Project Canterbury

The Catholic Movement in the Church of England

By Wilfred L. Knox, M.A.
Priest of the Oratory of the Good Shepherd

London: Philip Allan, [1923]

Part IV. The Church of England


From the conception of the Church advanced in the preceding chapters it is clear that the whole conception of a "national Church" is in the strict sense a contradiction in terms. The Church is one and universal. Any religious body is either a part of that one universal Church, or else it has no real right to exist for the simple reason that it does not possess the divine commission to preach the Gospel and to administer the Sacraments which Jesus gave to His disciples and they transmitted to their successors. On the other hand the course of political development by which in Western Europe the Roman Empire, was overborne by floods of barbarian invaders, resulted in the creation of the national system of governments, with which we are at present familiar. (The shadow of the Empire did indeed survive for centuries, and it was able at times to exercise a powerful influence on contemporary politics; in the end, however, it failed to assert itself as against the national system).

In the process the Church, as an ecclesiastical organisation, was of necessity brought into relation with the particular life of the various nations of Europe. In a civilisation where the acceptance of Catholic Christianity was universal, the influence of the Church on the national life was a factor which the most powerful monarchs were bound to recognise. Naturally they were primarily concerned with that part of the Church which lay within their own territories, i.e. the archbishops and bishops who ruled in things spiritual the lands which they ruled in things temporal. In its dealings with temporal rulers the local ecclesiastical organisation was bound to gain a certain solidarity, which was increased by the fact that local peculiarities in the external details of religious worship tended to spread themselves over areas roughly coinciding with the newly formed nations.

Meanwhile the predominance of the Roman See in Western Europe was undisputed. It had indeed been recognised as holding a primacy of some sort over the whole of Christendom until in 1054 the jealousy of the See of Constantinople and a somewhat ill-judged attempt to assert the superiority of Rome had led to the great Schism between the Eastern and Western parts of Christendom. This did not affect the position of Rome in Western Europe. That position was however ill-defined, and at various moments the attempts which the Papacy made to extend its authority, or to use its position as a means for gaining financial support for the schemes of Papal policy or the needs of the Papal court, excited the vigorous opposition of the local ecclesiastical authorities. In this way the national solidarity of the Church in one particular kingdom made itself felt not only as against the temporal government of the State, but also occasionally as against the Papacy. The opportunities for the exercise of this national solidarity were rendered more frequent by the fact that the Papacy, which had at one time been able to dominate not only the spiritual but also the political life of Western Europe, declined from that position, but remained an important factor in international afiairs on account of the great spiritual prestige which it enjoyed. Hence it was fairly often to be found supporting the claim of one particular monarch in a purely political quarrel, and naturally this attitude might easily bring it into opposition with the ecclesiastical authorities of the regions which supported the claims of his rival.

In this way it happened that by the time of the Reformation the Church in Western Europe, although primarily conscious of itself as one, none the less was familiar with the idea that the ecclesiastical organisation of each country possessed a certain independent character of its own, and could on occasion take independent action either against the temporal ruler of the country or against the Papacy. It is plainly impossible to consider in detail the course of events which are known as the Reformation. It is only possible to consider summarily the main factors which contributed to it as they affected the Church in England.

In the first place it is necessary to remember that the Papacy had at the beginning of the sixteenth century fallen into the utmost discredit. It claimed very wide spiritual powers, but it was ready to use them to further the political schemes of monarchs who were willing to purchase its support. For a considerable period this had resulted in the setting up of rival claimants to the See of Peter, relying for their existence on the support of the national rulers who had established them. Although the scandal of the schism was ended in 1418, the Papacy had continued to act as a temporal power seeking to extend its influence by the ordinary means of secular diplomacy while at the same time claiming the widest spiritual prerogatives. In virtue of these it asserted its rights not merely to exercise a legitimate spiritual authority in matters of religion, but also to dispose of the rights of its subjects in many matters which would now be regarded as purely temporal. Its discredit was increased by the low moral tone of the Papal court--including in some cases the Pope himself--and the corruption which prevailed in its exercise of the right of the Holy See to confer or confirm appointments to various offices in the Church. The claim of the Pope to exercise this right had led in the past to many controversies between the Holy See and the nations of Europe, particularly in the case of England; the ill-feeling was naturally increased when it was in fact exercised as a means of providing money for the upkeep of a Papal court whose morals were liable to be a scandal to the faithful.

Moreover, the Church itself had sunk to a very low level. The common practice of conferring high positions in the Church on ministers at the royal or the Papal court in return for purely secular services naturally resulted in the promotion of men who had little or no conception of their spiritual duties or responsibilities. The religious orders had decayed from their original zeal for holiness to such an extent that in the middle of the sixteenth century St. Ignatius of Loyola found great difficulty in obtaining the sanction of the Pope for his new society owing to the general discredit into which the older religious orders had fallen; it was being seriously considered at Rome whether it would not be advisable to prohibit them from accepting new members in order that they might thus die out from Christendom. Even where they had not become openly scandalous, they were often regarded as providing simply a comfortable retreat from the world. Their numbers had never recovered from the havoc wrought by the plagues of the fourteenth century, and their lack of piety was a general byword. The parish priests were sometimes men of real piety; but in many cases they openly neglected the law of the Church against the marriage of the clergy; in certain cases the Bishops connived at the contraction of irregular though more or less permanent marriages by their clergy. The morals of the laity were often of the lowest standard, as was almost inevitable in view of the character of those whose duty it was to guide them by word and good example.

The piety of the age was often of a superstitious kind. This was not unnatural since in many instances the devotion of educated Christians had been seriously affected by the introduction of the New Learning, as a result of the restoration of the knowledge of Greek to Western Europe after the fall of Constantinople in 1453. Among a considerable number of educated Christians this had produced a general disbelief in the Christian religion; its external worship was continued by men who derived their living and their importance from their ecclesiastical position, but the truths of Christianity were regarded even by some of these men as obsolete. The piety of the uneducated was largely wrapped up in devotions which could not, as they were popularly taught, stand the test of criticism in the light of the Holy Scriptures, which were now becoming more generally accessible. The general decay of morality had led in many cases to a conception of the Christian religion in which an external compliance with the rules of the Church as a means of gaining eternal salvation had replaced all idea of personal communion with Our Lord as the end of religion. Naturally where, as was often the case, the central authority of Christendom was prepared to use its right to guide the piety of the faithful simply as a means of increasing the wealth of the Papal court, belief in the value not merely of the particular works of piety which it commended for rather dubious reasons, but in all works of piety as such, began to decline. Inevitably religion declined also.

It is always a matter of some difficulty to adjust the religious teachings of an organised society to a new discovery of truth. It is always difficult for the individual when exposed to new ideas to distinguish between what is essential in his religion and what is due to his own peculiar personal outlook. The task is still harder when a new movement of thought affects not merely an individual but a whole civilisation. Thus even at the present day organised Christianity is largely affected by the Darwinian doctrines of evolution and their proof of the impossibility of retaining the old belief in the literal historical truth of the early chapters of Genesis. The general indifference to religion of the less educated classes is due in a quite considerable measure to a vague belief that the Bible has been proved to be untrue. In the same way the rediscovery of the Holy Scriptures at the Reformation and the demand that they should be interpreted historically and not in accordance with the allegorical methods which had become conventional in the later part of the mediaeval period, led to a wide revolt against the generally prevalent conception of religion. There was a general feeling that Christianity meant personal access to God in the person of Our Lord Jesus Christ and the leading of a Christ-like life.

Many parts of the old system tended rather to hinder than to help in the attainment of these ends. Works of piety, which seemed to involve the acceptance of impossible legends or incredible miracles, or which seemed intended to bolster up a corrupt ecclesiastical organisation, or again doctrinal systems which were in some points plainly contrary to the teaching of Scripture could no longer be accepted. But reform is always difficult. It would have involved disturbing the faith of the simple and loyal supporters on whom the authorities of the Church could rely, in order to conciliate men who seemed to be turbulent innovators. The reluctance of the authorities to yield to the demands of the reformers naturally led them to increase the violence of their demands, and to extend their condemnation of the existing system. Thus there seemed in the middle of the sixteenth century to be a probability that Europe would be divided between those who clung jealously to the purely mediaeval view of religion and those who demanded a reformation of the entire system of Christian teaching and worship, which would amount to an abolition of the whole Catholic system, as it had developed since the time of the Apostles. Such in the roughest outlines were the conditions in which the movement known as the Reformation was effected in Europe. It must not be supposed that there was not a great deal of solid Christian piety, which was neither ignorant nor superstitious, which favoured reform but rejected revolution. But in England it found little chance of making itself felt.


It must never be supposed that the leaders of the Protestant bodies at the Reformation aimed at establishing religious liberty. The demand that every man should be free to worship God after his own conscience only made itself felt as a result of the weariness produced by the religious wars of the seventeenth century. The object of the Reformers was to enforce on others the true religion, and to abolish the old superstitions. But the development of events showed that there was in fact little agreement among the Reformers as to what the true religion was, and what were the abuses to be destroyed. Hence the Reformation presents a bewildering chaos of movements, united in opposing the old system, but willing to persecute one another the moment they were free from the common enemy. Fortunately we need not consider them in detail, since they did not succeed in gaining any permanent footing in the English Church.

The main importance of all these systems was their negation of the whole sacramental view of Catholicism. They had begun by questioning the more doubtful points of Catholic sacramentalism. Thus devotion to the relics of the Saints was excessive in its character, while the actual relics were in many cases of more than doubtful genuineness: from questioning these the Reformers had gone on to question the whole system of offering prayers to the Saints at all. In the same way they had begun by questioning the rather unscrupulous demands made for the offering of alms by the faithful for the repose of the souls of departed friends. These alms would often take the form of paying a fee to a priest to offer the sacrifice of the mass for some particular friend departed from this life; since the priest was expected to live in many cases by the offerings of the faithful it was not unreasonable that an offering should be made to him on the occasion when he said Mass for the benefit of the soul of a departed person by that person's surviving relatives. None the less the practice had led to a general prevalence of extortion. The dying might be terrified by lurid descriptions of the sufferings of souls in purgatory into leaving sums to the clergy for the saying of Masses for their souls after they were dead and the survivors might be exposed to similar extortions. Other pious works might be urged on the faithful for the object of obtaining forgiveness for their own sins or the sins of those dear to them; and those pious works might often be commuted into the payment of money to the clergy or to the upkeep of the Papacy.

Unfortunately these abuses led to a general denial of the value of the Eucharist as a sacrifice in which the one sacrifice of Jesus on the Cross is pleaded for the particular needs of the individual Christian, and also to a denial of the belief that the prayers of the faithful can be of any benefit to the souls of the departed. Again the doctrine that the Eucharistic elements after consecration become in their essential nature the Body and Blood of Christ, though retaining the external characteristics of bread and wine, had been distorted in a good deal of popular teaching into a crudely material and superstitious belief, as though a miracle were wrought by the priest himself on the natural plane of existence. Once again the demand for reform passed into a rejection of the whole doctrine of the presence of Jesus in the Eucharist.

Again, the tendency to suppose that the mere confession of sins to a priest and the receiving of absolution conveyed forgiveness of sins without regard to the disposition of the penitent led to a general denial of the authority of the priesthood to forgive sins in the name of Our Lord. The fact that the clergy had fallen into low esteem on account of their failure to live up to the high standard demanded by their vocation, and the exaggerated claims to supernatural power made by a certain amount of popular teaching led to a denial that they possessed any divine commission at all; they were represented as being simply the delegates of the congregation, appointed to lead them in public worship. Since for the most part the episcopate showed no disposition to side with the reformers, so that it would in any case have been impossible for them to transmit a valid succession of orders to the communities which they founded, the discovery was not inconvenient. The fact on the other hand that the clergy had neglected preaching, led to a grotesque exaggeration of this part of the sacerdotal office; the minister delegated by the congregation also became the orator who supplied the congregation with the main element of its spiritual food.

