Category Archives: Cardinal Joseph MacRory

Day of National Thanksgiving: Cardinal MacRory’s Statement

The following statement was issued by Cardinal Joseph MacRory, Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of All Ireland, on 7th June, 1945:

Some days ago it was suggested to me by some of our Bishops that I should appoint a Day of National Thanksgiving to Almighty God for having saved our dear country from the horrors of war. Before doing so I thought it advisable that the members of the Standing Committee of the Bishops should be consulted, and it is only to-day that I have received the last of their replies.

All are strongly in favour of the suggestion, and I now appoint the 29th of June — the great Feast of SS. Peter and Paul — as the Day of National Thanksgiving.

Fortunately the Irish Government has just declared the 29th of June a Bank Holiday, and this will leave the great bulk of the people free to join in the religious celebration. The details of the devotions for the occasion will be arranged by the Bishops at their general meeting in Maynooth about the middle of the month and announced in due course.


Letter of Pope Pius XII to Cardinal MacRory

To Our Beloved Son,


Cardinal Priest of the Holy Roman Church under the title of St. John before the Latin Gate,

Archbishop of Armagh.


Beloved Son, health and Apostolic Benediction.

We have been recently informed that you are about to complete the twenty-fifth year since your appointment as Bishop. This happy and truly sacred event provides Us with a most welcome occasion of paternally rejoicing with you, and of manifesting publicly and gladly the goodwill which We have always entertained towards you.

Well known indeed is the pastoral solicitude with which, first during your reign in Down and Connor and then in your present illustrious Metropolitan See, you have earnestly striven to promote and guard the salvation of souls. Equally known, too, is the simple faith and filial devotion to God of your people, whom you hold deeply attached to you by the closest bonds of charity.

Wherefore, Beloved Son, while we extol with paternal praise your outstanding merits in relation to the Church, We publicly and earnestly give expression to Our congratulations, and take part in the celebration of the sacred occasion with Our fervent wishes and hopes. We do this the more gladly because We are fully aware of your fidelity to, and veneration for the Holy See; nor do We doubt that from the happiness of your Episcopal Jubilee you will derive even new strength to do greater things day by day for the flock committed to your charge.

But in order that the coming feast may prove more beneficial to your faithful children We spontaneously authorize that on an appointed day, after the Holy Sacrifice has been celebrated with Pontifical rite, you bless in Our name and by Our authority all present, and announce a Plenary Indulgence, to be gained on all the usual conditions prescribed by the Church.

Finally, to yourself soon to complete your eightieth year, We wish an abundance of health and happiness, earnestly beseeching God by the riches of His heavenly consolations to preserve and guard you for many a day, and win for you more and more the respectful esteem and affection of the faithful.

May the Apostolic Benediction, which We impart most lovingly in the Lord to you, Our Beloved Son, and to all the clergy and people entrusted to your care, herald and call down these heavenly favours and be a witness of Our special esteem.

Given at Rome, at St. Peter’s, July 15, 1940, second year of Our Pontificate.


Spanish Civil War: Letter of the Cardinal Primate of Spain to Cardinal MacRory

The following letter was sent in December, 1937, by Isidro Cardinal Gomá y Tomás, Archbishop of Toledo and Primate of Spain, to Joseph Cardinal MacRory, Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of All Ireland:

Your Eminence,

It was with deep emotion and gratitude that I received the message which, on behalf of the Bishops of Ireland, Your Eminence was good enough to address to the Prelates of Spain in response to our collective letter.

The Spanish Episcopacy has the honour to acknowledge in this connection the gratitude inspired by the continuous proof of fraternal affection and solidarity with which we have been favoured by our brothers in Ireland in these days of our terrible trial. *
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Centenary of the Church in New Zealand: Irish Hierarchy’s Letter of Felicitations

The Irish bishops resolved to send two letters to counterparts abroad during their October meeting in 1937 at St. Patrick’s College, Maynooth. One was a Reply to the Spanish bishops concerning their Letter on the Civil War in Spain (incidentally today is the 75th anniversary of that War’s outbreak), and another letter, appended below, to the bishops of the Church of New Zealand —  one of the farthest-flung outposts of the massive ecclesiastical empire that was then Irish Catholicism.

At that time Catholicism was a very important factor in how the Irish seen themselves. Just as in the other traditionally White Anglo-Saxon Protestant countries (USA, Australia, Canada, Great Britain) Irish Catholic immigrants and their descendants in New Zealand faced considerable ethnic and religious discrimination.  This, along with the Church’s extensive educational and social infrastructure, helped keep intact a cohesive Irish Catholic community, often maintaining a very distinct communal identity and cherishing its ties to the motherland. This is reflected in the mother-daughter style language of the letter and the response. (The recipient of the letter, Most Rev. James Liston, Bishop of Auckland, was himself a son of Irish Catholic immigrants and had given a controversial speech in 1922 on the Irish political situation, which caused uproar among New Zealand’s ferociously imperialist British Protestant population and provoked William Massey’s government to prosecute him for ‘seditious utterances’.)

