Roman Catholicism in England and Wales
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Catholic Church in England and Wales
The Catholic Church in England and Wales is part of the worldwide Catholic Church in full communion with the Pope. Celtic Christianity was established in what are now England and Wales in the first century AD and in 597, the first authoritative papal mission, establishing a direct link from the Kingdom of Kent to Rome and to the Benedictine form of monasticism, was carried into effect by Augustine of Canterbury.
The English Church continuously adhered to the Catholic Church for almost a thousand years from the time of Augustine of Canterbury but, in 1534, during the reign of King Henry VIII, the church, through a series of legislative acts between 1533 and 1536 became independent from the Pope for a period as the Church of England, with Henry declaring himself Supreme Head. Under Henry's son, Edward VI, the Church of England became more influenced by the European Protestant movement.
The English Church was restored under full papal authority during the reign of Queen Mary I in 1553  and Catholicism was brutally enforced; however, when Elizabeth I came to the throne in 1558, she re-established the Church of England's independence from Rome in a 1559 settlement and reformulated its teaching and practice in the Act of Uniformity. In 1570 a papal bull Regnans in Excelsis was issued in response calling on all Roman Catholics to rebel against Elizabeth and excommunicating anyone who obeyed her. The act of being a Jesuit or seminarian was made treasonable in 1571. Priests found celebrating Mass were often drawn and quartered rather than burned at the stake. Catholicism (along with other non-established churches) continued in England, although it was at times subject to various forms of persecution. Most recusant members (except those in diaspora on The Continent, in heavily Catholic areas in the north, or part of the aristocracy) practised their faith in private for all practical purposes until the Pope recognised the English Monarchy as lawful in 1766 leading eventually to Roman Catholic Relief Act 1829. Dioceses (replacing districts) were re-established by Pope Pius IX in 1850. Apart from the 22 Latin Rite dioceses, there is the Eastern Catholic diocese of the Ukrainian Catholic Eparchy of Holy Family of London.
In the 2001 UK census, there were 4.2 million Catholics in England and Wales, some 8 per cent of the population. One hundred years earlier, in 1901, they had represented only 4.8 per cent of the population. The percentage of Catholics was at its highest in the 1981 census, with 8.7 per cent. In 2009 an Ipsos Mori poll found 9.6 percent, or 5.2 million, Catholics in England and Wales. Sizeable Catholic populations include North West England where one in five is Catholic. This includes Liverpool which has the highest proportion of any city in Great Britain at 46 per cent; historically, this is due both to a large influx of Irish migrants after the 1800 Act of Union, in which Ireland became part of the United Kingdom, as well as a high concentration of English recusants living in Lancashire.
- 1 History
- 2 Hierarchy
- 3 Chaplaincies
- 4 Eastern Catholic rites
- 5 See also
- 6 Sources
- 7 External links
Christianity arrived in the British Isles in the 1st or 2nd centuries. Records note that Romano-British bishops, such as Restitutus, attended the Council of Arles in 314, which confirmed the theological findings of an earlier convocation held in Rome (the Council of Rome) in 313. The Roman departure from Britain in the following century and the subsequent Germanic invasions sharply decreased contact between Britain and Continental Europe. Christianity, however, continued to flourish in the Brittonic areas of Great Britain. During this period certain practices and traditions took hold in Britain and in Ireland that are collectively known as Celtic Christianity. Distinct features of Celtic Christianity include a unique monastic tonsure and calculations for the date of Easter. Regardless of these differences, historians do not consider this Celtic or British Christianity a distinct church separate from general Western European Christianity.
In 597, Pope Gregory the Great sent Saint Augustine of Canterbury and 40 missionaries from Rome to evangelise the Anglo-Saxons, a process completed by the 7th century. The Gregorian mission, as it is known, is of particular interest in the Catholic Church as it was the first official Papal mission to found a church . With the help of Christians already residing in Kent, Augustine established an archbishopric in Canterbury, the old capital of Kent, and, having received the pallium earlier (linking his new diocese to Rome), became the first in the series of Catholic archbishops of Canterbury, four of whom (St. Lawrence, St. Mellitus, St. Justus and St. Honorius) were part of the original band of Benedictine missionaries. (The last Catholic archbishop of Canterbury was Reginald Pole, who died in 1558.) During this time of mission, Rome pursued greater unity with the local church in Britain, particularly on the question of dating Easter. Saint Columbanus, Columba's fellow countryman and churchman, had asked for a papal judgement on the Easter question as did abbots and bishops of Ireland. Later, in his Historia ecclesiastica gentis Anglorum, Bede explained the reasons for the discrepancy: "He [Columba] left successors distinguished for great charity, Divine love, and strict attention to the rules of discipline following indeed uncertain cycles in the computation of the great festival of Easter, because far away as they were out of the world, no one had supplied them with the synodal decrees relating to the Paschal observance." A series of synods were held to resolve the matter, culminating with the Synod of Whitby in 644. The missionaries also introduced the Rule of Benedict, the continental rule, to Anglo-Saxon monasteries in England. St. Wilfrid, a Benedictine consecrated archbishop of York (in 664), was particularly skilled in promoting the Benedictine Rule. Over time, the Benedictine, continental rule engrafted upon the monasteries and parishes of England, drawing them closer to The Continent and Rome. As a result, the pope was often called upon to intervene in quarrels, affirm monarchs, and decide jurisdictions. In 787, for example, Pope Adrian I elevated Lichfield to an archdiocese and appointed Hygeberht its first archbishop. Later, in 808, Pope Leo III helped restore King Eardwulf of Northumbria to his throne; and in 859, Pope Leo IV confirmed and anointed Alfred the Great king, according to Anglo-Saxon Chronicles. Individual Benedictines seemed to play an important role throughout this period. For example, before Benedictine monk St. Dunstan was consecrated archbishop of Canterbury in 960, Pope John XII had him appointed legate, commissioning him (along with Sts. Ethelwold and Oswald) to restore discipline in the existing monasteries of England, many of which were destroyed by Danish invaders. Two continental (Italian) Benedictines were also prominent during this time: Lanfranc and St. Anselm. Both became archbishops of Canterbury (1070 and 1093, respectively), received their palliums, and made notable contributions to the church. St. Anselm later became a Doctor of the Church. A century later, Pope Innocent III had to confirm the primacy of Canterbury over four Welsh churches for many reasons, but primarily to sustain the importance of the Gregorian foundation of St. Augustine's mission.