Naturally in these and other changes the Reformers appealed to the Scriptures. The study of Scripture had been neglected by the mediaeval Church; it was natural that the Reformers should exaggerate, not the importance of the Scriptures, for that is impossible, but the authority of the letter of the Scriptures. Naturally the refusal of the ecclesiastical authorities to accept their demands led the reformers to seek for a new authority which might be claimed in their favour; they found it in the Scriptures. In practice indeed the authority of Scripture meant the right of the individual reformer to put what interpretation he saw fit, on whatever passage he chose to select, and to use it as the authority of scripture. They were thus able to reject the whole system of ecclesiastical authority as it had developed since the days of the Apostles. The new authority was accepted with more readiness on account of the obvious corruptions and abuses in which the old system was involved; it provided a ready means of escape from a hierarchy which needed reforming from top to bottom, and it seemed that an ecclesiastical order founded on the Scriptures could never be exposed to the danger of falling into the worldliness and corruption which had invaded the old.

The demand for reform was strongest in Switzerland and Germany. The Reformers, however, were not content to deny particular doctrines or to demand remedies for isolated abuses. The Continental leaders put forward completely new doctrinal interpretations of the Christian religion. But the systems of the reformers rapidly showed that the attempt to base Christian doctrine on the Scriptures alone could only end hi the production of a number of rival systems, each ready to persecute its rivals. None the less the various systems of the age possessed in common a firm insistence on the truth that the essence of Christianity is the personal communion of the human soul with Our Lord Jesus Christ as the revealer of God and the redeemer of man. Their insistence on this vital truth was, however, marred by the fact that it was bound up with entirely new doctrines, based for the most part on over-emphasis or misunderstanding of certain elements of the teaching of St. Paul. For instance Luther sought by a quite arbitrary process of interpretation to identify St. Paul's condemnation of the Jewish Law as a system of mere external rules with a denial of the value of all works of piety and acts of devotion as such. He saw rightly that such works have no value if they we performed as a mere compliance with rules and left without any relation to faith in Our Lord; but he overlooked the fact that they possess the utmost value not merely as an expression of that faith, but also as a means for training and developing it. He proceeded to urge that faith alone makes man righteous; he who has faith is acceptable to God through the merits of the death of Christ and is made righteous by it; he who has not faith is not and cannot become righteous. This was indeed a perfectly accurate interpretation of much of St. Paul's teaching; for St. Paul, having at his conversion experienced a sudden sense of deliverance from the burden of sin which oppressed him in the days when he sought to obtain righteousness by the observance of the rules of Judaism, often argues as though the mere fact of conversion inevitably confers on the Christian a righteousness in virtue of which he becomes henceforward incapable of sin.

Similarly Calvin, on the strength of passages in which St. Paul endeavours to grapple with the undoubted difficulties involved in combining a belief in divine omnipotence with the freedom of the human will, arrived at the monstrous belief that in fact the righteousness of man is entirely independent of any consent of man. The righteous are those whom God has foreordained to salvation and delivered from the guilt of original sin, in which all men are born, by a free act of divine mercy. To these men he gives grace to live righteously; the remainder are reprobate, and created with no purpose but to increase the glory of God by suffering eternal punishment. The righteous enjoy that personal communion with God which Jesus died to secure for them; it is bestowed on them by a divine gift of conversion. Those to whom that gift is not given can do nothing to avoid that damnation which all have deserved. The defence of the system is that it is entirely logical and coherent, and that it is in fact a perfectly legitimate interpretation of certain elements of Pauline teaching.

In this latter system, which had most effect on English religion, and which prevailed in Scotland, the Sacraments naturally play little part. They^-are indeed means by which God conveys grace to the soul, so far as Baptism and the Eucharist are concerned--for these alone are regarded as Sacraments, the others not having been instituted by Our Lord Himself in their actual form--but only for the elect who are predestined to eternal life. In others they have no effect. The Catholic tradition of worship, and the accessories of worship, which by their beauty express and enhance the devotion of the faithful, are rejected as superstitious. In so far as any formal public worship is retained--for it is to a large extent replaced by extempore prayer and preaching--nothing is allowed which might assist the soul to raise itself to God, for fear lest such external things should in fact end by diverting it to themselves. Naturally such a view found much acceptance in an age when the externals of religion had in fact been allowed to a considerable extent to obscure its real purpose.

Before considering the historical development of the Reformation in England, it is necessary to notice certain points attacked by the Reformers in the traditional practice of Catholicism, in respect of which it is not easy to decide how far the right lay on the side of tradition or on the side of the Reformers. The importance of these points lies in the fact that they are still to some extent a matter of dispute among those who are prepared to accept the main outlines of the Catholic tradition.

In the first place the failure of the clergy to live up to the standard of celibacy led to a demand for the toleration and recognition of clerical matrimony. It is somewhat remarkable that the reformers who appealed to the authority of Scripture should have had the hardihood to deny that the celibate life is by both Our Lord and St. Paul regarded as the ideal state: but it must be recognised that in this respect they could at the moment claim with some show of justification that the attempt to enforce celibacy had often failed in practice, since a certain number of the clergy practically lived in the married state, while others would have given less scandal to the faithful if they had substituted a permanent, though officially unlawful, union for their numerous irregularities. Here it may be added that the Reformers in denying the value of celibacy went on to deny the whole conception of the religious life, devoted to prayer and the service of God. The religious orders had indeed in many cases fallen from their high estate; the life of a religious society was often devoted to selfishness, not to prayer and Christian charity or the pursuit of Christian learning. Hence the Reformers invariably sought to sweep away the institutions which embodied the Christian ideal, and at the same time lost sight of the ideal standard of Christian poverty and devotion to prayer and good works, which it had been the duty of the religious orders to embody in a concrete form. The result was a general tendency to acquiesce in a moderate standard of Christian piety and respectability in the place of the ideals of the Gospels. None the less it must be admitted that at the moment the abolition of the compulsory celibacy of the clergy could claim some justification as a means of avoiding graver evils.

The demand for the reform of public worship inevitably raised a demand for the use of the vernacular language in the services of the Church. The history of the practice by which the Latin language came to be the universal language of public worship is curious. In Western Europe Latin was in the days of the greatness of the Roman Empire the universal language; England was before the Saxon invasions a Latin-speaking country; the native tongue survived, but the forces of civilisation were tending to destroy it. Throughout the period which intervened between the Saxon invasions and the Norman conquest it was inevitable that the Church should look upon Latin as the language of Christian civilisation, while the native tongues of the barbarians who overran the West of Europe were the languages of idolatry. As the invaders developed into civilisation they found in Latin a language which could be used for the purposes of commerce and public life far more readily than their own ill-developed dialects; Latin became the language of written intercourse, while other tongues retained their place in common speech. In England in particular as the result of the Conquest Latin was the common language as against the Norman French of the invaders and the Saxon English of the conquered. The extent to which a knowledge of Latin of a rudimentary kind was diffused is shown by the fact that it was normally used by the bailiff of a quite small estate as the language in which his accounts were kept. It was only towards the end of the fourteenth century that English became under the influence of Chaucer and Wyclif a literary language common to all classes of society. From this time onwards the general knowledge of Latin began to decline. Hence it was natural that a demand for a vernacular liturgy should arise. But it has since been found that in fact the use of Latin for liturgical worship was by no means indefensible. For the Catholic, prayer does not primarily consist in a literal following of certain forms of words recited by the minister, but in the lifting up of the soul to God; and experience has shown that the use of a hieratic language will in the case of many people excite a sense of awe and reverence which is a positive assistance to prayer, while the enforced verbal attention to a vernacular liturgy may have the opposite effect. On the other hand ability to follow the exact words of the liturgy is to many a great assistance to worship. It must be recognised that in this respect the reformers could plead a considerable element of reason in their demands, the more so since the faithful who desired to follow the exact words of the Liturgy could not at the time procure books which would enable them to do so.

Owing to the difficulty of giving Holy Communion to the faithful from the chalice without considerable danger of irreverence, it became the practice in the Western Church to give the Holy Sacrament in one kind only to all communicants, the celebrant only receiving communion in both kinds. The defence of this practice lies in the fact that it does undoubtedly make for convenience and reverence in the giving of communion to the faithful. The objection to it lies in the fact that Our Lord at the Last Supper gave the Holy Sacrament in both kinds to His disciples. The Reformers naturally insisted on a return to the giving of communion in both kinds, which had of course been for centuries the practice of Christendom.

The importance of these points lies in the fact that they are matters in regard to which there is at present considerable difference of opinion. English Catholics for the most part tend on the last two points to adhere to the practice of the Reformers, though there is a certain reason to doubt whether they will continue to do so permanently. The consideration of this point belongs however to a later chapter.

NOTE.--I am aware that the statements advanced above as to the extent of the failure to observe the rule of the celibacy of the clergy in the period immediately preceding the Reformation will be criticised as untrue to the facts. For the subject is one on which there has grown up a controversial mythology similar to that which surrounds the figure of St. Peter. Catholic controversialists have endeavoured to minimise the extent to which the rule was neglected in practice, while Protestants have (in the case of controversialists of the lower class) delighted in emphasising and exaggerating the scandals which lid undoubtedly occur from time to time. Consequently it is very difficult to arrive at a just estimate. Both arguments are really irrelevant. The question is not one which can be argued from the failure or success of the rule in some past period. The most that could be proved from a long list of scandals would be that the Church imposed her rule in the matter prematurely: for modern experience proves that a celibate priesthood is perfectly practicable without scandals. Thus the whole question of the extent to which the rule was observed or neglected is really negligible; it could only prove that in an age of a deplorably low moral tone the rule was widely neglected. In the same way the fact that we meet with failures in the earlier periods of the history of the Church proves nothing; at most it proves that the rule of the Church represented an ideal to which the priesthood has only succeeded in corresponding in the course of centuries. The question of whether the rule is in itself a good one or not is quite separate. That the unmarried state is preferred by the teaching of the New Testament could hardly have been doubted, if it had not been distorted by the Reformers for controversial ends; and since experience proves that the rule is practicable, it becomes difficult to see how it can be denied that the imposition of on the clergy is entirely justified.


In England the Reformation took a peculiar course. Protestant ideas imported from the Continent found a certain acceptance in England in the early years of Henry VIII on account of the generally prevalent corruption in the Church. But they made no considerable progress until Henry found the Pope unwilling to concede his demand for a divorce from his first wife Katharine of Aragon. The right to grant the divorce lay with the Pope as the siipreme authority in spiritual matters; and though Henry's demand was entirely unjustified, it was one which the Pope would not have hesitated to grant, but for the fact that he was more afraid at the moment of Henry's father-in-law than he was of Henry himself. Henry proceeded to repudiate the claim of the Pope to be head of the Church. Instead he claimed for himself the headship of the Church in England. The claim was not so monstrous as it sounds, since in fact monarchs had often in fact exercised a very wide measure of authority over ecclesiastical matters by appointing their own nominees to the highest ecclesiastical offices and guiding the deliberations both of local synods of the Bishops of their realms and Councils representing all the Bishops of the Church. It must be remembered that for a considerable period the Pope himself had lived at Avignon where he was practically subject to the dictation of the King of France. In fact Henry's action amounted to a denial of the necessity of any visible head of the Church on earth and claimed for the temporal ruler the right to decide on the appointment of the Bishops and higher ecclesiastical officers of the Church, and to regulate through them the details of ecclesiastical practice so far as his own realm was concerned. Henry insisted on the retention of the old doctrinal system of Catholicism, though indirectly he did much to undermine it by conniving at the introduction of foreign adherents of the new teachings of the Reformers in order to embarrass the Bishops when they showed signs of resenting his claim to supremacy. The first step which he definitely took towards the general overthrow of the old system of religion was the dissolution of the monasteries. His excuse for doing so was the alleged scandal caused by the dissolute lives of the religious houses. The evidence against them was very largely invented by his agents; at this date it is almost impossible to say how far the scandals were based on any element of truth, though there is little doubt that the monastic system had at the time fallen very far from the monastic ideal. It seems, however, that although often worldly and confortable the members of the great orders were not as a rule positively vicious. Many no doubt were men of very high sanctity. The wealth of the monastic houses largely went to the king's ministers and the nobility which had grown up at the Tudor court in the place of the old aristocracy that had perished in the Wars of the Roses; only a small part went to the Crown. The effect of this was far-reaching; from this moment there was an influential party which was pledged to resist any reconciliation between England and the Holy See for fear that it might be asked to restore its ill-gotten spoils.

