Carron (Caron), Raymond (Redmond) (c.1605–1666), Franciscan visitor apostolic and theologian, was born in Co. Westmeath near Athlone around 1605. He joined the Franciscans, probably at Athlone, before studying at the friary at Drogheda and then at Salzburg and Louvain. He taught philosophy and from 1639 theology at St Anthony's College, Louvain, and was regarded as learned and pious. He also taught scripture from 1643.
In Ireland the Franciscan order was deeply involved in the bitter dispute over the decision taken in January 1649 by the supreme council of the Catholic Confederation to sign an alliance with the protestant royalists under the leadership of James Butler (qv), marquess of Ormond, despite strong opposition from the papal nuncio to Ireland GianBattista Rinuccini (qv). The head of the Irish Franciscans, Thomas MacKiernan, aligned himself with the nuncio and most of his order followed suit. In early 1649, the supreme council, with the assistance of the exiled queen of England, Henrietta Maria, persuaded the Franciscan commissary general in Brussels, Peter Marchant, to appoint Carron as the Franciscan apostolic visitor to Ireland with wide discretionary powers. Sometime in late 1648 or early 1649 MacKiernan had removed Carron from his professorships in Louvain.
Carron was known to be close to the Dillons, a powerful Old English catholic family who supported the alliance with Ormond, and was plainly meant to be the instrument by which the Ormondists would bring the Franciscans to heel. If Carron did not appreciate this, his expected role was clearly spelt out to him following his arrival in the confederate capital of Kilkenny in late April 1649. During May, Ormond sent him a list of friars who were to be disciplined, while the commissioners of trust (who had succeeded the supreme council) threatened that he would be answerable to royal authority if he did not take action against the disobedient friars.
Suitably motivated, Carron summoned a meeting of the Franciscan superiors in Kilkenny. However, most Franciscans believed both the manner of his appointment and the unprecedented powers vested in him as visitor to be contrary to the rules of their order and consequently refused to recognise his authority. MacKiernan agreed to come to Kilkenny in late May, after being promised a safe conduct, but abruptly fled after receiving a warning that he was to be arrested; his flight prompted Carron to excommunicate him on 1 June. On 4 June Carron called in soldiers to evict seven or eight friars from the Franciscan convent at Kilkenny; however, the friars spread a rumour that the soldiers intended to massacre them and a riot erupted in the town, forcing Carron and his associates to flee for their lives to a nearby castle until reinforcements dispersed the mob. A number of friars were imprisoned and just over a week later all those who continued to defy Carron's authority were expelled from Kilkenny.
Having established his hold on Kilkenny, Carron made a short tour of the south-east of Ireland, where the Franciscan houses at Waterford and Wexford submitted to his authority, but those at Enniscorthy and Ross refused to admit him. On 8 July he presided over a chapter of the Franciscan order, attended only by his allies, which deposed MacKiernan and his supporters from their positions of authority within the order.
Ever since his appointment as visitor had been announced at the start of 1649, Carron's enemies had been working furiously in Rome to secure his dismissal. These efforts did not bear fruit initially because Marchant stood by his appointment and the commissioners of trust, effectively the governing body of Ireland, had declared that they would not accept any other visitor. However, by autumn 1649 the depth of the opposition to Carron's actions within the Irish Franciscan order, coupled with the series of disastrous defeats suffered by Ormond's forces at the hands of Oliver Cromwell (qv), had made Carron's position untenable. On 1 January 1650 his commission as apostolic visitor was cancelled. At a Franciscan chapter held at Kilconnell in August, Carron and his supporters humiliatingly recanted their actions in 1649 and were granted absolution. Carron stated that he had acted in good faith, but that events had proved him wrong.
