OF THOSE hateful penal laws which, directed against Roman Catholics, made their lives a burden and were a standing disgrace to the nation, a few fragments still remain over, preserved in the Roman Catholic Emancipation Act of 1829. It is true that, in general practice, they have happily been allowed to become a dead letter, yet every now and again an attempt is made to put them in force. Under certain sections of that Act the Roman Catholic religious orders are denied, as outlaws, the right of appeal to the Common Law. This right having been recently denied to the Franciscans of Athlone, Mr Birrell was asked in the House of Commons a fortnight ago by Sir Walter Nugent whether he would not take action towards the removal of this blot from our Statute Book, and he accordingly said that he intended shortly to ask the permission of the House to bring in a Bill that would remove the grounds of complaint that still exist, and open the Courts to all suitors who sought to establish their rights or immunities. He added that he desired the House to treat the measure as an uncontroversial one. We hope that it will, and we may add that the time for mending a great wrong would be well chosen if it were the present time. Among the gallant men who are fighting for King and country are many thousands of his Majesty’s Roman Catholic subjects, and we can well imagine how, if that were possible, their loyalty would be deepened and intensified by the knowledge that in all respects their rights were equal to those of all their fellow-citizens.
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