It was this party which controlled the court of Edward VI after the death of Henry. It proceeded through the agency of Crammer, the Archbishop of Canterbury, to introduce an English Liturgy. Cranmer in the first instance put forward in 1549 a Prayer-book closely modelled on the old Liturgy with the omission of a large number of Saints' Days and the introduction of a certain number of verbose exhortations to the faithful modelled on those beloved by Continental Protestants. Meanwhile affairs in Europe were tending against the Reformers, and a number of them fled to England for fear of persecution. They exercised a strong influence on the court and the Archbishop in favour of a more thorough Reformation. The result was that in 1552 a new book was issued, which marks the extreme point ever reached by the English Church in the direction of the adoption of Protestantism. In particular it omitted the words "The Body (or Blood) of Our Lord Jesus Christ which was given for thee, preserve thy body and soul unto everlasting life," substituting for them the words which now form the second half of the words of administration of the Holy Communion in the Book of Common Prayer; the words by themselves seem deliberately to inculcate the view that the Eucharist is simply a memorial of the Passion of Our Lord, and to deny that the Eucharistic elements are in any sense the Body and Blood of Christ. The book in fact was scarcely ever in use, for Edward was succeeded by his sister Mary almost at the moment when the enforcement began.

The general public, which was heartily opposed to the innovations of the court in matters of doctrine and worship, hailed her accession with delight. Unfortunately Mary by her Spanish marriage alienated the affection of the nation. Her attempts to put down the growth of Protestantism by persecution were in fact no more barbarous than those of Henry VIII; but they came into conflict with a growing sense of humanity, which had not hitherto been felt. The new doctrines were so widely accepted that her attempts to extirpate them had to be conducted on a scale which shocked public opinion; moreover it was generally supposed that they were due to Spanish influence, and they were therefore resented by national patriotism. In addition to this her attempts to revive the religious houses naturally excited the apprehensions of those who had enriched themselves at the expense of the religious orders under her father; there was general uneasiness among the wealthy classes as to the prospect of a demand for general restitution.

Thus at Mary's death Catholicism was no longer generally popular, as it had been at her accession. Elizabeth was at heart a Catholic; but her religion was not likely to lead her to risk losing the Crown. At her accession she attempted to establish a compromise between the old system which Mary had restored and the Protestantism of the reign of EdwTard VI. Her first attempts failed owing to the refusal of the Catholic Bishops of Mary's appointment to accept a modified form of the royal supremacy which several of them had accepted under her father. She proceeded to deprive them of their offices and to substitute new Bishops consecrated by the form contained in the Prayerbooks of Edward VI. The consecration was performed by the few Bishops who were prepared to accept the new settlement, the actual con-secrator being a certain Barlow, who had been Bishop of Bath and Wells under Henry VIII and Edward, had acted as an assistant Bishop on several occasions in the reign of Mary--for he seems to have been willing to comply with any system of religion, a fact which did not enable him to retain his diocese in Mary's reign, but saved him from the fate of the more conscientious reformers--and became under Elizabeth, Bishop of Chichester. The effect of the refusal of the Marian Bishops to support Elizabeth was to force her to rely far more than she would herself have been inclined to do on the clergy who definitely adhered to the Protestantism of the Continent, particularly to the doctrines of Calvin. Her object was to gain so far as possible the consent of the whole nation for her settlement of religion. With this end in view she adopted the Prayerbook issued in 1552, but inserted a few changes which seemed slight in themselves, but in fact altered its whole doctrinal balance. As a specimen it may be noted that she restored to the words of administration of Holy Communion the phrase, "The Body (or Blood) of Our Lord Jesus Christ which was given (or shed) for thee, preserve thy body and soul unto everlasting life," thus restoring by implication the belief that the Eucharistic elements become at Consecration the Body and Blood of Our Lord. Officially the old Catholic vestments were to be used at Mass.

Although the new order in religious matters seemed in externals still to favour the Protestants, it none the less retained just those points which Protestants resented, as implying the retention of those doctrines which they particularly disliked. In point of fact very few of the parochial clergy followed the example of the Marian Bishops in refusing to accept the new order. The recognition of the royal supremacy which Elizabeth demanded was very much modified from that exacted by her father--it was confined to supremacy in things temporal "so far as the Law of Christ doth allow." For a period of ten years it remained uncertain whether she would not marry a Catholic Prince and succeed in gaining Papal recognition both for the religious settlement which she had established, and also--a point which she regarded as of far more importance--for the legitimacy of her claim to the English Crown. It must be remembered that as the daughter of Anne Boleyn, she was not unjustifiably regarded at Rome as an illegitimate daughter of Henry VIII, whose divorce from Katharine of Aragon was not recognised by the Church. In the confused ideas of the time the Pope claimed not merely the right to decide in matters of divorce, but also to award the crown of any country to the claimant whom he judged to be legitimate. At the end of ten years of tortuous negotiations carried on by agents whom either side was free to disown at any moment, Pope Pius V issued a Bull in which he not only pronounced Elizabeth to be a heretic and the supporter of heretics, but also declared her to be illegitimate, deprived her of the Crown of England, and excommunicated all who supported her. He claimed to do so in virtue of the divine right of the Papacy to establish and depose temporal monarchs. It is necessary to remember that this action, with its definite assertion of rights which the Papacy has long since abandoned as untenable, constitutes the formal separation between the English Church and the rest of Western Christendom. Naturally the effect was to weaken Elizabeth in her attempt to enforce the more Catholic interpretation of the Prayer-book, which she herself favoured.

None the less she and the more orthodox English theologians never wavered in their claim that the whole intention and result of the settlement introduced at her accession was not to establish a new religion based on Continental models, but to retain the old Catholic faith apart from certain mediaeval superstitions and the corruptions which had grown out of the extension of Papal authority. In attempting to estimate the justice of this claim it is necessary to remember that the spheres of temporal and ecclesiastical authority were very ill-defined. It has already been noted that the formal breach between the English Church and Rome is based in the Bull of Pius V on the right of the Pope to depose heretical monarchs. Similarly the action of Elizabeth in deposing the Marian Bishops might seem an intolerable interference on the part of the temporal power with the rights of the Church; but it must be remembered that such actions on the part of Catholic sovereigns were by no means unheard of at the time. William the Conqueror had in 1070 made extensive alterations in the English Episcopate simply in order to substitute a Norman for a Saxon hierarchy; he had also nominated Normans at his pleasure to fill up vacancies in the episcopate as they occurred.

Thus the claim of English Catholics that they are part of the one Catholic Church is not one which can be settled by the mere comparison of the action of Elizabeth with modern conceptions as to the proper relation of the temporal and spiritual powers. The sphere of both authorities was ill-defined, and both were continually endeavouring to encroach on the jurisdiction of the other. The claims of Elizabeth were as indefensible as those of the Pope; they were not more so. Similarly it is not possible to decide the question whether the Elizabethan settlement was in fact a purification of religion from superstition or the establishment of a new one by a comparison of the modern Roman system with the Protestant interpretation of the teaching of the Prayer-book which has often been widely current in this country. For the Roman system has been reformed since the accession of Elizabeth to meet the abuses which did in fact clamour for redress. The Elizabethan claim was put forward to meet a need which the action of the Roman Church in the last three centuries has by implication admitted. The question at issue is whether the reforms of Elizabeth formally committed the Church of England to the introduction of new doctrines or the rejection of any part of the faith of the Catholic Church, and whether her action in introducing those reforms through the local episcopate of England can be regarded as a deliberate act of secession from the Catholic Church.


In the long controversy between Anglicans and Roman Catholics which has continued from the Reformation to the present day, numerous reasons have been alleged against the claim of the former that they are in fact within the one Holy Catholic Church. Anglicans have always been handicapped by the fact that they make no claim to be to the exclusion of all other religious bodies the one true Church. Any Anglican view is bound to admit that the Church is externally divided, and that the Church of England is only one part or branch of the whole Church. Anglicans are bound to deplore the fact of the external division; but they have never claimed that all other bodies are outside the Church.

Against this claim Romans have the advantage of a clear-cut logical system Unity consists in being in visible communion with the Roman Bishop as the successor of St. Peter to whom Our Lord gave a primacy over the rest of the Twelve Apostles. They are thus able to point to a visible centre of Christian unity; and at the same time the modern developments of Papal authority make it easy to supply an apparently authoritative answer to any question of controversy that may be raised at any given movement. This power of giving a clear and authoritative answer on any given point has a strong appeal in an age when many questions of Christian doctrine and Christian morality are being questioned. As against this the Church of England has never claimed the right to speak with final authority on any point of controversy. At most her Bishops can express an opinion which may possess the authority due to the fact that it is the opinion of a large number of Christian Bishops; it cannot claim to be the voice of the whole Church. Her ability to do as much as this is lessened by the fact that she has ever since the days of Elizabeth included a large party which definitely looks on the Reformation as a rediscovery of primitive truth overlaid by the radically false development of the Catholic tradition. Although this element has in fact little or nothing in common with the almost forgotten doctri n:," systems of the great Protestant Reformers, it clings to their claim that the Bible alone is the final arbiter of truth in matters of faith, and rejects a large part of the sacramental system of Catholicism. During the past century the English Church has also been largely influenced by the tendency to abandon the fundamental doctrines of Christianity which has followed from the abandonment of the belief in the literal truth of every sentence of the Scriptures. There has thus grown up a considerable school of thought which sees in Our Lord no more than a man of a peculiar and unique insight into divine truth, but not in any sense God. Since this school of thought has mainly been recruited from the Protestant party within the English Church, it lays little emphasis on the sacramental system. The presence of these rival parties in the English Church naturally renders it a difficult matter for the Anglican episcopate to express a corporate opinion on any matter with any degree of clearness or authority.

On the other hand these drawbacks only show that in fact the existing state of affairs is very far from perfect, a fact which any English Catholic is bound to recognise; they do not disprove the Anglican claim that the English Church is part of the one true Church. The decision of that claim depends finally on the question whether unity depends on being in visible communion with the Holy See. If that is necessary, all Anglican claims fall to the ground. If it is not, it remains to ask whether the proceedings of Elizabeth and her Bishops at the time of the Reformation were such as to constitute a formal act of secession from the Catholic Church or to involve them in formal heresy, or whether the attempt to carry on a Catholic hierarchy failed through some technical defect in the consecration of the Elizabethan Bishops.

In regard to the first point we have seen that the claim that Catholic unity depends on visible communion with the See of Peter involves the somewhat difficult assumption that the Eastern Church has since the year 1054 been outside the fold of the one true Church. In view of the fact that that Church has preserved the Catholic life and the Catholic religion intact for so many centuries in the face of almost continual persecution, it is difficult not to regard the claim with some suspicion. We have seen further that there is in fact a fatal objection to the claim to make visible communion with the Holy See in all cases the one test of Catholic unity. For the centre of Catholic unity has itself been divided during the period of the Schism in the West, when two rival claimants to the See of Peter, the rival Popes of Rome and Avignon, each claimed to be the one true successor of St. Peter and excommunicated all who supported the claims of their opponent. Thus it has to be admitted that there was a period of some forty years when it was impossible to solve the question of unity with the Catholic Church by the test of unity with the Holy See; for there were two Holy Sees not in communion with one another. Thus our suspicions of a theory of Christian unity which excludes the Eastern Church from the Body of Christ are amply confirmed. It remains to consider whether the Elizabethan settlement by itself constituted an act of schism or a definite adherence to heresy.

