The Catholic Church in England

© Copyright Peter Crawford 2013

The re-establishment of the Catholic hierarchy in England began with the rise of Anglo Catholicism in the 19th Century.
The terms Anglo-Catholic, Anglican Catholic and Catholic Anglican describe people, beliefs and practices within Anglicanism which affirm the Catholic heritage and identity of the various Anglican churches, rather than the churches' Protestant heritage.
The term "Anglo-Catholic" was coined in the early 19th century; but, movements emphasising the Catholic nature of Anglicanism have existed throughout history.
Particularly influential in the history of Anglo-Catholicism were the Caroline Divines of the seventeenth century and, later, the leaders of the Oxford Movement, which began at the University of Oxford in 1833 and ushered in a period of Anglican history known as the "Catholic Revival".
In addition, members of the personal ordinariates for former Anglicans in the Roman Catholic Church are also sometimes referred to as "Anglican Catholics".

© Copyright Peter Crawford 2013

Henry VIII
Following the passing of the Act of Supremacy and Henry VIII's break with the Roman Catholic Church, the Church of England continued to adhere to traditional Catholic teachings and did not initially make any alterations to doctrine.
The Ten Articles were published in 1536 and constitute the first official Anglican articles of faith.
The articles for the most part concurred with the pre-Reformation teachings of the Church in England and defended, among other things, the 'Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist', the sacrament of confession, the honouring and invocation of saints and prayer for the dead.
Belief in purgatory, however, was made non-essential.
This was followed by the Bishops' Book in 1537, a combined effort by numerous clergy and theologians which, though not strongly Protestant in its inclinations, showed a slight move towards Reformed positions and was unpopular with conservative sections of the Church and quickly grew to be disliked by Henry also.
The Six Articles, released two years later, moved away from all Reformed ideas and strongly affirmed Catholic positions regarding matters such as transubstantiation and Mass for the dead.
The King's Book, the official article of religion written by Henry in 1543, likewise expressed Catholic sacramental theology and encouraged prayer for the dead.

© Copyright Peter Crawford 2013

A major shift in Anglican doctrine came in the reign of Henry's son, Edward VI, who repealed the Six Articles and under whose rule the Church of England became more identifiably Protestant.
Though the Church's practices and approach to the sacraments became strongly influenced by those of continental reformers, it nevertheless retained episcopal church structure.
The Church of England was then briefly reunited with the Roman Catholic Church under Mary, before separating again under Elizabeth I.
The Elizabethan Religious Settlement was an attempt to end the religious divisions among Christians in England, and is often seen as an important event in Anglican history, ultimately laying the foundations for the "via media" concept of Anglicanism.
The nature of early Anglicanism was to be of great importance to the Anglo-Catholics of the 19th century, who would argue that their beliefs and practices were common during this period and were inoffensive to the earliest members of the Church of England.

© Copyright Peter Crawford 2013

The modern Anglo-Catholic movement can be traced to the Oxford Movement of the Victorian era, sometimes termed Tractarianism.
In the early 19th century, various factors caused misgivings among English church people, including the decline of church life and the spread of unconventional practices in the Church of England.
John Keble
The British government's action in 1833 of beginning a reduction in the number of Church of Ireland bishoprics and archbishoprics inspired a sermon from John Keble in the University Church in Oxford on the subject of "National Apostasy".
This sermon marked the inception of what became known as the Oxford Movement.
The principal objective of the Oxford Movement was the defence of the Church of England as a divinely-founded institution, of the doctrine of the Apostolic Succession and of the Book of Common Prayer as a "rule of faith".
The key idea was that Anglicanism was not a Protestant denomination, but rather a branch of the historic Catholic Church, along with the Roman Catholic Church and the Eastern Orthodox churches.
It was argued that Anglicanism had preserved the historical apostolic succession of priests and bishops and thus the Catholic sacraments.

