Wednesday, September 22nd, 1875.
Within a week, The Mail would pinpoint the start of the trouble to this day, and say it all began with a rival newspaper, The Irish Canadian weekly. That paper was published every Wednesday, and on this day that it ran the announcement which, according to The Mail, would begin the troubles. Later historians, taking The Mail's claim at face value, would also lay blame for what was to come on the announcement. The Globe and The Irish Canadian itself, however, would lay blame with the Orangemen.
Offending Orangemen did not seem to be on the mind of the Peter Boyle, publisher of The Irish Canadian on this day. The reader of The Irish Canadian weekly newspaper of this day may have glanced casually over the banner, with the words Irish and Canadian in scrolls surrounded by shamrocks, the words separated by the image of a phoenix rising from the flames. Over the head of the phoenix is a crowned sun, with light rays spreading out from it in all directions, below which was the scrolled word “RESURGEM”- I will rise again. The reader may have read the poem on the front page about the suffering of Ireland, may have read the latest installment of MARY LEE; OR, THE YANKEE IN IRELAND. By Paul Peppergrass, ESQ. that took up the remainder of the page- easily the single largest piece in the paper. They may have leafed through the next few pages of news from page three breaking down the news from each county- though Ireland may be near and dear to the heart of every reader, nearest and dearest to their hearts was that piece of Ireland they called home. The 'Canadian' part of The Irish Canadian, begins on page four, where the paper begins telling stories that involve the Irish in Canada. The protestant reader may have nodded his head in approval at the opening words of the article PIKE” Again”- “Our loyal and pious- who that is of the chosen Orange fold is not good and loyal, glorious, pious and immortal- friend, the Kingston News, returns to the historic weapon named above….” Catholic readers may have taken that line to be ironic at best. He may have been attempting to placate the Protestants this day because this issue also contained an article with a proposition: all Irish people, whether Protestant or Catholic, should come together and form a single voting bloc. Together they could sway elections and put in place a government more favourable to their people. The Protestant reader may have skipped the reprint of the letter from the Archbishop of Toronto, John Joseph Lynch on page five, originally written to an unnamed Irish bishop on the question of marches in that part of Ireland, but it was there on that page that they saw something that would have caused them to aspirate their coffee, had they been drinking any. Right near the centre of the page, between Archbishop Lynch’s letter and a notice about the drainage works and a notice that Dr. Cassidy may be consulted at his new office on the north east corner of Church and Queen Streets was the article that, according to The Mail, would have the protestants crying havoc and unleashing the dogs. The article was an announcement about a council and a procession.
The First Provincial Council of the Bishops of the Province will commence on Sunday next, the 26th, at 10 o’clock, under the presidency of the Archbishop of Toronto at the Metropolitan Church (Note: Metropolitan Church refers to St Michael's cathedral, not the Metropolitan United that stands just to the south of it today.) The procession will leave St Vincent’s Chapel at half past nine precisely by way of Church and Shuter streets in the following
The Archiepiscopal Standard, attended by acolytes, and a guard of honor from La Salle Institute; Banner of the Blessed Virgin Mary borne by Children of Mary; Banner of St Michael borne by the students of St Michael’s College; band playing hymn of Holy Ghost; ; Cross between two acolytes; Clergy two and two; Chanters in copes singing the Litany of the Blessed Virgin Mary; the Bishops- 1st, the Bishop of Kingston, attended by his Vicar Generals and acolytes; 2nd, the Bishop of Hamilton; 3rd, Bishop of Sarepta; 4th, the Bishop of London- all attended by their Vicar Generals and acolytes; 5th, the Archiepiscopal Cross borne by a Clergyman in tunic; 6th, the Deacon and of the Mass; 7th, the Archbishop in full , attended by Deacons of honor in dalmatics; the Assistant priest in cope; 8th, the acolytes attendant on the Archbishop, four in number; 9th, the principal catholic citizens.
