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Saturday, August 19, 2017
Date Posted:

How Rome Won The Education War In Ireland

The Enslavement of a Nation: the Romanising of Ireland
Dr Clive Gillis

Control of Education is one of Rome’s key weapons.  The Jesuits boasted, “Give us the boy of seven and we’ll give you the man”. 

The Catholic Education Service in England is still powerful.  Directed by Oona Stannard, it answers to the Vatican Congregation for Catholic Education and ultimately to the Pope and inquisition.  The current Prefect is the Pole, Cardinal Zenon Grocholewski.

Stannard’s predeessor was awarded an OBE and a retirement mass in Westminster Cathedral for seeing Rome through 23 Education Acts.  Stannard herself made news defending the CES’s alleged concealment of Rome’s Grammar Schools (BCN 23rd January 2004).  A few RC schools elude the Catholic Education Service, such as the St Francis Xavier College Liverpool which, by opting for foundation status, scooped a Local Education Authority “jackpot” of £7 million.  This was approved by parents but slated in the Catholic Times 31st January 1999 under the headline, “School turns back on Church Control”.

Law of the Church

Rome’s objection to St Francis Xavier College leaving the Catholic Education Service was that it deprived her of the right, “to appoint governors who are practicing Catholics”.  The power of Governor’s in CES schools is formidable.  In 1998 the 40-year-old Head Teacher of St Augustine’s primary school Rainham, controlled by Southwark (RC) Archdiocese, was forced to resign after eight years work of “extremely high standard” giving “excellent OFSTED results” for marrying a divorcee in an Anglican Church.  The governor’s letter read, “In civil law this was a valid marriage … under the law of the Roman Catholic Church the marriage was deemed invalid … the terms of the contracts under which head teachers are employed in RC schools require them to abide by the law of the church”.

One dissenting parent governor said, “It seems like the dark ages”.  Maidstone MP and RC convert Ann Widdecombe commented: “If anyone takes a post in a Catholic School they must abide by the letter to the teachings”.

Mary McAleese

Education is central to Rome’s Counter Reformation attack.  This is seen particularly well in the history of Irish education.  President of the Irish Republic Mary McAleese, speaking on the sixtieth anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz, sated that the Nazis “gave to their children an irrational hatred of Jews in the same way that people in Northern Ireland transmitted to their children an irrational hatred of Catholic’s”.  In making this remark she was imputing to Protestants a tactic which Rome has freely employed for centuries and continues to do so.

We recall the delight of Martin McGuinness when he entered the Protestant heartland of Bangor as Northern Ireland’s Education minister.  As the Times indicated, he now had power in “an area he would have known in a previous incarnation only through IRA surveillance”.  Classroom boycotts and demonstrations spread right across Ulster.  This was no over-reaction because when official days arrived to fly the Union flag, the flagpoles at Sinn Fein’s ministries remained bare posts.  If Rome cannot seize Ulster directly she will simply revert to her original tactic of harnessing education as a weapon to that end.  From the of time Cromwell onwards, the British Government has fought to prevent Roman priest from injecting children with “irrational hatred” of Protestants.

‘Popish Schoolemasters’

But properly to understand McAleese’s remark we must go back to the mid 17th century.  The commonwealth decreed in 1656 that, “Whereas by diverse Orders and Declarations by Authority of this Nation published, Popish Schoolemasters have made it their principall designe to corrupt ye youths committed to their charge and to infuse into them dangerous principles”.

Clearly the Government had not lightly concluded that the “principall designe” of “Popish Schoolemaster” was to “corrupt” and “infuse dangerous principles” into “ye youths”.  Flagrant subversive activity had driven the authorities to this conclusion.

In the national interest, “such Schoolemaster … (that do) corrupt the youth of this nation with Popish principles (must be) secured and put on board of such ship as is bound for the Islands of the Barbadoes”.  Flagrant subversive activity had convinced the authorities.

