Orangeism and Catholic bishops can be allies over abortion and marriage

The Battle of the Boyne is depicted every year at the Sham Fight in Scarva on July 13
The Battle of the Boyne is depicted every year at the Sham Fight in Scarva on July 13

There was much more to William of Orange in his invasion of England than to secure Protestant liberties in the church then threatened by the Stuart, King James II as suggested by Lodge Life (News Letter, September 20).

The invasion (largely welcomed in England, largely opposed in Ireland) had as much to do with opposing a French hegemony (James being allied with Louise of France) in Europe that William landed some 20,000 soldiers as an invasion force from Europe – including amongst them Dutch Roman Catholics. The Dutch Guards were amongst his troops fighting at the Battle of the Boyne, making it not an exclusively Protestant against Roman Catholic fight.

Robert Tombs in his recent ‘The English and their history’ notes an acknowledgement by William in victory of “our allies of the Roman communion”. The pope or bishop of Rome equally, although for different reasons, had no desire to see a French hegemony that would have opposed his political claims and might even have seen the development in the French church of a form of what came to be known later as Anglicanism.

Following the defeat of James, William tried to secure better terms from the Irish parliament (exclusively Church of Ireland) for both Roman Catholics and Presbyterians but failed. He did however, without reference to the Dublin parliament, increase the Royal grant of money to Presbyterian clergy in virtue of their loyalty to William.

Rome, despite the stance it then took, continued to recognise the Stuarts as rightful sovereigns up until 1766 - when the direct succession ended (the last in the succession having become a cardinal) – by permitting the Stuarts to continue to nominate the Roman Catholic bishops to the Irish sees when they became vacant, hence the divided loyalties in Ireland.

As a footnote to this one might add that ironically today Orangeism and the Roman Catholic bishops are allies when it come to abortion and the nature of marriage. But neither seems to want to acknowledge it.

Is there not an opportunity here? It would be in the spirit of William of Orange to acknowledge it.

Walter A Millar

Belfast BT13