During mediaeval times, England and Wales were part of western Christendom. During this period, monasteries and convents, such as those at Shaftesbury and Shrewsbury, were prominent features of society providing lodging, hospitals and education. Likewise, schools like Oxford University and Cambridge University were important. Members of religious orders, notably the Dominicans and Franciscans, settled in both schools and maintained houses for students. Clerics like Archbishop Walter de Merton founded Merton College at Oxford and three different popes – Gregory IX, Nicholas IV, and John XXII – gave Cambridge the legal protection and status to compete with other European medieval universities.
Pilgrimage was a prominent feature of mediaeval Catholicism, and England and Wales were amply provided with many popular sites of pilgrimage. The village of Walsingham, Norfolk became an important shrine after a noblewoman called Richeldis de Faverches experienced a vision of the Virgin Mary in 1061, asking her to build a replica of the Holy House at Nazareth. In 1170, Thomas Becket, Archbishop of Canterbury was murdered in Canterbury Cathedral, by followers of King Henry II and was quickly canonised as a martyr for the faith. This resulted in Canterbury becoming a major place of pilgrimage and inspired the Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer. There were also shrines at Holywell in Wales which commemorated St Winefride and at Westminster Abbey to Edward the Confessor to name but a few.
An Englishman, Nicholas Breakspear, became Pope Adrian IV from 1154 to 1159.
England remained a Catholic country until 1534, when it officially separated from Rome during the reign of King Henry VIII. In response to the Pope's refusal to annul Henry's marriage to Catherine of Aragon, Parliament denied the Pope's authority over the English Church, made the king Head of the Church in England, and dissolved the monasteries and religious orders in England. Henry did not himself accept Protestant innovations in doctrine or liturgy – but he extended toleration, and even promotion, to clergy with Protestant sympathies in return for support for his break with Rome. On the other hand, failure to accept this break, particularly by prominent persons in church and state, was regarded by Henry as treason, resulting in the execution of Saint Thomas More, former Lord Chancellor, and Saint John Fisher, Bishop of Rochester, among others. The See of Rome Act 1536 enforced the separation from Rome, while the 'Pilgrimage of Grace' of 1536 and 'Bigod's Rebellion' of 1537, risings in the North against the religious changes, were bloodily repressed.
The 1547 to 1553 reign of the boy King Edward VI saw the Church of England become more influenced by Protestantism in its faith and worship, with the (Latin) Mass replaced by the (English) Book of Common Prayer, representational art and statues in church buildings destroyed, and Catholic practices which had survived during Henry's reign, for instance the public saying of prayers to the Virgin Mary such as the Salve Regina, ended. The Western Rising took place in 1549.
The institutional Church in England acquiesced to Catholic practice during the reign of the Catholic Queen Mary I from 1553 to 1558. Mary believed she had a mission to bring back the whole of England to the Catholic faith. This aim was not necessarily at odds with the feeling of a large section of the populace; Edward's Protestant reformation had not been well received everywhere, and there was ambiguity in the responses of the parishes. Mary also had some powerful families behind her. The Jerningham family together with other East Anglian Catholic families such as the Bedingfelds, Waldegraves, Rochesters together with the Huddlestons of Sawston Hall were "the key to Queen Mary's successful accession to the throne. Without them she would never have made it." However, Mary's executions of 300 Protestants by burning at the stake proved counterproductive, as they were extremely unpopular among the populace. For example, instead of executing Archbishop Cranmer for treason for supporting Queen Jane, she had him tried for heresy and burned at a stake. With the assistance of Foxe's Book of Martyrs, which glorified the Protestants killed at the time and vilified Catholics, this practice ensured her a place in popular memory as Bloody Mary – for centuries after the idea of another reconciliation with Rome was linked in many English people's minds with a renewal of Mary's fiery stakes.
When Mary died and Elizabeth I became Queen in 1558, the religious situation in England was confused. Throughout the see-sawing religious landscape of the reigns of Henry VIII, Edward VI, and Mary, a significant proportion of the population (especially in the rural and outlying areas of the country), are likely to have continued to hold Catholic views, at least in private. By the end of Elizabeth's reign, however, England was clearly a Protestant country, and Catholics were a minority.
Elizabeth's first act was to reverse her sister's re-establishment of Catholicism, but during the first years of her reign there was relative leniency towards Catholics who were willing to keep their religion private, especially if they were prepared to continue to attend their parish churches. The wording of the official prayer book had been carefully designed to make this possible by omitting aggressively "heretical" matter, and at first many English Catholics did in fact worship with their Protestant neighbours, at least until this was formally forbidden by Pope Pius V's 1570 bull, Regnans in Excelsis, which also declared that Elizabeth was not a rightful queen and should be deposed, and formally excommunicated her.
In the setting of England's wars with Catholic powers such as France and Spain, culminating in the attempted invasion by the Spanish Armada in 1588, the Pope's bull unleashed a nationalistic feeling which equated Protestantism with loyalty to a highly popular monarch, rendering every Catholic a potential traitor, even in the eyes of those who were not themselves extreme Protestants. The Rising of the North, the Throckmorton plot and the Babington plot, together with other subversive activities of supporters of Mary, Queen of Scots, all reinforced the association of Catholicism and treachery in the popular mind. Elizabeth's government declared all Catholic priests, and all those who sheltered them, to be guilty of treason. Elizabeth did not believe that her anti-Catholic policies constituted religious persecution, finding it hard to distinguish between those Catholics engaged in conflict with her from those Catholics with no such designs. The number of English Catholics executed under Elizabeth was significant, including Edmund Campion, Robert Southwell, and Margaret Clitherow. Elizabeth herself signed the death warrant that led to the beheading of her cousin, Mary, Queen of Scots.
