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Page 23, 13th September 1902

13th September 1902
Page 23
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Page 23, 13th September 1902 — THE HOAX IN "THE FORTNIGHTLY."

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Locations: Rome, Hexham, Newcastle, Oxford


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Public interest in Mr. Galton's hoax rapidly fizzled out as soon as it became known that the leader of the 150 "revolting priests" was only the well-known gentleman in Ealing. Correspondence on the subject continues to dribble on in the pages of The Chronicle. We print a selection : There has been so much personal, irresponsible, irrelevant and frequently anonymous correspondence on this subject, that it may be worth while to return to the only facts which are at present of any public interest. It was stated in The Fortnightly Review that certain grievances existed among the English Roman Catholics. It was also stated that certain persons among them, despairing of redress, were prepared to find a remedy in their own way. All knowledge of the matter was then denied by the authorities, both at Westminster and in Rome. The Vatican denied, as you report, with "sardonic

Incredulity." I have explained why I thought it very probable that the authorities were not likely to know the names and numbers of the complaining clergy. Mr. O'Halloran has, however, now proved that the grievances of himself and his friends, as well as the remedy they proposed, were communicated to their Archbishop and to Cardinal Rampolla. His communication appears to have been treated by the Vatican with " sardonic" indifference ; and this, surely, strengthens the case which he has laid before the public. The term "incredulity," therefore, does not apply so much to the knowledge of the Vatican and its representatives here as to the attitude of the public with regard to the value of their denials. Sofar as I am aware, there has been no official explanation of the discrepancy between the statements of the Vatican and Archbishop's House, and the correspondence with them of Mr. O'Hallaran.

With regard to Mr. O'Halloran himself his name is, I believe, not in the Roman Catholic directory. Nevertheless he remains in possession of his church and .presbytery. His congregation, I am told, are true to him, and are satisfied with his ministrations. Cardinal Vaughan has employed against him all the ecclesiastical weapons at his disposal. He has not been so eager to try those legal weapons which can only be used in an open and impartial court of law. It would be very interesting to see the questions of jurisdiction, of faculties, of ecclesiastical property, and the whole status of the parochial clergy, tested fairly and openly before a judge. Such a trial would throw light upon the vexed question of faculties, upon which so much of the modern Papal and episcopal authority depends, and Upon which there is so little ancient or satisfactory evidence. In respect of his parish, then, as well as in the fact that the authorities knew of his movement, Mr. O'Halloran remains so far in possession of the field. When it suits him he will no doubt come forward with the names of his supporters. These men, it should be remarked, are not challenging any article of their creed. They complain of misgovernment. They distrust the Pope's advisers and administrators. They respect the Papal office, and See, and person. They have a perfect right, si.o far as I can see, to remain where they are until it suits them to declare themselves. My al ticle, as I must point out again, was intended solely to state their grievances and their proposed remedy, to obtain advice and sympathy. It was not intended to announce any premature, or ill-considered, or hurried action.

I have explained why the authorities were not likely to have the confidence of Mr. O'Halloran and his friends. There are equally valid reasons why the general body of the clergy should not have it either. Arbitrary government necessarily begets suspicion. It makes healthy and constitutional opposition dangerous. Until the officials and their majorities learn to behave more reasonably and generously towards dissentients they cannot expect full confidence. Frank and open discussion is impossible when it is more than likely to be followed by betrayals, denunciations, and arbitrary 'treatment.

I do not propose to deal here with the various statements which I have read. I will only say that the admissions made by many correspondents are more significant than the denials of some others. When they come to be put together it will be found that they go a long way towards substantiating the general tenour of my article.

Personal questions cannot interest the general public, and they really have no bearing upon the principles which we are now discussing. I wish, however, to thank Father Taunton for his letter. The more he is able to affirm his orthodoxy, the more useful he is to me as a witness for those conclusions about the Papacy which I have stated in my recent book. He enables me to give them as the conclusions not only of an opponent, but of an ardent partisan.

