Chronicles of the Irish Martyrs 2: Renounce the Pope or Die

May 1st, 1537. Dublin. Two years after John Travers’ death, the Parliament Brown so desired was called together. In plain language, Brown presented to the members the wishes of the King.

“Your obedience to your King is the observance of your God and Saviour Christ, for He, that High Priest of your souls, paid tribute to Caesar, though not a Christian. Greater honour then, surely, to your Prince, his Highness the King, who is a Christian. So that I shall without scruple vote his Highness King Henry supreme over ecclesiastical as well as temporal matters, and that without guilt of conscience or sin to God, and he who will not pass this act as I do, is no true subject to his Highness.”

In this session, two Acts were passed, the Act of Supremacy and the Act of Appeals:

The King, his heirs and successors, Kings of England and lords of Ireland, shall be accepted and reputed the only Supreme Head on earth of the whole Church of Ireland.
No one shall pursue or execute any appeal to or from the Bishop of Rome or to or from any other that claim authority by reason of the same, for any case or cause whatsoever, the offenders, their aiders, counsellors, and abettors incurring the penalty of praemunire.

Other Acts had been on the agenda but could not be passed because of the objection of the spiritual proctors present in the parliament. Up until that time two spiritual proctors from each dioceses were present in the parliament. Their job was to give direction when controversial questions arose, especially those dealing with the faith or the Church. And without their consent nothing could be enacted in any parliament. After this first session, frustrated with not being able to pass all the Acts that were on the agenda, Lord Leonard Grey write to Cromwell, “The forwardness and obstinacy of the proctors of the clergy from the beginning of the parliament and at this session, the bishops and the abbots, was such that his lordship should be advised…. Considering their obstinacy, we thought it good to prorogue the parliament for this time, and against the next session to provide a remedy for them.”

A remedy was provided quickly. A new enactment was sent out from the King that ‘none of the said proctors should be members of the parliament, nor give, nor have any voice, or assent to any act or ordinance enacted in any parliament.’
These obstacles now out of the way, the next session was called, and two more Acts were passed. One against the authority of the Bishop of Rome and the second declaring the suppression of Abbeys.

Anyone by writing, preaching, teaching, or by any other act shall maintain the authority and jurisdiction of the Bishops of Rome, or their aider, shall for every offence incur the penalties of praemunire.

Archbishops, bishops, etc., in their visitations shall make diligent inquiry of all ecclesiastical and religious persons suspected of being transgressors of this Act; and if found guilty, they shall suffer the penalties expressed I the said statute….

Every officer, lay and ecclesiastical shall take oath that he henceforth renounce the bishop of Rome and his jurisdiction, and accept the King to be only supreme head on earth of the church of England and Ireland.

Every religious person at his entry into religion, and every other ecclesiastical person at his taking orders, and everyone promoted to any degree of learning in any university in the land, at his promotion or preferment shall take the same oath.

Any one commanded to take the said oath, obstinately refusing to do so, shall suffer the pains of death and other penalties in cases of high treason.

The second Act declared the suppression and confiscation of Abbeys, Monasteries, Convents and all their goods, lands, etc. Who will be the first victims? Those who were determined that no law, no torture, no threat would move them from the principles of Truth...

 -By Sr. Kelai Reno, SHM