Your Excellency,

We, the Cardinal Archbishop of Armagh, Primate of All-Ireland, and the other Archbishops and Bishops of Ireland assembled at our annual October meeting in Maynooth College, offer to your Excellency and to the Archbishop and other Bishops of New Zealand our felicitations and affectionate greetings on the occasion of the commemoration of the Centenary of the Church in New Zealand, and we thank you for your kind invitation to us to participate in the celebrations with which you intend to commemorate the first Centenary of the Church in your country.

This, indeed, is for you an occasion for much thankfulness, great joy and legitimate pride. One hundred years ago the faithful numbered but a very few scattered throughout your land; New Zealand was without her priesthood. To-day New Zealand has her Hierarchy, her very efficient and zealous clergy, her many flourishing Religious Communities of men and women, her well-equipped Catholic colleges and schools, her numerous well-instructed and faithful laity.

Greatly may you rejoice in the extraordinary changes brought about in this comparatively short period. Justly may you feel proud of the many labours and triumphs of that time, and especially those wrought by pioneers of Catholicity in your land.

As a mother participating in the triumphs of her children, we unite with you wholeheartedly in your rejoicings; for truly can it be said that the Church in New Zealand was begotten and nurtured by Irish faith and Irish missionary zeal. Our ancestors carried the faith first given them by St. Patrick to many parts of Europe, to England, Scotland, North America, Australia and New Zealand.

There are many epic tales of their self-sacrifice, their labours, their sufferings and their achievements in the cause of Christ; but we do not know any story that is more appealing or which better illustrates the marvelous fidelity and virtue of the Irish Catholic laity than that of Thomas Poynton and his heroic wife.

As your Excellency is aware, we in Ireland, quite recently celebrated a Centenary — the fifteenth Centenary — of the Catholic Church in Ireland. The success of our celebrations, in point of external manifestation, is a matter of world-wide knowledge. Less widely known, though more important, are the wonderful changes which these celebrations have wrought in the lives of many individuals and the lasting increase in knowledge and love of the Sacrament and Sacrifice of the Holy Eucharist which they have effected amongst our people. That your celebrations may be similarly successful is our ardent wish and prayer.

His Grace of Tuam, Most Rev. Dr. Gilmartin, has consented to act as our representative and to take part with you personally in the celebration. Those of us who cannot be present in person will be with you in spirit during those great days, and we will invite our people to join with yours in imploring God to grant still more abundant graces to the Church in New Zealand.

With respectful good wishes to your Excellency and to the Archbishop and other Bishops, we remain, on behalf of the Irish Bishops,

Yours very sincerely in Christ,



The following reply on behalf of the Bishops of New Zealand was sent to Cardinal Joseph MacRory, Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of All Ireland:

Your Eminence,

The gracious letter that you have sent to the Archbishops and Bishops of New Zealand for our Centenary in the name of the Hierarchy of Ireland touches us deeply, and when it is made known to our people we are sure it will go straight to their hearts. We unite in offering this expression of our gratitude ex imo corde to Your Eminence and to the Archbishops and Bishops of Ireland for your letter, your sharing in our joy, and the gift of your prayers.

In a very special way do we thank you all for the signal honour you are showing in asking His Grace the Archbishop of Tuam to be personal representative of our Mother Church. That favour and his presence will crown our joy.

With profound respect to Your Eminence, and cordial greetings to the Archbishops and Bishops, I am,

Yours sincerely in Christ,

Bishop of Auckland.

Irish Hierarchy’s Reply to the Joint Letter of the Spanish Bishops

Cardinal Joseph MacRory: “There is no room any longer for any doubts as to the issue at stake in the Spanish conflict . . . It is a question of whether Spain will remain as she has been so long, a Christian and Catholic land, or a Bolshevist and anti-God one.

The Irish hierarchy issued the following reply to the Joint Letter of the Spanish Bishops at their October meeting in St. Patrick’s College, Maynooth, 1937:

Venerable Brethren,

It is not without profound emotion that one can read the noble and touching Letter addressed by your Excellencies to the Catholic Episcopate throughout the world.

There, in a document of rare dignity and calm sobriety of expression, instilled throughout with the true spirit of Christian charity, may be found an exhaustive vindication of the Venerable Church of Spain against the odious calumnies heaped upon her by the enemies of the Christian faith, and an overwhelming answer to the reckless misrepresentations with which so large a section of the Press seeks to cloud the issues at stake in the lamentable conflict now raging in your sorely distracted country.

In a simple exposition of the facts and a calm and authoritative analysis of the situation, devoid of vehemence and rhetorical device, you have given the world your solemn witness to the truth, in language at once restrained and convincing, making cogent appeal to the conscience of mankind and to the ultimate verdict of history.
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