The Catholic Church in the United States: A Political and Episcopal History
Part I The English Reformation
Presented by St. Louis Bertrand Chapter of the Lay Fraternities of St. Dominic
Thursday, Sept 13, 2018
6:30 PM at the CNY Marian Center, 5180 W Taft Rd, Syracuse, NY 13212
Lecture by Mr. Richard Fitzgerald, OP.
Retired Adjunct Professor in History, OCC
The historical narrative that evolved out of the English Reformation centered on the argument that the Catholic Church in sixteenth England had lost the support of the English people. The Protestant thesis described the Church as a decadent, corrupt organization that abused its members. This dying church, according to the reformers, created a religious/spiritual vacuum that was filled by the new purified Church of England.
In the late twentieth century this historical depiction was challenged by a number of British historians of the Reformation period. One of the most prominent of these "revisionist" historians was Professor Eamon Duffy of Cambridge University. In his groundbreaking work, The Stripping of the Altars, Duffy challenged the traditional Protestant narrative by examining the records of numerous Catholic parishes of pre- Reformation England. He found that the vast majority of the English people loved and embraced Catholicism. To quote Professor Duffy, "Hostility to the Papacy was not the cause of the English Reformation, it was one of its consequences."
The presentation will explore the work of the revisionist historians and the multi generational attack by the Tudor regime on the Catholic Church. In time a historical narrative would be constructed that equated Protestantism with patriotism and Catholicism with treason. This worldview would eventually be transported to the English colonies;which in turn would be the basis the anti-Catholicism which still exists today.