Because of the persecution in England, Catholic priests in England were trained abroad at the English College in Rome, the English College in Douai, the English College at Valladolid in Spain, and at the English College in Seville. Given that Douai was located in the Spanish Netherlands, part of the dominions of Elizabethan England's greatest enemy, and Valladolid and Seville in Spain itself, they became associated in the public eye with political as well as religious subversion. It was this combination of nationalistic public opinion, sustained persecution, and the rise of a new generation which could not remember pre-Reformation times and had no pre-established loyalty to Catholicism, that reduced the number of Catholics in England during this period – although the overshadowing memory of Queen Mary I's reign was another factor that should not be underestimated.
The reign of James I (1603–1625) was marked by a measure of tolerance, though less so after the discovery of the Gunpowder Plot conspiracy of a small group of Catholic conspirators who aimed to kill both King and Parliament and establish a Catholic monarchy. A mix of persecution and tolerance followed: Ben Jonson and his wife, for example, in 1606 were summoned before the authorities for failure to take communion in the Church of England, yet the King tolerated some Catholics at court; for example George Calvert, to whom he gave the title Baron Baltimore, and the Duke of Norfolk, head of the Howard family.
The reign of Charles I (1625–49) and his Catholic Queen Henrietta Maria saw a small revival of Catholicism in England, especially among the upper classes. As part of the royal marriage settlement the Queen was permitted a Catholic royal chapel and chaplain. Henrietta Maria was in fact very strict in her religious observances, and helped create a court with continental influences, where Catholicism was tolerated, even somewhat fashionable. Some anti-Catholic legislation became effectively a dead letter. The Counter-Reformation on the Continent of Europe had created a more vigorous and magnificent form of Catholicism (i.e., Baroque, notably found in the architecture and music of Austria, Italy and Germany) that attracted some converts, like the poet Richard Crashaw. Ironically, the explicitly Catholic artistic movement (i.e., Baroque) ended up "providing the blueprint, after the fire of London, for the first new Protestant churches to be built in England."
While Charles remained firmly Protestant, he was personally drawn towards a consciously 'High Church' Anglicanism. This affected his appointments to Anglican bishoprics, in particular the appointment of William Laud as Archbishop of Canterbury. How many Catholics and Puritans there were is still open to debate.
Religious conflict between Charles and other "High" Anglicans and the more extreme Protestants - at this stage mostly still within the Church of England (the Puritans) - formed a strand of the anti-monarchical leanings of the troubled politics of the period. The religious tensions between a court with 'Papist' elements and a Parliament where the Puritans were strong was one of the major factors behind the English Civil War, in which almost all Catholics supported the King. The victory of the Parliamentarians meant a strongly Protestant, anti-Catholic (and, incidentally, anti-Anglican) regime under Oliver Cromwell.
The restoration of the monarchy under Charles II (1660–85) also saw the restoration of a Catholic-influenced court like his father's. However, although Charles himself had Catholic leanings, he was first and foremost a pragmatist and realised the vast majority of public opinion in England was strongly anti-Catholic, so he agreed to laws such as the Test Act requiring any appointee to any public office or member of Parliament to deny Catholic beliefs such as transubstantiation. As far as possible, however, he maintained tacit tolerance. Like his father, he married a Catholic, Catherine of Braganza. (He would become Catholic himself on his deathbed).
Charles' brother and heir James, Duke of York (later James II) converted to Catholicism in 1668–1669. When Titus Oates in 1678 alleged a (totally imaginary) 'Popish Plot' to assassinate Charles and put James in his place, he unleashed a wave of Parliamentary and public hysteria which led to anti-Catholic purges, and another wave of sectarian persecution, which Charles was either unable or unwilling to prevent. Throughout the early 1680s the Whig element in Parliament attempted to remove James as successor to the throne. Their failure saw James become, as James II in 1685, Britain's first openly Catholic monarch since Mary I (and last to date). He promised religious toleration for Catholic and Protestants on an equal footing, but it is in doubt whether he did this to gain support from Dissenters or whether he was truly committed to tolerance (Contemporary Catholic regimes in Spain and Italy, for example, were hardly tolerant of Protestantism, while those in France and Poland had practised forms of toleration).
James' clear intent to work towards the restoration of the Church of England to the Catholic fold encouraged converts like the poet John Dryden, who wrote "The Hind and the Panther", celebrating his conversion. Protestant fears mounted as James placed Catholics in the major commands of the existing standing army, dismissed the Protestant Bishop of London and dismissed the Protestant Fellows of Magdalen College and replaced them with a wholly Catholic board. The last straw was the birth of a Catholic heir in 1688, portending a return to a Pre-Reformation Catholic dynasty.
The Glorious Revolution deposed James and established his Protestant daughter and son-in-law and nephew, Mary II and William III, on the throne (1689–1702). For some, however, the revolution was "fundamentally a coup spearheaded by a foreign army and navy." Nevertheless, the King fled into exile, and with him many Catholic nobility and gentry. The Act of Settlement 1701, which remains in operation today, excludes any Catholic or anyone who marries a Catholic from the throne. However, this Act was partially changed when the ban on the monarch's marrying a Catholic was eliminated (along with the rule of male succession).
Henry Benedict Stuart (Cardinal-Duke of York), the last Jacobite heir to publicly assert a claim to the thrones of England, Scotland, and Ireland, died in Rome in 1807. A monument to the Royal Stuarts exists today at Vatican City. The current Duke of Bavaria, Franz Bonaventura Adalbert Maria von Bayern, head of the Wittelsbach family, is the most senior descendant of King Charles I and is considered by Jacobites to be the heir of the Stuarts.
