Conflict and culture in Irish-Newfoundland Roman Catholicism, 1829-1850.

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Title: Conflict and culture in Irish-Newfoundland Roman Catholicism, 1829-1850.
Authors: FitzGerald, John Edward.
Date: 1997
Abstract: Between 1829 and 1850 an institutionalized Roman Catholic church was created by the Irish Catholic community in the British colony of Newfoundland. Irish reformers and Roman Catholic clergy in St. John's agitated for political, legal, and educational rights, and economic and spiritual freedoms. However, a political struggle ensued in the St. John's congregation between some lay Catholic trustees who sought to retain their influence over church affairs. and the new Roman Catholic bishop, Michael Anthony Fleming, who wished to remove the laity from the control of the church. Under Fleming's leadership and centralized control, a more formally institutionalized church was established, which for the first time in Newfoundland was prepared to seek religious, legal and political reforms for Newfoundland. This bid to create a Newfoundland state in which the Irish enjoyed more freedoms than they did in Ireland threatened the control of British colonial administrations over Newfoundland, and proposed a very different kind of culture and society. In the attempt to create a new Irish culture, an old one had to be reinvented, and much of the social and political turbulence in Newfoundland from 1830 to 1850 had its roots not in Catholic-Protestant sectarianism as previously interpreted by historians, but in the discontent among Waterford and Wexford factions within the Irish Roman Catholic community of St. John's. By the late 1830s, these conflicting visions engrossed the attentions of the Newfoundland political class and many of the colony's ordinary inhabitants, British civil servants, and Roman curia, for whom the Newfoundland question had become the Catholic question, and more specifically, the Fleming question. Fleming was animated by the religious doctrine of ultramontanism, and he and his collaborating middle-class Catholic elite engaged in three phases of activity: political agitation in an O'Connellite pattern for Catholic civil rights, the creation of church-controlled schooling and religious education, and the construction of a new cathedral and educational precinct which was meant in part to symbolize the culture and its political success, and assert Irish cultural parity with the official British culture of the Newfoundland state. When Fleming systematically removed the lay trustees from positions of influence on school and chapel committees, and supported their opponents in elections, they joined forces with the threatened colonial establishment in Newfoundland, and political rancour and sectarian division grew in the colony. The church's success was tempered by the incessant interplay of local with international concerns. Intermittent interventions by the "Liberal Catholics" in alliance with Colonial governors to the Colonial Office, and the Colonial Office to Rome requesting that Fleming be removed from Newfoundland, and by disputes between various clergy and laity, which were turned to account against Fleming in Rome. However, Rome supported Fleming, and allowed him to remain in Newfoundland, and the British government discovered that it could no longer use the church to help it govern Newfoundland. By 1850, the year of Fleming's death, most of the contentious issues of concern to the Irish had been put to rest. Denominational rights to control education had been formalized in legislation, the reformers had become part of a new political establishment as Britain backed away from direct control of Newfoundland, and the success of building the cathedral created for the first time a sense in Irish minds of how possible it was to glorify their culture. The legitimacy of participation of Irish Catholics in Newfoundland society and the new state had been secured. (Abstract shortened by UMI.)
URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10393/9512
http://dx.doi.org/10.20381/ruor-7838
CollectionTh├Ęses, 1910 - 2010 // Theses, 1910 - 2010
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