HC Deb 13 April 1808 vol 11 cc63-6

The Report of the Committee of Supply was received, and the Resolutions were agreed to.—Upon the Resolution for granting 20,000l. to the Protestant Charter schools of Ireland,

Mr. Parnell

rose to draw the attention of the house to a circumstance respecting those institutions he had before alluded to, and which he thought ought to be redressed. A sort of Catechism had been composed for those schools, called the 'Protestant Catechism,' which did not dwell, as the Catechisms we were best acquainted with, upon prayers, creed, or commandments, but went almost entirely to abuse the tenets of the Catholic church, which were completely misrepresented in it. Almost all the assertions which were in this book respecting the doctrines of the Catholic religion were completely unfounded; they were in contradiction to the doctrines which the Catholic children learned in their prayer book, and which the Catholic body professed and avowed. He then read several extracts from this 'Protestant Catechism,' as it was called and compared them with the Catholic prayer book, and with the declaration solemnly subscribed by the Catholics. The effect of impressing such gross misrepresentations on the minds of young children could be only to increase those religious animosities which every good man wished to allay as much as possible. Among the doctrines which 2000 children were now taught at those Protestant charter schools, were these 'that the body of the Catholics conceived that no allegiance was due to the king, and that faith was not to be kept with heretics'. It was evident, that they must hate those whom they conceived capable of entertaining such sentiments. At a time when the liberality of parliament was appealed to in support of this institution, he conceived it would be a proper time to reform this abuse, and to prevent such a Catechism being taught at these, schools.

Sir A. Wellesley

was sorry that this subject had been drawn into discussion in that house. It had already engaged the attention of the Board of Education, who would probably give directions respecting it. He certainly never had seen the 'Protestant Catechism,' nor was he acquainted with those documents which the hon. gent. quoted to refute it; but he thought, that when he had stated what was taught in some schools, he ought also to have stated what was taught in others. He had been informed, that at several Catholic schools children had been taught to read, not in the Bible, but in Paine's Rights of Man, and in books which gave an account of what the Roman Catholics of Ireland had suffered from the Protestants. Such an education as this would breed them up in a fixed and rooted hatred to Protestants.

Mr. Grattan

bore, testimony to the good management of the charter schools in other respects; but he condemned this 'Protestant Catechism,' which had been composed for their use. Among other extracts which he read from it was one where the child is asked, was there any salvation for persons in the communion of the church of Rome?' The answer to it was in substance, 'that their souls were in great hazard if they did not embrace the light when it was offered them, and abjure the errors in which they were brought up.'

Mr. Elliot

read from the Roman Catholic prayer-book, which was published by the sanction of the four Catholic archbishops of Ireland, and which was put into the hands of all the Catholic children of that country, doctrines totally different from those which had been imputed to them in this 'Protestant Catechism.' The precepts in the Catholic prayer-book were allegiance to the king, and respect to existing governments. In that part of it which related to love and charity to our neighbours, the question is put to the Catholic child, 'Who is your neighbour?' the answer is, 'mankind of every persuasion, and we are bound to love those who differ from us in opinion, and even those who injure us.'

Sir J. Newport

thought that it was no sort of excuse for such doctrines being taught in our charter-schools, which were national institutions, under the controul of government, and paid by the public, to say that at some obscure Catholic school doctrines as mischievous were taught. He thought his hon. friend had done very right in bringing the business forward in this manner, as it was often by the animadversions of the public that the grossest abuses were corrected. It was not above 14 years ago when no children could be educated at those Protestant charier schools but the children of popish parents, and it was very lately a custom to send the children from the South of Ireland to the North, and change their names for the purpose of cutting off all intercourse with their parents or relations. Those abuses had been hitherto principally corrected by becoming subjects of general conversation and censure.

Colonel Barry

supposed it possible that this 'Protestant Catechism' might have been composed before the Catholics formally and solemnly disavowed the sentiments imputed to them.

Mr. Fitzgerald

(knight of Kerry) said, that Mr. Parnell had been absolutely obliged to bring the matter before the house, as he had been defied to produce such a Catechism at the time he alluded to it. The Catechism had now been produced, and it was a composition only fit for a Portuguese Jesuit, in the 16th century. If Ignatius Loyola had now been alive, and was chancellor of the exchequer for Ireland, he must have been quite ashamed to defend a Catechism like this. Its object was evidently to institute a hatred for every person of a different religious creed; and when we were asked to pay 20,000l. per annum for those schools, it was time to require that the Catechism should be laid aside.

Mr. Parnell

said, that he had not intended to find fault with any thing else in these institutions, and having mentioned this matter publickly, he should not refuse to vote the sum named in the resolution.—The Resolution was then agreed to.

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