Plans were even drawn up to educate the “Children of the Poorer Sort of Irish” by boarding them with godly Protestants who were “religious and honest people in England and Ireland”.  This was to help parents “with no other meanes to support” their children “but by begging or stealing or both”.  An annual “publique Collection” was to fund the scheme.  A modern commentator accuses Cromwell of monstrous barbarity by planning “a wholesale educational conscription … for the perversion en masse of the children of the Irish people.  Protestant apprenticeship was to be the means of changing them over from their religion and even from their race.  Oliver Cromwell’s decrees shows very clearly how English Puritanism combined religious aggression with economics.”

But one must appeal to the statue’s explicit Christian intent in barbarous times.  It was hoped that children, “when they come out of their apprenticeships,” would be able, “to get their liveings by their owne Industry” having been in the company of Protestants who would “breede them well … principally in the fear of God,” and thus escape poverty.

Hedge schools

After the Battle of the Boyne, Cromwellian measures were again seen as appropriate.  Every schoolmaster had to swear the Oaths of Supremacy and Allegiance to receive a licence.  But “Popish Schoolmasters” were still freely engaging in subversion.  Hence in1709 the law 8 Anne, c. 3 stated that, “Whatsoever person of the popish religion shall instruct youth in learning publickly or in a private house, shall be taken to be a popish regular clergyman, and incur all the penalties and forfeitures”.  This was in effect deportation to the Colonies.

Protestant schools were charge free to Roman Catholic parents, but their minds were poisoned against them by the priests.  The children could still have their own religious teaching at their chapels (RC churches) on Sundays, but Rome engendered a climate of prejudice such that parents would sooner their children had no education than let them go to the Protestant heretics.  It was then that the “Hedge Schools” appeared.  Popish schoolmasters/priests would clandestinely teach children in concealed venues out in the countryside to avoid detection.

By 1730 these Illegal Schools were mushrooming and a Report was commissioned to see if the Penal Laws needed strengthening.  Its finding was that, “the Disproportion between Popish and Protestant schools is so great as to give your Lordships reasonable apprehension of the Continuance and Increase of the Popish Interest in Ireland”.  The Diocese of Ross reported “petty schools where pretended converts teach Children … they only fit Irish boys to be Mass priests who return home with the greater prejudice to the Protestant Interest and become more busy Pragmaticall Bigots than the old Romish Priests ever were”.

In 1733-4 George II granted a charter to the Incorporated Society for promoting English Protestant Working Schools in Ireland.  These were boarding schools and taught a good range of subjects in the English language as well as encouraging loyalty to the crown and above all studying the Bible with clear exposition of the Gospel.  When the pupils completed their education at the school, apprenticeships were arranged in useful trades such as cobbling, rope-making, candle making and hat manufacture which could lift children out of poverty.  The priests cried “Proselytising!” and warned off RC parents.

Protestant education

In 1740 Sir Richard Cox noted that, “It cannot escape any man’s notice that wherever the English Language and Customs altogether prevail, the good  effects are instantly visible by a peaceable Demeanour, improving conversation and a Courteous polite Behaviour accompanied by Frugality and Industry … I daily see a reformation of Religion and Manners working its way forward with the English Language”.  But Sir Richard still had to call for “Papists who would give their children any education” to “be put under the necessity of Protestant Schools”, thus confirming that parents were still using hedge schools or simply not educating their children.  The clandestine, priestly education scene was clearly thriving.

In the course of the eighteenth century the Government spent “over a million pounds”, a colossal sum for the time, trying to run a national education service in Ireland.  Yet, thanks to the priest’s kindling of “irrational hatred” of the state education system in the minds of millions of parents, as late as 1861 “only 35% of Catholics aged five years and over were returned as able to both read and write.  A further 19% were returned as able to read though not to write … it may be surmised they did not do so often or with very much ease … more than 50% of all males born between 1741 and 1760 were unable to read or write”.

In 1821 Rome actually admitted that only 400,000 of her 1.4 million children received any formal education.  Yet she was well satisfied.  Four fifths of the next generation were hers.

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