The Fifth Proposition—the Queen’s Colleges
The two most vehement enemies of Queen’s Colleges—John MacHale, archbishop of Tuam, and William O’Higgins, bishop of Ardagh—took no part in the full-dress debate beyond saying that their views were so well known that there was no need to repeat them. When the discussion ended, voting on the nine propositions before the Synod began on Saturday, 31 August 1850. The fifth, that the laity were obliged to reject and avoid the Queen’s Colleges because of grave and intrinsic dangers to faith and morals, was carried by sixteen votes to twelve. The sixth proposition, that in order to avoid harm to the laity the bishops should issue a synodal letter admonishing the laity about the dangers of the Colleges, was approved by only fifteen votes to thirteen. Cullen declared in a letter to Tobias Kirby, Rector of the Irish College in Rome on 31 August 1850, that ‘The Holy See must vindicate her authority, otherwise the faith is lost in Ireland.’ In his letter to Monsignor Barnabò that same evening, enclosing the decisions of the Synod, Cullen was calmer, but certainly no less scandalised by those bishops who supported the Colleges.
I hasten to send you the propositions and rules that the synod of Thurles has at this moment adopted concerning the Queen’s Colleges. The Decrees of Propaganda were read for the Synod, and the subject was examined with all possible patience and care. The Archbishop of Dublin repeatedly declared he received the said Decrees, but that he believed that the Pope did not understand the nature of the Colleges; but that he believed them to be good and useful, and that he would never do anything to prevent the young people from attending them. About eleven other Bishops expressed themselves in the same terms of disregard for the instruction of the Holy See. I am sorry to be obliged to declare with pain that these Bishops have not demonstrated the deepest respect for the decisions of the Holy See. The Archbishop of Dublin is so bound up with the Government that he will never oppose any project that emanates from that Government, and he always carries several other Bishops with him. I am still very shocked at the way in which these several prelates have expressed themselves.