The years from 1688 to the early 19th century were in some respects the nadir for Catholicism in England. Deprived of their dioceses, four Apostolic Vicariates were set up throughout England until the re-establishment of the diocesan episcopacy in 1850. Although the persecution was not violent as in the past, Catholic numbers, influence and visibility in English society reached their lowest ebb. Their civil rights were severely curtailed: their right to own property or inherit land was greatly limited, they were burdened with special taxes, they could not send their children abroad for Catholic education, they could not vote, and priests were liable to imprisonment.
There was no longer, as once in Stuart times, any notable Catholic presence at court, in public life, in the military or professions. Many of the Catholic nobles and gentry who had preserved on their lands among their tenants small pockets of Catholicism had followed James into exile, and others, at least outwardly, conformed to Anglicanism, meaning fewer such Catholic communities survived intact. A bishop at this time (roughly from 1688 to 1850) was called a Vicar apostolic. A Vicar Apostolic was a titular bishop (as opposed to a diocesan bishop) through whom the pope exercised jurisdiction over a particular church territory in England. Interestingly, English-speaking colonial America came under the jurisdiction of the Vicar Apostolic of London. As titular bishop over Catholics in British America, he was important to the government not only in regard to its English-speaking North American colonies, but also after the Seven Years War when the British Empire, in 1763, acquired the French-speaking (and predominantly Catholic) territory of Canada. Only after the Treaty of Paris in 1783 and in 1789 with the consecration of John Carroll, a friend of Benjamin Franklin, did the U.S. have its own diocesan bishop, free of the Vicar Apostolic of London, James Robert Talbot.
Most Catholics retreated to complete isolation from a popular Protestant mainstream, and Catholicism in England in this period is politically, if not socially, invisible to history, Alexander Pope being one memorable English Catholic of the 18th century and the other being a member of the Catholic gentry, the Duke of Norfolk, the Premier Duke in the peerage of England and as Earl of Arundel, the Premier Earl. In virtue of his status and as head of the Howard family (which included the Earl of Carlisle, the Earl of Suffolk, the Earl of Berkshire, and the Earl of Effingham), the Duke was always at court. Pope, however, seemed to benefit from the isolation. In 1713, when he was 25, he took subscriptions for a project that filled his life for the next seven years, the result being a new version of Homer's Iliad. Samuel Johnson pronounced it the greatest translation ever achieved in the English language. Over time, Pope became the greatest poet of the age, the Augustan Age, especially for his mock-heroic poems, Rape of the Lock and The Dunciad. Around this time, in 1720, Clement XI proclaimed Anselm of Canterbury a Doctor of the Church. In 1752, mid-century, Great Britain adopted the Gregorian calendar decreed by Pope Gregory XIII in 1582. Later in the century there was some liberalisation of the anti-Catholic laws on the basis of Enlightenment ideals.
In 1778 a Catholic Relief Act allowed Catholics to own property, inherit land and join the army. Hardline Protestant mobs reacted in the Gordon Riots in 1780, attacking any building in London which was associated with Catholicism or owned by Catholics. Other reforms allowed the clergy to operate more openly and thus allowed permanent missions to be set up in the larger towns. Stonyhurst College, for example, was re-established in 1791 for wealthier Catholics. In 1837, James Arundel, the tenth Baron Arundel of Wardour, bequeathed to Stonyhurst the Arundel Library, which contained the vast Arundel family collection, including some of the school's most important books and manuscripts such as a Shakespeare First Folio and a manuscript copy of Froissart's Chronicles, looted from the body of a dead Frenchman after the Battle of Agincourt. Yet Catholic recusants as a whole remained a small group, except where they stayed the majority religion in various pockets, notably in rural Lancashire and Cumbria, or were part of the Catholic aristocracy and squirearchy. One of the most interesting contemporary descendents of recusants is Timothy Radcliffe, former Master of the Order of Preachers (Dominicans) and writer. Radcliffe is related to three former cardinals—Weld, Vaughan and Hume (the last because his cousin Lord Hunt is married to Hume's sister), and his family is connected to many of the great recusant English Catholic families, the Arundels, Tichbournes, Tablots, Stonors, and Weld-Blundells. Finally, history cannot forget the famous recusant, Maria Fitzherbert, who during this period secretly married the Prince of Wales, Prince Regent, and future George IV in 1785. The British Constitution, however, did not accept it and George IV later moved on. Cast aside by the establishment, she was adopted by the town of Brighton, whose citizens, both Catholic and Protestant, called her "Mrs. Prince." According to journalist, Richard Abbott, "Before the town had a [Catholic] church of its own, she had a priest say Mass at her own house, and invited local Catholics", suggesting the recusants of Brighton were not very undiscovered.
In a new study of the English Catholic community, 1688–1745, Gabriel Glickman notes that Catholics, especially those whose social position gave them access to the courtly centres of power and patronage, had a significant part to play in 18th-century England. They were not as marginal as one might think today. For example, Alexander Pope was not the only Catholic whose contributions (especially, Essays on Man) help define the temper of an early English Enlightenment. In addition to Pope, Glickman notes, a Catholic architect, James Gibbs, returned baroque forms to the London skyline and a Catholic composer, Thomas Arne, composed "Rule Britannia." According to reviewer Aidan Bellenger, Glickman also suggests that "rather than being the victims of the Stuart failure, 'the unpromising setting of exile and defeat' had 'sown the seed of a frail but resilient English Catholic Enlightenment.'" Yale University historian Steve Pincus likewise argues in his book, 1688: The First Modern Revolution, that Catholics under William and Mary and their successors experienced considerable freedom.
