The Disestablishment Of The Church Of Ireland

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The Disestablishment Of The Church Of Ireland: Inevitable, Progressive Or Political? Essay, Research Paper Introduction The Protestant Episcopal Church of Ireland, was a church native to Ireland, drawing its apostolic succession from the medieval Irish Church. It was a church of a minority but was treated by the British government as the one lawful and orthodox church of Ireland, therefore was the Established Church of Ireland. On July 26, 1869, The Irish Church Bill was passed into law, disestablishing the Church of Ireland. This action was taken after a long period of time, and several factors contributed it being taken. There is also the question of whether the move was inevitable, political or progressive. We will see that in fact a combination of these three led to the

disestablishment of the church, but the process towards disestablishment was mainly political. Doomed From the Beginning? In the sixteenth century, the Tudor Monarchs adopted Reformation principles for the Church of England, and applied these principles to Ireland as well. However, unlike England, where the Established Church was accepted by a great majority of people, in Ireland there was no consensus on the issue of the Church. The Church was that of a minority, and the differences in language, difficulties in communication, and the incomplete control that England held over Ireland meant its? acceptance was limited. The majority of the Irish were not interested in the Established Church of Ireland from the beginning. This raises the question of was it doomed from the beginning

? was disestablishment inevitable? Tithes and Reforms In the 1830s, there were changes made in the organization of the Established Church. Firstly, the Tithe Composition Act was passed in 1832, which led to widespread protest. Tithes were payments made by Irish land tenants to the Established Church. Before 1832, payments of tithes were made in kind. This Act made money payments the rule, which had to be made by very poor people, mostly Roman Catholics. It was in support of a church which was not theirs, and they gained little, if any, benefit from it. The protest against tithes eventually escalated into the Tithe War. This did a great deal of damage to the reputation of the Church of Ireland in various Irish communities. As a result of these events, in 1838 the Tithe Rentcharge

Act was passed, which reduced tithes by one-quarter and made rich landlords and long term lease holders responsible for paying tithes to the Established Church. This was designed to place the burden of supporting the Church on the landowners rather than the tenants, as many of the landowners were members of the Established Church. But since the tenants supported the landowners, the tenants continued to indirectly support the Church. There were other reforms made to the Church. The Church Temporalities Act was designed to rectify the situation of the Church?s resources being used inefficiently, and implemented several financial reforms to the Church and its clergy. These reforms were implemented by British politicians, and were an early sign of what became a continuing series of

demands for reform of the Established Church of Ireland. Many politicians felt there ?was something unsatisfactory about the status of this relatively wealthy minority church.? Herein lies the political element in disestablishment of the Church of Ireland. Furthermore, as time passed politician?s feelings toward the church of Ireland grew from dissatisfaction and a feeling that reform was needed to a feeling that the Church should be disestablished. Report of the Census Commissioners In 1861, the first religious census of Ireland was taken. It showed that out of the total Irish population of 5 788 415, there were 693 357 members of the Church of Ireland, compared to the Roman Catholic Church, which had 4 505 365 members. This meant that Church of Ireland members were only one