Thursday, May 21, 2009

Peter Hitchens: The importance of being Roman and Catholic

Peter Hitchens writes today upon a matter of nomenclature for the use of which Cranmer is not infrequently chided. He observes:

More religiously-related matters: I am chided for using the term 'Roman Catholic'. I really cannot see that this is so terrible. Its use in England (I cannot speak for elsewhere, hence my use of the word 'Catholic' above to describe the German Edith Stein) is designed to make the point that the Church of England regards itself as both Catholic and Reformed, and many Anglicans, though not members of the Roman Church, regard themselves as Catholics. I know this comes as a surprise to many English Roman Catholics, who are often strikingly ill-informed about the Church of England. But it is so. I could take them to some C of E churches where the worship and doctrine were considerably more Catholic than anything to be found readily in a modern RC Church. A Roman Catholic colleague of mine, unable to get to his usual church a few Christmases ago, found his way in emergency into a rather 'High' Anglican church instead, and was barely able to tell them apart. This doesn't happen to be my tradition. I am to be found in the Latitudinarian middle. But it is very strong, and not to be ignored.

What's more, the expression 'Roman Catholic' does not strike me as specially wounding ,or meant to be (though I suspect the description of the Pope as 'Bishop of Rome' in the Thirty Nine Articles was deliberately intended as a snub). The Roman Catholic church is after all headquartered in Rome, uses Latin as its language of business (and until recently as its language of worship) and was for many generations greatly dominated by Italian clergy. Were I to use expressions such as ‘Romish’ or ‘Papist’, I could see that this might be taken as rude. But ‘Roman Catholic?’ No.

On the day that the Most Reverend Vincent Nichols is installed in the Roman Catholic Cathedral of Westminser as the 11th Roman Catholic Archbishop of that diocese, Cranmer hopes that Mr Hitchens' gracious exposition of the importance of being Roman and Catholic is clear and understood.


Anonymous Main stream Parties Suck said...

More clear and understood than what your point here is.

21 May 2009 at 12:02  
Anonymous Hank Petram said...

Visiting a Greek Orthodox church as a tourist in Israel, I asked the priest (the pope?) some questions about the icons, and I compared some of them to what I innocently said I had observed in "Catholic" churches. He politely but sternly picked me up on my error, correcting my statement to "Roman Catholic" churches, because, of course, the Orthodox Church regards itself as Catholic as well.

21 May 2009 at 14:21  
Anonymous Shane O'Neill said...

'Roman' Catholic need not necessary imply the universality of external communities, and it is perfectly consonant with ultramontane ecclesiology. Indeed, it is often employed by uniates to denote the Latin sui juris jurisdiction in distinguishing it from all the other constituent jurisdictions under the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church.

21 May 2009 at 14:25  
Anonymous bugs bunny said...

Roman Catholic -Catholic Encyclopedia

A qualification of the name Catholic commonly used in English-speaking countries by those unwilling to recognize the claims of the One True Church. Out of condescension for these dissidents, the members of that Church are wont in official documents to be styled "Roman Catholics" as if the term Catholic represented a genus of which those who owned allegiance to the pope formed a particular species. It is in fact a prevalent conception among Anglicans to regard the whole Catholic Church as made up of three principal branches, the Roman Catholic, the Anglo-Catholic and the Greek Catholic. As the erroneousness of this point of view has been sufficiently explained in the articles CHURCH and CATHOLIC, it is only needful here to consider the history of the composite term with which we are now concerned.

In the "Oxford English Dictionary", the highest existing authority upon questions of English philology, the following explanation is given under the heading "Roman Catholic".

"The use of this composite term in place of the simple Roman, Romanist, or Romish; which had acquired an invidious sense, appears to have arisen in the early years of the seventeenth century. For conciliatory reasons it was employed in the negotiations connected with the Spanish Match (1618-1624) and appears in formal documents relating to this printed by Rushworth (I, 85-89). After that date it was generally adopted as a non-controversial term and has long been the recognized legal and official designation, though in ordinary use Catholic alone is very frequently employed. (New Oxford Dict., VIII, 766)"

Of the illustrative quotations which follow, the earliest in date is one of 1605 from the "Europae Speculum" of Edwin Sandys: "Some Roman Catholiques will not say grace when a Protestant is present"; while a passage from Day's "Festivals" of 1615, contrasts "Roman Catholiques" with "good, true Catholiques indeed".

