Roman Catholic Church in England and Wales

Roman Catholic Church in England and Wales

The Catholic Church in England and Wales is part of the worldwide Catholic Church, the Christian Church in full communion with the Bishop of Rome, currently Pope Benedict XVI. It traces its origins to the original Christian community founded by Jesus, with its traditions first established by the Twelve Apostles and maintained through unbroken Apostolic Succession. Its formal history in England and Wales traces from the 597 Augustinian mission, over 1400 years ago.

Christianity arrived in the British Isles in the first or second centuries (probably via the tin trade route through Ireland and Spain), and existed independently of the Bishop of RomeFact|date=September 2008, as did many other (especially northern) Christian communities of that era. Records note Brythonnic bishops, such as Restitutus, attended the Council of Arles in 314, which council confirmed the theological findings of an earlier convocaton held in Rome (Council of Rome) in 313. The Pope Gregory the Great sent Saint Augustine from Rome in the 6th century to evangelise the Angles in (597). With the help of Christians already residing in Kent, he established his church in Canterbury, the old capital of Kent, and, having received the pallium earlier, became the first in the series of archbishops of Canterbury. The last Catholic archbishop of Canterbury was Reginald Pole, who died in 1558.

Simultaneously, the Celtic Christian communities of St.Columba continued to evangelise Scotland and northern England. These communities eventually submitted in some sense to the 'authority' of Rome at the Synod of Whitby in 644, especially over the proper calculation of Easter. Over the next few centuries, the ecclesiastical system of the Western Latin Church introduced by Augustine gradually absorbed the pre-existing Celtic Christian churches, though this was not surprising. St. Columbanus, for example, Columba's fellow countryman and churchman, 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." [H.E.,III,iv]

England adhered to the Catholic Church for nearly a thousand years; but in 1534, during the reign of King Henry VIII, what was the incorporated Western Church of Catholic Europe in England became a national church independent of Rome with Henry as its head. Under his son, Edward VI, this new church entity became aligned with the Protestant movement before briefly rejoining the Catholic Church during the reign of Queen Mary I, in 1555. Catholicism continued in England, although it was subject to various forms of persecution, with the remnant English Catholic Church and its members (those not in diaspora on the continent) going underground for all practical purposes until 1832 when freedom to publicly practise the Catholic Religion was won with the Catholic Emancipation Act. Catholic Dioceses were re-established by Pope Pius IX in 1850. Apart from the 22 Latin Rite dioceses, there is the Eastern Catholic diocese of Apostolic Exarchate for Ukrainians.

Detailed History

Early Years - Roman Province / Papal Mission

Christianity survived only in small scattered communities, especially in the Celtic outskirts. Pope Gregory the Great sent St. Augustine in the late 6th Century from Rome to evangelise the Anglo-Saxons, a process completed by the 7th century. This is of particular interest in the Catholic Church as it was the first Papal Mission to found a church.

Scotland was being evangelised by the Celtic Church of St Columba. The small differences in custom between Roman Christianity and the Celtic Christian communities, e.g. different dates for the observation of Easter, which had developed during the latter's isolation from Rome after the Anglo-Saxon invasion, were ended by the Council of Whitby, which decided in favour of the Roman practices. In his Historia Ecclesiastica gentis Anglorum, Venerable Bede gives a lengthy account of the debate at Whitby.

Medieval Times

During medieval times, England and Wales were part of western Christendom. During this period, monasteries and convents, such as those at Shaftesbury and 'Shrewsbury', were a prominent feature of society providing lodging, hospitals and education [ Charterhouse in London : monastery, mansion, hospital, school / by Gerald S. Davis - Davies, Gerald S. (Gerald Stanley), 1845-1927 26 27 31 ] . Likewise, schools like Oxford University and Cambridge 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 University the legal protection and status to compete with other European medieval universities.

Pilgrimage was a prominent feature of medieval 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.

The Tudor Era

England remained a Catholic country for nine hundred years, but was officially separated from Rome in 1534 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 St Thomas More, former Lord Chancellor, and St John Fisher, Bishop of Rochester, among others. The "Pilgrimage of Grace", a rising in the North against the religious changes, was bloodily repressed.

