Tuesday, January 07, 2014

Survival Of The Most Stubborn

After Henry the eighth of that name decided to leave the Catholic Church for the sake of a woman he eventually grew tired of, the English had a policy of foisting His Majesty's newly crafted dogma on his subjects.

Thus, the bloodshed and the turmoil that tumbled across Ireland for centuries, as the determined Catholics refused to obey the laws that made their faith illegal.
The Church of Ireland today
Cathedrals that offered Roman Catholic mass were confiscated and turned over to the Church of England for their use, while the stubborn Irish Catholics held services wherever they could. They went so far as to school their children in secret when the British tried to make Catholic education a hanging offense. In Dublin, they replaced the cathedral with a pro-cathedral, a building to be used until such time as the Irish could cleanse their nation of Protestantism and take back St. Patrick's.

In time, the Church of England set up the Church of Ireland as a separate entity, as if the Irish Sea were too great a barrier for management to deal with.The Church of Ireland was on its own, and did rather well when all Irish residents had to pay a tax to support it, no matter what faith they followed.

Forced religion, it appears, is not something made to last.

The population of Protestants in the Irish Republic took a turn after the treaty was signed in 1922, amid a climate of retribution when the Catholics finally gained power. Church of Ireland members fled to England or Northern Ireland, while a few Catholics shifted across the border into what became a country so Catholic that public policy became an extension of the Catholic Church in Ireland.

Time had its effect as well, until we reach the Twenty-First Century and discover that Church of Ireland parishes have dwindled into near extinction. Many churches have closed due to lack of funding as the faithful died off and were not replaced. Attendance is down as well, with fewer people going to any sort of church service on a Sunday, thereby leaving no donation on the plate to cover expenses.

The Church of Ireland is all but gone, the loser in the game of religious domininace. The Catholics held fast, clung stubbornly to their religion, and won in the end.

But they still aren't getting St. Patrick's Cathedral back. Neither are they considering the Pro-Cathedral anything but a temporary facility. All things come to those who wait, right?

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