18 May 2009

1559-2009 (1)

This year represents the 450th anniversary of the saddest event in the history of England; when the Provinces of Canterbury and York were forcibly sundered from the unity of Western Christendom and from the See of Peter. For Anglican Catholics, at this particular moment, such a commemoration is not merely 'History' and 'Heritage'; it relates directly to where we are now and where we are going. There is a sort of symmetry between that sundering, and the sundering involved in the decision of 'our' bishops and synods to dump the ARCIC ecumenical process which seemed so promising and, in place of ecumenical convergence, to choose a path of deliberate and irrevocable (because structural) divergence.

At this timely moment, Professor Eamon Duffy has published his Fires of Faith: Catholic England under Mary Tudor (Yale; ISBN 978-0-300-15216-6). It should be read by everybody with a serious interest in the history of our provinces at that particular turning point and moment of rupture; it demonstrates the vibrancy of Marian Catholicism, its popular appeal, its intellectual strength, its personal heroism. It demonstrates how England, as a unique locus in which Protestantism had been turned back and replaced by a renewed and invigorated Catholicism, became an early laboratory for the Catholic Counter-Reformation. Duffy shows how the English Counter-Reformation of 1553-8 helped to shape the reforms of the Council of Trent and of Catholic mainland Europe. Did you know, for example, that S Charles Borromeo incorporated Cardinal Pole's decree on Pastoral Visitation word for word into the document issued by his first Milan Synod of 1565? When you've read Duffy, you'll know a lot of significant details like that; and you'll have a clear understanding of how Whiggish historiography has corrupted our national memory of that brief but exciting five years.


Richard Duncan said...

Mmm ... that term "Anglican Catholic" again!

I've no wish to be discourteous, or to make judgements about individuals, but it really does strike me as a bit of an oxymoron which understates the importance of visible communion.

Doesn't the "Anglican Catholic" really mean someone who tends towards Catholicism (either intellectually or aesthetically) but who, for one reason or another, decides not to embrace the totality of the Catholic Faith. If so, it is more accurately applied to those who supported the Henrician and Elizabethan settlements rather than those who oppose it.

I write as someone who used to be an "Anglican Catholic", but who has long since crossed the Tiber.

motuproprio said...

The 16th Century expression was, I believe, Church Catholic. Catholic in belief but not prepared to stand against the Establishment and become a Recusant.

William Tighe said...

"Church Papist," actually.

Canon Jerome Lloyd OSJV said...

Either way - reluctant to put God (The Catholic Church) before King (The Establishment) is it not?!

Steve said...

ARCIC? Promising? It was killed off by the present Pope (in his previous incarnation as Grand Inquisitor) in the early 1990's.