In early 1651 he fled to the Spanish Netherlands, and lived successively at Ghent and Antwerp. He appears to have been busy for a time finding homes for exiled Irish Poor Clare nuns, before settling in Paris in November 1652, where he lectured at the recently established Irish Franciscan house. By 1653 he was acting as a chaplain to the Spanish army in Flanders, but in March 1654 he and seven other Irish priests (all former Ormondists) were dismissed from their posts and banished from the Spanish Netherlands when they were accused of encouraging Spanish soldiers to desert to the French army. Carron returned to Paris, where he lectured at the Franciscan friary. Throughout the 1650s he remained strongly associated with the royalist cause, and English royalists unsuccessfully attempted to have him made provincial of the Irish Franciscans (1653–4) and visitor apostolic of his order (1660). Simultaneously his enemies in the nuncio's party continued to harry him: they were almost certainly responsible for his dismissal from the Spanish army and for accusations of Jansenism that were levelled at him in Paris.
The restoration of the British monarchy in 1660 led Carron to publish a pamphlet entitled A vindication of the Roman Catholics, which reflected his hope that Charles II would restore dispossessed Irish catholics to their lands and grant a measure of toleration to catholicism in Ireland. Similar hopes inspired a group of catholics in 1661 to draft a petition that denied the pope the right to depose kings, stated that his authority was purely spiritual, and strongly asserted the divine right of monarchical rule. Upon arriving in London from Paris in autumn 1661, Carron was one of a number of prominent catholics (lay and clerical) to sign the petition, which came to be known as the Remonstrance. Ormond eagerly encouraged this development, as he realised that the papacy would never accept such a repudiation of its temporal authority and hoped that the ensuing controversy would divide the Irish catholics.
Carron and Peter Walsh (qv), a Franciscan priest and Carron's staunchest supporter in 1649, quickly emerged as the leaders of the Remonstrant faction. This gained them royal favour, but alienated them from the bulk of the Irish catholic clergy, who adhered to the pope's condemnation of the Remonstrance. Initially many of those who had supported Carron in 1649 supported the Remonstrance in 1661. However, the Irish clergy were determined to avoid another split and, by refusing to accept various compromise wordings, Carron and Walsh gradually isolated themselves. It is difficult to determine whether the two men's enthusiastic championing of the Remonstrance was the product of genuine belief, bitterness over the events of 1648–9, or cynical opportunism.
Walsh revelled in controversy and spent much of 1661–6 in Ireland trying to charm and bully his fellow clergy into signing the Remonstrance, while the more cerebral Carron remained in London developing an ideological foundation for the document. During his time in Paris, he had studied the Gallican writers and had written an unpublished work on them. Undoubtedly he drew from this in his Loyalty asserted (1662) and De Remonstrantia Hibernorum (1665), the latter of which is the most comprehensive surviving exposition of the Remonstrant position. In these works he quotes liberally from the early fathers of the church, criticises Bellarmine and the medieval popes in general, denies the pope any temporal power, and states that hereditary monarchs cannot be deposed in any circumstances.
In September 1664 Carron and Walsh had a relatively amicable interview in London with the papal internuncio for the Spanish Netherlands, Girolama di Vecchi, who nonetheless made clear the pope's opposition to the Remonstrance. That autumn Walsh intrigued for the renewal of Carron's appointment as visitor apostolic to the Irish Franciscans, but the Irish friars had anticipated this move and had already specifically asked that Carron not be made visitor. Having returned to Brussels, Vecchi summoned Anthony Gearnon (qv), an associate of Walsh, to an interview in January 1665, in which he raged against Carron and Walsh, branding them apostates and schismatics. Vecchi then asked that Carron and Walsh come to meet him, offering them safe conduct. Carron declined, truthfully citing his poor health, but privately admitting he would not anyway have gone to Brussels.
Carron returned to Dublin in September 1665 and died there on 22 May 1666. Attempts were made to persuade him to recant his views, but he forcefully reaffirmed his stance on his deathbed. He was buried at St James's cemetery, Dublin. Within a month an assembly of the Irish catholic clergy in Dublin decisively rejected the Remonstrance. In addition to the works mentioned earlier, Carron also published two manuals of missiology for the regular clergy, a theological work on apologetics, and a series of theological lectures he gave while in Paris. Walsh included a Latin life of Carron in his 1684 publication Causa Valensiana.