Although the account thus given in the Oxford Dictionary is in substance correct, it cannot be considered satisfactory. To begin with the word is distinctly older than is here suggested. When about the year 1580 certain English Catholics, under stress of grievous persecution, defended the lawfulness of attending Protestant services to escape the fines imposed on recusants, the Jesuit Father Persons published, under the pseudonym of Howlet, a clear exposition of the "Reasons why Catholiques refuse to goe to Church". This was answered in 1801 by a writer of Puritan sympathies, Percival Wiburn, who in his "Checke or Reproofe of M. Howlet" uses the term "Roman Catholic" repeatedly. For example he speaks of "you Romane Catholickes that sue for tolleration" (p. 140) and of the "parlous dilemma or streight which you Romane Catholickes are brought into" (p. 44). Again Robert Crowley, another Anglican controversialist, in his book called "A Deliberat Answere", printed in 1588, though adopting by preference the forms "Romish Catholike" or "Popish Catholike", also writes of those "who wander with the Romane Catholiques in the uncertayne hypathes of Popish devises" (p. 86). A study of these and other early examples in their context shows plainly enough that the qualification "Romish Catholic" or "Roman Catholic" was introduced by Protestant divines who highly resented the Roman claim to any monopoly of the term Catholic. In Germany, Luther had omitted the word Catholic from the Creed, but this was not the case in England.

21 May 2009 at 14:33  
Anonymous bugs bunny said...

Even men of such Calvinistic leanings as Philpot (he was burned under Mary in 1555), and John Foxe the martyrologist, not to speak of churchmen like Newel and Fulke, insisted on the right of the Reformers to call themselves Catholics and professed to regard their own as the only true Catholic Church. Thus Philpot represents himself as answering his Catholic examiner: "I am, master doctor, of the unfeigned Catholic Church and will live and die therein, and if you can prove your Church to be the True Catholic Church, I will be one of the same" (Philpot, "Works", Parker Soc., p. 132). It would be easy to quote many similar passages. The term "Romish Catholic" or "Roman Catholic" undoubtedly originated with the Protestant divines who shared this feeling and who were unwilling to concede the name Catholic to their opponents without qualification. Indeed the writer Crowley, just mentioned, does not hesitate throughout a long tract to use the term "Protestant Catholics" the name which he applies to his antagonists. Thus he says "We Protestant Catholiques are not departed from the true Catholique religion" (p. 33) and he refers more than once to "Our Protestant Catholique Church," (p. 74)

On the other hand the evidence seems to show that the Catholics of the reign of Elizabeth and James I were by no means willing to admit any other designation for themselves than the unqualified name Catholic. Father Southwell's "Humble Supplication to her Majesty" (1591), though criticized by some as over-adulatory in tone, always uses the simple word. What is more surprising, the same may be said of various addresses to the Crown drafted under the inspiration of the "Appellant" clergy, who were suspected by their opponents of subservience to the government and of minimizing in matters of dogma. This feature is very conspicuous, to take a single example, in "the Protestation of allegiance" drawn up by thirteen missioners, 31 Jan., 1603, in which they renounce all thought of "restoring the Catholic religion by the sword", profess their willingness "to persuade all Catholics to do the same" and conclude by declaring themselves ready on the one hand "to spend their blood in the defence of her Majesty" but on the other "rather to lose their lives than infringe the lawful authority of Christ's Catholic Church" (Tierney-Dodd, III, p. cxc). We find similar language used in Ireland in the negotiations carried on by Tyrone in behalf of his Catholic countrymen. Certain apparent exceptions to this uniformity of practice can be readily explained. To begin with we do find that Catholics not unfrequently use the inverted form of the name "Roman Catholic" and speak of the "Catholic Roman faith" or religion. An early example is to be found in a little controversial tract of 1575 called "a Notable Discourse" where we read for example that the heretics of old "preached that the Pope was Antichriste, shewing themselves verye eloquent in detracting and rayling against the Catholique Romane Church" (p. 64). But this was simply a translation of the phraseology common both in Latin and in the Romance languages "Ecclesia Catholica Romana," or in French "l'Eglise catholique romaine". It was felt that this inverted form contained no hint of the Protestant contention that the old religion was a spurious variety of true Catholicism or at best the Roman species of a wider genus. Again, when we find Father Persons (e.g. in his "Three Conversions," III, 408) using the term "Roman Catholic", the context shows that he is only adopting the name for the moment as conveniently embodying the contention of his adversaries.