After this moribund period, the first signs of a revival occurred as thousands of French Catholics fled France during the French Revolution. The leaders of the Revolution were virulently anti-Catholic, even singling out priests and nuns for summary execution or massacre, and England was seen as a safe haven from Jacobin violence. Also around this time (1801), a new political entity was formed, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, which merged the Kingdom of Great Britain with the Kingdom of Ireland, thus increasing the number of Catholics in the new state. Pressure for abolition of anti-Catholic laws grew, particularly with the need for Catholic recruits to fight in the Napoleonic Wars. Despite the strong opposition of King George III, which delayed reform, 1829 brought the culmination of the liberalisation of the anti-Catholic laws. Parliament passed the Catholic Emancipation Act, giving Catholics almost equal civil rights, including the right to vote and to hold most public offices. If Catholics were rich, however, exceptions were always made, even before the changes. For example, American ministers to the Court of St. James's were often struck by the prominence of wealthy American-born Catholics, titled ladies among the nobility, like Louisa (Caton), granddaughter of Charles Carroll of Carrollton, and her two sisters, Mary Ann and Elizabeth. After Louisa's first husband (Sir Felton Bathurst-Hervey) died, Louisa later married the son of the Duke of Leeds, and had the Duke of Wellington as her European protector. Her sister, Mary Ann, married the Marquess of Wellesley, the brother of the Duke of Wellington; and her other sister, Elizabeth (Lady Stafford), married another British nobleman. Though British law required an Anglican marriage service, each of the sisters and their Protestant spouses had a Catholic ceremony afterwards. At Louisa's first marriage, the Duke of Wellington escorted the bride.
In the 1840s and 1850s, especially during the Great Irish Famine, while the bulk of the large outflow of emigration from Ireland was headed to the United States to seek work, hundreds of thousands of Irish people also migrated across the channel to England and Scotland, and established communities in cities there, including London, Liverpool, Manchester and Glasgow, but also in towns and villages up and down the country, thus giving English Catholicism a Gaelic flavour and a huge numerical boost. Also significant was the rise in the 1830s and 1840s of the Oxford Movement, which sought to revive some elements of Catholic theology and ritual within the Church of England (creating Anglo-Catholicism).
Many of the Anglicans who were involved in the Oxford Movement or "Tractarianism" were ultimately led beyond these positions and converted to the Catholic Church, including, in 1845, the movement's principal intellectual leader, John Henry Newman. A steady stream of new Catholics would continue to enter the Church from the Anglican Church, often via high Anglicanism, for at least the next hundred years, and something of this continues. Among a large number from Anglicanism were some who brought British Catholicism a certain amount of public prestige.
Prominent intellectual and artistic figures who turned to Catholicism in the 19th and 20th centuries included the leading architect of the Gothic Revival, Augustus Pugin, the artist, Graham Sutherland, and literary figures such as Newman, Gerard Manley Hopkins, two sons of William Wilberforce, Samuel and Robert, G. K. Chesterton, Ronald Knox, Siegfried Sassoon, Evelyn Waugh, Edith Sitwell, Graham Greene, and Muriel Spark. Prominent cradle Catholics included the film director, Alfred Hitchcock, writers like Hilaire Belloc, Lord Acton, and J.R.R. Tolkien and the composer, Edward Elgar, whose oratorio, The Dream of Gerontius, was based on a 19th-century poem by Newman.
There is no doubt that at various points after the 16th century real hopes have been entertained by many English Catholics that the 'reconversion of England' was near at hand. To some the sign of this being imminent was the steady trickle of establishment converts from the second quarter of the 19th century on.
More important was the arrival of immigrant masses of Irish Catholics. Together these trends were seen by some as constituting a "second spring" of Catholicism across Britain. Rome responded by re-establishing the Catholic hierarchy in 1850, creating 12 Catholic dioceses in England from existing Apostolic vicariates and appointing diocesan bishops (to replace earlier Titular bishops) with fixed sees on a more traditional Catholic pattern. The Roman church in England and Wales had 22 dioceses immediately before the Reformation, but none of the current 22 bear close resemblance (geographically) to those 22 medieval dioceses.
The re-established diocesan episcopacy specifically avoided using places that were seats of Church of England dioceses as seats, in effect temporarily abandoning the titles of Catholic dioceses before Elizabeth I because of the Ecclesiastical Titles Act of 1851, which in England favoured a state church (i.e., Church of England) and denied arms and legal existence to territorial Catholic sees on the basis that the state could not grant such "privileges" to "entities" that allegedly did not exist. Some of the Catholic dioceses, however, took the titles of bishoprics which had previously existed in England but were no longer used by the Anglican Church (e.g. Beverley - later divided into Leeds and Middlesbrough, Hexham - later changed to Hexham and Newcastle). In the few cases where a Catholic diocese bears the same title as an Anglican one in the same town or city (e.g. Birmingham, Liverpool, Portsmouth, and Southwark) — this is the result of the Church of England ignoring the prior existence there of a Catholic see and of the technical repeal of the Ecclesiastical Titles Act in 1871. Of course, the Act was only carried out in England. For example, the official recognition afforded by the grant of arms to the archdiocese of St. Andrews and Edinburgh, brought into being by Lord Lyon in 1989, was made on the grounds that the Ecclesiastical Titles Act of 1851 never applied to Scotland. In recent times, former Conservative Cabinent Minister, John Gummer, who is a prominent convert to Catholicism and columnist for the Catholic Herald in 2007, objected to the fact that no Catholic diocese can have the same name as an Anglican diocese (such as London, Canterbury, Durham, etc.) "even though those dioceses had, shall we say, been borrowed."
Twentieth century and the present
English Catholicism continued to grow throughout the first two thirds of the 20th century, when it was associated primarily with elements in the English intellectual class and the ethnic Irish population. Numbers attending Mass remained very high in stark contrast with the Anglican church (although not to other Protestant churches), Clergy numbers, which began the 20th century at under 3,000, reached a high of 7,500 in 1971.
By the latter years of the twentieth century low numbers of vocations also affected the church with 16 new priests for England and Wales in 2009 compared to 110 thirteen years earlier. Annual vocation numbers have been variable in recent years: from 24 in 2003 to the mid 40s in 2006 and 2007 and a drop back to 31 in 2008. Parishes have been closed or merged: Liverpool, for example, reducing from 60 to 27 parishes. Sexual abuse scandals have also damaged the Church.