The various societies are invited to line the streets through which the procession is to pass. If the weather be unfavorable the procession will be made in the Cathedral. The Catholics of the city, with the various societies in their regalia, are invited to meet the bishops at the Grand Trunk Station at 7 o’clock on Saturday evening, to conduct their Lordships to the Archiepiscopal palace. The last mases in the churches of the city will be at 9 o’clock on next Sunday; and on the following Sunday there will be Mass at the altar in the garden of the Palace, if the weather permit, at 11 o’clock, to accommodate all who cannot get attendance into the Cathedral. In the evening at 5 o’clock the Archbishop and Bishops in full pontifical will give their benediction to the Jubilee pilgrims both in the Cathedral and at the altar in the garden. His Lordship the Bishop of London will preach the opening sermon of the council in the forenoon. At Vespers in the evening at 7 o’clock the sermon will be by one of the Theologians of the council. There will be sermons every day during the week, and evening devotions at 7:30, and also a Synodical Mass each day to commence at 8:30 A.M. the sermons will be preached by the Bishops and Theologians of the Council. Wednesday being St Michael’s day, there will be High Mass and sermon; Thursday, Requiem Mass for the Deceased Bishops of the Province, and sermon by his Lordship Bishop .1
This was to be the first council of the recently established Archdiocese of Toronto. The Catholic Dioceses in the Province of Ontario had been separated from the Archdiocese of Quebec and Toronto had been elevated to the new Archdiocese that would oversee the Church in what was at that moment, the Church in English Canada. (It was a rather odd choice that Toronto would be chosen as the Archdiocese, when the first and oldest diocese, the one Toronto had been carved out of in 1847, was the Diocese of Kingston.) Several attempts had been made to hold a council off the Archdiocese with all its now , but the death of bishops and poor timing had prevented it for five years. The announcement of the Provincial council was a very loud statement to the Protestants that their city would be hosting a large number of high ranking Catholics for a week. It was also a reminder that their Anglican diocese remained just that: a diocese, and the Catholic Archbishop John Joseph Lynch now outranked their bishop.
But it was the announcement of the procession that would draw the ire of the Protestants. Catholic processions in the city of Toronto had drawn the disgust and wrath of the protestant majority for years. There is, for example, Father of Confederation and founder and publisher of The Globe George Brown’s contemptuous description of a ‘Romish’ procession he witnessed in Montreal in 1852 where he saw “the melancholy spectacle of crowds kneeling down on the street and worshipping an eye carried on the end of a stick, to represent the Almighty, and the host, or the alleged living reality of Our Savior, carried in a box.”2 In the intervening years, however, Brown’s views on Catholics had softened somewhat, even if those of many of his contemporaries had not, and he had reconciled himself to sharing his city with Catholics. Brown even contributed to the fund for the building of the spire of St Michael’s Cathedral, completed in 1867, the year of Confederation. His newspaper was not by any stretch of the imagination a pro-Catholic organ, but it did give some column space to the Catholics. It was read by Archbishop Lynch and occasionally printed his letters to the editor. It would also be the only newspaper to cover the events of the Catholic Provincial Council.
On this day The Globe printed another one of Archbishop Lynch’s letters, and this letter indicates that trouble was also brewing in other areas. The Archbishop's letter was in response to an earlier column about an event that was very much on the minds of the Protestants and Catholics of Toronto at this time: The Affair.
The Affair was one of the more dramatic conflicts between the Catholic community and hierarchy in Montreal, and the rising liberalism that was rapidly taking root in Quebec. It began with the founding of in 1844. Among other things, the had a large library which contained a number of books that were on the Catholic Index. Bishop Ignace Bourget- the bishop who was a friend and mentor to Toronto’s first Bishop, Michael Power and who dedicated the Cathedral following Power’s death-, and who by now had earned the nickname ‘The Pope of Canada’- held the library, the activities and the very existence of the as a challenge and threat to the Catholic faith. In July of 1869, with the approval of Rome, Bourget put the under interdict. Four months later, Joseph , who explicitly and repeatedly refused to renounce his membership in the , died. Bourget refused him burial in the Catholic cemetery, kicking off five years of heated and occasionally violent debate. widow, Henriette, began a lawsuit against Bourget and the Church in Montreal to force them to bury her husband in Cote de Neige- at the time the only Catholic cemetery in Montreal. ( had, in the meantime, been buried in a Protestant cemetery.) Bourget insisted that this was a Church matter, and the government had no standing and no right to interfere. Eventually the case made its way to the Privy Council, and they disagreed with Bourget ruled that was to be buried in the Catholic cemetery. Bourget responded by then consecrating the cemetery, which had not been done before, and now tried to use this as a pretext to ban from burial. The government insisted its order be obeyed. At the first attempt, on September 2nd, 1875, body had been turned back from the cemetery by an angry mob. A second attempt would be made on the 16th of November, 1875, and body, escorted by armed police and military escort numbering approximately 2,500 men, was taken into Cote de Neige and buried there. Bourget, however, had the final parting shot: he went to the burial site and deconsecrated the grave.