The 1547 to 1553 reign of the boy King Edward VI saw the Church of England formally adopt Protestantism, 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 Church in England briefly resubmitted to Rome during the reign of the Catholic Queen Mary I from 1553 to 1559. Mary was genuinely pious and felt she had a mission to bring back 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 [In Ludlow in Shropshire the parishioners complied with the orders to remove the rood and other images in 1547, and in same year spent money on making up the canopy to be carried over the Blessed Sacrament on the feast of Corpus Christi. (Eamon Duffy, "The Stripping of the Altars", p. 481, Yale University Press, 1992)] . Unfortunately, Mary's policy of burning Protestants at the stake ultimately proved highly counter-productive. With the assistance of Foxe's Book of Martyrs [Mary's Protestant Martyrs and Elizabeth's Catholic Traitors in the Age of Catholic Emancipation, John E. Drabble / Church History, Vol. 51, No. 2 (Jun., 1982), pp. 172-185] , 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 bloody persecutions.

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 definitely 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. [(Russell, Conrad, "The Oxford Illustrated History of Tudor and Stuart Britain", p. 281, Oxford University Press, 1996)]

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. The number of English Catholics executed under Elizabeth was significant, and included St Edmund Campion and St Margaret Clitherow.

Because of the persecution in England, Catholic priests in England were trained abroad at the English College at Douai. Given that Douai was located in the Spanish Netherlands, part of the dominions of Elizabethan England's greatest enemy, it is not hard to understand how easy it was for them to be 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 the Marian persecutions was another factor that should not be underestimated.

The Stuart Era

The tarring of Catholics as traitors, and harsh persecution, continued during the reign of James I, especially after the discovery of the Gunpowder Plot conspiracy of a small group of Catholic conspirators, who aimed to blow up both King and Parliament. However the King did tolerate some Catholics at court, such as George Calvert, to whom he gave the title Baron Baltimore.

The reign of Charles I saw a small revival of Catholicism in England, especially among the upper classes. The rise of Puritanism and Calvinism within Protestantism, especially among the bourgeoisie and with anti-monarchical, anti-aristocratic leanings, pushed the King and many others to a consciously 'High Church' Anglicanism which was less anti-Catholic.

Charles refused in most cases to enforce anti-Catholic laws, allowing a significant increase in the number of Catholic clergy. The Counter-Reformation on the Continent of Europe had created a more vigorous and magnificent form of Catholicism that attracted some converts, like the poet Richard Crashaw.

Finally, the King's marriage to a French Catholic princess, Henrietta Maria, helped create a court with continental influences, where Catholicism was tolerated, even somewhat fashionable. The religious tensions between a Puritan Parliament and a court with 'Papist' elements 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 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.

For a brief moment a happy future seemed to beckon for Catholics in England, encouraging converts like the great poet of the age, John Dryden. But Protestant fears mounted as James established a standing army with Catholics in the major commands, 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, seeming to portend an eternal Catholic dynasty.

The Glorious Revolution deposed James and established his Protestant daughter and son-in-law, Mary II and William III, on the throne. For some, however, the revolution was "fundamentally a coup spearheaded by a foreign army and navy." [Alan Taylor, "American Colonies" (New York: Viking, 2001). 278] 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.

The Eighteenth Century

The years from 1688 to the early nineteenth century were in some respects the nadir for Catholicism in England. 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 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 last conformed to Anglicanism, meaning that only very few such Catholic communities survived.

Most Catholics retreated to complete isolation from a completely Protestant mainstream, and Catholicism in England in this period is almost invisible to history, Alexander Pope being the one memorable English Catholic of the 18th century. 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, but Catholic recusants remained a small, very marginalised group, except where they remained the majority religion in various pockets, notably in rural Lancashire and Cumbria. One of the most interesting contemporary 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. ["An enigma wrapped in a cowl," "The Tablet", 17/24 December, 2005, 8 ]

The Catholic Revival in the Nineteenth Century

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. In 1829 came the culmination of the liberalisation of the anti-Catholic laws. [Michael Wheeler, "The Old Enemies: Catholic and Protestant in nineteenth-century English Culture" (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007)] Parliament passed the Catholic Emancipation Act, giving Catholics almost equal civil rights, including the right to vote and to hold most public offices.

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, thousands of poor Irish people also moved to Britain and established communities in Britain's cities, including London, Liverpool, and Glasgow, but also in towns and villages up and down the country, thus giving English Catholicism a Celtic flavor 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 so-called 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 different varieties of Protestantism, 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 British intellectual and artistic figures who turned to Catholicism in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries included the leading architect of the Gothic Revival, Augustus Pugin, the artist, Graham Sutherland, and literary figures such as Newman, Gerard Manley Hopkins, 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 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 in Britain. Together these trends were seen by some as constituting a "second spring" of Catholicism in Britain. Rome responded by re-establishing the Catholic hierarchy in 1850, creating Catholic dioceses in England and appointing English Catholic bishops with fixed sees on the traditional pattern for the first time since the English people and monarchy had turned to Protestantism.

