Page 5, 11th October 1974

11th October 1974
Page 5
Page 5, 11th October 1974 — to the Faith

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Organisations: Catholic Church


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to the Faith

JohnDamer(September 13) is very sure of his figures, but when trying to prove the misconception widely held in regard to the loyalty of the Irish to the Catholic Faith, does he take into account certain factors? Seemingly not.

Between 1846 and 1851, the famine-stricken Irish .came to Liverpool and Glasgow because work was proffered. In 1851 were there Catholic churches, did the Irish know of any, had they the means to get to Mass, were there scores of priests to go to the places where the Irish were accommodated in squalor and poverty to say Mass for these bewildered souls reduced to the lowest point or misery?

An examination from a Catholic source of the evident situation of the Catholic dioceses where the Irish immigrants would have congregated in 1851, shows at once the scarcity of clerey in Glasgow, Liverpool and the whole of Wales: no church in Glasgow until 1878, none in Cardiff, Newport, Holyhead, Fishguard; Liverpool had its pro-Cathedral, but no other permanent churches, only a few Mass centres at priories.

Assuming that half of the figure of 446,000 Catholic Irish given by John Darner from the census of 1851 were located in the Liverpool diocese, and taking into account Bishop Gosse's quoted estimate of the whole Catholic population of the Liverpool diocese in 1872, in 21 years there was a decrease of up to 73,000.

The 1934 Catholic census of the Liverpool diocese shows a total of 393,737 — an increase since 1872 of 193,737 — indicating fluctuation of population in the dio.c ese The increase in Catholic church building in the Liverpool diocese seems to have begun in 1890, no doubt due to the Irish pennies in the plate.

How can an accurate summary of Mass attendances be made, taking into account fluctuations in population? Even over six months this is difficult.

John Damer's assertion, drawn from "established" figures, that half a million Irish absented themselves from Mass on March 30, 1851, the date of the census, which could not have been a Sunday, is a fallacy based on erroneous deducing, since the figure of 520,000 in 1851 represents the influx of Irish due to seeking of work. and not that of the Irish and other Catholics of England and Wales attached to dioceses — certainly not the figure of Ms attendances on any Sundily previous to or after the dayabf census-making in 1851.

What, then, prompts Jot:in Darner in putting out the conclusion that other-than-Irish Catholics are suffering under, a misconception?

A. B. Reid 22 Adecroft Way, East Molesey, Surrey.

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