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Posts Tagged ‘Church of England’

Edmund Campion 1540-1581

In 13 History on 2016/06/10 at 12:00 AM
Edmund Campion was the son of a Catholic bookseller although raised a Protestant.  It was his brilliance that secured him a Protestant education guaranteed by the City of London.  He was chosen to give the welcome in Latin to Queen Mary Tudor upon her arrival in London as ruler.

Having later been accepted at Oxford, Campion met Queen Elizabeth and her lover, Chancellor Dudley, when they visited Oxford.  They were both so enchanted by Campion’s appearance, poise and wit that the Queen invited him to be part of her court.  Consequently, he took the Oath of Supremacy and deacon’s orders according to the new rite.  Immediately, he began to regret that decision and left Oxford, the Court and went to Ireland to await the re-opening of the ancient papal Dublin University.

Very quickly he became suspect as too Catholic-minded an Anglican, and for a while he hid in friendly houses. Having recognized a vocation to the Catholic priesthood, he made a pilgrimage to Rome on his way to Douai.  He subsequently entered the Jesuit Order and was ordained in 1578.

King Philip II of Spain financed the building of a seminary in Douai, Flanders, for English Catholic exiles.  Placed under the leadership of Dr. Allen, who later became Cardinal Allen, the seminary had 120 seminarians by 1576.

The first martyr from that seminary was St. Cuthbert who was hanged, drawn and quartered.  He was charged with denying Queen Elizabeth’s headship of the church in England.  When asked to swear that she was head of the church, Cuthbert “took the Bible in his hands, made the sign of the cross on it, kissed it and said: ‘The Queen never was, or is, nor ever shall be the head of the Church’.”

In Elizabethan England, priests were first tortured on the rack and then hanged.  (See Category: Book Corner for Benson, COME RACK, COME ROPE, which relates the life of one of the two greatest lights ever to shine at Oxford University: Campion, its subject; and the other, Blessed John Henry Newman).

While Campion was abroad, Queen Elizabeth had ordered that all Englishmen with sons studying overseas recall them.

Penalties on Catholics refusing to attend Church of England services were sharply increased; castles became prisons for those who could not or would not pay the fines.  It is estimated that in one year some twenty thousand Englishmen were converted to the Catholic faith of their forefathers.  Now, any convert was deemed guilt of treason.  Recusants (refusal to attend the Church of England service) brought increased fines to a prohibitive level.

In 1580, two years after ordination, Campion arrived secretly in England with a commitment to win over Protestants with his preaching.  Campion’s saintly and soldierly personality was profoundly impressive.  During a period when he had to flee northward, Campion wrote his famous tract, “TEN REASONS.”  During prayer, he had a vision of Our Lady who foretold his martyrdom.

Shuttling between Norfolk and London, he was eventually captured in 1581. Campion was dragged through the streets of his native city, bound hand and foot, made to ride backwards with a paper stuck in his hat labeling him a “seditious Jesuit.”  Elizabeth herself offered him liberty and power, wealth and honors if he would reject Catholicism, but Campion asked her only for permission for a public disputation.

Denied the opportunity to prepare his debate, having been severely racked and all his fingernails torn off, he stood through four long conferences, without chair, table or notes.  He stood undefeated.  Shortly thereafter, weakened from more torture, he conducted a brilliant public debate with the Calvinist deans of St. Paul and Windsor.  A month later, he debated two scholars from Cambridge, the hotbed of Protestantism.  Two more debates followed.  There were still Englishmen who believed in fairness and justice.  Campion won over Philip Howard, Earl of Arundel.

Racked again, Campion was indicted for treason.  The Privy Council found hirelings as accusers.  During the ridiculous trial , Campion made a magnificent defense, ending at the close of the trial with:

“In condemning us, you condemn all your own ancestors…all  the ancient priest, bishops and kings….all that was once the glory of England, the island of saints, and the most devoted child of the See of Peter.  For what have we taught, how every you may qualify it with the odious name of treason, that they did not uniformly teach?  To be condemned with these old lights….not England only, but of the world….by their degenerate descendants, is both gladness and glory to us.  God lives; posterity will live, their judgments is no so liable to corruption as that of those who are now going to sentence us to death.”