In regard to the first point it is necessary to observe that the English Reformers in fact always maintained the opposite. They never formally separated themselves from Catholic unity. They merely claimed the right to repudiate the jurisdiction of the Papacy and to reform the religious system in this country from certain superstitious accretions. Their rejection of all Papal jurisdiction may seem at first sight rather like a deliberate act of secession from the Church; for the jurisdiction of the Pope was generally admitted in Western Europe. But against this it must be pointed out that the Papal claims were vitiated by the exaggerated form in which they were habitually put forward. The Papacy did not merely claim jurisdiction in spiritual matters; it did not even end with the exaggerated claims of the mediaeval Papacy in regard to the right of appointing Papal nominees to ecclesiastical positions in England. It covered a far wider region, since it was extended to include the right to decide as to the succession to the English Crown in spite of the fact that Elizabeth had been accepted by the nation without opposition; it must be remembered that the decision of the Papacy was influenced by the fact that the English nation refused to be bound by the claim that the newly discovered countries of the West belonged to Spain in virtue of a Papal gift. Thus it follows that if the Elizabethan settlement went too far in its entire rejection of Papal jurisdiction, it was driven to do so by the equally exaggerated claims put forward by the Papacy in matters in which, as would now be admitted, the Holy See had not the smallest right to interfere. When it is remembered that the formal act which marks the rupture of negotiations between the English Church and the Papacy is a Bull which claims for the Pope the right to depose Elizabeth, it is difficult to avoid the conclusion that the action of the Holy See was vitiated by its attempt to enforce an authority which it had no right to exercise.

In regard to the doctrinal settlement of the Elizabethan period, it must be admitted at once that on the surface their statements, as embodied in the documents of the period, bear a strongly heretical appearance. They were intended to do so, in order that they might conciliate the strongly Protestant feeling of that part of the nation on which Elizabeth was forced to rely at the time of her accession. But on closer examination it has always been found that they are so worded as to be capable of several interpretations, a loophole being left which renders it impossible to bind them down to a formal acceptance of the new doctrines of the Reformers or a formal denial of Catholic teaching. The nearest approach to such a rejection of Catholic doctrine is the condemnation of Transubstantiation; but here we are dealing with a doctrine only formally laid down after the Schism between the East and the West, and it is abundantly clear from the records of the time that the Elizabethan settlement was not intended to repudiate the universal belief of Catholics in the presence of Our Lord in the Eucharistic elements, but only a doctrine which was at the time liable to be interpreted in a misleading and superstitious manner. For the rest of the doctrinal statements of the Elizabethan settlement, it has been repeatedly shown that they cannot be proved to commit the English Church to formal heresy, and in many cases that the natural interpretation is the Catholic one. In several cases the habitual Protestant interpretation of them can be shown not to be that originally intended by the Reformers, and to be possible only in virtue of a strained and unnatural construction of the words. The whole matter has been investigated in many books dealing with the subject, notably in the famous "Tract XC"; for a fuller discussion of the point the reader is referred to these works.

Similarly it has been repeatedly shown that the doubts thrown by Roman theologians on the validity of the steps taken at the accession of Elizabeth to secure the transmission to her newly nominated Bishops of the authority given by Our Lord to His disciples are ungrounded. The main objection to the whole Roman attack on Anglican Orders is that it has continually shifted its ground. In the first instance it was supposed that they were invalidated by the omission of a particular ceremony of the Roman rite, the handing to the newly ordained Priest of a chalice and paten, accompanied by words conveying to him authority to offer sacrifice for the living and the dead. Later investigations have, however, shown that this ceremony was unknown in the Catholic Church until the tenth century A. D. Subsequently it has been urged that Barlow, through whom the old orders were transmitted to Parker, the Elizabethan Archbishop of Canterbury, was never consecrated at the time of his appointment to the see of St. David's by Henry VIII, or that Parker himself was never formally consecrated by the English rite for the consecration of Bishops. In spite of a recent attempt to revive the former of these two fables, neither need be seriously considered. The condemnation of Anglican orders by Pope Leo XIII rests on the theory that it is necessary that any form of consecration or ordination should express the intention of conferring the power to offer the Eucharistic sacrifice, or at least that this intention should be made clear in the form of prayers used in conferring Holy Orders; but any such claim involves the invalidity of orders recognised as valid even by the Roman Church. For fuller information on this point the reader must again refer to special treatises. It is sufficient to say that the Elizabethan documents clearly announce their intention of preserving the old orders of Bishops, Priests and Deacons, and that there is no tenable ground for denying the adequacy of the Anglican Ordinal as a means for doing so.

Thus it is claimed by English Catholics that there is no reasonable ground for denying the claim that the Church of England is in fact within the unity of the Catholic Church. Hitherto however we have been considering the purely formal grounds on which for the most part the discussion of the matter has turned in the past. It is doubtful in fact whether anything is gained by a discussion which concerns itself purely with this aspect of the question. All such discussions tend to foster the view that the Catholic religion is a matter of complying with formal conditions and obeying external rules. It is of course nothing of the kind. The Catholic religion is a life, and its rules are merely means for securing to the believer the means of enjoying that life; for that life is a gift from God, and it can normally only be received by the means that God has appointed. The function of the Church is to provide the faithful with the means of living the Catholic life. Where in fact a religious society does provide them, and has that divine authority without which it is incapable of providing them, there is the Holy Catholic Church, except in so far as the society in question has deliberately separated itself from unity with the rest of the Church and has thus cut itself off from all right to convey to its members the divine life which Our Lord bestows upon the members of His Body. Where in fact we find that divine life manifesting itself, and where the claims of the society in which it is manifested are not demonstrably untenable by all Catholic principles, it is cnly reasonable that we should conclude that the fact of the power to produce the Catholic life is a sufficient reason for accepting the claims of the society which produces it to be within the one true Church.

As an incidental confirmation of this argument, we may notice that the reason why English Catholics who have seceded from the Anglican communion in the past have been led to take this step has normally been despair of the power of the English Church to produce the Catholic life. This was the reason for the secession of Archdeacon Manning, later Cardinal Archbishop of Westminster. They have mistaken local defeats for a general repudiation of Catholicism by the English Church. The mistake was often natural in the circumstances of the time; in the succeeding chapters we shall trace the oourse of events which shows them to have been in fact mistaken.


During the reign of Elizabeth the higher positions in the Church were largely occupied by men who had been refugees on the Continent in the reign of Mary. They had been influenced by the Protestantism of Calvin, and many of them were anxious to complete the work of the Reformation by a complete introduction of the Calvinist system. The ecclesiastical history of the time is mainly concerned with the vigorous attempts of Elizabeth to insist on the maintenance of a minimum standard of Catholic practice and teaching against the attempt of a number of Bishops, supported by some of the leading courtiers and a small, but noisy, section of the general public, to introduce the continental Protestantism generally described in English history as Puritanism. In the seventeenth century, however, the position was altered. The weight of learning and devotion in the English Church was on the side of those who held to the definitely Catholic view of religion, believing in the divine authority of the Church of England in virtue of its claim to be part of the one true Church, and maintaining the Catholic doctrine of the Eucharistic sacrifice and the Eucharistic Presence, and recommending the use of the Sacrament of penance.

Although in many points this movement was strongly opposed to the claims of the Holy See, it was in fact very largely influenced by the great revival of Catholicism on the Continent in the latter part of the sixteenth and the early part of the seventeenth century. For the tide of Protestantism, which had at one moment seemed destined to sweep over the whole Continent of Europe, was suddenly checked. In 1550 it might have been supposed that the Catholic religion depended for existence on the armed forces of a few Catholic monarchs, whose zeal for the faith depended on political motives rather than on any genuine zeal for religion. By 1600 an amazing outburst of Catholic piety and Catholic learning had entirely altered the position. It does not fall within the scope of this book to trace the history of the movement, sometimes described as the Counter-reformation, but more properly to be regarded as the application by the Catholic Church to itself of the remedies demanded by the first reformers for the abuses which had crept into the Church during the preceding centuries, and the adjustment of the mediaeval view of religion to the outlook of the new age.

The reform of many of the worst practical abuses was carried out by the Council of Trent; the preaching of the Gospel as the essence of all true religion was substituted for the old acquiescence in a formal system of works of piety with no real foundation of Christian faith and Christian devotion; and with the recklessness which has always marked the Catholic religion in times of renewed zeal, missionaries had been sent out from Europe where the Catholic Church seemed hardly able to defend herself from her enemies to fight the powers of darkness in the recently discovered lands of the East. Thus although there was little change in the external forms of religion there had in fact been a complete transformation of spirit in the Catholicism of Europe. The change did not make itself universally felt at once, for it was very largely the work of men who during their lives influenced for the most part only those circles with which they were in personal contact. The extent of the change may be estimated by a consideration of particular details. The mediaeval conception of religion laid great emphasis on the value of the offering of the sacrifice of the Mass by the Priest, but the laity communicated only on a very few occasions during the year, usually only at Easter. External works of piety were highly esteemed, but meditation and the higher forms of mental prayer were scarcely practised at all. Devotions to the Saints, particularly to local shrines and local relics occupied a large place in popular religion and devotion to the person of Our Lord tended to take almost a secondary place, The ecclesiastical hierarchy from the Pope downwards seemed to be occupied in secular matters, and to care little or nothing for the maintenance of religion. (It must of course be remembered that this is only a very general account of the defects of religion at the close of the mediaeval period, when the piety and devotion which had marked the religion of the thirteenth century had passed away).

In the seventeenth century Catholicism has been transformed. Frequent communion is commended to the faithful as a means of achieving that personal union with Our Lord which it is the purpose of the Sacrament to bestow upon the Christian. The religious life of the monastic orders is being renewed by the teaching of mental prayer by the great contemplative writers of the time, whose works are still the classical authorities in this branch of Catholic devotion. The secular clergy are being raised to a higher conception of their duties, in particular by emphasis on their duty to offer the holy sacrifice frequently as the great means for growing in grace and preserving them from forgetfulness of their vocation. The value of external works of piety is being recognised as dependent on the devotion of those who perform them, or on their power to produce such devotion where it does not already exist. The honour and reverence due to the Saints is being purified from the more superstitious beliefs and practices which were tolerated by the ignorance of the earlier times, but could only be an offence when the spread of learning had shown their inconsistency with the true conception of the Christian faith. Naturally it is not to be supposed that the old abuses were swept away at once. But a new life had suddenly manifested itself in the Church just when it seemed at the point of death, and Catholicism had not merely checked the spread of Protestantism but had actually recovered much of the ground that had been lost.

The same spirit animated the great English theologians of the seventeenth century. Decency and order were restored to the worship of the Church, the Sacraments were administered with considerable frequency, and public worship recovered from the general neglect into which it had fallen under the Elizabethan Bishops. There was a wide recovery of the practice of prayer and the use of sacramental confession. The movement was indeed hampered by the fact that there was a strong body of Protestant opinion within the Church of England, which still longed for a thorough reformation on the Continental model. For the moment indeed this party seemed to triumph, when the military genius of Cromwell overthrew the King, who had himself been a faithful supporter of the Catholicising movement. But a brief experience of Puritan domination was enough to disgust the nation; and at the Restoration the Catholic cause was stronger than ever.

It continued to flourish until the end of the reign of Anne, in spite of the fact that many of its ablest and holiest men had refused to take the oath of allegiance to William III, and had seceded from the Church of England rather than do so. During the reigns of the four Georges, however, it declined in importance. The reasons of this decline of the Catholic tradition are in the main two. In the first place the Catholic element in the Church of England was suspected of favouring the attempt to restore the Stuart dynasty to the throne, and "High Churchmen," as they were usually called, even apart from those who seceded rather than accept the oath of allegiance to William III., were in general excluded from the higher positions in the Church. In the second place there was a general decay of faith among the more educated classes in Western Europe. The growth of scientific knowledge had created a general disbelief in the claims of revealed religion, and even those who were supposed to be its accredited teachers had little faith in the truths they were expected to defend. Once again it must be remembered that the decay of faith in Christianity was not peculiar to England; it was equally noticeable in the educated classes of France, where the higher clergy at the beginning of the French Revolution were scarcely better than the prelates of England, The external organization of the Church was as powerful as ever; but among those in high places there was little faith and less devotion. There was a great deal of genuine piety in the country; but in high places little could be found. The only notable services rendered by the Bishops of the time to the Christian religion are learned defences of its reasonableness as a system of philosophy or a basis of a rather conventional morality. The age witnessed indeed the vigorous attempt of Wesley to revive personal religion; but the Anglicanism of the time could find no place for his devotion and his followers seceded from the Church to form a new religious body of their own.

