This original and important work examines the response of the Catholic Church to the partition of Ireland and the establishment of a separate northern state.
Based on ecclesiastical archives in Ireland, Britain and Rome, and public records in Belfast, Dublin and London, it is presented against a background of antagonism between the Catholic Church and Ulster Unionists in the early part of the twentieth century. The Church's response was one of concern for both the religious and political rights of Catholics, and they took upon themselves the role of spokesmen for a beleaguered Catholic community.
The book explores the difficulties of the Catholic Church in coming to terms with the existence of the northern state, examines the inter-relationship between religious, political and personal factors and highlights the varying attitudes of leading church figures. It assesses the political implications of humanitarian gestures, and the significance of the Church's statements in promoting certain views of the northern state and how such statements were perceived. Mary Harris argues that the Church developed as an integral part of northern political culture. Significant religious issues, such as education, were instrumental in detaching Catholics from the northern community at large, and in creating a self-contained Catholic community.