On this day, however, the burial was nearly two months in the future. The people of Toronto, particularly Protestants, were concerned with the events in Montreal, and were deeply dismayed that the will of the Privy council and therefore of the Queen Herself had been thwarted and was still being defied by an angry Catholic mob and their bishop. Archbishop Lynch sought to answer the question that, for the Protestants and Catholics, lay at the heart of the matter: Which is supreme: the law of the Church, or the law of the land?
The Protestants were deeply concerned on this issue: could they trust their fellow citizens, the Catholics, to be British, or at least Canadian? If they were hoping for a clear and concise answer from the Archbishop, they would not find it in his letter:
“THE LIMIT OF CIVIL AUTHORITY”
(To the editor of The Globe)
SIR- I thank you for your excellent article on the “Limit of Civil
": are, however, distinctions omitted in it which you will kindly permit me to notice.
I agree generally with the principles enunciated by you until you say, perhaps inadvertently, “That the authority of law (civil law, I presume) must be supreme in every case there is now no doubt whatever.” You do not intend to convey the idea that in every case civil law must be supreme? I grant you in every case within its own limits; but in cases where it transcends its limits and invades the limits of conscience, you do not wish to say that it must be obeyed. There are two kinds of authority on earth, both derived from God- the civil “By me kings reign: obey your princes”: the religious “Hear the Church: obey your prelates: I will give her the keys of the kingdom” &c.
If civil and religious authority kept within their own spheres there would be no clashing. “Give unto Caesar what belongs to Caesar, and to God what belongs to God.” Now, we are not to give to Caesar what belongs to God, nor unto God what belongs to Caesar. Christ our Lord obeyed civil law. He paid tribute. He disobeyed the civil law when it transcended its limits and died a victim of its injustice. The Apostles disobeyed the civil rulers, and continued to preach a forbidden doctrine, saying, “It is better to obey God than man.” The primitive Christians were forbidden from worshiping any but the Gods of the Empire; they disobeyed, and millions of martyrs were the result. It has been well remarked that when the Emperor Constantine became Christian, the Empire continued pagan. with too many so called Christian States. They are not Christians first and States after. The world is the world everywhere- enemy of Christ.
We find grievous fault with the English Oath of Office, and the oaths of Protestant civil governors and magistrates; we call it simply blasphemous, and excusable only by the ignorance or evasion of the oath-taker- that no foreign prince, prelate or potentate has, or ought to have, any power temporal or spiritual in these realms. For Catholic Governors, civil officers, and members of Parliament, the word civil is changed for religious, which is all right. But then the fact that the changing of the terms of the oath is an admission of its want of truth. Does no minister from any denomination of religion claim spiritual authority from God to proclaim the Gospel? Does he derive all of his powers from the Queen of his Empire? By concordats with the civil powers the State handed over to the Church authority over its people in matter regarding personal morality, adultery etc., as at present is the Protestant Bishops’ courts in England. The pagans did the same regarding their priests. As the Church was established by law, the law can give and take from the establishment as it pleases. Now times have been changed, and the civil power is striving to take from the Church the authority which it derives from its king and founder, Jesus this point there has been almost continual struggle in the world. The in Scotland, the Irish nation, as well as the early Christians, are an example. Christianity is a voluntary association, it is true; but its members once Christian and wishing to remain such must be obedient to the laws of the Church. If the Christian does not wish to continue a member he can leave the Church, on peril of his salvation, but cannot renounce its authority; once a Christian always a Christian. Do you approve of the law that confiscates and man’s property if he does not embrace the religion which the State wishes to impose upon him? Here is a conflict of force upon right.
Two co-ordinate authorities can exist in a State, supreme in its own sphere, as two travelers on a road, each keeping its own side. If they clash then the weaker is overcome, at least for a while. The State is always struggling for supremacy in religion, As Caesar did, as the kings of England did, as the Emperors of Russia and China do at present. But see the heart-burnings and struggles that underlie their empires.