As in other English-speaking countries such as the United States and Australia, the movement of Irish Catholics out of the working-class into the middle-class suburban mainstream often meant their assimilation with broader, secular English society and loss of a separate Catholic identity. The Second Vatican Council has been followed, as in other Western countries, by divisions between traditional Catholicism and a more liberal form of Catholicism claiming inspiration from the Council. This caused difficulties for not a few pre-conciliar converts, though others have still joined the Church in recent decades (for instance, Malcolm Muggeridge and Joseph Pearce), and public figures (often descendants of the recusant families) such as Paul Johnson; Peter Ackroyd; Antonia Fraser; Mark Thompson, Director General of the BBC; Michael Martin (politician), first Catholic to hold the office of Speaker of the House of Commons since the Reformation; Chris Patten, first Catholic to hold the post of Chancellor of Oxford since the Reformation; Piers Paul Read; Helen Liddel, Britain's High Commissioner to Australia; and former Prime Minister's wife, Cherie Blair, have no difficulty making their Catholicism known in public life. The former Prime Minister, Tony Blair, was recently received into full communion with the Catholic Church. Catherine Pepinster, Editor of Tablet, notes: "The impact of Irish immigrants is one. There are numerous prominent campaigners, academics, entertainers (like Danny Boyle the most successful Catholic in showbiz owing to his film, Slumdog Millionaire), politicians and writers. But the descendants of the recusant families are still a force in the land."
Since the Council the Church in England has tended to focus on ecumenical dialogue with the Anglican Church rather than winning converts from it as in the past. However, the 1990s have seen a number of conversions from Anglicanism to the Catholic Church, largely prompted by the Church of England's decision to ordain women as priests (among other moves away from traditional doctrines and structures). The resultant converts included members of the Royal Family (Katharine, Duchess of Kent, her son Lord Nicholas Windsor and her grandson Baron Downpatrick), a number of Anglican priests. Converts to Catholicism in Britain, for this reason, tend to be more conservative and even traditionalist than Catholics on the European mainland, often opposing trends within the Catholic Church similar to those which induced them to abandon Anglicanism in the first place.
The spirit of ecumenism fostered by Vatican II resulted in 1990 with the Catholic Church in England, Wales, Scotland and Ireland, joining Churches Together in Britain and Ireland as an expression of the churches' commitment to work ecumenically. Recently, for example, a memorial was put up to St John Houghton and fellow Carthusian monks martyred at the London Charterhouse, 1535. Anglican priest, Geoffrey Curtis, campaigned for it with the current Archbishop of Canterbury's blessing. Also, in another ecumenical gesture, a plaque in Holywell Street, Oxford, now commemorates the Catholic martyrs of England. It reads: "Near this spot George Nichols, Richard Yaxley, Thomas Belson, and Humphrey Pritchard were executed for their Catholic faith, 5 July 1589." And at Lambeth Palace, in February 2009, the Archbishop of Canterbury hosted a reception to launch a book, Why Go To Church?, by Fr Timothy Radcliffe OP, one of Britain's best known religious and the former master of the Dominican Order. A large number of young Dominican friars attended. Fr Radcliffe said, "I don't think there have been so many Dominicans in one place since the time of Robert Kilwardby, the Dominican Archbishop of Canterbury in the 13th century."
The Church's principles of social justice influenced initiatives to tackle the challenges of poverty and social inclusion. In Southampton, Fr Pat Murphy O'Connor founded the St Dismas Society as an agency to meet the needs of ex-prisoners discharged from Winchester prison. Some of St Dismas Society's early members went on to help found the Simon Community in Sussex then in London. Their example gave new inspiration to other clergy, such as the Revd Kenneth Leech (CofE) of St Anne's Church, Soho who helped found the homeless charity Centrepoint, and the Revd Bruce Kenrick (Church of Scotland) who helped found the homeless charity Shelter. In 1986 Cardinal Basil Hume established the Cardinal Hume Centre to work with homeless young people, badly housed families and local communities to access accommodation, support and advice, education, training and employment opportunities.
In 2006 Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor instituted an annual Mass in Support of Migrant Workers at Westminster Cathedral in partnership with the ethnic chaplains of Brentwood, Southwark and Westminster.
Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham
In October 2009, following closed-circuit talks between some Anglicans and the Holy See, Pope Benedict made a relatively unconditional offer to accommodate disaffected Anglicans in the Church of England, enabling them, for the first time, to retain parts of their liturgy and heritage under Anglicanorum coetibus, while being in full communion with Rome. By April 2012 the ordinariate numbered about 1200, including five bishops and 60 priests. The ordinariate has recruited a group of aristocrats as honorary vice-presidents to help out. These include the Duke of Norfolk, the Countess of Oxford and Asquith and the Duchess of Somerset. Other vice-presidents include Lord Nicholas Windsor, Sir Josslyn Gore-Booth and the Squire de Lisle, whose ancestor Ambrose de Lisle was a 19th-century Catholic convert who advocated the corporate reunion of the Anglican Church with Rome. According to the group leader, Mgr Keith Newton, the ordinariate will "work on something with an Anglican flavour, but they are not bringing over any set of Anglican liturgy." The director of music at Westminster Abbey (Anglican), lay Catholic James O'Donnell, likens the ordinariate to a Uniate church or one of the many non-Latin Catholic rites, saying: "This is a good opportunity for us to remember that there isn't a one size fits all, and that this could be a good moment to adopt the famous civil service philosophy - 'celebrating diversity'." In May 2013, a former Anglican priest, Alan Hopes, was appointed the new Bishop of East Anglia, whose diocese includes the Shrine of Our Lady of Walsingham.