John Henry Newman
These ideas were promoted in a series of ninety 'Tracts for the Times'.
The principal leaders of the Oxford Movement were John Keble, John Henry Newman and Edward Bouverie Pusey.
The movement gained influential support, but it was also attacked by the latitudinarians within the University of Oxford and by bishops of the church.
Within the movement there gradually arose a much smaller group which tended towards submission to the supremacy of the Roman Catholic Church.
In 1845 the university censured the Ideal of a Christian Church, and its author, "Ideal Ward," i.e., the pro-Roman Catholic theologian, W. G. Ward.
1850 saw the victory of the Evangelical clergyman George Cornelius Gorham in a celebrated legal action against the church authorities.
A number of conversions to the Roman Catholic Church followed.
The majority of adherents of the movement, however, remained in the Church of England and, despite hostility in the press and in government, the movement spread.
Its liturgical practices were influential, as were its social achievements (including its slum settlements) and its revival of male and female monasticism within Anglicanism.

© Copyright Peter Crawford 2013

Pope Pius IX
While the some groups in the Anglican Church (Church of England) were attempting to return to pre-Reformation Catholic tradition, the Roman Catholic Church issued a Papal Bull re-establishing the Roman Catholic Church in England.
'Universalis Ecclesiae' is the incipit of the papal bull of 29 September 1850 by which Pope Pius IX recreated the Roman Catholic diocesan hierarchy in England, which had been extinguished with the death of the last Marian bishop in the reign of Elizabeth I. 
New names were given to the dioceses, as the old ones were in use by the Church of England.
The bull aroused considerable anti-Catholic feeling among English Protestants.
When Catholics in England were deprived of the normal episcopal hierarchy, their general pastoral care was entrusted at first to a priest with the title of archpriest (in effect an apostolic prefect), and then, from 1623 to 1688, to one or more apostolic vicars, bishops of titular sees governing not in their own name, as diocesan bishops do, but provisionally in the name of the Pope.
At first there was a single vicar for the whole kingdom, later their number was increased to four, assigned respectively to the London District, the Midland District, the Northern District, and the Western District (England).
The number of vicariates was doubled in 1840, becoming eight, the apostolic vicariates of the London district, the Western, the Eastern, the Central, and the districts of Wales, Lancashire, Yorkshire, and the North.
The legal situation of Catholics in England and Wales was altered for the better by the Catholic Relief Act 1829, and English Catholics, who before had been reduced to a few tens of thousands, received in the 19th century thousands of converts from Anglicanism and millions of Irish Catholic immigrants, so that Catholics came to form some 10% of the general population of England and a considerably higher proportion of church-goers.
In response to petitions presented by local clergy and laity, Pope Pius IX issued the bull 'Universalis Ecclesiae' restoring the normal diocesan hierarchy.
The reasons stated in the bull are: "Considering the actual condition of Catholicism in England, reflecting on the considerable number of the Catholics, a number every day augmenting, and remarking how from day to day the obstacles become removed which chiefly opposed the propagation of the Catholic religion, We perceived that the time had arrived for restoring in England the ordinary form of ecclesiastical government, as freely constituted in other nations, where no particular cause necessitates the ministry of Vicars Apostolic."
The London district became the metropolitan archdiocese of Westminster and the diocese of Southwark; the Northern district became the diocese of Hexham; that of Yorkshire became the diocese of Beverley; the district of Lancashire became the dioceses of Liverpool and Salford; the Welsh district, with some neighbouring territory added to it, became the two dioceses of Shrewsbury and of Menevia and Newport; the Western district became the dioceses of Clifton and Plymouth; the Central district became the dioceses of Nottingham and Birmingham; and the Eastern district became the diocese of Northampton.
Thus the restored hierarchy consisted of one metropolitan archbishop and twelve suffragan bishops.

Anti-Catholic Reaction

Publication of the bull was met with an outburst of hostility.
The 'Reformation Journal' published an article under the heading 'The Blight of Popery'.
"No Popery" processions were held all over England, and windows of Catholic churches were broken.
And Parliament passed the 'Ecclesiastical Titles Act 1851', making it a criminal offence for anyone outside the "united Church of England and Ireland" to use any episcopal title "of any city, town or place, or of any territory or district (under any designation or description whatsoever), in the United Kingdom".
However, this law remained a dead letter and was repealed 20 years later.