21 May 2009 at 14:35  
Anonymous bugs bunny said...

Once more in a very striking passage in the examination of one James Clayton in 1591 (see Cal. State Papers, Dom. Eliz., add., vol. XXXII, p. 322) we read that the deponent "was persuaded to conforme himself to the Romaine Catholique faith." But there is nothing to show that these were the actual words of the recusant himself, or that, if they were, they were not simply dictated by a desire to conciliate his examiners. The "Oxford Dictionary" is probably right in assigning the recognition of "Roman Catholic" as the official style of the adherents of the Papacy in England to the negotiations for the Spanish Match (1618-24). In the various treaties etc., drafted in connection with this proposal, the religion of the Spanish princess is almost always spoken of as "Roman Catholic". Indeed in some few instances the word Catholic alone is used. This feature does not seem to occur in any of the negotiations of earlier date which touched upon religion, e.g. those connected with the proposed d'Alencon marriage in Elizabeth's reign, while in Acts of Parliament, proclamations, etc., before the Spanish match, Catholics are simply described as Papists or Recusants, and their religion as popish, Romanish, or Romanist. Indeed long after this period, the use of the term Roman Catholic continued to be a mark of condescension, and language of much more uncomplimentary character was usually preferred. It was perhaps to encourage a friendlier attitude in the authorities that Catholics themselves henceforth began to adopt the qualified term in all official relations with the government. Thus the "Humble Remonstrance, Acknowledgment, Protestation and Petition of the Roman Catholic Clergy of Ireland" in 1661, began "We, your Majesty's faithful subjects the Roman Catholick clergy of Ireland". The same Practice seems to have obtained in Maryland; see or example the Consultation entitled "Objections answered touching Maryland", drafted by Father R Blount, S.J., in 1632 (B. Johnston, "Foundation of Maryland, etc., 1883, 29), and wills proved 22 Sep., 1630, and 19 Dec., 1659, etc., (in Baldwin, "Maryland Cat. of Wills", 19 vols., vol. i. Naturally the wish to conciliate hostile opinion only grew greater as Catholic Emancipation became a question of practical politics, and by that time it would appear that many Catholics themselves used the qualified form not only when addressing the outside public but in their domestic discussions. A short-lived association, organized in 1794 with the fullest approval of the vicars Apostolic, to counteract the unorthodox tendencies of the Cisalpine Club, was officially known as the "Roman Catholic Meeting" (Ward, "Dawn of Cath. Revival in England", II, 65). So, too, a meeting of the Irish bishops under the presidency of Dr. Troy at Dublin in 1821 passed resolutions approving of an Emancipation Bill then before a Parliament, in which they uniformly referred to members of their own communion as "Roman Catholics". Further, such a representative Catholic as Charles Butler in his "Historical Memoirs" (see e.g. vol. IV, 1821, pp. 185, 199, 225, etc., ) frequently uses the term "roman-catholic" [sic] and seems to find this expression as natural as the unqualified form.

21 May 2009 at 14:36  
Anonymous bugs bunny said...

With the strong Catholic revival in the middle of the nineteenth century and the support derived from the uncompromising zeal of many earnest converts, such for example as Faber and Manning, an inflexible adherence to the name Catholic without qualification once more became the order of the day. The government, however, would not modify the official designation or suffer it to be set aside in addresses presented to the Sovereign on public occasions. In two particular instances during the archiepiscopate of Cardinal Vaughan this point was raised and became the subject of correspondence between the cardinal and the Home Secretary. In 1897 at the Diamond Jubilee of the accession of Queen Victoria, and again in 1901 when Edward VII succeeded to the throne, the Catholic episcopate desired to present addresses, but on each occasion it was intimated to the cardinal that the only permissible style would be "the Roman Catholic Archbishop and Bishops in England". Even the form "the Cardinal Archbishop and Bishops of the Catholic and Roman Church in England" was not approved. On the first occasion no address was presented, but in 1901 the requirements of the Home Secretary as to the use of the name "Roman Catholics" were complied with, though the cardinal reserved to himself the right of explaining subsequently on some public occasion the sense in which he used the words (see Snead-Cox, "Life of Cardinal Vaughan", II, 231-41). Accordingly, at the Newcastle Conference of the Catholic Truth Society (Aug., 1901) the cardinal explained clearly to his audience that "the term Roman Catholic has two meanings; a meaning that we repudiate and a meaning that we accept." The repudiated sense was that dear to many Protestants, according to which the term Catholic was a genus which resolved itself into the species Roman Catholic, Anglo-Catholic, Greek Catholic, etc. But, as the cardinal insisted, "with us the prefix Roman is not restrictive to a species, or a section, but simply declaratory of Catholic." The prefix in this sense draws attention to the unity of the Church, and "insists that the central point of Catholicity is Roman, the Roman See of St. Peter."

