§ LORD REDESDALE
, in moving for correspondence relating to the precedence of Roman Catholic Bishops in the colonies, would remind the House, that last year he drew their attention to a circular addressed by the noble Earl opposite to the Governors 1027 of all the colonies, in which, referring to a communication he had received from the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, to the effect that by the Bequests Act the Legislature had given to Roman Catholic Archbishops and Bishops corresponding rank with the Prelates of the Church, he desired that the same should be conceded to them in the colonies. The noble Earl refused to produce this letter of Lord Clarendon, as being a private document, but admitted that his interpretation of the law was incorrect, and that no precedence whatever was accorded to those Prelates by the Act in question. As, however, much mischief has arisen from this mistake, he thought it desirable again to call the attention of the House to the subject, the more so as Her Majesty is about to proceed to Ireland to be received there by the same Lord Lieutenant. He much regretted that this question should have arisen. The subject ought not to have been officially noticed, for it was not one for official interference. He was confident that all right-minded persons would always be disposed to concede proper rank to the Prelates of any branch of the Catholic Church, even though they might consider that branch to be corrupt in its doctrines, in the same way as rank by courtesy is granted to foreign nobility. But as it would be improper, unconstitutional, and derogatory to the supremacy and dignity of the Crown for a Secretary of State to direct officially that rank should be conceded to foreign nobles, and determine what rank, making it in some cases above that of our own nobles, so is it equally objectionable that he should determine the rank of Prelates appointed by a foreign authority, and not deriving their titles to office from the Sovereign of these realms. The only way in which the noble Earl can release himself from the unfortunate difficulty into which he has plunged, is by withdrawing all his public and official orders on the subject, as founded originally on a mistake, and leaving the matter to the good feelings and courtesy of the people, at home and in the colonies. When he wrote the circular, I believe that he had no idea that any difficulty would arise from it. The policy of the Romish Church being to set itself as much as possible above our own, advantage was taken of their Bishop in Australia being an Archbishop, to claim precedence for him over the Bishop of Sydney. A correspondence has taken place on the subject, and he had understood that 1028 the noble Earl has laid it down that the Bishop of Sydney, having metropolitan jurisdiction, should have precedence of the Romish archbishop, though himself only a bishop. This is a lame attempt to escape from the difficulty of having proposed to give to Romish archbishops a corresponding rank to our archbishops. Strictly speaking, an archbishop has no rank as such, except precedence over the bishops of his Church. There is no archbishops' bench in this House, but the archbishops sit at the head of the bishops' bench. The Archbishop of Canterbury takes precedence of the Lord Chancellor, who takes precedence of the Archbishop of York, showing that there is no rank belonging especially to archbishops, but that the Primate of all England has one rank granted to him in right of his office, and the Primate of England another, and not a corresponding rank, in right of his office—both, too, settled by Act of Parliament, and affording no guide for the placing of archbishops of foreign appointment. The rank proposed to be given by Lord Clarendon, would be derogatory to the Queen's supremacy. According to his mistaken interpretation of the Bequests Act, the Roman Catholic archbishop in the Ulster district, was to take precedence after the Archbishop of Armagh, but before the Archbishop of Dublin, which would be conceding to the Pope not only the right to make an archbishop with rank here, but to make an Archbishop of Armagh and a primate of all Ireland. Nor would the difficulty end here. Supposing rank to be granted to Irish and colonial prelates as indicated in Lord Clarendon's letter and the colonial circular, what rank would be conceded to one if made a Cardinal? He wished also to be informed what rank was to be given to Roman Catholic prelates in England, as well as what has been decided upon in the colonies.
§ EARL GREY
said, the papers moved for by the noble Lord were produced last night in the House of Commons, and of course they would also be laid before their Lordships. With regard to the question that had been raised, the real state of the case was this: No bishops, either of the English Established Church or of any other, had any right to rank, properly speaking, except as Lords of Parliament; and the bishops of the Irish Church only had rank, because by the Act of Union they were entitled to the rank which they previously possessed. Therefore no bishop had a 1029 right to rank as such, except by virtue of that statute, or as Lords of Parliament; but for many years it had been the practice—unfortunately, as he thought—to extend to bishops of the English Established Church in the Colonies the style and title given to bishops in this country. That, however, had been done, as he believed, entirely in error; but as in certain colonies the Protestant bishops received precedence by courtesy, it came to be considered that the Roman Catholic rather than the Protestant bishops were entitled to it in those colonies where the majority of the population consisted of Catholics. And in colonies like New South Wales, where the majority was Protestant, although there was yet a large proportion of Catholics, the Catholic bishops had the same right, and were paid their salaries precisely in the same way, as the bishops of the Protestant Church; and the Protestant Church there not being more established than the Roman Catholic, it was considered a great social inequality that the bishop of the one Church should have a title that was denied to that of the other. Upon that principle it was that he (Earl Grey) issued his order that the title—the mere courtesy title—should be conceded to Catholic bishops as well as to those of our own Church. Following out that principle, he had instructed the Governor of New South Wales not to allow the Roman Catholic archbishop to take the precedence of the bishops of our Church; and the Catholic bishop at Melbourne having claimed to be called Bishop of Melbourne, he had instructed the Governor that the only Bishop of Melbourne was the Rev. Dr. Bennett, who was appointed by Her Majesty. He had also instructed him not to admit the pretensions of the Roman Catholics to have their Church recognised as if it were the only "Catholic" Church, but always to use the term "Roman" before the word Catholic when mentioning that communion officially. As to the case put of a Cardinal visiting this country, that had never occurred in his official experience, and he declined to enter into that part of the question.
§ LORD REDESDALE
expressed himself gratified by much of what had fallen from the noble Earl; but he had not answered his questions. For instance, if he still adhered to anything like his former proposition, what rank would be give to any of the Roman Catholic prelates in this kingdom or in the colonies if advanced to the rank of Cardinal?
§ The EARL of CARLISLE
said, that he was sure if any Cardinal came over to this country, every person would call him his Excellency.
§ Motion agreed to.
§ House adjourned till To-morrow.