Anglo-Saxon Catholics

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Anglo-Saxon Catholics
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ANGLO-SAXON CATHOLICS There was in England in Cardinal Manning’s time more or less dissatisfaction among Catholics of English birth with the Roman Curia that it did not defer to English Catholic opinion in many matters and take the view of church policy which would be in accordance with the sentiments of Anglo-Saxon Catholics. They lamented the dominance of the Latin nations in the councils of the church and the consequent divergence of church policy from the English conception of what was the most congruous and opportune. The late Dr. Mivart renewed the same lament in those unfortunate magazine articles which brought upon him inhibition from Cardinal Vaughan. In his subsequent letters to the Cardinal he repeated the same charge of indifference on the part of the Roman Curia to the opinions of English Catholics. The subject thus assumed a certain prominence, and so we find it discussed in The American Catholic Quarterly Review for October. In that article the Rev. Father Lynch of San Francisco argues that the Vatican shows its wisdom in declining to defer to Anglo-Saxon opinion. Father Lynch bases his argument on the inconsiderable number of Anglo-Saxon Catholics. We borrow from the Literary Digest a synopsis of his article, which is in many respects a valuable contribution to the history of modern English Catholicity. The Review thus summarizes Fr. Lynch’s article: In England itself, at the end of the reign of George II, he remarks, there were less than 100,000 Roman Catholics that had retained intact, from pre-Reformation days, the old allegiance to Rome. All these were with few exceptions “Anglo-Saxons.” The Roman Catholic Church in England and Wales now numbers about 1,500,000 according to the “Catholic Directory,” with a cardinal archbishop and fourteen suffragan bishops. Of this million and a half. Says Father Lunch, fully a million are Irish by birth or parentage. The Roman Catholics of the old stock are now, through natural increase, not over 200,000 in number: while the Oxford Movement, says the writer, has added about 200,000 more native Englishmen. In Scotland, where the ancient Roman hierarchy was restored in 1878, with two archbishops and four suffragan bishops, there are now, according to the archbishop’s estimates, 420,000 Roman Catholics of which from one fourth to one third are Gaelic Scotch of the Highlands, and the rest Irish. The whole population of Scotland according to the last census, is about 4,000,000; but no official religious census is taken there or elsewhere in the British Isles. In Ireland, our of a population of 5,000,000 there are about 3,500,000 Roman Catholics with a Cardinal archbishop, three other archbishops, and twenty-three bishops. These are with insignificant exceptions, Celtic Irish. In India and Ceylon: which have well organized hierarchy, there are about 1,200,000 Roman Catholics, largely Portuguese, Spanish and Irish, together with a few thousand natives. In New Zealand and Australia, which have a hierarchy consisting of a cardinal two archbishops and about fifteen bishops there are about 1,00,000 Roman Catholics, almost wholly of Irish parentage. In Canada, with a hierarchy consisting of a cardinal, seven archbishops and twenty- three bishops, there are estimated to be 2,000,000 Roman Catholics, of which fully 1,300,000 says Father Clinch, are French, and 500,000 Irish and Scotch. In the United States, which possess one of the largest hierarchies in the world, consisting of a cardinal archbishop, thirteen other archbishops and seventy eight bishops, the latest estimates of the Roman Catholic population vary from 8,464,000 to 12,000,000; the former being the estimate of Dr. Carroll. Of these, says Father Clinch there are more Spanish- American Catholics than Anglo- Saxon, ‘ at least five times as many of French origin’, nearly the same number of Italians, and fully four times as many Poles and Catholic Slavonians,’ as to say nothing of several millions of German and Irish Roman Catholics. Thus, of the estimated 223,000,000 Roman Catholics in the world – we take the estimate of “The Church Missionary Atlas,” a Protestant publication- it is seen that not only about 20,000,000 or less than ten per cent belong to the English speaking peoples, and of these hardly more than half a million are of real Anglo- Saxon stock. Indeed, of the non-Anglo-Saxon portion, many like the French in Canada and the Spanish and Portuguese in various parts of the British empire – do not speak English. So far as both the British Isles and the empire are concerned. Father Lynch says that the Roman Catholic population is diminishing both relatively and actually. In conclusion he writes: ‘We may judge the value of the signal advantages and favours’ which the church enjoys in the British empire, according to Mr. Mivart, and how far the spread of that empire is making for Catholic progress by comparing the actual number of Catholics under its rule today what they were sixty years ago. It is a fact that the Catholic population of the British Islands is now hardly two thirds of what it was at the beginning of Victoria’s reign. England Ireland and Scotland, then had eight millions of Catholics in a total of twenty- three millions. Catholics were then a third of Victoria’s subjects in Europe. Today they are hardly a sixth. Adding in the whole Catholic English speaking population of Canada, Australia, and all other British colonies, there are now a million fewer Catholics in the empire than there were when Victoria came to the throne. The Catholics of the German empire have increased from eleven to fourteen millions since 1875; those of Holland nearly three quarters of a million since 1840. In every other country of the world- in Austria, Switzerland, Belgium, France and Germany, Italy, Spain —there has been a notable increase in the number of Catholics. In the British empire alone there has been a steady decrease. This fact is not altered in its nature because it is due to the disappearance of Irishmen mainly. Then, as now, they formed the one large Catholic population within the empire, and if its policy dooms that population to destruction or expatriation its policy is distinctly hostile to Catholic progress. The building of churches and schools and the increase in the clergy and hierarchies of England and Scotland are poor compensation indeed for the extermination of the Catholic people of Ireland. "It is with no feeling of nation jealousy that we have shown how false is the assertion that the spread of the British empire is a preparation for Catholic progress. So far it has been the one power which has absolutely made the number of Catholics among its subjects decrease, while Catholics are growing in numbers in every other land. Its action on the Irish Catholics today is similar to inaction on the English Catholic body from the days of Elizabeth to those of George III. Year by year they are diminishing, as if struck by some fatal disease, wherever the English flag flies. The remedy will come in God's time, but it will not come from any benignant influence of English ideas, or unfounded assertions of Catholic progress under English institution. The facts speak for themselves.”