I wish to say, also, that the statements of Mr, C. E. Rivers about my final relations with the late Bishop of Hexham and Newcastle, and the mode of my resignation of the Windermere mission, are exceedingly inaccurate an s

d mileading. It is true that I wrote the volume which he mentions. It may be quite true that a friend and parishioner of mine sent it to the Bishop behind my back, instead of speaking honestly and openly to me. That is quite in accordance with orthodox and pious habits. At the same time I never heard until now of the accusation. So far from hearing from the Bishop, I waited for six or eight weeks after the book appeared, and then I sent him a copy myself. There was nothing, as I think, unorthodox in the volume, as it dealt solely with literary subjects. It enabled me, however, to discuss my position with the Bishop. I had long felt it to be unsatisfactory, and I found at length that it was no longer honestly tenable. The Bishop was most kind and sympathetic. He did all he could to keep me. I had to tell him, with much regret, that his arguments did not touch or meet my difficulties. We parted with all good feeling, and on my side with very great esteem both for his kindness and his frankness. He acknowledged that, thinking as I did, I could not take any other course. I must point out to Mr. Rivers that the initiative came from me, and that the final decision was entirely my own act, in which the Bishop acquiesced unwillingly.

The following brilliant suggestion appears (appropriately) over the signature "Anglican

Theie is one very simple way of discovering whether Father O'Halloran is a Roman Catholic priest or not. Let Cardinal Vaughan (or anyone) prosecute him for having performed marriages in his church. If he is what Cardinal Vaughan's party say he is, they can get him penal servitude, which will save them the expense of incarcerating him in a monastery. Will " Laicus Romanus," who so confidently asserts that Father O'Halloran is not Roman Catholic Rector cf Ealing, have the courage to do what I suggest ?

"An English Catholic "takes the trouble to write :

The thanks of all English Catholics are due to The Chronicle for so effectively pricking the revolt bubble. We now know that Mr. Galton, the ex-priest, was "commissioned" by Mr. O'Halloran, the suspended priest, to write the article which led to the present discussion. That fact is in itself sufficient, as far as Catholics are concerned, to demonstrate how much truth there is in the alleged revolt. But as there appear to be some who still cherish the notion that these two typical reformers have 15o followers who have not yet either apostatised or been suspended, I hope you may see fit to challenge Mr. O'Halloran to give the names and addresses of, at any rate, ten of them, as an earnest of the truth of the alleged movement. And as it has been suggested that these "revolting" priests fear being deprived of their means of livelihood if their names are made public, could not the "subsidiary Bishop-elect" give them to you in confidence ? I am sure the Catholic

body would be satisfied to leave the matter to your personal investigation, confident that you would satisly yourself that the "revolters" were priests in the riossess'on of facu lues granted to them by the English Catholic Bishops.

The actual situation at Ealing is concisely described by an "An English Secular Priest " :

Mr. O'Halloran claims to be "Roman Catholic Rector of Ealing," and to be in possession of the "parish church." The real facts, as far as I can gather them, are as follows : Mr. O'Halloran, when in charge of the Ealing Mission, erected an iron church by means of subscriptions. When the trouble with the Cardinal 'came it was found that the purchase of the church stood in MT. O'Halloran's name, and, therefore, was legally his. The church was not required by the Cardit al, as the Benedictines intended to build a permanent church elsewhete in the town. Under these circumstances it remained in Mr. O'Halloran's possession, but, of course, it is now no more a "Roman Catholic church" than the Wesleyan chapel is, and Mr. O'Halloran having been superseded and suspended for contumacy is no more "Roman Catholic Rector of Ealing" than he is Pope of Rome.

It will probably be admitted that Mr. O'Halloran's following of quondam Catholics is not a large one, and that without Protestant support he would long ago have subsided, not into a "Subsidiary Bishop-elect," but into space.

