk, affixed with the papal coat of arms on the reverse. Prelates attending included multitudes of abbots and bishops from all over the world, 50 archbishops and 4 Cardinals: Cardinal McIntyre, Cardinal John D’Alton, Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of All-Ireland, Cardinal William Godfrey, Archbishop of Westminster, and Cardinal Richard Cushing, Archbishop of Boston.
Cardinal Cushing, Archbishop of Boston, gave the following sermon:
“Their sound has gone forth unto all the earth: and their words unto the ends of the world.” (Psalm 18, Verse 5)
The theme of Ireland’s holy and historic celebration this year has been taken from the text by which the liturgy proclaims the glory and the triumph of all the Apostles. No more appropriate text could have been chosen to commemorate the incomparable Apostle to Ireland and to pay tribute to the apostolic spirit that St. Patrick inspired in the Irish people.
The text proper to the Apostles is deservedly applied to him, for St. Patrick takes his place beside the greatest and most glorious of the Apostles.
The archbishops and bishops of Ireland at their October meeting in Maynooth in 1953, under the presidency of the Cardinal Primate of All-Ireland, John D’Alton, issued the following statement concerning the persecution of the Catholic Church in Poland.
Ever since the end of the war a bitter persecution of the Catholic Church has been carried on in Communist-dominated countries.
Whilst it has brought grievous suffering on the laity, it has been directed primarily against bishops and priests. The enemies of God and His Church, now as in the past, recognise that its rulers and pastors are the great bulwark of Christianity and confidently expect that if they are destroyed, Christianity itself will soon perish.
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The following statement was issued by the Irish Hierarchy and read out from the pulpit at all public Masses on Sunday, October 29th, 1950.
Very Rev. and Rev. Fathers and dearly beloved Brethren:
The announcement that our Holy Father Pope Pius XII would solemnly proclaim and define the doctrine of the Assumption of Our Blessed Lady gave great joy to the hearts of the Irish people. In common with the faithful throughout the world they have for centuries held firmly to the belief that the virginal body of Mary, Mother of God conceived without sin, was not allowed to suffer corruption but was taken up into heaven and throned above the angels.
The doctrine of the Assumption is not new; it has been enshrined in the liturgy, the art and the teaching of the Church for long centuries. From the time when the Council of Ephesus defined that Mary is the Mother of God the devotion and belief of the Church unfolded the full meaning of the privileges of the Immaculate Virgin Mother and of the complete victory over sin and death won for her by her Divine Son. So it is that this doctrine has been firmly held even by the schismatic churches of the East.
The fact of Mary’s Assumption into heaven, like her Immaculate Conception, is a supernatural fact that can be guaranteed to us not by human testimony but by divine revelation.
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