29.09.

1850: Renewed Strength of the Catholic Church in England

1850: Renewed Strength of the Catholic Church in England
Photo Credit To Wikipedia Commons

Story Highlights

  • Historical event:
  • 29 September 1850
  • The number of Catholics in England has grown. The former Prime Minister Tony Blair also converted to Catholicism. According to surveys, about 5.2 million Catholics live in England and Wales.

On this day in 1850, the Catholic hierarchy in England was restored after a few-hundred-year period.

In fact, there had been no Catholic bishops since the death of the last bishop appointed by the Catholic Queen Mary I (Mary Tudor) in the 16th century.

During the reign of her sister, the Protestant Queen Elizabeth I, Catholicism was persecuted in England, and members of the Anglican Church (Church of England) became new owners of the former dioceses.

Queen Elizabeth I considered herself the Supreme Governor of the Church of England, following the example of her father Henry VIII, who had broken with Rome.

The English monarch holds a position in the Anglican Church similar to the position of the Pope in the Catholic Church. Anglican bishops are subordinated to the ruler, who is the head of the Anglican Church.  The Archbishop of Canterbury holds the highest “rank” among them. On the other hand, there were no Catholic bishops in England.

Pope Pius IX reestablished the Roman Catholic diocesan hierarchy in England by his papal bull “Universalis Ecclesiae”, issued on this day in Rome.

Therefore, he established Catholic dioceses and provinces in England. Specifically, one archdiocese was established, and 12 dioceses were subordinated to it.

This new archdiocese was the Archdiocese of Westminster, and the Archbishop of Westminster actually became the highest prelate of the Catholic Church in England.

He still holds this position. Since 1850, every Archbishop of Westminster was appointed a cardinal. Furthermore, Archbishops of Westminster are usually the presidents of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales.

The pope was quite considerate when he established dioceses in England. In fact, new names were given to the dioceses because the old ones were in use by Anglican bishops (Canterbury, York, Bath etc.).

If he had appointed a Catholic Archbishop of Canterbury, conflict with the Anglican Church would have occurred, because there would have been two bishops of the same diocese.

To date, the number of Catholics has grown in England. The former Prime Minister Tony Blair also converted to Catholicism.

According to surveys, about 5.2 million Catholics live in England and Wales. For example, Catholics make up about 46% of the population of Liverpool.

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