were many problems facing Lombard. To
resolve them meant that politics had to be put aside while he
re-organised the Irish Church. Foster
“Though the Dublin government would never have believed
it, the organization of the Catholic Church in early-seventeenth Ireland
was varied, haphazard, informal and uncoordinated.”
At that time the Irish Church differed greatly from the
international Church – it was Celtic and semi-pagan rather than Roman.
There was a great laxity in popular practise.
Local pilgrimages to holy wells and belief in the efficacy of
sacred trees and stones proliferated and confession and frequent
reception of the sacrament were uncommon.
It was then that Lombard, who was unable to visit his primatial
see, appointed the celebrated David Rothe
as his Vicar General. He
authorised Rothe to call a provincial synod of the northern dioceses at
which a re-organisation of the Irish Church took place. Significantly the clergy were exhorted to abstain from
political matters and to attend to their spiritual ministry. This was in line with Lombard’s new thinking on relations
with the king. Decrees were
also issued dealing with the administration of the sacraments,
vestments, when and where Mass was to be celebrated, the spiritual
exercises and duties of priests, marriage and the condemnation of
superstitions about “holy” trees and wells.
Archbishop had jurisdiction over all the dioceses that were without a
bishop as well as over Armagh. In
this respect we find him granting sacerdotal facilities to priests in
various dioceses and, in addition, he granted extraordinary privileges
to the clergy on account of the difficulties and dangers that beset them
in their ministry. Priests
were not confined to one diocese, they were allowed to minister anywhere
they were needed, to say Mass in un-consecrated places, to substitute
prayers for the usual Office of the Church.
A major problem in the Irish Church was the absence of bishops
and in 1611 Lombard appointed eight new bishops to fill these vacancies.
He appointed bishops to Waterford, Ossory, Limerick, Derry,
Ferns, Kilmore, Ardfert and Meath.
However due to the influence of England the consecration of the
bishops was delayed for several years.
Lombard had appointed Rothe as Bishop of Ossory and Vice-Primate of
Ireland, in 1618, the latter convened, in Drogheda, by authority of
Lombard, another synod of the clergy of Armagh where the rules and
regulations were tightened for the whole Church in Ireland.
In 1622 four sees had bishops appointed, viz., Cork, Limerick,
Meath and Emly and in 1625, just a few weeks before Lombard’s death,
three other sees in the northern province had their bishops restored.
A Munster synod was held in 1624, at Kilkenny, at which the newly
consecrated Bishops of Cork, Limerick and Emly were present as well as
the Vicars General of Cashel and Waterford.
The result of this synod was to restore harmony between the
regular and secular clergy.