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ROMAN CATHOLIC DISABILITIES. It is strange that in 1891 we should be 0 gravely discussing the question of Roman 3 n Catholic Emancipation, which to all intents and purposes was set at rest 62 years ago. In may seem in accordance with the free spirit of the age that no religious qualification should attach to any office, but we might have been spared the lengthy debate on the subject E5 .) ee that took place last week, for it has left us completely in the dark as to whether religious disability is not after all a myth. Mr Glad- stone, in moving the second reading of his "Religious Disabilities Removal Bill," ex- pressed considerable doubt as to whether Romanists were legally disqualified from hold- ing the offices of Lord-Lieutenant or Lord 0 Chancellor of Ireland at the present moment, an opinion in which the Attorney-General apparently concurred. If this is so, it may be asked why the necessity of putting forward the motion at the present time 1 It was this question that gave interest to the debate, and rivetted attention upon the great Statesman who advocated the Bill, and to his motive for putting it forward. In 1867, as Mr Glad- stone reminds us, he spoke strongly for the removal of Catholic disabilities he was then in Opposition. The following year he was returned to office as Prime Minister with a majority of 128 votes at his command. He has held office for 11 years since that date, but the subject upon which he waxed eloquent when in Opposition was never broached when in power- The reason is not far to seek, and is apparent in Mr Gladstone's own written words. In 1869 the Acutiienical Council met at Rome, and in the following year declared the dogma of the infallibility of the Pope. In 1874 Mr Gladstone published a pamphlet, in which he stated That she (the Roman Church) has refurbished and paraded anew every rusty tool she was thought to have disused"; "that no one could now become her convert without renouncing his moral and mental freedom, and placing his civil loyalty and duty at the mercy of others "it is certainly a political misfortune that during the last thirty years a Church so tainted in its views of civil obedience, and so unduly capable of changing its front and language after emancipation from what it had been before should have acquired an extension of its hold upon the highest classes of this country Too commonly the spirit of the neophyte is ex- pressed by the words which have become notorious, A Catholic first and an English- man afterwards.' We take them to mean that the convert intends, in case of any conflict between the Queen and the Pope, to follow the Pope and let the Queen shift for herself." Mr Gladstone qualified these state- ments in the following year by saying that "the loyalty of our Roman Catholic fellow- subjects in the mass remains evidently untainted." However that may be, Mr Gladstone had not sufficient confidence in the mass to relieve them at that time of their disabilities, though pressed to do so by Mr Beblingham in 1881. It is evident that his opinion as to the dangers of Papal infalli- bility remained unshaken. What has caused this sudden change of front? As in 1886, convictions are sacrificed to assuage that insatiable thirst for office, which has become the chronic disease of Mr Gladstone's declining days. The only hope that he can entertain of success at the General Election depends upon the defeat of Mr Parnell, and the only power that can perhaps withstand that astute gentle- man is that of priesthood, therefore to the priests a sop must be thrown by reviving the ancient cry of Catholic emancipation. ° The ruse was transparent, and consequently the Bill was rejected. ib ifc w Meantime Mr Parnell snaps his fingers at C5 priest and patriot (1) amusing himself with 0 the semblance of negociations upon a foreign ZD shore. For the unpleasant position in which Mi-Gladstone is placed he expresses unqualified pleasure. We can easily believe that the sufferings of his rival chieftain, Mr McCarthy, afford him considerable satisfaction. Those repeated trips across the stormy channel must be very trying to that estimable gentleman, who, if report says true, is an excessively bad sailor. So far his pains have been endured in vain. It is hardly credible that Mr Parnell, who successfully defied the priests during his candidature when he was a comparatively unknown man, will now tamely submit when he finds the opinion of Ireland so strong in his favour, as was evidenced durin" his°late tour. °


-------------------TRULY RURAL.