Sentenced to death by hanging, drawing and quartering, he and the other martyrs on the way to execution shouted:  “This is the day the Lord has made” and sang the Te Deum.  They died praying for the Queen.  The people loudly lamented his fate and the martyrs’ witness produced many conversions.  Henry Walpole, a wild young man, was splattered with a drop of Campion’s blood.  He later become not only a Jesuit, but a martyr.

Historians agree that the charges against Campion were bogus.  They praise his superlative intelligence, his charm, his joy, his fiery energy, his impeccable manners and his gentleness.  Campion’s  written words reveal him as a man of genius, one of the great Elizabethans, but holy as none other.

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Meet the Ordinariate’s Ordinary

In 11 Joanna Bogle on 2013/02/22 at 9:11 AM

bp-keith-1024x768_0Meet the Ordinariate’s Ordinary

He’s a cheerful and friendly man with a warm smile. He’d probably describe himself as “ordinary.” Which would be exceptionally accurate, because that is absolutely and literally what he is. Msgr. Keith Newton  is the new Ordinary of the Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham. Msgr. Newton—born and brought up in Liverpool, a former bishop in the Church of England, and a man with much pastoral experience, including several years as a missionary in Africa—was appointed whenthe ordinariate was formed in January 2011. He was ordained a Catholic priest along with two fellow former Anglican bishops in a packed Westminster Cathedral on a day that opened a new chapter in Britain’s ecclesiastical history.

Just in case you’ve somehow managed to miss or ignore the significance of the Ordinariate, here’s what it’s all about.

Benedict Makes History

Some 20 years ago—in November 1992, to be precise—the General Synod of the Church of England, voting in London, decided to ordain women as priests. This shattered any hopes for future formal  unity with the Catholic Church. A number of Anglican clergy and laity left the Church of England and joined the Catholic Church. A substantial group, while sharing a conviction that the Church of England  had no authority to ordain women, remained and formed themselves into a network of parishes for which eventually special provision was made. Three bishops were appointed to minister to them. Nicknamed “flying bishops,” they travelled the country to visit the various churches, ordain clergy, and preside at ceremonies.

But the position was always precarious. For those who genuinely believed in apostolic succession, the crunch was going to come if and when the Church of England voted to create women bishops. When the Synod voted to do just that, a new situation arose.

Back in 1992, the Anglican clergy who looked to Rome had a number of meetings during which they asked if it might be possible for them to have some form of arrangement in which elements of the Anglican heritage—specifically in liturgy and in associated customs and traditions—might be retained. It seemed achievable, but it was not to be, and eventually the various clergy made their own way individually to  ordination in the Catholic Church.

But one of those in Rome who had been central to the discussions was Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, and by the time of the major Anglican vote on women bishops, he   was pope. He listened to the new plea from the remaining Anglicans who now looked to Rome. He took hold of the situation with both hands and offered them a lifeline. In October 2009, he issued Anglicanorum Coetibus, an invitation to Anglicans to enter the Catholic Church as parish groups, lay people together with their clergy, coming home to Rome and bringing with them all that they could of  their liturgy, customs, heritage, and traditions hat would be compatible with the Catholic faith.

The three “flying bishops” and a good number of clergy and laity responded. They made the decision to say  a grateful “Yes” to the pope, and history began to happen.

“We Believe the Catholic Faith”

“It’s been quite an emotional time for people—in some cases people are leaving behind churches where they have worshipped all their lives,” said Msgr. Newton when I met him to talk about all of this. He  was guest speaker at a conference of an international Catholic charity, Aid to the Church in Need—one of several groups that in recent months has been inviting him to come and talk and tell Catholics  about the Ordinariate and future plans.