You say “Civil authority has its limits, but it has these limits by law.” Do you mean by the law of God or by the law it fashions for itself? If the latter, then the law it frames must not transcend its faculties, otherwise the law is no law. Laws enacted by civil authorities are not always true or just laws, and consequently need not be observed for conscience sake. They are repealed or modified in time. Look at the penal laws in England respecting religion. Death for a priest to persist in saying mass a hundred years ago, now the English soldiers are marched to mass with a Protestant captain in command. You say “Civil authority as backed by law”- add, in its own sphere- “is not only supreme but solitary.” True, religion in its own sphere in this world is also supreme and solitary. When they clash it is for the individual or community to examine and see which is to be obeyed. How much suffering has been heaped upon conscientious people in this conflict? “I come,” said Christ. “Not to bring peace but the sword, not peace to the wicked, but the sword of resistance to impiety and injustice.” The great difficulty comes when matters of mixed authority present themselves: if the civil authority claims to on the whole subject, it transcends its bounds; if the religious authority in like manner claims the whole, it also errs. What is to be done? A frank and free conference of both parties should be held. Such have been done between rulers and the Catholic Church, hence concordats have been made from the time of Constantine to the present. The Princes of this world are to hear the Church, and to obey the laws of Christ, as well as their subjects. Kings are not exempt from the yoke of Christ. We do not hope to see peace made between the world and the Kingdom of Christ on earth. The world hates the disciples of Christ as it hated Christ himself. The true Christian and his acts are despised and hated now, as they ever have been. Thanking you for your kind admission of my observation, I am, with much consideration,
John Joseph Lynch,
Archbishop of Toronto.
Toronto, th 1875.3
The Protestants found this answer to be evasive and insufficient. Of course, the only answer to the question of the relation of the Church to the state for them was one of obedience. The only answer they would consider clear and complete was a whole hearted, unadulterated, yes. That this answer was unacceptable to the Protestants would become clearer a few days later when The Globe began posting responses to the Bishop.
Has the civil power a right to summon any priestly power to its bar? Aye or No? I seek no argument. If I did, I should give my name, and reason after this I declare a piece of cloth to be three yards; another man says it is only two yards. Reason demands a common rule. We must agree upon a yard measure and reason out the difficulty- yard by yard. In the meantime,
I am, yours,
The Saturday edition of the Globe would have an article entitled “The Beauties of State ”5- one of the chief beauties of which was that it gave a ready answer to this question.
The affair and the issues it raised was also on the minds of the writers and editors of The Mail, but rather than try and settle this question, they treated the question as already settled, and that it was clear the Catholics would be forced to submit. On the same day as the article regarding the Provincial Council was published in The Irish Canadian, The Mail squeezed in this comment about the affair into an article about an attempt of a bloc of Catholic voters to sway the electoral process in a riding in Muskoka:
It is absurd for the (Catholic) League to imagine that because it possesses “The countenance of your Venerable Archbishop and the reverend clergy” it is thereby empowered to violate the spirit of civil law relating to purity at elections. The mob that shut the gates at Cote des Neiges gloried in the belief that it possessed the favour of Bishop BOURGET and was countenanced by the Fabrique; but the civil law will shortly assert itself regardless of the religious sentiment that led to its violation and the assumed patronage under which it was foolishly, and for the moment, set at naught.6
For Mail, at least, the question of the relation of the Church to civil law was no question at all: the Church will submit.
The situation between the Catholics and the Protestants had been tense for decades at this point, with tensions that rose and fell but never really went away entirely. Riots and clashes between the Orange and the Green were practically annual events. For now, the tensions were ratcheted up very high indeed. The tensions and questions raised by the Affair and the refusal of the Archbishop of Toronto to state unequivocally that he would submit to civil authority in every case, furthermore the presence of many Catholic prelates and bishops in this very Protestant city for the Provincial Council, made trouble almost inevitable. That the Protestants would focus their disdain on the proposed procession does not mean that it was the sole reason for the events that were to follow: it should be regarded more as the straw that broke the camel’s back, rather than the sole cause. In the week to come it would be oft repeated: If Catholics could deny a legally mandated procession to a grave in Montreal… well, two could play at that game.
As I said, any comments would be welcomed.