CHAPTER V. THE CATHOLIC CONFEDERATION - ITS CIVIL GOVERNMENT AND MILITARY ESTABLISHMENT.
Such was the condition of affairs at home and abroad when the National Synod assembled at Kilkenny. As the most popular tribunal invested with the highest moral power in the kingdom, it was their arduous task to establish order and authority among the chaotic elements of the revolution. By the admission of those most opposed to them they conducted their deliberations for nearly three weeks with equal prudence and energy. They first, on the motion of the venerable Bishop Rothe, framed an oath of association to be publicly taken by all their adherents, by the first part of which they were bound to bear "true faith and allegiance" to King Charles and his lawful successors, "to maintain the fundamental laws of Ireland, the free exercise of the Roman Catholic faith and religion." By the second part of this oath all Confederate Catholics - for so they were to be called - as solemnly bound themselves never to accept or submit to any peace "without the consent and approbation of the general assembly of the said Confederate Catholics." They then proceeded to make certain constitutions, declaring the war just and lawful; condemning emulations and distinctions founded on distinctions of race, such as "new" and "old Irish;" ordaining an elective council for each Province; and a Supreme or National Council for the whole kingdom; condemning as excommunicate all who should, having taken the oath, violate it, or who should be guilty of murder, violence to persons, or plunder under pretence of the war. Although the attendance of the lay leaders of the movement at Kilkenny was far from general, the exigencies of the case compelled them, to nominate, with the concurrence of the Bishops, the first Supreme Council of which Lord Mountgarrett was chosen President, and Mr. Richard Belling, an accomplished writer and lawyer, Secretary. By this body a General Assembly of the entire Nation was summoned to meet at the same city, on the 23rd of October following - the anniversary of the Ulster rising, commonly called by the English party "Lord Maguire's day." The choice of such an occasion by men of Mountgarrett's and Selling's moderation and judgment, six months after the date of the alleged "massacre," would form another proof, if any were now needed, that none of the alleged atrocities were yet associated with the memory of that particular day.