Mr. Davey returns to the charge : I have allowed a fortnight to elapse in the hope that your correspondent "A Revolting Priest" would substantiate the grave charges of illegally imprisoning and tormenting recalcitrant priests be has brought against his Eminence Cardinal Vaughan. He has not advanced any evidence in support of his statement, and my challenge therefore remains unanswered. He said that the Cardinal owned prisons or " hells," into which he caused refractory clergymen to be cast without leave or knowledge of the authorities as by law established—a very serious, nay criminal, proceeding if it were true. Moreover " monks " were engaged to torment the prisoners, and, as if to emphasise his assertions, your correspondent remarked that he wished your readers could hear one of the victims tell his tale of woe. I asked him to bring forward evidence. In fifteen days' time he has failed to do so. Surely we may now consider his "horrible tales" of priestly cruelty and of monkish tortures as silty fabrications, and that so long, not to say cowardly, a silence lifts from the fair name of the Cardinal an odious stigma. You, Sir, and with you all honourable English gentlemen, be their creed what it may, will now agree that the chief representative of the Latin Church in this country, a gentleman of ancient lineage and stainless repute, honoured for his courteous nature and his Christian gentleness, is quite guiltless of the heinous crime attributed to him by a thoughtless, malicious, and untruthful scribbler who may be a "revolting priest" but who is most certainly a very revolting person indeed. For such are all men who bring disgraceful charges against their fellows, be it in private or in public, unless they can and will substantiate their assertions in every particular.

"S." points out that if Mr. O'Halloran is indeed, as he describes himself, Roman Catholic Rector of Ealing, be belongs to a class apart : Without meaning to touch at all on Father O'Halloran's controversy with the authorities of Westminster archdiocese, I cannot help wondering at his emphatic statement that he is "the bond fide Roman Catholic Rector of Ealiug, and holds possession of the parish church." How can there be a parish church in a land in which there are no constituted parishes ? The prx-Reformation parish church of Ealing stood on the site of the present St. Mary's (South Ealing), which still claims to be the mother-parish of the borough. Certainly Father O'Halloran is not in possession of that. On the non-existence of parish priests—Roman Catholic ones, of course—the official " Ord° Recitandi " is quite clear and unmistakeable. Under the head of " Missa pro Populo "—i.e., the obligation of parish priests to say Mass for the intention of their flocks on certain feasts—the " Ordo "says : "According to the decree [of date —, &c.;], since there are not as yet constituted parishes, properly speaking, in England, only the most rev, the bishops are bound to [&c.;]." " Nevertheless, it is fitting that, out of charity, missionary sectors and other priests who are in sole charge or hold the first place in a mission should on Sundays and other feasts [Rec.]."

Surely his official statement, in a book put out by authority of all the Roman Catholic Bishops in England, makes two things quite plain :

T. That the English missions are not true parishes, and that the clergy serving them are not parish priests—" parsons," as the old English word has it—and that the only clergymen having "ordinary jurisdiction," even of a parochial kind, are the Bishops. e. That except the "missionary rectors," who do possess some quasi-parochial rights, the priests in charge of missions have no special title nor status ; they are only " sacerdotes in qualibet missione solos vet primos "—hence the title of "lector "is not one which they can rightly bear. They are, in fact, the Bishop's curates (in the modern sense) rather than rectors ; and as such, I take it, removable by him at pleasure.

An Oxford convert bears witness to the absurdity of the whole Story :

I have read Mr. Perrott's letter in your to-day's (Sept. 3) issue with some amusement. I have at present made something over six years' "sojourn" in the Roman Catholic Church. I read of the "revolt" in the press and immediately knew it was "bunkum." I am a mere layman with a fairly large acquaintance with secular priests. The" man in the street" is so misled by what appears in the press about the Roman Catholic Church, that perhaps I may be allowed to say that, although I have had some hard knocks as a Roman Catholic, I quite fervently hope to live and die a member, not because " the glory of the Roman Church lies in . . . the sacrifice of the iadividual for the good of the whole body," but merely because it is the only Church there is.