While migration from Ireland in the 19th and 20th centuries and more recent Eastern European migration have significantly increased the numbers of Catholics in England and Wales, an overall majority of Catholics classify themselves as of British ethnicity. While figures for England and Wales alone are difficult to estimate, the ethnic make-up of the Catholic population in the UK in 2008 was as follows:
|White Eastern European||9.5%|
The White Eastern European members are mainly from Poland, with smaller numbers from Lithuania, Latvia, and Slovakia. The White Irish population is believed to be severely undercounted, as many White British Catholics have mostly or even entirely Irish ancestry, though modern British identity is synonymous with not only Welsh, Irish, English and Scot ancestry, but also South Asian (4% of the population) and Black, among other races. For example, over a quarter of the UK's Catholic bishops (and all three cardinals) have identifiably Irish surnames.
Polish Catholic immigration
Polish-speaking Catholics first arrived in England in some numbers after the partitions of Poland during the 19th century. One of the most notable Poles at this time, who eventually settled in England, was Joseph Conrad. At the end of the Second World War, many Polish servicemen were unable to return to their homeland following the imposition of a communist regime hostile to their return, and the Polish Resettlement Corps was formed by the British government to ease their transition into British life. They were joined by several thousand Displaced Persons (DPs), many were their family members. This influx of Poles gave rise to the 1947 Polish Resettlement Act which allowed approximately 250,000 Polish Servicemen and their dependents, to settle in Britain. Many assimilated into existing Catholic congregations. According to the Polish Catholic Mission in England and Wales in 1948 the Catholic hierarchy in England Wales agreed the appointment of a vicar delegate, nominated by the Polish Episcopate, with ordinary power over the Polish clergy and laity throughout England and Wales with certain exceptions relating to marriage. Subsequently whenever a Polish Catholic community emerges within England and Wales, the vicar delegate appoints a Polish priest to organise a local branch of the Polish Catholic Mission. A priest thus appointed is the priest in charge, not a parish priest. There are no Polish parishes or quasiparishes in England and Wales (in accordance with Canons 515 §1 and 516 §1) with the exception of the church at Devonia Road in London. A Polish Community is sometimes referred to as a "parish" but is not a parish in the canonical sense. Hence the Community is not a juridical person. The canonical juridical personality which represents the interests of all Polish Communities is vested in the Polish Catholic Mission.
Since the 2004 accession of Poland to the European Union there has been further large-scale Polish immigration to the UK. Currently the Polish Catholic Mission includes around 219 parishes and pastoral centres with 114 priests. The current rector of the Polish Catholic Mission is Monsignor Tadeusz Kukla. In Poland, the Polish Bishops Conference has a delegate with special responsibility for émigré Poles. The current postholder is Bishop Ryszard Karpiński. The Tablet reported in December 2007 that the Polish Catholic Mission says these parishes follow a pastoral programme set by the Polish conference of bishops and are viewed as "an integral part of the Polish church".
In December 2007 Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor said "I'm quite concerned that Poles are creating a separate Church in Britain – I would want them to be part of the Catholic life of this country. I would hope those responsible for the Polish Church here, and the Poles themselves, will be aware that they should become a part of local parishes as soon as possible when they learn enough of the language." Mgr Kukla stressed that the Polish Catholic Mission continues to have a "good relationship" with the hierarchy in England and Wales and said "Integration is a long process."
Significantly, the Polish Mission co-operated fully with the English hierarchy's recent research enquiry into the needs of migrants in London's catholic community. "The Ground of Justice" report by Francis Davis and Jolanta Stanke et al. Von Hügel Institute at St Edmund's College, Cambridge was commissioned by Archbishop Kevin McDonald of Southwark, and Bishop Thomas McMahon of Brentwood. 1000 people attending Mass in three London dioceses were surveyed using anonymous questionnaires available in Polish, Lithuanian, Chinese, French, Spanish, Portuguese, and English. The congregations were from mainstream Diocesan parishes, ethnic chaplaincies, and churches of the Polish Vicariate. The report findings described how 86% of eastern Europeans said the availability of Mass in their mother tongue was a reason for their choosing to worship in a particular church. The report's recommendations emphasised cooperation with key overseas bishops conferences, dioceses, and religious institutes on the recruitment and appointment of ethnic chaplains; the recognition of language skills as a legitimate training activity and cost for seminarians, clergy, parish volunteer and lay employees; and the consolidation of dispersed charitable funds for pastoral development and the poor in London.
The Church in England and Wales has five provinces: Birmingham, Cardiff, Liverpool, Southwark and Westminster. There are 22 dioceses which are divided into parishes (for comparison, the Church of England and Church in Wales currently have a total of 50 dioceses). In addition to these, there are two dioceses covering England and Wales for specific groups which are the Bishopric of the Forces and the Apostolic Exarchate for Ukrainians.
The Catholic bishops in England and Wales come together in a collaborative structure known as the Bishops' Conference. Currently the Archbishop of Westminster, Vincent Gerard Nichols, is the President of the Bishops' Conference. For this reason in the global Catholic Church (outside England), he is de facto Primate of England though not in the eyes of English law and the established Church of England. Historically, the avoidance of the title of "Primate" was to eschew whipping up anti-Catholic tension, in the same way the bishops of the restored hierarchy avoided using current titles of Anglican sees (Archbishop of Westminster rather than "Canterbury" or "London"). However, the Archbishop of Westminster had certain privileges: he was the only metropolitan in the country until 1911 (when the archdioceses of Birmingham and Liverpool were created) and he has always acted as leader at meetings of the English bishops.