“The Apostolic Constitution [Anglicanorum Coetibus] was a response to a number of Anglicans who had approached Rome and said: Look, what we believe is the  Catholic faith, and all that we really want to do is lead our people to union with Rome.”

The three “flying bishops” were united in their approach to Rome, and remain strongly linked as a team.

“What we were offered was astonishing. People say that the Catholic Church thinks in centuries—but this all happened with astonishing speed. And now here we are. The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith wanted to have men in place to greet the clergy and people as they joined the Catholic Church.” One of the “flying bishops” was clearly going to be appointed to head the new structure, and as Msgr. Newton puts it simply: “the lot fell to me.”

A New Kind of Shepherd

He has a tough assignment. Some 60-70 former clergy elected to join the new Ordinariate, bringing with them varying numbers of laity from their parishes—the final tally seems to be something just over  a thousand. Many of the clergy are married and some have young families. All will need housing. Some of the wives have jobs, but many don’t as they are busy raising the children at home.

“In the  Constitution it states clearly that the Ordinary has responsibility for the needs of his flock,” notes Msgr. Newton wryly. “I asked about this, and the message came back clearly: Trust in the Lord!”

So far,  the trust hasn’t been misplaced—fundraising is ongoing, andthere has been a welcome from Catholic parishes and from Catholic priests. “Our clergy will clearly be working closely with local priests. Some  of our Ordinariate parishes will be small at first, perhaps 40 people. So there will be plenty of opportunity for our clergy to give help elsewhere—Masses, the sacraments. Already all sorts of things are  being worked out.”

Initially, the new Ordinariate parishes will share facilities with local Catholics. Hopes that there might be possibilities for using Anglican churches have, so far, been in vain. Perhaps attitudes will change as  the years go by, but Msgr. Newton is not relying on that. He is too busy with today’s practicalities. His duties are wide-ranging.

“Essentially, the Ordinariate will function like a diocese—I will do everything  that a bishop of a diocese does, except that I can’t ordain. So I will ask a bishop to do that.” He cannot be a bishop himself because he is married. The Newtons are a very united family: His wife entered the Catholic Church alongside him and was present at his ordination as a Catholic priest in Westminster Cathedral. The three wives of the three former Anglican bishops presented their husbands with vestments, in an unforgettable and moving scene, unique in the cathedral’s history. Later, one of the first acts of the newly ordained Fr. Newton was to baptize his first granddaughter. His daughter Lucy  had become a Catholic some while before and is married to a Catholic. Their first child arrived, very opportunely, suitably in time for Grandpa’s ordination.

It has perhaps been something of a roller-coaster  ride for Msgr. Newton. There are huge new responsibilities, limited resources, and no map for guidance, because the whole concept of the Ordinariate is a new one. But things have been falling  into place one by one. And the human side of things has always been reassuring. “On the evening of the ordination at Westminster Cathedral, we were relaxing at home, and the doorbell rang—it was a local Catholic priest with a bottle of champagne and a box of chocolates for us. We were so touched. And it’s been like that all the way along—so much warmth and friendliness.”

A Glimmer of Hope

Britain is in many ways a very secularized society, with churchgoing definitely a minority occupation. But the Anglican tradition has become part of the weave of British life—its hymns, its Harvest Festivals and candlelight carol services, its presence in people’s minds for baptisms and weddings and funerals. In the last two to three decades, that presence has been steadily less and less of a reality: Most   weddings now take place at secular venues, baptizing babies is no longer the norm, and even funerals are not viewed as having to be Christian. The great hope could be that before the folk memory fades, the Ordinariate can capture the best of the old Anglican tradition and bring it alive—breathing into it fresh life and joy, the truth of the Catholic faith.

That is a large project for whathas begun as a collection of small groups—but the Ordinariate will grow. The talk is now of the “second wave,” and the practicalities are the full-time job of Msgr. Newton and his team. Support from the wider Catholic community has not been lacking and there is a sense that, at a time when the Christian scene in Europe generally seems bleak, something is stirring in Britain. Watch and pray.