Real Religious Equality

John Francis Maguire
CHAPTER I (15) start of chapter

The Catholic feels himself to be on an equality with the Protestant, towards whom he does not and cannot entertain a sentiment of hostility; and the Protestant is pleased to know that his Catholic fellow-citizen regards him with a kindly and fraternal feeling. 'We have no occasion to grumble; we are able to meet together and go hand in hand in all matters; and, in fact, we are the happiest people in the world,' said a Catholic Irishman, whose memories of his own country were full of bitterness, but who enjoyed the contrast the more keenly. 'I hold the opinion,' said a Protestant gentleman, the descendant of an Irish father from the south of Munster, 'that if the followers of a church will not sustain it, it is not worthy of being sustained, and the sooner it falls the better.' Few perhaps of this Protestant gentleman's relatives in the old country would endorse his opinion; but he could estimate the advantage to the social harmony of his country of not having in the heart of the body politic a perpetual source of mutual exasperation and bitterness. From persons of all creeds and classes I received the most gratifying testimony as to the good feeling existing between the different churches, and the happy result of the prevalence of this Christian sentiment. 'The Archbishop has done much to promote this feeling,' was frequently remarked by Protestants and Catholics, officials and townspeople. True, the Archbishop has done much to break down the barriers which sect will create under the most favourable circumstances; but had there been in Nova Scotia a State Church, and a dominant party, sworn to maintain it at any cost or hazard, not all the wisdom, tact, and kindliness of so eminent and influential an ecclesiastic as the Archbishop of Halifax could successfully counteract the hostility these would be sure to engender.

The Irish in America, first published in 1868, provides an invaluable account of the extreme difficulties that 19th Century Irish immigrants faced in their new homeland and the progress which they had nonetheless made in the years since arriving on a foreign shore. A new edition, including additional notes and an index, has been published by Books Ulster/LibraryIreland:

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