The whitewashing of England’s Catholic history

This is a very interesting article, especially since one doesn’t think that much about Catholic contributions to British economy, political liberty, and literacy.

from: The Catholic Herald:

A 19th century view of Magna Carta

The invention of liberty, literacy and prosperity have all been wrongly portrayed as Protestant developments

Last week I was writing about Magna Carta and how the Catholic Church’s role has been written out, in particular the part of the Archbishop of Canterbury, Stephen Langton.

But the same could also be said about much of English history from 600AD to 1600; from the very first law code written in English, which begins with a clause protecting Church property, to the intellectual flourishing of the 13th century, led by churchmen such as Roger Bacon, the Franciscan friar who foresaw air travel.

However, the whitewashing of English Catholic history is mainly seen in three areas: political liberty, economic prosperity and literacy, all of which are seen as being linked to Protestantism.

Yet not only was Magna Carta overseen by churchmen…

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7 comments on “The whitewashing of England’s Catholic history

  1. jubilare says:

    History is usually written by the loudest voice, at least for a while. The enmity between Catholic and Protestant, both historically and currently, is intolerable. Even apart from the brutality involved, the partisanism has skewed our understanding of history for centuries.

    …it’s not exactly easy for me, a Protestant, to explain my view of the Catholic Church. I’m well aware of what I owe to the Church. I even want to reunite with it, but I cannot conform to all that it demands for reunification. The best I can manage, as things stand, is to consider the Church part of my family and hope that, one of these days, we’ll figure out how to not just bridge the gap, but to close it.


    • Basically, the only way for Catholic and Protestant Churches to combine is by way of full unity of doctrine. Until then, we have at least partial communion with each other through the beliefs held in common. I think that much of the enmity between Catholics and Protestants has been dissolved, especially since the Catholic Church does not hold much political power anymore and the Wars of Religion are long past.

      Though, I’m sure there are some haughty Catholics and Protestants who believe that the Pope wants to rule the world who manage to keep wide the wounds of division. 🙂


      • jubilare says:

        That idea of the unity of doctrine is one of the biggest issues, for me, in the divisions of Christianity. Not just between Catholic, Protestant, and Orthodox, but between certain branches of the Protestant family. It seems to deny the fallibility of human perception and assumption that shows up so glaringly in our histories.
        I think our unity, if it comes before Christ, Himself, makes our faith perfect, will be more like a working relationship than full agreement. As the world presses in on us, and we begin to realize, more and more, that the beliefs we share are greater than the ones on which we differ, we will be more ready to accept those differences as less-than-essential.
        Maybe I’m wrong. If so, I hope I’ll come to see it. But that’s where I currently stand.

        Not so long past, but hopefully done. My one comfort, in regards to the wars of religion and the political sway of all branches of Christianity, is that I am sure God will confront the men and women who used His Name and Church to further their own earthly goals. I think they have more to answer for than, perhaps, anyone else.

        Sadly, I’ve met some. 😛 But you are right, things seem to be changing for the better in that regard.


      • Well, there is a fallibility of human perception, but God has promised the Church the gift of the Paraclete in order to lead it into all truth. In the Catholic Church, this gift is especially strong in the Magisterium because of the bishops’ Apostolic dignity. One finds that the ruling of this majority has been consistent throughout time. The difficulty with Protestantism is that no such class of persons exists within it. The Bible may be perceived differently by various interpreters, which would cause the Church to fragment easily were it not for the fact that an authoritative body for the interpretation of doctrine exists. Similarly, the early Church would have broken up into Pelagianism, Donatism, Arianism, Gnosticism, Sabellianism, Iconoclasm, and other dissident groups were it not for the majority decisions made by the bishops and ratified by the Pope.

        But, especially in the present political climate, one sees that there is more uniting Catholics, Orthodox, and Protestants–especially since we all agree on the central doctrines of the Trinity and the Incarnation–than dividing us. Hopefully, we can work together to produce a moral, Christian environment for our children and grandchildren to grow up in. Such is my fond wish, at any rate!

        Liked by 1 person

      • jubilare says:

        The problem there, though, is one of trust. The Catholic Church, like the rest, doesn’t have a clean record. Human fallibility may be mitigated over time, especially with the leading of God, but that doesn’t stop the damage of the moment. I grant that Protestantism is a fractured mess, but it has also asked questions that needed to be asked, and opened hearts to God that might otherwise have remained closed. I truly believe that Catholicism, Orthodoxy, and Protestantism need each other in order to become whole. From what I understand, though, that belief is contrary to both Catholicism and Orthodoxy (please correct me if I am wrong, but that seems to be true) and also contrary to the beliefs of many Protestants (who think it is their way or the highway 😛 ).

        At any rate, if I am wrong, I hope to be corrected. That’s the best I can do, at present. 🙂


      • True, Protestantism is surely a force for good and the conversion of people to Christ. But, Catholics and Orthodox (our separation was mostly political even if doctrinal disputes were added) would say that unity of doctrine is essential. Our Lord’s prayer at the Last Supper in the Gospel of John was that all his disciples would be one, a oneness which has always had orthodoxy at its heart. At least, we can still enjoy partial communion now and unity on many issues. But, I might be looking at the matter in a rather narrow-minded way. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      • jubilare says:

        I actually agree completely about the importance of oneness and unity of doctrine. If we cannot agree on anything, then the word “Christian” means nothing useful. Where I break with the Catholic and Orthodox understanding of what that means is in the details. I agree with more than I disagree with. But I object to being told that I must accept (not necessarily agree with, but submit to) all, or be left outside.
        Don’t get me wrong… I understand, or at least I think I understand (there’s still a lot for me to learn) why that line is drawn. We all draw the line somewhere. The question is, where and why.
        But yes, partial communion and unity for now. Perhaps far closer as the storms close in around us. And hereafter, of course, the hope of either finding answers to these complicated questions, or else realizing that the questions themselves were never as important as we thought they were. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

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