Record in Britain
SIR,-li suggest that the figures submitted by Mr. Robson of New Malden present a wholly distorted historical background. The victims of Queen Mary's reign were without exception those who, after three decades of religious chaos. repudiated the traditional doctrines of 15 centuries. Many were aggressive and obscene abusers of the fundamentals of the Christian religion, deriding the name of Jesus by refusing to bow thereat and spitting upon the Host itself (XVIth Century Persecution, C. Hollis, M.P.). One priest at least was stabbed at the altar; dead cats in doll's Mass vestments were nailed to church doors. Were these people Anglicans?
The Catholic Dictionary lists about 900 English and Irish martyrs, most of whom suffered judicial disembowelling between 1534 and 1681. Almost without exception they were selfless and apostolic men with no taste for vilification of their opponents. Nominally executed for treason, under new-fangled and very comprehensive penal enactments, they were in fact killed by those who claimed to be the enlightened protagonists of the right o private judgment in interpreting Holy Writ, or alternatively, those who subscribed to the Lutheran dictum. Coins regio ejus religio. The last priest to die, after 30 years in prison, was Fr. Atkinson, in 1729, " for exercising his religious functions."
I submit that statistical figures of
religious persecution should not exclude the thousands of cloistered persons turned adrift to starve by Thomas Cromwell; the very large number who were massacred as a result of their reliance upon Henry's perjured promises after the Pilgrimage of Grace (1536); nor the 4,0005,000 put to the sword by foreign mercenaries in the Western Rising of 1549 (Pollard, Political History of England, vol. vi. and Catholicism in England, Mathew).
Crushing fines for recusancy im
posed by the Cecils impoverished hundreds of families, and three centuries were to elapse before the Innovators deemed it safe to afford relief to the adherents of that faith which had formerly enjoyed undisputed prestige in Western Europe as the well of unadulterated Truth.
Without wishing to be unduly
selective, I submit that an impartial comparison of the personalities of some outstanding figures of the English " Reformation " would be illuminating.
On the one side we find people of indisputably unblemished character, e.g., Catherine of Aragon, SS. John Hsher and Thomas More, Queen Mary Tudor herself, Cardinal Pole, Bd. Edmund Campion, Bishop Goldwell, etc. Would anyone care to hold a brief
on behalf of the obscene Luther, the lustful Henry, the frail and malicious Anne Boleyn, the brutal Thomas Cromwell, enigmatic Elizabeth the Virgin, the atheistic Cecil& blackmailer Walsingham, and those two peculiar perverts, James I and William Ill? The persecuting activities of Cramer, Ridley and Latimer during the currency of Henry's Six Articles betray the time-serving hypocrisy of these episcopal " Reformers" of religion.
C. L KERR.
Durrant House, Rye.