The Record holds out arms of Protestant brotherhood to the rebels, and pleads for "sympathy in a practical form" without too close inquiry into the position and beliefs of the oppressed clergymen : The leader of the English revolt against Rome, described by Mr. Galton in his article, has now declared himself. He is Father O'Halloran, of Ealing, who has for some time been in conflict with his superiors. Father O'Halloran has forwarded to The Daily Chronicle documents addressed by him to Cardinal Rampolla, the Vatican Secretary of State, and to Cardinal Vaughan. In these he set out in detail the charges against Rome dealt with by Mr. Galton, and stated definitely that, failing redress, the protesting clergy meent to obtain a bishop or bishops of their own. As we said last week, the existence or prospect of any impending revolt was denied flatly by the Papal authorities. The Vatican, we are assured, received news of the existence of such a movement with "sardonic incredulity." The Vatican is always "sardonic," but whilst exhibiting before the public this "sardonic incredulity" it was all the while aware that Cardinal Rampolla had been told of this movement in 1900, and that for some time it had been the fixed resolve ot certain Roman ecclesiastics in England to provide themselves with a bishop unless the Curia ruled them less autocratically. Cardinal Vaughan, too, cannot have been so ignorant of the movement as his representatives would like the public to suppose. He knew where to find the head of the movement. He did not know, of course, the names and numbers of those who are pledged to it. He does not know them yet, much as he may desire the knowledge. The authorities at Archbishop's House did not know how or when the blow would fall, but they have for some time been aware that organised action was contemplated.

English Churchmen may now rest assured that this reforming movement exists. It has been organised for some time. Its ends are stated precisely in Mr. Galton's article, as well as the means by which the reformers hope to attain them. The article, it must be remembered, was not written to say the movement was accomplished. It was written merely to announce its existence, to explain its methods and objects, to invite helpful criticism, and to obtain sympathy. Neither the writer of the article nor the leader of the movement can say how far it may succeed : but they can snbstantiate all that they have stated about its existence and organisation, as well as about the numbers who are pledged to it. Its success must depend very largely upon the followers it secures, and upon the unanimity and force with which they can strike their first blow. A great deal must depend also upon the moral and material support which they obtain from sympathisers outside the Roman Church. In reading the various denials it is very significent to notice the admissions which are made. One Roman Catholic bears witness to the friction oetween the religious orders and the secular clergy. Several admit the friction between the English and Irish elements in British Romanism. A third notices the autocratic and irresponsible authority of the Roman congregations, saying openly that they cause grave injustice to individuals. It is significant too that, with the curious exception of Father Taunton, no secular priest has yet come openly forward to defend the administration, or to protest agaiustahe movement and its objects. As a matter of fact, whatever. the issue of this movement may be, English Romanism is in a disturbed and critical state.

It is clear indeed that, as Mr. Galton urges, now, more than ever, Rome and England are incompatible. The more intelligent of the Roman laity are feeling this. We hope they will recognise that. the clergy of this new movement are fighting their battle. —We hope that English Churchmen will also show some measure of sympathy with this move ment, and that if they be appealed to their sympathy will take a practical form. These oppressed clergymen want

moral support. It is more than probable that they will need material help, considering their dependent position and the resources of their oppressors. All loyal Anglicans must be united in opposing the Papal claims. These men are striving for those liberties which we enjoy. It must be our duty to help them, without inquiring too closely, whilst the movement is still only taking shape, into the details of their position and beliefs. We must remember that our own reformers began by rejecting Papal claims. It was only by degree, "step after step," that they found their way into the light and gained the historical and theological position which we now hold.

The Methodist Timms devotes considerable space to editorial comments on the " Revolt," and entirely sympathises with the movement. "What it will come to," says the Rev. Hugh Price Hughes's organ, "the Almighty alone knows. The Jesuits and their numerous wealthy allies may crush this movement as they have crushed similar movements on the Continent and in the United States. On the other hand, they may fail to crush it, and in that case it may prove an epoch-making event in the Roman Catholic Church. The Old Catholic Movement has not made much headway. But this is an English movement and those who breathe the air of England may prove more determined and more heroic. No competent student of Romanism and of the New Testament can fail to sympathise with this revolt against the greatest evil that ever befel the Christian Church."