Within the Church religion underwent a startling decline between the middle of the eighteenth and the beginning of the nineteenth centuries. Public worship was almost neglected, the chief positions in the Church were regarded as prizes for the influential clergy, who frequently held a number of highly paid benefices at the same time. The Sacraments were seldom administered and no attempt was made to secure any external decency or order; the Sacrament of penance was almost allowed to lapse into oblivion except among the dwindling remnants of the High Church party. It was commonly assumed that the Protestant interpretation of Anglican formularies was the correct one, though the one aim of the Protestant reformers, to secure the personal unity of man with God as revealed in Our Lord, was no longer regarded as the end of religion. If indeed religion had any object, it was simply to act as a basis for the public observance of morality and the suppression of the more blatant forms of vice which were repudiated, in theory at least, by the conscience of the age.

It is necessary to emphasize the fact that this general decline of religion, and the decay of Catholicism in particular, were not merely the culmination of a slow process of decay. There is abundant evidence to show that Catholic devotion nourished among wide classes of society for a period of seventy years after the Restoration; the decline began to be noticeable about 1750, and was accomplished with startling rapidity. It would have been disastrous in any age; but unhappily the age was not an ordinary one. It was marked by a great outburst of new ideas and by a transformation of the whole organisation of society. In the realm of ideas it was marked by the liberal revolt against the whole system of privileged classes and orders, and the insistence on the equal rights of all men as such to complete freedom in all spheres of thought and action. The revolt culminated in France in the Revolution, which regarded the abolition of the Catholic Church as a small but inevitable part of its programme. In England the effect of the movement was not to sweep away the organisation of the Church but to leave it utterly discredited as a mere part of the general system of privilege established for the benefit of the English oligarchy.

During the same period the face of society was changed by the Industrial Revolution. In the middle of the eighteenth century England apart from London was an agricultural country; and the external organisation of religion was more or less adequate to the needs of the population. By the opening of the nineteenth century huge industrial regions had grown up, for which no religious provision existed except the parish Churches built to serve the needs of the small populations of the villages and country towns of an earlier generation. In the new towns enormous populations lived in unspeakable squalor, and entirely cut off from the ministrations of a Church which hardly cared to minister either to their spiritual or their bodily needs. The horror of their condition was intensified by the widespread collapse of trade after the Napoleonic wars. The Church was discredited in the eyes of the learned by her opposition to all liberal ideas, and in the eyes of the poor by her utter lack of sympathy with their miseries and her comfortable neglect of the teaching and example of the Master she professed to serve. It seemed merely a question of a few years before the growing tide of liberty must inevitably sweep away the Church, together with the rest of the system of aristocratic privilege of which it had been the bulwark.


It is always the darkest hour which precedes the dawn; and the moment when religion seemed nearest its deathbed was in fact the moment of its revival. It must be remembered that the Catholic movement which will be considered in the next chapter was in fact only one out of several which all resulted, in their various ways, in a restoration of interest in religion when it seemed on the point of perishing. Although Catholics are bound to criticise the shortcomings of these movements, in so far as they failed to grasp the full implications of the Christian revelation, yet they had in fact an important influence on the Catholic revival.

The first of these was the evangelical movement. This movement was an attempt to recover within the Church that element of personal devotion to Our Lord as the basis for a life of Christian holiness, which had been excluded from it by the opposition of the Bishops to the followers of the Wesleys during the preceding century.

Its strength lay in its vivid grasp of the importance of the Atonement as the centre of the Christian life--the impossibility of pleasing God except in virtue of a divine gift of grace which man could do nothing to earn, but which was freely given through the merits of the death of Jesus on the Cross. This inspired the leaders of the Evangelicals with a burning love for their Master, and an ardent longing to bring souls to Him. In virtue of that love they laboured unceasingly and successfully for the salvation of others, and for the abolition of those evils which were an obstacle to the propagation of the Gospel. They succeeded in securing the abolition of the slave-trade, they accomplished through the agency of the Church Missionary Society an amazing work for the conversion of the heathen, and they laboured continually and successfully for the religious, moral and social improvement of the condition of the poor in England. Their weakness lay in their lack of a really solid theological basis. Their appeal was primarily to the emotions, through which they laboured to produce "conversion," by which they often meant little more than a sudden access of emotional enthusiasm, as the result of which the sinner was led to turn from sin or indifference to a struggle to attain to Christian holiness. But where they failed to produce this outburst of enthusiasm, or where, as might easily be the case, its effects were merely transient, they had little to offer; for in fact they tended to suppose that such a conversion was the necessary foundation of the religious life of all Christians. None the less they had a great influence on the whole religious life of England. They were entirely content with the forms of worship left by the Reformers as the authorised worship of the Church; for their own specific view of the Christian life did not depend very much on any forms of worship. By supplementing those fcirriS with sfiirortrcl hjrrr^ oi csuitable character they could achieve their objects within the frame of Anglicanism.

Their lack of a systematic theology was not at first apparent; for at the beginning of the movement they shared with the Church in general the belief that the Bible, as a verbally inspired Book, provided all the theology needed. In fact this conception of the Bible meant the selection of certain texts which favoured their view of religion; these were emphasized as the basis of all doctrine and the rest were explained away. They had a considerable devotion to the Eucharist, as being in some sense a special means for communion between the soul and the person of Jesus; but they shared the general prejudice of the beginning of the nineteenth century against the traditional doctrines and practices of the Catholic Church. The result was that after a period of unpopularity, due to the hostility of the Laodicean bishops of the time to an outburst of enthusiasm which was a standing protest against the religious lethargy that had allowed them to attain to the high places of the Church, the Evangelical party came to be regarded as a normal element in the life of the Church of England. They demanded no great innovations, they were clearly zealous and devout, often indeed saintly, Christians. Hence they were able to exercise a wide influence in favour of a revival of genuine personal religion in circles which often had no idea that they were listening to anything specifically evangelical. Their early enthusiasm remained, indeed, peculiar to the straitest followers of the movement; but the general tone of serious personal religion, and real, though rather unintelligent, devotion to the sacrament of the altar, which was characteristic of much Anglican religion during the latter part of the nineteenth century, may be largely traced to the influence of the evangelicals.

Evangelicalism however had no weapons to meet the difficulties that the nineteenth century was to bring forth. It originated in the atmosphere of the preceding century when the Bible was taken for granted by all but a few unbelievers who could be dismissed as pestilent atheists. The nineteenth century produced the great movement of thought in every branch of human life which is known as Liberalism. We are not concerned with it except in so far as it affected religion. It did so in two principal ways. In the first place it attacked religion from without. The scientific progress of the time revealed the untenability of the Bible history of the creation of the world as a piece of history. Since the scientists were for the most part convinced materialists and hostile to all belief in supernatural religion as such, they claimed that the discoveries of science were in fact a deathblow to the Christian superstition. In the second place a school of theologians, professedly Christian, claimed that the investigation of the Scriptures by the critical methods usually employed for the investigation of history proved the untenability of the old view of their verbal inspiration. They advanced reasons for doubting the historical character of many parts of the Old Testament and the accuracy of many of the historical books, and for rejecting the received tradition as to their authorship. Furher they pointed out that the same methods when applied to the New Testament yielded similar results. They claimed to find inconsistencies in its narrative, and evidence that some of the books of it were in fact the work of forgers of the second Christian century. The result of their criticisms was to produce a general tendency to question the whole basis of Christian theology; for the Liberal critics were largely dominated by the materialist philosophy of the time and they sought by the application of their methods to establish a non-miraculous Christianity, in which Our Lord furnished a supreme example ot human perfection, but nothing more, except in so far as human perfection is in some sense a revelation of God. In England this movement of thought did not advance with any rapidity to the more extreme position which the German theologians adopted. But it caused a general unsettlement of accepted beliefs, which the opposition of the orthodox evangelicals and the Catholics of the revival did nothing to meet. (The liberal movement in regard to the Scriptures in England hardly assumed serious proportions until the Catholic revival had been at work for some years). For the answer of the orthodox of both parties was in fact simply one of obscurantism. The critics were invariably rash in assuming that the latest discovery was an infallible revelation of truth, when often it could be shown to rest on quite unfounded assumptions; their work was filled with innumerable inconsistencies and contradictions. (As a curiosity it may be observed that one German theologian reduced the genuine books of the New Testament to four Pauline Epistles, and condemned the rest as spurious; he was followed by another, who by the application of the same methods of criticism gravely claimed to demonstrate that those four Epistles were also spurious and left no genuine books at all!) For a considerable period Evangelicals and Catholics were content to resist the work of criticism by pointing out its failings and inventing quite untenable explanations in support of the orthodox case. The result was to create a general sense of insecurity. It was believed that religion rested on the Bible; and the Bible was being exposed to a serious attack, in which the defenders were generally seen to be having the worst of the argument. For although they might explain away one particular difficulty, it was felt that they had not succeeded in meeting the general attack of criticism, which was that the Bible, if treated like the rest of ancient literature, appeared not as a verbally inspired Book but as a set of composite human documents, with many mistakes and inconsistencies.

The attack was met by the development within the Church of England of a school of liberal theologians, who, in spite of many shortcomings, did in fact save the Church from the growing belief that it was merely clinging to an exploded superstition. Their line of defence, in itself the only possible and legitimate way of reconciling traditional Christianity with the new discoveries, was to attempt to distinguish between the essentials of Christianity and the various beliefs which had grown up around it and had been wrongly assumed to be part of it. Their weakness lay in their readiness to accept a materialist philosophy as the final revelation of truth and to reject all that seemed inconsistent with it. Hence they rejected not merely certain untenable elements of the Scriptural Testament narratives and their traditional interpretation, but much that was vital to any real acceptance of Christianity as a full and final revelation of God to man. They had no sympathy with the traditions of Catholicism, sharing the English prejudices in which they had been educated; and they lacked the element of personal belief in the Atonement which was the centre of Evangelicalism. Hence they tended, and still tend, to regard Our Lord as a merely human figure, a supreme pattern of humanity, but not divine. The effect of this tendency is to raise the further question whether it is possible to claim Him as a supreme pattern of human perfection, and whether other great religious teachers must not be permitted to rank beside Him; and whether, too, His moral teaching can be regarded as final where it conflicts with the conceptions of a more "progressive" age.

None the less the liberal movement in theology was at the outset associated with a high ideal of personal service for others based on the example of Jesus, and contributed much to the formation of the type of religion generally prevalent until recent years in the great public schools and universities. This was not, however, its main service to religion. Its main service lay in its demand that Christianity should not be bound up with a traditional belief in the verbal inspiration of the Bible and the acceptance of the historical truth of mythical narratives. It demanded that the Bible should be tested by the standard of scientific investigation which is generally applied to the sources of ancient history, and made to stand or fall on its own claims to inherent truth, not on the acceptance of ecclesiastical tradition. (It is necessary to remember that the Protestants at the Reformation, while claiming to reject ecclesiastical traditions which were not compatible with Scripture, were in fact relying on a traditional belief in the infallibility of the letter of the Bible which the Bible itself does not warrant).

The result has been that while certain generally accepted beliefs have been shown to be untenable, the general structure of the Catholic tradition has been strengthened. The historical character of the New Testament story has been in the main vindicated: although it is possible to reject it as untrue, it is entirely unwarrantable to say that such a rejection is justified simply by the application of critical methods of investigation to the New Testament. In particular it is continually becoming clearer that such an application supports the general Catholic conception of religion as against that of Protestantism.

NOTE.--The earlier Liberal movement in the English Church was associated with such men as Charles Kingsley, Frederick Denison Maurice and Dr. Arnold of Rugby--to a lesser extent with Temple, later Archbishop of Canterbury, who subsequently tended to a more orthodox position. These men never formed one united party: but it was from the combination of the enthusiasm for liberty in rehgion and social reform with the leading positions in the Public Schools of the modern type, which these names represent, that the now decaying "Public School religion" of a large number of Englishmen arose.