The re-established hierarchy specifically avoided using places that were seats of Church of England dioceses as seats, in effect abandoning the titles of Catholic dioceses before Elizabeth I. 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.

The Twentieth Century and the present

English Catholicism retained its renewed strength throughout the first half of the twentieth 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 and Protestant churches, and conversions and vocations to the priesthood and religious life were (as mentioned above) also plentiful. This has changed since the 1960s, due to similar influences as have affected the Church elsewhere: the increased pressures of secularisation and sexual libertarianism.

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 such as Paul Johnson, Peter Ackroyd, Antonia Fraser, and the last Prime Minister's wife, Cherie Blair have no difficulty making their Catholicism known in public life. The last Prime Minister, Tony Blair, was recently received into full communion with the Catholic Church.

Since the Council the Church in England has tended to focus on ecumenical dialogue with the Anglican Church rather than simply winning converts from it as in the past. However, this somewhat cosy world has been disrupted from the Anglican side as the 1990s have seen significant numbers 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 and even whole congregations. Catholics in Britain, for this reason, tend to be more conservative and even traditionalist than those on the European mainland, often opposing trends within the Catholic Church similar to those which induced them to abandon Anglicanism in the first place. However, of late, such converts have felt braver owing to recent statements coming from Rome, reasserting the position that "only Catholics" constitute the true church; that Anglicans (and other non-Cathoics) "suffer from defects"; and that Anglican orders, as stated in Apostolicae Curae, are still "null and void."

The spirit of ecumenism fostered by Vatican II resulted in 1990 with the Roman 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.

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 clergymen, such as Rev Kenneth Leech (CofE) of St Annes Church in Soho who helped found the homeless charity Centrepoint, and Rev 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.

Significant interfaith cooperation and leadership was shown by Archbishop Derek Worlock, of Liverpool, who worked with his Anglican counterpart Bishop David Sheppard and members of the free churches, to present a united Christian approach to the economic and social challenges facing that city during the 1980s and 1990's.

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.

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 World War II 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. ["The Polish Catholic Mission in England and Wales" - " [] ", 2005] .

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. ["Polish Bishops may loosen grip on British mission churches" - "The Tablet", 26 January 2008] The current rector of the Polish Catholic Mission is Monsignor Tadeusz Kukla. In Poland, the Polish Bishops Conference has a position of delegate with special responsibility for emigré 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". ["Polish anger mounts over cardinal's criticism" - "The Tablet", 22/29 December 2007] .

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." [" Britain’s Polish immigrants ‘are abandoning faith’ " - "Catholic Herald", 31 December 2007]

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 the [ 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 recommendations emphasised cooperation with key overseas Bishops Conferences, Dioceses, and Religious Orders 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 Ground of Justice: The report of a pastoral research enquiry into the needs of migrants in London's Catholic community. Commissioned by the Diocese of Westminster, the Archdiocese of Southwark and the Diocese of Brentwood] " [ Von Hügel Institute, St Edmund's College, University of Cambridge] , 2007] The results of this survey will inform the upcoming meeting between Cardinal Murphy O'Connor and the Polish Bishops Conference on 5 March 2008 to discuss the pastoral care of Polish immigrants.

Catholic Hierarchy in England and Wales

The Church in England and Wales has five provinces: Birmingham, Cardiff, Liverpool, Southwark and Westminster. There are 22 dioceses which are divided into parishes. 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, Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor, is the ex officio 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, like 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 and the year they received the pallium. After Cardinal Pole, the last Catholic incumbent of Canterbury, the names of the Catholic Vicars Apostolic (from 1685) are recorded and then the Archbishops of Westminster. [For a good general study in this area, see Nicholas Schofield and Gerard Skinner, "The English Cardinals" (London: Family Publications, 2007) ]

Catholic Chaplaincies in England and Wales

"Further information:Catholic Chaplaincies in England and Wales"

Eastern Catholic Rites in England and Wales

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 and Melkite Rites. For information about the Syro-Malabar chaplaincy within the Diocese of Westminster in London, see Syro-Malabar Catholic Church of London.


Further reading

*Mark Turnham Elvins, "Old Catholic England" (London: Catholic Truth Society, 1978)

ee also

*English Roman Catholic parish histories
*Conférence des évêques de France
*Forty Martyrs of England and Wales
*Latin Mass Society of England and Wales
*Roman Catholicism in Great Britain
*Roman Catholicism in Scotland
*Roman Catholic Church in Ireland

External links

* [ COPCA (Catholic Office for the Protection of Children and Vulnerable Adults)]
* [ and Diocesean map]
* [ The Catholic Church in England and Wales]
* [ Vatican Official Website]

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