Page:The Irish in Australia.djvu/259

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been validated.
245
THE CHURCH IN THE COLONIES.

surrounded by his clergy, the Anglican prelate made a public and somewhat theatrical protest, "that the Bishop of Rome has not any right or authority, according to the laws of God and the canonical order of the Church, to institute any episcopal or archiepiscopal see or sees within the diocese of Australia and the province of Canterbury." This silly performance produced a little temporary turmoil, and that was all. It did not alter the opinion of the general community in the least, but rather confirmed the majority in the wisdom of their action in placing all denominations, without exception, on an equal footing in the eye of the law. In after years the two Sydney prelates—Roman Catholic and Church of England—entertained laudable feelings of mutual respect and esteem, and contrived to work harmoniously within their respective spheres of action.

It was during the governorship of Sir Richard Bourke that large numbers of free immigrants from Ireland and England commenced to pour into New South Wales, and to remove the hitherto conspicuous convict element into the background of affairs. In other words, the country was emerging from the sullen, chilly gloom of the penal settlement, and advancing rapidly into the bright sunshine of a free state. This happy change in the condition of the colony was reported to the Roman authorities, with the result that Dr. John Bede Folding was delegated and appointed as the first Roman Catholic Bishop of the Australian continent, with Sydney as his cathedral city. He was subsequently elevated to the dignity of Archbishop, and, for the long period of forty-two years, he was a commanding force in the fostering and development of the Australian "Church. And yet so scrupulous was he in avoiding even the 'appearance of offence to his fellow-colonists of other beliefs,