The year 1833 witnessed the birth of the third great religious movement of the century, which was destined, as Catholics believe, to recover for the English Church her true place in Christendom. There had always been a remnant which clung to the seventeenth-century tradition of a Catholic interpretation of the formularies of the Church of England; but by this date it seemed to have dwindled to a small minority of men, learned but out of touch with the life of the age: it was usually known as the "High and dry "party.

In this year it reappeared in a form which was by no means dry. A group of the younger fellows at Oxford, remarkably alike for their learning, their brilliance, and their high personal sanctity, came forward to proclaim against the vague Protestantism which dominated English religion (for the Evangelical movement had scarcely emerged from its unpopularity) the truths of the Catholic religion. They emphasized the cardinal doctrines of the Incarnation and the Atonement with all the ardour of the Evangelicals and with far more learning; they proclaimed the sacramental system of the Catholic Church as the divinely appointed means by which man has access to God; and they insisted that the Church was not a kind of department of the State for the preservation of sound morality on a vaguely religious basis, but the living representative of God on earth appointed to preserve and proclaim the truth revealed by Jesus Christ and inspired by the abiding presence of God the Holy Ghost, superior to all temporal authorities in so far as its doctrines and discipline was concerned. Above all they taught that religion was not morality based on a dim supernatural sanction but the vital communion of the soul with God as revealed in Jesus Christ, a communion bestowed through the sacraments and prayer and impossible without a continual struggle to attain to personal holiness. The strength of the movement lay in its solid basis of Christian doctrine and the austere piety of its leaders. Its method of appeal lay partly in the sermons and the personal intercourse of the leaders with the members of the University of Oxford, but mainly in the issue of Tracts setting forward some particular aspect of Christian doctrine or practice. (The Catholic revival in its earlier stages is thus known by the two titles of the "Oxford" and the "Tractarian" movement).

The strength of the Revival and the rapidity of its success were startling; its stability was not less so. This may be gauged by the fact that in spite of the early death of one of the original leaders, Richard Hurrell Froude, and the staggering blow caused to a movement which had always disclaimed "Romanising "tendencies when Newman left the English Church in 1843, it still continued. His departure indeed wrecked the prospect that the movement would become the dominating power in the University of Oxford, then even more than now the centre of religious life in England; but the Revival had such vitality that it survived the loss of one who combined the learning and holiness of Pusey, the other figure of dominating greatness in the first period of the revival, with the personal charm of Keble and Hurrell Froude. In the public eye Pusey stood alone after the departure of Newman; and there is no token of his greatness so striking as the fact that in spite of the loss he did not despair of the restoration of Catholicism in the English Church.

None the less the movement ceased with Newman to be primarily academic; its operations were transferred to the parishes of the English Church. In them it necessarily assumed a new character. Hitherto it had appealed to the learned; it was now to appeal to the general public, more particularly to the ignorant multitudes which were congregated in the poorest quarters of the great industrial cities of England. (It must be remembered that the conditions in these districts at the present day are such as to appal those who witness them for the first time; yet during the past seventy years they have been improved beyond all recognition by the persistent labours of public authorities and the devotion of private individuals). Now it was natural that in appealing to the youth of Oxford the Tractarian movement should be content with an insistence on Catholic doctrine and Catholic piety, and care little for external things; for its audience could appreciate the implications of its teaching without the help of such accessories. The clergy, who outside the University furnished the largest body of readers of the Tracts, were in a similar position. Hence by the providence of God it was possible for the Movement to establish itself on a firm foundation of Catholic doctrine and Catholic piety before it made its appeal to the world. But so soon as that appeal was made, it was found that the mere teaching of doctrines by oral means to audiences unversed in theology was of little effect. The English are the least theological of nations; and it was possible to preach the most advanced doctrines (so long as a few controversial catchwords of the Reformation were avoided) without exciting any apprehension that the doctrines so taught were anything new or important. Hence it was necessary to appeal to other means of proclaiming the Catholic faith. Naturally the disciples of the Tractarians had recourse to the use of those external ornaments and ceremonies which the Catholic Church has used for centuries as the expression of her devotion and the means of inculcating her doctrine on her children. The movement did not change its character; it was still firmly founded on Catholic doctrine and Catholic holiness; but it began to restore the accessories of Catholic worship as the natural and inevitable means for expressing and fostering the devotion of those who would have been but little influenced by its intellectual appeal in the form of oral teaching.


Thus in its second stage the Catholic revival assumed a new form, which may be described as the "Ritualist "movement. Those responsible for this change did not of course care for matters of external ritual or ceremonial as such, but only for the doctrine and the devotion which they symbolised. The first attempts to introduce ritual were indeed regarded with some distrust by Pusey and the survivors of the early leaders of the Tractarian group; but their distrust vanished when they saw that the Ritualists cared no less than they did themselves for the essential truths of the Catholic religion; thus Pusey during the whole of his life remained the dominating figure in the new phase of the Movement of which he had at one moment been somewhat frightened.

The phase of the Catholic revival which we are now considering corresponds more or less with the last half of the nineteenth century. The correspondence is indeed very rough; the Ritualist movement was beginning to develop even before the departure of Newman; while on the other hand in many parts of England it has had only a very small influence up to the present day, while in many parishes Catholics are still contending for those points of teaching and practice which were the objectives of the early Ritualists. Similarly there were at a quite early period in the movement parishes in which the original objectives were won fairly rapidly, and in which the struggle passed from the objectives of the Ritualist period to those for which English Catholics as a whole are now contending. None the less it may be said that there is a certain distinction between the points for which those of the second or Ritualist period contended and those which are at the present time the principal objectives of the movement as a whole. It has been seen that the Tractarians were primarily concerned with the restoration of the fundamental principles of Catholic doctrine and practice as the true interpretation of the formularies of Anglicanism and the true conception of religion, and that their work during the earliest period was mainly carried on in the sphere of academic controversy; it aroused vigorous hostility, but that hostility was mainly confined to more or less learned and official circles. It is now necessary to examine more closely the objects for which the Ritualists fought.

The side of their work which undoubtedly attracted most attention was the external side, the introduction of the accessories of worship which had always been customary in the Catholic Church. The points on which the struggle was waged most hotly were the Eucharistic vestments, the lighting of candles on the altar, the use of wafer-bread instead of ordinary bread, the eastward position of the celebrant and the mixing of water with wine in the chalice at the Mass and the use of incense. It must always be remembered that these points were demanded or opposed not on the ground that they were pleasing or unpleasing, but on the ground that they were symbols of the doctrines of the presence of Our Lord under the outward appearance of bread and wine and the Eucharistic sacrifice as against the generally prevalent Protestant conception that the Eucharist was simply a memorial meal to keep in the minds of Christians the Passion of Our Lord and their fellowship with one another.

The attempt of the first Ritualists to introduce a surpliced choir and the wearing of the surplice by the preacher had already excited violent opposition, when the restoration of these more distinctly Catholic practices was attempted. It was at once assumed that they were illegal innovations, and their suppression was demanded with clamorous indignation. But here a curious obstacle arose. A rubric of the Elizabethan Prayer-book definitely ordered that the use of vestments, the lighting of candles, and some other points of Catholic usage which had been universal before the Reformation should be retained. It would seem that Elizabeth hoped to be able to preserve their use at the time of her accession, though in point of fact the feelings of Protestants in London and the Cal-vinistic leanings of many of her first Bishops rendered her unable to insist on more than the wearing of the surplice at Mass. At the Restoration this Rubric had been main-tamed; yet although a substitute for the proper Eucharistic vestment, known as the cope, had survived in certain Cathedrals, no attempt had been made by the Caroline bishops to revive those elements of Catholic practice which the Elizabethan rubric enjoined. It would seem that no memory survived of what the rubric really meant.

None the less the fact remained that in some at least of their innovations or restorations the Ritualists had the Law on their side. At the same time the position was complicated by the fact that in theory they rejected the view that the Church could be bound by the laws of the State. But it was only as interpreted by the principles of English statute-law that their claim had any value. For it is a generally recognised principle of ecclesiastical law that the letter of a written law must be interpreted by custom, and where a long custom to the contrary can be shown to exist, the letter of the law ceases to possess any force. This principle is not, however, recognised by English statute-law. Thus the position arose that the Ritualists could appeal only to the principles of a law which they did not recognise; the ecclesiastical authorities on the other hand, who relied on the statute-law which ordered the use of the Prayer-book, found that it enjoined some of the very practices they were most anxious to suppress. The difficulty at first was not clearly seen; the Ritualists did not enquire too closely into the exact nature of the law which supported their case, while at the outset the judges who were called on to enforce the law were too convinced of the traditional Protestantism of the last century to consider the possibility that it did not represent the original intention of the Reformers. These accessories of religion were only intended to emphasize the doctrines as to the Eucharist which had been revived by the Tractarians. They were accompanied by the attempt to revive the essential practices of the Catholic life. Thus the Mass, with the adornments we have been considering, and accompanied by singing and the traditional ceremonies of High Mass, was made the principal feature of Sunday worship. Celebrations were also provided at an earlier hour in order that the faithful might have the opportunity of observing the Catholic rule of fasting before communion, and Masses were also provided on weekdays, even though there were no communicants. The observance of the fasts of the Church ordered in the Prayer-book was also revived. With this recovery of Catholic practice went the teaching of the sacrament of penance, long neglected in the Church of England, though it had been fairly freely taught and used until well after the end of the seventeenth century. Here again a howl of fury was raised when it was suggested that sacramental confession was necessary or even desirable; the clamour was particularly raised against a translation by Pusey of a Catholic guide for the use of Priests in hearing confessions, which necessarily dealt with the right method for assisting the penitent to overcome sins against the virtue of purity. The use of sacramental confession was in fact clearly recognised as legitimate by the Prayer-book, but it had become practically obsolete during the century preceding the Catholic revival, and it was therefore resented as an unfamiliar innovation; it was moreover bound to be an unpopular one in an age which regarded a rather self-satisfied respectability as the ideal of Christian virtue. Thus its restoration was bound to excite opposition, which was intensified by the fact that Pusey's translation of a work of Catholic moral theology dealt necessarily with those forms of sin which the literature of the Victorian age ignores or only mentions in the most careful and allusive manner. It should be added that the use of confession was contrary to the whole scheme of evangelical theology, which presupposes a life based on a dramatic act of conversion, which is so effective as to leave no room for lapses into serious sin. There was thus a violent resentment on the part both of evangelical piety and of the comfortable righteousness of the general body of Anglican opinion against the suggestion that the sacrament was needed in order to enable the Church to save the souls of those who were sunk in sin; but the opposition entirely failed to prevent the growth of a regular use of the Sacrament of penance, either as a cure for serious sin or as a means of advancing in Christian perfection.

While however the opposition to the Ritualists mainly centred round particular points of doctrine or practice, the real basis of the hostility lay deeper. They were in fact engaged in the attempt to restore the true ideal of Catholic holiness as against a standard of conventional morality. It was felt that their religion was something alien to the life of the English nation, just as it had been felt that the devotion of the evangelicals was something alien. The average Englishman had no real belief that religion meant the consecration of the whole of life to the service of God; to the Ritualists as to the Tractarians, this was a self-evident fact. The whole Sacramental system of the Church and the external adornments of religion were means for assisting him in the work of self-consecration or for giving an outward expression to the fact of self-consecration. It was this whole attitude to religion which really aroused in the first instance the opposition of the mid-Victorian public; but it was this attitude to religion which also secured the final success of the Movement.