21 May 2009 at 14:37  
Anonymous bugs bunny said...

It is noteworthy that the representative Anglican divine, Bishop Andrewes, in his "Tortura Torti" (1609) ridicules the phrase Ecclesia Catholica Romana as a contradiction in terms. "What," he asks, "is the object of adding 'Roman'? The only purpose that such an adjunct can serve is to distinguish your Catholic Church from another Catholic Church which is not Roman" (p. 368). It is this very common line of argument which imposes upon Catholics the necessity of making no compromise in the matter of their own name. The loyal adherents of the Holy See did not begin in the sixteenth century to call themselves "Catholics" for controversial purposes. It is the traditional name handed down to us continuously from the time of St. Augustine. We use this name ourselves and ask those outside the Church to use it, without reference to its signification simply because it is our customary name, just as we talk of the Russian Church as "the Orthodox Church", not because we recognize its orthodoxy but because its members so style themselves, or again just as we speak of "the Reformation" because it is the term established by custom, though we are far from owning that it was a reformation in either faith or morals. The dog-in-the-manger policy of so many Anglicans who cannot take the name of Catholics for themselves, because popular usage has never sanctioned it as such, but who on the other hand will not concede it to the members of the Church of Rome, was conspicuously brought out in the course of a correspondence on this subject in the London "Saturday Review" (Dec., 1908 to March, 1909) arising out of a review of some of the earlier volumes of THE CATHOLIC ENCYCLOPEDIA.

21 May 2009 at 14:37  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The same misappropriation of the word 'catholic' applies within the Anglican church, with 'Forward with Faith' types claiming it's exclusive use even though the whole of the church is both catholic and reformed. One could debate that those on the low church side are not catholic, but those of the 'Affirming Catholicism' flavour are just as entitled to the catholic label as FwF types.
What was it Rowan said in Jamaica ? Something along the lines of Anglicans seeming to reach out less ( read attack ) internally than externally. Such are the factions in the Anglican church. But like Desmond Tutu said, the Anglican church is messy, yet lovable.

21 May 2009 at 14:48  
Anonymous Hank Petram said...

Anyone who has been baptised in the Church of England and wishes to convert to the [Roman] Catholic Church will not be baptised all over again but will proceed straight to First Communion. In other words, the Catholic Church recognizes Anglican baptisms as valid. Catholic priests I have spoken to don’t consider the C of E Protestant at all -- they speak of “Catholics, Anglicans, and Protestants” as three categories, not two.

21 May 2009 at 15:09  
OpenID yokel said...

When a youngster, I was taught that "catholic" just meant "universal". Surely, even in these days of stupid patent legislation and litigation, the Roman church cannot lay claim to the word universal or even to its synonym.

21 May 2009 at 15:17  
Blogger Arden Forester said...

Baptism is recognised by all mainstream churches. There is no requirement to be "Rebaptised".

I have found that some Roman Catholics can be decidedly cruel in their comments about Anglican Catholics. They'd far rather have a protestant as a friend than someone "purporting" to be a Catholic.

Hitchens hits the nail on the head quite well.

21 May 2009 at 15:47  
OpenID jamestheless said...

Your Grace,

"I could take them to some C of E churches where the worship and doctrine were considerably more Catholic than anything to be found readily in a modern RC Church."

This seems to be a misunderstanding of the term Catholic. It does not mean "similar to Roman practice".

Of course, the term "Roman Catholic" is not strictly accurate; around a dozen non-Roman Churches are in communion with the Pope, including the Melkites and the Greek Catholics (often called "Uniates", but it seems that is now politically incorrect as well).

However, it is a convenient shorthand for distinguishing Catholic Churches which are in communion with Rome from those which are not - the Eastern Orthodox, the Oriental Orthodox (often called "Monophysites" but that's politically incorrect as well) and so on.

What precisely is the objection to the term "Roman Catholic"? And what alternative is proposed?

21 May 2009 at 16:52  
Blogger ultramontane grumpy old catholic said...

Your Grace

Watching the wonderful service this lunchtime where Archbishop Nichols was enthroned (sorry - installed) as Archbishop of Westminster, I noticed George Carey, one of the honoured guests singing the Credo with the best of them - even the bit 'et Unam Sanctam Catholicam et Apostolicam Ecclesiam'.