Although the bishops of the restored hierarchy took new titles, such as that of Westminster, they saw themselves very much in continuity with the pre-Reformation Church. Westminster in particular saw itself as the continuation of Canterbury, hence the similarity of the coat of arms of the two sees (with Westminster believing it has more right to it since it features the pallium, no longer given to Anglican archbishops). At the back of Westminster Cathedral is a list of Popes and, alongside this, a list of Catholic Archbishops of Canterbury beginning with Augustine of Canterbury and the year they received the pallium. After Cardinal Pole, the last Catholic incumbent of Canterbury, the names of the Catholic vicars apostolic or titular bishops (from 1685) are recorded and then the Archbishops of Westminster, in one unimpaired line, from 597 to the present, according to the Archdiocese of Westminster. To highlight this continuity or unimpaired line today, the installation rites of pre-Reformation Catholic Archbishops of Canterbury and earlier Archbishops of Westminster were used at the recent installation of the new Archbishop of Westminster, Vincent Gerard Nichols.
Further information:Catholic Chaplaincies in England and Wales
Eastern Catholic rites
There exists the Apostolic Exarchate for Ukrainians which serves the 15,000 Ukrainian Greek Catholics in Great Britain, with a cathedral and various churches across the country.
The Lebanese Maronite Order (LMO) runs in England and Wales. The LMO is an order of the Maronite Catholic Church, serving Maronite Catholics in England and Wales. The Revd Augustine Aoun is the parish priest for Maronites. The LMO runs a few churches, for example Our Lady of Sorrows in Paddington and Our Lady of Lebanon in Swiss Cottage.
There are also Catholic chaplains of the Eritrean, Chaldean, Syriac, Syro-Malabar, Syro-Malankara, and Melkite Rites. For information about the Syro-Malabar chaplaincy within the Diocese of Westminster in London, see Syro-Malabar Catholic Church of London.
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- List of Catholic martyrs of the English Reformation
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- Peter Ackroyd Albion: The origins of the English Imagination (New York: Anchor Random, 2002) ISBN 0-385-49773-3
- Virginia Blanton Signs of Devotion: The Cult of St. AEthelthryth in Medieval England, 695–1615 (University Park: Penn State University, 2007) ISBN 0-271-02984-6
- Michael Burleigh Sacred Causes (New York: HarperCollins, 2007) ISBN 978-0-06-058095-7
- Thomas Clancy, S.J., English Catholic Books, 1641–1700 (Cambridge: Scolar Press, 1996) ISBN 1-85928-329-2
- Thomas Clancy, S.J., English Catholic Books, 1701–1800 (Cambridge: Scolar Press, 1996) ISBN 1-85928-148-6
- Eamon Duffy The Voices of Morebath (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2001) ISBN 0-300-09825-1
- Eamon Duffy Marking the Hours: English People and their Prayers 1240–1570 (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2007) ISBN 0-300-11714-0
- Eamon Duffy Fires of Faith: Catholic England under Mary Tudor (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2009) Excellent for background and policies of Cardinal Pole. ISBN 0-300-15216-7
- Mark Turnham Elvins, Old Catholic England (London: Catholic Truth Society, 1978)
- Antonia Fraser Mary Queen of Scots (New York: Delta Random, 1993) ISBN 978-0-385-31129-8
- Howard Esksine-Hill Alexander Pope: World and Word (Oxford: Oxford University Press for the British Academy, 1998) ISBN 0-19-726170-1
- Stephen Greenblatt Will in the World (New York: W.W.Norton, 2004) ISBN 0-393-05057-2
- John Guy A Daughter's Love: Thomas and Margaret More (Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2009) 0618499156
- Clare Haynes Pictures and Popery: Art and Religion in England, 1660–1760 (Burlington, Vt.: Ashgate, 2006) ISBN 0-7546-5506-7
- Robert Hutchinson House of Treason: the Rise and Fall of the Tudor Dynasty (London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 2009) ISBN 0-297-84564-0
- Emilia Jamroziak and Janet Burton, eds. Religious and Laity in Western Europe, 1000–1400 (Europa Scra 2.Turnhout: Brepols, 2006)
- Julie Kerr Monastic Hospitality: Benedictines in England, c.1070-c.1250, Studies in the history of Medieval Religion 32. (Woodbridge, U.K.: Boydell, 2007) ISBN 1-84725-161-7
- K.J.Kesselring The Northern Rebellion of 1569: Faith, Politics, and Protest in Elizabethan England (London: Palgrave MacMillan, 2007) ISBN 978-0-230-55319-4
- Peter Marshall Religious Identities in Henry VIII's England (London: Ashgate, 2006) ISBN 0-7546-5390-0
- Peter Marshall and Alex Ryrie, Eds The Beginnings of English Protestantism (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002) ISBN 978-0-521-80274-1
- Goeffrey Moorhouse The Pilgrimage of Grace: the Rebellion that Shook Henry VIII's Throne (London: Weidenfeld and Moorhouse, 2003) ISBN 978-1-84212-666-0
- Hazel Pierce Margaret Pole, Countess of Salisbury 1473–1541: Loyalty, Lineage and Leadership (University of Wales Press, 2009) ISBN 0-7083-2189-5
- Linda Porter The First Queen of England: The Myth of "Bloody Mary" (New York: St. Martin Press, 2008) ISBN 0-312-36837-2
- Michael C. Questier Catholicism and Community in Early Modern England: Politics, Aristocratic Patronage and Religion, c.1550–1640 Cambridge Studies in Early Modern British History (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2006). This re-evaluates post-Reformation Catholicism through windows of the wider Catholic community in England and through aristocratic patronage. ISBN 0-521-06880-0
- John Saward, John Morrill, and Michael Tomko (eds), Firmly I Believe and Truly: The spiritual tradition of Catholic England 1483-1999 (Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2011).
- Karen Stober Late Medieval Monasteries and their Patrons: England and Wales, c.1300–1540 Studies in the History of Medieval Religion. (Woodbridge, U.K.: Boydell, 2007) ISBN 1-84383-284-4
- Charles E. Ward The Life of John Dryden (Chapel Hill, North Carolina: University of North Carolina Press, 1961) B00IUBM07U
- James Anderson Winn John Dryden and His World (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1987) ISBN 978-0-300-02994-9
- Catholic Office for the Protection of Children and Vulnerable Adults
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- The Catholic Church in England and Wales
- The Vatican - official web site