Thomas Burke

Quotations


Life
?1710-1776 [freq. de Burgos; also Burgo]; b, Dublin, ed. in Dominican College, Rome, and ordained 1726; published Promptuarium Morale (1731), a translation and enlarged edn. of a theological work by Francisco Larraga; compiled offices for festivals of Irish saints published as Officia Propria Sanctorum Hiberniae (Dublin 1751);
 
also issued A Catechism, Moral and Controversial (Dublin 1752); appointed historiographer of the Dominicans in Ireland, 1753; issued Historical Collection out of Several Eminent Protestant Historians and the Strange confusions Following in the Reign of Henry VII, King Edward VI, Queen Mary and Queen Elizabeth (1758); appointed Bishop of Ossory, 1759;
 
issued Hibernia Dominicana (1762), a history of the Order, published in Kilkenny by subscription of 183 names but bearing an imprint of Cologne on the title page; reissued without the supplement which had reprinted by the Ghilini’s condemnation of the oath of allegiance proposed by the Bishop of Derry, considered impolitic by the Catholic diocesan clergy as tjeopardising the Relief Bill; issued a pastoral letter against Whiteboyism, 1775; d. 27 Sept. 1776. CAB DIB DIW OCIL

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Criticism
M. J. Brenan, Ecclesiastical History of Ireland, 2nd ed. (1864), p. 586 [confirming Kilkenny publication of Dominicana Hiberniae].

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Commentary
Maureen Wall
, Catholic Ireland in the 18th century, ed. by Gerard O’Brien (1989): ‘In 1768, Viscount Taaffe and prominent members of the Catholic Committee were in consultation with the Earl Bishop of Derry [Frederick Hervey] on the wording of a test oath; the Earl had the formulary printed, with four Gallican propositions of 1682 included to which the French clergy subscribed. Copies of the formulary were sent - probably by Dr. Thomas Burke, bishop of Ossory - to the papal nuncio Monsignor Ghilini at Brussels, who threatened public censures. He took particular exception to the formulary that declared abominable the “pernicious doctrine that teaches we must not keep faith with heretics or that princes excommunicated by the pope may be deposed or murdered by their subjects”. He said this doctrine had been propounded and defended by the Apostolic See. Dr. Fitzsimons replied asking why the Irish Catholics could not subscribe to the formula which was in use in France, and got no satisfaction. To the consternation of many Catholics, Monsignor Ghilini’s letter was printed in full in Dr. Burke’s supplement to Hibernica Dominicana which appeared in 1772. Many feared that the publication of the letter would destroy all hope of a relief act. Charles O’Conor, in a letter to Dr. Curry accused Burke of leaguing with the most hardened enemies of the Catholics to prevent a relaxation of the penal laws. “Doctrines,” he says, “unknown in the past millennium of God’s Church, and reprobated ... among all modern Catholic nations, are trumped up in this poor country, and fastened upon as true principles.”’ [111]

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Maureen Wall (Catholic Ireland in the 18th c., 1989) - cont.: ‘In June 1774 was passed an act to enable his majesty’s subjects of whatever persuasion to testify their allegiance to him (13 & 14 Geo. III c. 35). The original on which it was founded was drawn up by the Catholic Committee and found to be orthodox by Dr. Carpenter, Archb. of Dublin.[’] The act passed, however, has additions, marked by Wall in italics. [111]. ‘The revised version included, notably, an abjuration of the ‘authority of the see of Rome ... although the pope, or any other person or persons, or authority whatsoever shall dispense or annul the same, or declare it was null and void from the beginning’ ... Dr Carpenter and Dr Burke condemned it’ [112] ‘... Drs. Carpenter and Burke sought a condemnation from Rome, and forwarded the oath to Ghilini, complaining that it was causing the scandal of a fatal schism. Nevertheless many of the bishops, including presumably almost all the Munster bishops, took the oath; and a total of 1,500 clergy and gentry also.’ [113]

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Maureen Wall (Catholic Ireland in the 18th c., 1989) - cont.: ‘Shortly after the Munster bishops had taken the oath, Dr. Carpenter and Dr. Burke received there answer from the Congregation of Propaganda, it was considered prudent not to condemn the oath but the faithful were to be warned privately against it. When Dr. Butler, bishop of Cork, who had sworn the oath with others, made appeal to Rome he was rebuked in a letter saying that in a ‘business of such magnitude’ it was to be expected that ‘the usual respect due to his Holiness’ required that he should have ‘consult[ed] [113] the sovereign pontiff ... It was this that gave no small pain to his Holiness and this sacred congregation.’ [114] In 1776 Dr Burke died. The Munster bishops tried to install an opponent of his, Dr. Molloy, a juror who had quarrelled with him. Another Dominican and non-juror, Dr. John Thomas Troy, was appointed, in spite of the eleventh-hour protestations to Propaganda from Dr. Butler. There is no evidence that the Vatican every gave approval of the oath, or outwardly condemned it. The Catholic relief act of 1778 being conditional on swearing the oath, however, ended the controversy when Dr. Carpenter at the head of seventy of his clergy subscribed to it in Nov. 1778. [114].

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Quotations
Hibernica Dominicana (Cologne 1752) - of O’Brien, Bishop of Emly in 1651: “He was so active in persuading the Irish to hold out against Cromwell’s forces that Ireton, during the siege of Limerick, offered him forty thousand pounds to desist from his exhortations and quit the city, with a passport to any other kingdom. This offer he refused heroically; in consequence of which he was exempted from pardon, tried, and condemned to be hanged and beheaded; he bore the sentence with resignation, and behaved to his last moments with manly fortitude. He addressed Ireton with a prophetic spirit, accusing him of the highest injustice, threatening him with life for life, and summoning him to the Tribunal of God in a few days. Ireton caught the plague in eight days, and died soon after, (26th November, 1651,) raging and raving of this unfortunate prelate, whose unjust condemnation he imagined hurried on his death.” (Quoted in T. Crofton Croker, Researches in the South of Ireland ... &c., 1824, p.43; note that Croker calls him Bourke and adds an erratum in the prelims. correcting Hibernia to Hibernica.)

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References
Charles Read
, ed., A Cabinet of Irish Literature (3 vols., 1876-78), bio-data: also called de Burgos; b. Dublin, c. 1709; Hibernia Dominicana, published in Kilkenny 1762 but assigned on title to Cologne.

Dictionary of National Biography notes that his name was latinised as De Burgo; church historian; native of Dublin; joined Dominicans, Rome, 1726; complied Officia propria sanctorum Hiberniae (1751; rev. ed. 1769); began history of Dominicans in Ireland, 1753 (Hibernia Dominicana, 1762, with add. suppl. 1772); bishop of Ossory, 1758; theological works.

Brian Cleeve & Ann Brady, A Dictionary of Irish Writers (Dublin: Lilliput 1985) notes that Dominicana was commissioned by the Dominican Order, and condemned by the Hierarchy for political rather than theological reasons, as being dangerously critical of the English authorities. See Brenan, Wall, at al.

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Notes
Analecta Hibernica
(q.d.) notes that the copy of Hibernica Dominicana held in Milltown Library includes ‘various pamphlets’.

R. E. Ward & C. Ward, ed., The Letters of Charles O’Conor (Washington 1988), contains incidental remarks on Burke, viz., ‘all that we offer on the subject of the Doctor’s book should be only whispered among ourselves’ (pp.296-97; ... &c.)

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