Saturday, September 15, 2012

Celtic Corner - September 2012

The Celtic Church & The Church of Rome

Tara was the seat of the Kings of Ireland and located on the east coast. Therefore, the location made raids on the west coast of Great Britain an easy target and the probable area of St. Patrick’s kidnapping.

King Daithi held the seat in Tara about 407 A.D. Daithi was a great warrior. He marched into Scotland and defeated the King of the Picts (or Scotts). He marched all through England and at some point probably captured young Patrick.

In AD 431, Pope Celestine sent Bishop Palladius, a Roman, to Waterford/Wexford. This area was already occupied by some Christians.

The Pope feared that the Irish may be influenced by a British missionary named Pelagius. This missionary was condemned as a heretic by the Council of Ephesus in 431 AD. Pelagius taught the soul had free choice and free will, not predestination. Today predestination is not a church precept.

In 432, Pope Celestine sent Patrick back to Ireland, no longer a captive, but a bishop. From the beginning and for another 200 years, the Irish Church had an individual Celtic flavor, rather than a universal Roman Order. St Patrick was a robust, energetic man about 45, roughly dressed, not adorned in long robes. He experienced Brehon law rather than Roman law.

There were many factors that missionaries Palladius and Patrick encountered that made their objective difficult, such as Pelagianism, traces of the Arian heresy, Paganism & sun worship.

The next pope, Sixtus III, fearing that Patrick was too close to the Celtic tradition, summoned him to Rome. Patrick continued to ignore the order and the matter was quietly dropped by Rome.

The Papal desire to Romanize the Celtic church would continue indefinitely, culminating 700 years later, AD 1155, with the laudabiliter and the Norman conquest of Ireland in 1169. Like the military and political situation, it can be seen then, that the evangelization of Ireland was never a smooth, easy transition, but riven with dispute, rancor and even Papal intrigue.

The Sea of Rome was continuously wary of the Celtic church and wanted it to conform to the universal order. The widespread gains of Celtic missionaries in Scotland and half of England alarmed the pro-Augustine, Orthodox Roman church. In AD664, the Irish bishop, St Colman, was ordered to attend a meeting at Whitby in Yorkshire, where he was compelled to accept Roman church customs in liturgy, feast-dates, texts, dress and tonsure etc.

During the six centuries of the barbarian Dark Ages, following the fall of the Roman Empire, Ireland became a beacon of the Christian church in Europe, the golden age of culture, art and scholarship. A leading figure of this pre-Renaissance enlightenment was Johannes Scotus or John Scot, the Irish philosopher from the Co. Down area of today(AD800-77); not to be confused with the anti-Aquinas namesake of the 13th century(“Scotus” can also mean “Dark”).

This 9th Century scholar supported the pro-Pelagian and anti-Augustinian line on free will etc., at the court of King Charles in Paris, as resident philosopher. He reasoned also, that Hell was not an eternal punishment, since sin and therefore its punishment, was finite.

Therefore, the Devil himself would eventually be saved, leaving good and Heaven as the only entity. Pope Honarius III ordered Scotus’s great work DeNatura to be burned. But some copies have survived. He himself was protected by the King.

His image was used on the Irish five-punt note in recent time. It would seem that while correctly advocating free will and choice, he erred in assuming that Satan would choose to repent and be saved. Out of Hell there is no redemption, because the wicked hate God. God, in allowing choice and free will, does not then condemn the wicked; rather the wicked freely choose to be separate, forever, from God, thus Hell; evil is their eternal delight, the terrible paradox of free will and choice.

Henry II of England coveted Ireland and called the Council of Winchester in 1155 for this purpose, knowing the Pope’s desire to “civilize” Ireland and regulate church practice there. Henry then sent an envoy to Pope Adrian IV, an Englishman (Nicholas Brakespear), a son of a priest (no clerical marriage ban then). In 1156 the Pope granted Henry the papal bull laudabiliter, permission to invade Ireland.

Ironically then it was Roman Catholicism which initiated the conquest of Ireland, albeit via an English Pope and an English Norman king.

The High King of Ireland, Roderick O’Connor, was not even consulted and he was powerless to resist because the Pope compelled the bishops, clergy and people to accept English rule, under pain of excommunication, damnation or papal interdict.

Henry’s barons however, feared the sea route and no invasion occurred until 1169 after Dermot McMurrough’s appeal to Henry for help in 1166. Pope Alexander III enforced the edict in 1171 by ordering the bishops to meet at Cashel and accept Roman and Norman rule.

So Henry had a bloodless conquest of Ireland and was welcomed here by the bishops and military leaders alike. The people had no say in the matter. So, 740 years after Patrick came to a Celtic church, it was the Roman church and Catholicism which, paradoxically, conquered Ireland.

This became Protestant rule 400 years later when King Henry VIII converted. Patrick is the real conqueror however, when on March 17 we of all denominations joyously celebrate a British/Roman/Celtic church saint in a uniquely Irish Way!



May the love and protection
Saint Patrick can give
Be yours in abundance
As long as you live.
Your Correspondence Secretary                                      President
Frank Darcy                                                                    Ken Egan