The statement may sound paradoxical, but it is none the less true. For under all the clamour against the restoration of Catholic teaching and practice there lay a deep antipathy to a conception of religion which implied the condemnation of the generally accepted point of view. But that antipathy, when faced with the lives of the Ritualists, was bound to give way to admiration. It is true to say that it was the religious life of the movement that was the cause of its triumph. That life manifested itself in various ways. In the first place it rendered necessary the restoration of the "religious life "in its proper sense of a life which surrenders all worldly advantages and wealth in order to devote itself to the service of God either by means of prayer or of active service of others. It is one of the many evidences of the greatness of Pusey that, at the very moment when the loss of Newman seemed to have wrecked the movement, he was preparing his plans for the first establishment of a religious community of women, who were to devote themselves to the life of Sisters of Charity among the poorest classes. It was inevitable that in the conditions of the time the first revival of the religious life should take the form of active devotion to works of mercy, though naturally such a life was based on a life of prayer. The step led to a violent outcry from the noiser element, of Protestant opinion; but the opposition could not endure. The life and labour of the early Sisters of Charity was a silent condemnation of their critics. The course of the Movement witnessed a wide extension of the restoration of the religious life, both among men and women; among men it assumed for the most part the form of communities of mission Priests, among women of communities of Sisters of Charity. It would be difficult to say how much of the final victory was due to the patient and unseen labour of the women, who devoted their whole lives to poverty and hardship in order to minister to their Lord in the person of the poor and the outcast for whom He died. None who had any knowledge of their work could deny that God was with them.

A more obvious and dramatic effect of the Catholic revival was the restoration of the Catholic ideal of the priesthood. Hitherto the Anglican clergyman had been anything but a priest. His religious duties had consisted mainly in conducting services and preaching sermons setting forth a sound morality and the duty of acquiescing in the existing order of things. He naturally hoped that long and diligent service would be rewarded by due preferment. He had often been a benevolent patron of the deserving poor, and he had usually set a reasonably high example of personal morality. Many indeed had been grossly negligent of all their duties except the performance of the external functions of their profession, such as the conduct of public worship; some had neglected those, or even been men of notoriously scandalous life. The majority, however, had tried conscientiously to live up to the comparatively low conception of their vocation then generally current; but it had never occurred to them that there was anything amiss with that conception. An exception must be made in favour of the early Evangelicals who always displayed a fiery zeal for the conversion of souls; but they tended to regard themselves as ordinary Christian laymen called to bring men to salvation, who happened also to have been appointed as ministers to conduct the worship of the faithful.

Naturally the revival of the Catholic conception of the Priest as the appointed representative of Jesus Christ, whose duty it was to consecrate his whole life as a continual oblation of prayer and sacrifice for the salvation of the souls to whom he was sent to minister, and to make it a constant witness to the revelation of the Gospel in the person of Jesus was revolutionary. No less revolutionary was the conception that he was the appointed representative of the people for whom he was bound to plead continually before the throne of God. The conception was fiercely resented. In some points indeed it could not be criticised, as for instance in the Tractarian practice of reciting the divine office of "Morning and Evening Prayer"; for this was a duty plainly ordered by the Book of Common Prayer, though it had fallen into almost complete disuse. The frequent offering of the Holy Sacrifice with no communicants but the Priest was, however, more easy to attack; and one of the main reasons for attacking the external adornments of Euchar-istic worship was the feeling that they implied a new conception of the priestly character. Equally obnoxious was the claim that the Priest was the normal and proper channel for conveying the divine gift of forgiveness of sins. Both functions of the priestly office were felt to imply something new in the priestly character.

On the other hand while it was easy for the ignorant to deride and abuse the Ritualist clergy, it was not so easy for those who had ever had any personal experience of their life and work. Even Tait, Bishop of London and later Archbishop of Canterbury, the protagonist of the official opposition of the Bishops to the revival, hesitated to proceed against men who were quite clearly labouring more devoutly and more effectively for the salvation of souls than any of the rest of the clergy. In the long struggles of the latter half of the nineteenth century, the obvious devotion of the Ritualist clergy, their high standard of personal piety, and their willingness to face any form of persecution rather than to abandon the practices which were the outward expression of their teaching, were the main obstacle on which all attempts to suppress the movement suffered shipwreck. The basis of that life was the Catholic ideal of the priesthood, especially in the form in which it had been developed by the Saints of the Counter-Reformation. Once again it was Pusey who began the work of familiarising the English clergy with their writings. The external side of the priestly life manifested itself in the recitation of the Divine Office and the frequent use of the sacrament of penance. By these means principally the Ritualists raised a standard of priestly devotion which could bear comparison with any period of the history of the Catholic Church.

A similar but less contentious revival of the religious life was effected among the laity. By the inculcation of the frequent use of the Sacraments, the observance of the discipline of the Catholic Church, and the regular use of prayer, the Ritualists won to their side a large following of devout men and women who were at all times the backbone of the Revival. They were often regarded as eccentrics by their friends; often indeed they had to face all the trials of petty domestic persecution; the poorer followers of the revival had indeed often to bear even more serious persecution both in their homes and in the factories where they worked. Once again it was the manifest power of the teachings of the Ritualists to produce a spirit of devotion among the laity that stayed the hands of their opponents. The importance of the laity cannot be over-estimated: but since it did not figure largely in controversy, it does not call for fuller treatment here.

It is impossible to record in detail the confused history of the Ritualist movement. Never did a cause seem at its outset so hopelessly condemned to utter failure. It was condemned by the Bishops with absolute unanimity. A few, such as Wilberforce of Oxford and Philpotts of Exeter, sympathised with the doctrines of the Tractarians, though they were by no means enthusiastic supporters; but they, no less than the rest of the Bishops, condemned all attempts to teach, by the appeal of the external adornments of worship, the truths which the Tractarians had maintained in writing. A few other Bishops were men of strong liberal opinions, who while they condemned alike the doctrines of Tractarianism and what they were pleased to regard as the puerilities of Ritualism in religion, none the less felt themselves debarred by their principles from using their official position to put down any movement of thought, however violently they might distrust or despise it. The majority of the Episcopate did their utmost to support the Archbishops in the suppression of Ritualism: they were zealously supported by Lord John Russell and Disraeli, two of the great figures of the Parliamentary life of the time. The third of the great statesmen of the age, Gladstone, was indeed strongly Tractarian in his sympathies, but he did not sympathise with anything but the most moderate Ritualism. He could not prevent the passing of a special Act of Parliament intended to crush the movement; but the imprisonment of a little handful of disobedient Priests was sufficient to break down the whole machinery of the new law. Of the religious leaders of the tune many who were inclined to sympathise with the original Tractarian movement hesitated to give more than a qualified support to a cause which seemed to them to endanger the whole future of the Catholic revival in England by exciting public hostility not merely against Catholic externals but also against Catholic doctrine. The growing influence of the Evangelical movement was directed to its overthrow; it was led by Lord Shaftesbury, a man whose force of character and burning zeal for righteousness was strong enough to rescue the children of England from the worst forms of industrial oppression in the teeth of the opposition of the great manufacturing interests; he broke the opposition of the capitalists, but he could not break Ritualism. The opposition of the Evangelical leaders was supported by the ignorant fury of Protestant mobs, inflamed by the rhetoric of the lowest class of agitators; at the outset the police refused to preserve the Ritualists from the mob or the magistrates to convict the rioters whom they arrested. The Liberals despised and disliked a movement which stood for a theory of authority in the Church which condemned their whole method of thought; even though they hesitated to support the clamour for the suppression of Ritualism on the ground that Liberal principles are incompatible with the forcible suppression of any form of thought, yet they were not likely to show much energy in resisting the measures which others demanded.

Nor was external opposition the only obstacle which the movement had to face. Among its followers and even among its leaders were many who, at some particular setback of the cause for which they had laboured, despaired of the prospect of restoring Catholicism in the English Church and submitted to the Roman Communion. It was within a decade of the first beginnings of Ritualism that Henry Edward Manning. Archdeacon of Chichester and later Cardinal-Archbishop of Westminster, left the Church of England. Within the movement, too, there were divisions. Some favoured a far wider measure of conformity to Roman custom than others, and the disputes of the more "extreme" and the more "moderate" sections caused a considerable waste of energy. Similarly some who feared the accusation of "Romanizing" yielded to the ready temptation to indulge in violent attacks on various points of Roman doctrine and Roman practice; here again it may be noticed that Pusey, though often urged by his friends to clear himself of suspicion by attacking the Roman Church, stedfastly refused the opportunity of earning in this way a cheap popularity, in spite of the fact that there were many points of Roman teaching and practice which he genuinely regarded as erroneous.

None the less, in spite of opposition from without and divisions within, there was no room for doubt that by the end of the nineteenth century the attempt to put down Ritualism had failed. It might still be uncertain, as it is still uncertain to-day, exactly how far the Catholic revival would go in the adoption of the more recent developments of Catholic doctrine in the Roman Church and of the more recent developments of Roman devotion; but it was no longer open to doubt that the Ritualists had established their claim to the full right to a standard of Catholic teaching and practice which represented far more than the first leaders of the movement had ever dreamed of. In general it may be said that they had won full liberty for the use of such external adornments of worship as the Eucharistic vestments, altar-candles, incense, and the general accessories of the Eucharistic worship of Western Catholicism; and with these went the right to teach the doctrine of the Eucharistic presence of Our Lord and the Eucharistic sacrifice. They had established the right of the clergy to teach the necessity of the Sacrament of Penance and of the faithful to demand the benefit of absolution. Although a large majority of the Episcopate might frown on their practices, and although for the most part the leading Ritualists were debarred from the higher preferments of the Church, it was certain that they could not be prevented from the full exercise at least of these elements of teaching and practice, together with some other less hotly contested points of practice, without a final disruption of the English Church. It is true that the amount of progress made varied widely in different parts of the country; in many places congregations still vigorously opposed the introduction of the least element of Catholicism, but the ground already firmly gained was too great for any question of the general suppression of Ritualism to be a practical issue.


From its earliest stages two distinct tendencies have made themselves felt in the history of the Catholic movement. One tends to emphasize the continuity of the movement with the history of the English Church since the Reformation and to cling more or less closely to the authorised forms of Anglican worship, interpreting them in the most Catholic sense which they are able to bear. The other has always tended to find its inspiration in the devotional life and literature of the Catholicism of Western Europe as it has developed since the Reformation, and to fegard loyalty to the traditions of Anglicanism as of less importance than the preaching of the Catholic faith in such a manner as to bring it home to the hearts and consciences of Englishmen. The former element has in its favour the fact that it works with forms which are already familiar to a certain number of those to whom it appeals; it is content to use the Prayer-book services which are in fact dear to a considerable number of English people who have been brought up in the ordinary traditions of Anglicans. On the other hand the services of the Book of Common Prayer, though capable of a Catholic interpretation, are very ill-suited to be the means for expressing Catholic devotion. As regards the Eucharist the doctrines of the Real Presence and the Sacrifice of the Mass are implied, but not insisted on with the clearness which is needed in order to concentrate on them the devotion of the faithful. A further defect in the Eucharistic office is its lack of variety. In the liturgies of Western Catholicism it is customary to provide prayers, readings from the Scriptures, and passages to be sung or read from the Psalms, which change from day to day and draw the attention of the faithful to the lessons which the Various festivals and seasons of the Church are calculated to teach. The English Reformers reduced the variable elements of the Eucharistic rite to a minimum, and they only made provision for prayers and reading from the Scriptures for the Sundays of the year and a very small number of other festivals. Consequently those who favour adherence to Anglican tradition are handicapped by the fact that the forms of Anglican worship are in themselves ill-adapted for the expression of the Catholic belief as to the Eucharist, and also seriously lacking in interest and variety. (For instance it frequently happens that a Priest who says Mass daily is compelled, if he adheres to the letter of the Prayer-book, to recite the same Collect, Epistle, and Gospel every day of the week!)

Moreover, the Reformers in compiling the Prayer-book deliberately aimed at the exclusion of a large number of the traditional forms of Catholic devotion. Thus the practice of reserving the Blessed Sacrament in order that those of the faithful who could not communicate during Mass might not be cut off from communion, and that Our Lord Himself might be ever present in His temple to receive the homage of His children, was abolished. The rendering of Christian devotion to the Mother of Jesus and to the Saints of the Church and the offering of prayers for the souls of the departed were excluded from the formularies of Anglicans; they were not indeed condemned so absolutely as the Protestant party in the English Church would have desired, since their apparent condemnation in the Thirty-Nine Articles leaves a loophole of evasion, but they had none the less been almost entirely lost from English devotion.