Three Ecclesiastical Provinces

Thus, the metropolitan archdiocese of Westminster came to have fifteen suffragan sees, the largest number in the world.
Accordingly, by the Apostolic Letter 'Si qua est' of 28 October 1911, Pope Pius X erected the new provinces of Birmingham and Liverpool, making these two dioceses metropolitan archdioceses.
There remained under Westminster the suffragan sees of Northampton, Nottingham, Portsmouth, and Southwark; to Birmingham were assigned those of Clifton, Newport, Plymouth, Shrewsbury, and Menevia; and to Liverpool, Hexham and Newcastle, Leeds, Middlesbrough, and Salford.
It had for many years been felt that a division was necessary, but there had always been the fear of causing disunion thereby, especially if, as in pre-Reformation times, the division would be between north and south.
This was obviated by ignoring the precedent of York and Canterbury, and arranging for three instead of two provinces.
Under the new Apostolic Constitution, the Archbishop of Westminster was granted the right to "be permanent chairman of the meetings of the Bishops of all England and Wales, and for this reason it will be for him to summon these meetings and to preside over them, according to the rules in force in Italy and elsewhere." He ranks over the other two archbishops.

© Copyright Peter Crawford 2013

Shortly after the re-establishment of the English Hierarchy Pope Pius IX convoked an Ecumenical Council.

First Vatican Council
This twentieth ecumenical council of the Catholic Church, held three centuries after the Council of Trent, opened on 8 December 1869 and adjourned on 20 October 1870.
Unlike the five earlier General Councils held in Rome, which met in the Lateran Basilica and are known as Lateran Councils, it met in the Vatican Basilica, hence its name.
Its best-known decision is its definition of papal infallibility.
The Council was convoked to deal with the contemporary problems of the rising influence of rationalism, liberalism, and materialism.
Its purpose was, besides this, to define the Catholic doctrine concerning the Church of Christ.
There was discussion and approval of only two constitutions: the 'Dogmatic Constitution on the Catholic Faith' and the 'First Dogmatic Constitution on the Church of Christ', the latter dealing with the primacy and infallibility of the bishop of Rome - the Pope.
The first matter brought up for debate was the dogmatic draft of Catholic doctrine against the manifold errors due to Rationalism.

Papal Infallibility

The doctrine of papal infallibility was not new and had been used by Pope Pius in defining as dogma, in 1854, the 'Immaculate Conception of Mary', the mother of Jesus.
However, the proposal to define papal infallibility itself as dogma met with resistance, not because of doubts about the substance of the proposed definition, but because some considered it inopportune to take that step at that time.
McBrien divides the bishops attending Vatican I into three groups. The first group, which McBrien calls the "active infallibilists", was led by Manning and Senestrey.
Sedia Gestatoria was a ceremonial throne on which Popes were carried on shoulders until 1978. It consists of a richly adorned, silk-covered armchair, fastened on a suppedaneum, on each side of which are two gilded rings; through these rings pass the long rods with which twelve footmen (palafrenieri), in red uniforms, carry the throne on their shoulders. 

Pius X - St Peter's Basilica - Vatican City - Rome

Two large fans (flabella) made of white ostrich feathers - a relic of the ancient liturgical use of the flabellum, mentioned in the Constitutiones Apostolicae - were carried at either side of the sedia gestatoria. A flabellum (plural flabella), in Christian liturgical use, is a fan made of metal, leather, silk, parchment or feathers, intended to keep away insects from the consecrated Body and Blood of Christ and from the priest, as well as to show honour. The ceremonial use of such fans dates back to ancient Egypt.