Anglicans at least still celebrate today's feast 'Ascension Day' which in my Church has been moved to next Sunday - for the convenience of the faithful - i.e RC-lite. Shame on the RC Bishops in this country for instigating this.

I am sad to hear that RCs are cruel in their treatment of ACs. It's mostly through ignorance I feel. If they read the Anglo Catholic blogs they will find that the Anglo Catholics tend to be closer to Rome than many RCs in this country.

21 May 2009 at 16:53  
Blogger Little Black Sambo said...

What does it matter what we call one another, and ourselves?

21 May 2009 at 17:09  
Anonymous BJ said...

Your Grace,

Might I remind your communicants of Article 22 of the 39 Articles of the Church of England?

The Romish Doctrine concerning Purgatory, Pardons, Worshipping and Adoration, as well of Images as of Relics, and also Invocation of Saints, is a fond thing, vainly invented, and grounded upon no warranty of Scripture, but rather repugnant to the Word of God.

21 May 2009 at 17:11  
Anonymous BJ said...

And, while I think about it, part of Article 31?

Wherefore the sacrifices of Masses, in the which it was commonly said, that the Priest did offer Christ for the quick and the dead, to have remission of pain or guilt, were blasphemous fables, and dangerous deceits.

21 May 2009 at 17:13  
Anonymous not a machine said...

thankyou your grace for clarifying why it is recited in the creed .

Arch Bishop Vinces inaguration was quite impressive

21 May 2009 at 17:57  
Anonymous otacilia severa said...

I noticed that during one of yesterday's distressing accounts of abuse of children the reporter referred to the Irish Catholic Church.

21 May 2009 at 19:36  
Anonymous mikey d said...

Peter Hitchens is a big man in the Catholic Church sure enough.

21 May 2009 at 21:59  
OpenID agellius said...

Since "Roman" Catholics are by far the majority, why not let them be called simply "Catholics", and members of the C of E "Westminstrish Catholics"?

21 May 2009 at 23:00  
Anonymous Morus said...

I am Catholic, and am perfectly happy (perhaps wrongly) describing myself as Roman Catholic.

It is the clearest expression of what I am, not Anglo Catholic, or Melkite, or Greek Catholic - I am a Roman Catholic.

I never knew the history, but I think it's been fairly successfully 'reclaimed' as a term.

22 May 2009 at 00:58  
Blogger ZZMike said...

The Presbyterians' Creed says "I believe in the Holy Ghost; the holy catholic church; the communion of saints, ..." (though I notice that more than a few people balk at the word "catholic", substituting "universal"). (We also say "forgive us our debts" when everybody knows that the correct word is "trespasses" (but that won't fit in the time, so we say it very fast)).

I think that in common parlance, when someone says "Catholic" he means "Roman Catholic" (unless he's addressing Melkites or Greek orthodox). In academic discourse, of course, precision is greatly to be valued, so adding "Roman" is appropriate.

"... part of Article 31?" These Articles may present some impediment to a fully ecumenical communion between Canterbury and Rome. But that is an old story going back to Thomas More and Henry VIII.

(I finally got around to looking up "ultramontane". The various definitions support one another. We have two things in common: Canticle for Liebowitz and Jesuit teachers.)

22 May 2009 at 01:41  
Blogger Manfarang said...

With all the priestly cover-ups just say The Abusers.

22 May 2009 at 02:18  
Blogger Manfarang said...

Mrs T to meet Pope.
Interfaith meeting on the worship of Mammon!

22 May 2009 at 03:49  
Blogger Manfarang said...

The Good Samaritan wouldn't have been a Good Samaritan if he didn't have an expense account!
Here endeth the first lesson.

22 May 2009 at 03:55  
Anonymous Sandy Jamieson said...

Following on ZZ Mike @ 01.41, when I was offered the Hand of Fellowship in the Church of Scotland in the late 1960s. I was welcomed to the Holy Catholic Church.

Taking on the point about the wording of the Lord's Prayer. the usuage of "Debts/Debtors" as opposed to Trespassess/Trespass" was not rigid. It often depended on the individual preferences of the Minister or the Kirk Session
Indeed I am fairly certain I have heard the great William Barclay use both forms.

As for using the phrase "Roman Catholic", we certainly did not use it often. What many of us used to describe adherents to the Romish heresy would probably not be acceptable today. If we were being polite, we used the term "RC"

22 May 2009 at 18:04  

Post a Comment

<< Home

Newer›  ‹Older