Thus those who sought to adhere to purely Anglican traditions and yet to restore the Catholic faith and the spirit of Catholic devotion were from the first contending against serious disadvantages, which far outweighed the advantage which they gained from the fact that they preserved the forms of worship already endeared by familiarity to a certain section of Anglican laity. Moreover, with the progress of the nineteenth century that advantage dwindled. For the century witnessed a great revival in religion, but a great decline in the formal and conventional church-going which had been characteristic of the earlier centuries of English religious life; and this decline made itself felt with startling rapidity during the opening years of the twentieth century. In London and the larger English cities it had been obvious for some generations before: by the end of the European war it was becoming noticeable in country districts.

Hence the advantage of adhering to Anglican forms of worship was by the end of the nineteenth century diminishing in value; a generation was arising which knew not the Prayer-book. In dealing with those who had not been brought up in Anglican traditions it was an unquestionable handicap to be tied down to a series of liturgical formularies which were very ill-adapted to express Catholic beliefs and lacked the attractiveness and variety of the devotional methods of the Roman Church. It would indeed be an error to under-estimate the power of a Catholic use of Anglican formularies to produce a very high type of Catholic piety. It produced that piety in a remarkable degree among a very large number of followers of the movement, and it continues to a certain extent to do so. But that piety tends to be of a single type. It possesses in a high degree the merits of steadiness and sobriety in devotion, regularity rather than frequency in the use of the Sacraments, and a great love of Holy Scripture. But its power to produce this type of devotion does not rest on its use of Anglican formularies, but on the fact that this very exalted type of piety is the natural expression of the religious consciousness of those educated in a certain English tradition and possessing a certain outlook on life which is not specifically English, but is to be found among a very large number of Englishmen. (As proof of this it may be observed that the type of piety described is very similar to that of the English Roman Catholics of the period before the Oxford Movement and the introduction among English Roman Catholics of the more modern forms of Roman devotion.) The reason for the frequency with which this type of religion is to be found among those who are content with a Catholic interpretation of the Book of Common Prayer would appear to be that it is the religion of those who by temperament are generally inclined to a love of forms to which they have been long accustomed. Hence those to whom this type of religion appeals naturally cling to the forms of worship in which they have been educated, although the introduction of the Catholic belief in the Sacraments has invested those forms with an entirely new life and meaning. They are for the most part people of sufficient education to be able to read the spirit of Catholic piety into the rather barren forms of Prayer-book worship.

But this type of piety is not the only expression of Catholic devotion; and its production does not depend on the use of the English Liturgy. It is a type moreover which the general tendency of the age is tending to eliminate. Whether for good or for evil, the whole tendency of modern life is against the production of a type of mind which can express itself in a steady, sober, and regular devotion. The development of social life since the beginning of the century has tended to an increased demand for excitement and variety of interest. Had the Catholic movement confined its appeal to those who possessed a natural inclination for a quiet, sober, and peaceable religion, it would have cut itself off from all hope of appealing to the bulk of the nation. Thus, in some cases long before the end of the nineteenth century, a new generation arose which began, usually in the poorer districts where Catholicism had been established almost since the days of the Tractarians, to introduce freely the liturgical and devotional system of Continental Catholicism. (It is of interest to note that a precisely similar movement was at work in the Roman communion in England at the time,). Thus the English Liturgy was in fact remodelled by the introduction of various portions of the Roman Mass to eke out those parts of it which the Reformers had retained. This was of course entirely contrary to all ecclesiastical authority; but in fact authority within the English Church had long connived at far worse abuses, such as the neglect by the vast majority of the clergy of the obligation of reciting the daily office. Moreover, the opposition of the Bishops to the earlier stages of the Ritualist movement had made it clear that Catholicism could only win the day by working a revolution within the Church: the Tractarians had hoped to capture the Church as a whole, but the secession of Newman and the opposition to the Tracts had shown that such a hope could never be fulfilled. The Ritualists had in fact been revolutionaries, who believed that they were justified by the necessity of acting illegally for the salvation of souls: their followers carried out the Ritualist attitude to its logical conclusion. Together with the alteration of the Liturgy, the new generation restored the practice of reserving the Blessed Sacrament for communion of the faithful, and naturally made it the centre of Christian devotion in their Churches. They brought back devotions to the Saints, prayers for the departed, and various other elements of Catholic devotion in forms borrowed or adapted from modern Roman devotion.

At first the introduction of such practices and devotions was condemned not only by the opponents of Ritualism but by many Ritualists who thought that they could not be regarded as compatible with loyalty to the English Church, and were also afraid that the extremists might arouse and intensify the opposition of public opinion to the movement, and thus affect not only themselves but their more moderate and law-abiding brethren. The division persists to this day within the Catholic movement; there are still those who oppose any deviation from the letter of Anglican formularies. But hi the main the past twenty years have witnessed the decisive victory of those who see that the task of converting the English people to the Catholic religion cannot be accomplished without a complete revision of the English Liturgy in a Catholic sense, and the general introduction of the full system of Catholic devotion, as it has been developed by Western Catholicism since the Reformation. In the technical sense the process has not merely been accomplished without authority, but actually hi defiance of authority, since the Bishops have for the most part resisted every step in this stage of the revival as they resisted every earlier step hi the past. On the other hand in a wider sense they have been acting in obedience to authority; for it has been seen that the function of authority is to formulate what is implied in the religious consciousness of Christians. In practice the Roman system of devotion, as it has developed since the Counter-Reformation, is simply the devotional expression of the truths of the Catholic religion for the benefit of the faithful in a form suited to the needs of the present day; its justifiability is established, so far as its main outlines are concerned, by its proved power to produce Catholic devotion of the highest type over the widest possible field. Hence those who follow the general outlines of the Roman system are in fact appealing to a system which has the authority of experience. They may have made mistakes in following it too closely in details, but on the whole they were wise in following it as closely as possible, in order to preserve the faithful from being at the mercy of the private fancies of individual priests. To a certain extent, indeed, in all cases the introduction of Roman practice has been modified to preserve some degree of continuity with Anglican practice; but invariably it has been accommodated to a very considerable measure of Roman practice. Thus there has been not only a remodelling of the Liturgy on Roman lines, but also a general introduction of the practice of reserving the Blessed Sacrament both for the purpose of giving communion outside the Mass and for the encouragement of the devotion of the faithful. Services calculated to express and to teach this devotion have been introduced: devotions to the Saints have been taught, and shrines and images have been set up to foster them.

Although this movement has from the first been unauthorised, it has by now established itself firmly in the English Church. The general suppression of it would involve a complete disruption of the unity of the establishment. The only question which is now a serious issue is the exact extent to which the movement will proceed. The main body of Catholic opinion at the present moment undoubtedly favours a certain measure of adherence to Anglican tradition in such matters as the retention of the use of English as the language of liturgical worship, the giving of communion in both kinds and certain minor matters. Which side will finally prevail it would be unsafe to prophecy. In favour of those who would retain a measure of Anglican practice is the fact that it involves less change in the externals of religion, and less disturbance of the minds of the faithful; in favour of the more extreme followers of Roman practice is the fact that hitherto every innovation has been opposed on precisely these grounds; but every innovation has ended by gaining general acceptance. This historical analogy suggests the victory of those now regarded as extremists: but historical analogy is an unsafe guide to the future. The decision on this point is one which may be left to the decision of time, or rather to the guidance of God the Holy Ghost, finding its expression in the growth of Christian opinion. It is to be hoped that the heat whith which the matter is sometimes argued will tend to disappear.

In its broad outlines, however, the movement has won its place in the English Church. Without excluding the more old-fashioned type of Anglican piety alluded to above, it has made room for the development of other types more suited to the needs of an age which is largely dominated by a love of variety and sensation. (It should be noted that this love in itself is neither good nor evil: it is a natural quality, which becomes evil if it gratifies its desire by means of evil forms of pleasure, but becomes good if it gratifies them by the joys of the romance and adventure of the Catholic faith.) Thus English devotion is appropriating more and more the forms of piety by means of which the Catholic reformers of the Continent drove back the advancing tide of Protestantism at the Reformation, particularly the conscious love of Jesus, frequently received in Holy Communion and ever present in the Tabernacle, the joy of the constant fellowship and succour of Mary the Mother of God, and the great army of the Saints of the Holy Catholic Church. It is characteristic of this phase of the movement that it has been from the first a "soldiers' battle." Since the death of Pusey, the dominant figure of the first half-century of the revival, there has been no single leader whom all Catholics venerated and obeyed. Individual priests and laymen have fought in various spheres for the widening of the outlook and appeal of English Catholicism. Naturally there have been innumerable mistakes--over-rapid advances that could not be maintained, panics in the face of imaginary dangers, wild accusations of rashness and folly, and counter-accusations of treachery and cowardice, failures to go forward when victory was easy, and futile defences of impossible positions. Yet in spite of all the line has gone forward, and continues to go forward with an ever-increasing solidity and cohesion. It is characteristic of this period of the movement that if we ask for the names of its leaders we cannot find them. And the man who stands out most clearly is a parish priest who remained an assistant curate to the end of his days--Arthur Henry Stanton.

NOTE.--At various periods in the Catholic revival attempts have been made to minimise its indebtedness to modern Roman practice by insisting on the continuity of the English Church as it exists to-day with the Church before the Reformation. Naturally it is an essential part of the case of English Catholics that this continuity exists; if it did not, no revival of the external forms or the devotional practices of Catholicism could make the Church of England part of the Catholic Church; for it would lack the Divine authority given by Our Lord to His disciples and handed down to their successors. On the other hand that continuity cannot be held to imply any necessity that the method of presenting the Catholic religion to the modern world should in any way conform with the methods commonly in vogue in England before the Reformation: such a demand would involve the rejection of the whole work of the Counter-Reformation. In fact the whole basis of the religious life of Modern Catholicism in the West rests on the work of the great Saints of that movement. The use of meditation or mental prayer as a regular part of the religious life of the clergy and the devout laity, the practice of annual retreats for the renewal of the spiritual life, and the holding of missions to preach the Gospel to those who have never been reached by the ordinary methods of parochial work, or have fallen into indifference and unbelief, are mainly due to post-Reformation Catholicism. In the same way the practice of frequent Communion, which the English Reformers sought in vain to establish is a result of the Counter-Reformation. Reformers claimed not without justice that the Church had put the Saints into the place which Our Lord ought to hold in the Christian religion: but whereas they ended by destroying the whole Catholic conception of religion, the theologians of the Western Church succeeded in redressing the balance by their insistence on devotion to Our Lord in the Holy Sacrament as the centre of popular devotion.

Thus in fact the Catholic revival in England was bound to draw its inspiration from the practice of the Roman Church in its present state, rather than from the usages of England before the Reformation, in so far as the essentials of the religious life are concerned. In view of this it is curious that a certain school of English Catholics should have insisted with so much emphasis on the necessity of conforming to the ancient English usages in certain purely external matters of ritual and ceremonial in which that use differs from the modern Roman practice. The difference is in fact very trifling, but it has been exploited in order to avoid the charge of "Romanising" and even exalted into a vital matter of principle by men who in spiritual matters were following purely Roman models. It is to be hoped that in future less heat will be shown by Catholics in arguing whether the modern Roman or the ancient English use is preferable in these points: for the question can only be argued as a matter of taste and expediency in presenting the Catholic religion to the public and in such matters absolute uniformity is neither necessary nor desirable.

NOTE 2.--It is not of course to be supposed that a position in the later stage of the Movement can be claimed for Father Stanton similar to that of Dr. Pusey in the earlier stages. He is, however, perhaps the greatest of a vast number of men who laboured on similar lines, though this can only be a matter of personal opinion. (In any case I am not considering those still living). It can scarcely be doubted that in the earlier stages of the Catholic revival the verdict of history will consider Pusey as the one figure of really first-class greatness on the Anglican side, and Newman on the Roman. It must be observed that the quality of greatness, as it is considered here, is not a moral quality. There is no reason to suppose that Newman and Pusey were holier than several of their contemporaries. Their greatness rested indeed very largely on their personal holiness; but in itself it is a non-moral quality, which they achieved in the sphere of religion, as Caesar and Napoleon achieved it in the sphere of strategy and politics.

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