Guardia Svizzera Pontificia
Guardia Nobile Pontificia
The Noble Guard was one of the household guard units serving the Pope. It was formed by Pope Pius VII in 1801 as a regiment of heavy cavalry. Conceived as the Pope's personal guard, the unit provided a mounted escort for the Pope when he moved about Rome in his carriage and mounted guard outside his apartments in the papal palaces. The corps were volunteers - its members were not paid for their service, although they received an allowance for their uniforms. Recruits were drawn from noble families in Rome. The commander of the corps was called the Captain. One of the subordinate positions within the corps was that of Hereditary Standard-Bearer, who was responsible for carrying the standard of the Catholic Church.

Flag - Guardia Svizzera Pontificia
Guardia Svizzera Pontificia
The Pontifical Swiss Guard (German: Päpstliche Schweizergarde; Italian: Guardia Svizzera Pontificia; Latin: Pontificia Cohors Helvetica) is a small force maintained by the Holy See, it is responsible for the safety of the Pope, including the security of the Apostolic Palace. The Swiss Guard serves as the de facto military of Vatican City.

This group took an extreme view that argued that all papal teachings were infallible and that papal infallibility was the foundation of the church's infallibility.
The majority of the bishops, however, were not so much interested in a formal definition of papal infallibility as they were in strengthening papal authority and, because of this, were willing to accept the agenda of the infallibilists.
A minority, some 20 percent of the bishops, opposed the proposed definition of papal infallibility on both ecclesiastical and pragmatic grounds.
They opposed the ultramontane centralist model of the Church because, in their opinion, it departed from the ecclesiastical structure of the early Christian church.
From a pragmatic perspective, they feared that defining papal infallibility would alienate some Catholics, create new difficulties for union with non-Catholics, and provoke interference by governments in Church affairs.
Those who held this view included most of the German and Austro-Hungarian bishops, nearly half of the Americans, one third of the French, most of the Chaldaeans and Melkites, and a few Armenians.
Only a few bishops appear to have had doubts about the dogma itself.

'Dei Filius'

On 24 April 1870, the dogmatic constitution on the Catholic faith 'Dei Filius' was adopted unanimously.
The draft presented to the Council on 8 March drew no serious criticism, but a group of 35 English-speaking bishops, who feared that the opening phrase of the first chapter, "Sancta romana catholica Ecclesia" (the holy Roman Catholic Church), might be construed as favouring the Anglican Branch Theory, later succeeded in having an additional adjective inserted, so that the final text read: "Sancta catholica apostolica romana Ecclesia" (the holy Catholic Apostolic Roman Church).
The constitution thus set forth the teaching of the "Holy Catholic Apostolic Roman Church" on God, revelation and faith.

First Vatican Council - 1869–70 - (formally closed in 1960 prior to the Second Vatican Council)
Convoked by Pope Pius IX - Presided by Pope Pius IX - Attendance 744 - Topics of discussion rationalism, liberalism, materialism; inspiration of Scripture; papal infallibility - Documents and statements - 'Dei Filius', 'Pastor Aeternus'.
The First Vatican Council was convoked by Pope Pius IX on 29 June 1868, after a period of planning and preparation that began on 6 December 1864.


Many of the Anglicans who were involved in the Oxford Movement or "Tractarianism" were ultimately unable to accept the 'Act of Supremacy', and converted to the Catholic Church, including, in 1845, the movement's principal intellectual leader, John Henry Newman.

John Henry Newman.
The first Act of Supremacy was a piece of legislation that granted King Henry VIII of England Royal Supremacy, which means that he was declared the supreme head of the Church of England. It is still the legal authority of the Sovereign of the United Kingdom. Royal Supremacy is specifically used to describe the legal sovereignty of the civil laws over the laws of the Church in England.

A steady stream of new Catholics would continue to enter the Church from the Anglican Church, often via high Anglicanism (Anglo-Catholicism), for at least the next hundred years.
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 Cardinal 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 so-called "second spring" of Catholicism across Britain.

1 comment:

  1. Cool! Nice website and very informative! Wish the Queen would convert!