Irish Roman Catholics believe that St Patrick came to Ireland at the behest of Rome and founded the RC Church in that land. Nothing could be further from the truth, as we shall see. Patrick was a true Evangelical Christian and knew nothing of the false teachings of the Roman Church. The Celtic Church remained free from the domination of Rome until the Council of Cashel in 1172 held subsequent to the Anglo-Norman invasion.
The Anglo-Norman invasion came about as a result of the King of Leinster, Diarmait Mac Murchada, having been ejected from his kingdom, seeking the aid of King Henry 11 to recover it. Henry was too busy with wars in France and so it fell to the Earl of Pembroke, Strongbow, to begin the invasion.
The invasion began in 1167 and soon the whole of Leinster, including the most important city, Dublin, was recovered for Diarmait. Diarmait declared Strongbow as joint king with himself and gave his daughter in marriage to him. The unexpected death of Diarmait meant that Strongbow was now king, which event alarmed Henry. He was concerned that Strongbow might attempt to break away from Henry's rule and become a serious rival to him. He therefore determined to invade at the head of a large army.
Henry landed in Waterford, Ireland, at the head of an army of four thousand in October 1171, carrying with him the Papal Bull Laudabiliter, by which the Pope bestowed Ireland as a gift to the English King on condition that he brought the Irish Church and people into submission to Rome. The Bull Laudabiliter, issued by Pope Adrian IV, reads as follows. "Adrian, bishop, servant of the servants of God, to our well beloved son in Christ, the illustrious King of the English greeting and Apostolic Benediction. Laudably and profitably does your majesty contemplate spreading the glory of your name on earth and laying up for yourself the reward of eternal happiness in heaven, in that as becomes a Catholic Prince, you propose to enlarge the bounds of the Catholic Church to proclaim the truths of the Christian religion to a rude and ignorant people, to root out the growth of vice from the field of the Lord: the better to accomplish this purpose you seek the Council and goodwill of the Apostolic See. In pursuing your object, the loftier your aim and the greater your discretion, the more prosperous we are assured with God's assistance will be the progress you make; for the undertakings commenced in the zeal of faith and love of religion are ever wont to attain a good end and issue. Verily as your excellency doth acknowledge, there is no doubt that Ireland, and all the islands that Christ the sun of righteousness hath shone, and which have accepted the doctrines of the Christian faith, belong to the blessed Peter and the Holy Roman Church, wherefore the more pleased we are to plant in them the seed of faith acceptable to God, inasmuch as our conscience warns us that in their case a stricter account will hereafter be required of us.
"Whereas then well beloved son in Christ you have expressed to us your desire to enter the island of Ireland in order to subject its people to law and to root out from them the weeds of vice and your willingness to pay an annual tribute to the blessed Peter of one penny from every house, and to maintain the rights of the churches of that land whole and inviolate. We therefore meeting your pious and laudable desire with due favour, do hereby declare our will and pleasure, that with a view to enlarging the boundaries of the Church, restraining the downward course of vice, correcting evil customs and planting virtue for the increase of the Christian religion you shall enter that island and execute whatever may attend to the honour of God, the welfare of the land; and also that the people shall receive you with honour and revere you as their lord: provided always that the rights of the Churches remain whole and inviolate and saving to the blessed Peter and the Holy Roman Church the annual tribute of one penny for every house, let it be you care that you instruct the people in the good way of life, that the Church there may be adorned, that the Christian religion may take root and grow….that you may deserve at God's hands the fullness of an everlasting reward and may obtain on earth a name renowned throughout the ages."
Pope Adrian's successor, Alexander III, wrote to the bishops of Ireland exhorting them to submit to the king. "Understanding that our dear son in Christ Henry, illustrious King of England stirred by divine inspiration and with his united forces has subjected to his dominion, that people a barbarous one, uncivilised and ignorant of Divine Law--we command and enjoin upon you that you will diligently and manfully assist the above said king to maintain and preserve that land and to extirpate the filthiness of such great abominations. And if any of the Kings, Princes or persons of the land shall rashly attempt to go against his due oath and fealty pledged to the said king you shall lay ecclesiastical censure on such a one."
Pope Alexander also addressed the Princes of Ireland. "Whereas you have received our dear son in Christ, Henry, illustrious King of England as your king and Lord and have sworn fealty to him…we ward and admonish your noble order to strive to preserve the fealty which by solemn oath you have made."
Pope Alexander wrote to Henry, subsequent to the invasion, congratulating him on his success. "We have been assured how you have wonderfully triumphed over the people of Ireland and over a kingdom which the Roman Emperors left untouched, and you have extended the power of your majesty over the same people, a race uncivilised and undisciplined. We understand that you, collecting your splendid naval and land forces have set your mind upon subjugating that people…so we exhort and beseech your majesty and enjoin upon you that you will even more intently and strenuously continue… and earnestly enjoin your majesty that you will earnestly seek to preserve the rights of the See of St Peter."
Thus, at the Council of Cashel in 1172 the Church in Ireland was subjugated under the heel of Popery.
The Roman Catholic historian O'Driscoll acknowledges that the Church in Ireland was not always under Roman domination. "The Christian Church of Ireland as founded by St Patrick, existed for many centuries free and unshackled… and differed on many points from Rome. From the days of St Patrick to the Council of Cashel was a bright and glorious career for Ireland. From the sitting of the Council of Cashel to our own times the lot of Ireland has been an unmixed evil and all her history a tale of woe." Views of Ireland, Vol. 2, Page 84.
From the foregoing, then, it is patently obvious that Rome connived at, assisted in and encouraged the invasion and subjugation of Ireland by the Norman English. Repeatedly the Pope reminds Henry about the collecting of Peter's Pence and the forwarding of the interests of the Roman Church. It was only after the Reformation that it championed Irish independence, not out of any love or concern for the Irish, but for its own interests and influence. It is to be hoped that the continuing scandals of the sexual and physical abuse of children by the Romish clergy will break off the shackles that have for so long bound the Irish to the Church of Rome.