Page 3, 29th May 1953

29th May 1953
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Page 3, 29th May 1953 — ENGLISH CATHOLICS AND THEIR SOVEREIGN
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ENGLISH CATHOLICS AND THEIR SOVEREIGN

HISTORY OF A DOUBLE ALLEGIANCE

By Dr. • GORDON ALBION

LOYAL SUBJECTS

o remain the Sovereign's loyal subjects has been the constant endeavour of English Catholics, who today, as ever, yield to none in their affectionate allegiance.

How they have maintained that loyalty through the centuries . . . even though sometimes their enemies have made it an instrument to ruin them . . . in face of casual indifference, puzzled dislike . . in times when they were no more than despised, secondclass citizens . . . is told in this article.

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ENDER to Cmsar t h c things that are Omar's, and to God the things that are God's." The Catholic's duty of the double allegiance need never be a difficulty, unless a dilemma of choice is forced upon his conscience.

English Catholics were faced with this dilemma 400 years ago when their Sovereign tried to telescope the double allegiance into a single one; when Henry VIII, uniting in his own hands the plenitude of power. both civil and spiritual, became, in the phrase of a f am nue Protestant Bishop, "the Pope, the whole Pope and something more than the Pope."

To deny this in all conscience and yet remain loyal subjects of the Sovereign has been the constant endeavour of English Catholics. Few would question that England's finest son and the loyalist servant of King and country, Henry's devoted personal friend with whom he loved to walk arm in arm at Chelsea, was Sir Thomas More. With the greatest reluctance the Saint made his choice and lost his life. It was a hypocritical lie to allege that he and Fisher died for treason.

II

No traitors

'WHEN the Elizabethan persecu V lion began in earnest it was a calumny first put out by Cecil, and now a stock libel in the history books, that good Englishmen, who chose imprisonment, t or tu re and death rather than forswear religious beliefs and practices arbitrarily outlawed by the Government, were traitors. Yet they were offered reprieval, not if they would profess loyalty to the Queen (which they did; Campion's last words were a

prayer for the Queen's prosperity), but if they would profess the newfangled religion imported from Germany, which they would not. Had they done so, they would indeed have been traitors-to conscience.

There is a stronger case against the men of the Lincolnshire outburst and the Pilgrimage of Grace in 1536; of the Western Rising of 1549 in .defence of the Mass; and of the Catholic earls of the Northern Rising in 1569. But these Englishmen were doing no more against the Tudor tyrants and the infamous governments of the day than Bolingbroke had done against Richard 11 or Richmond against Richard III; yet neither Henry IV nor Henry VII are usually branded as traitors.

As the subsequent cases of Ptan and Hampden show, not to mention the perjured but successful revolutionaries of 1688, it is often success or failure that makes the difference between justified revolt and high treason.

Catholics Mocked

UNDER the Stuarts it was well known that the loyalty of the persecuted Papists to the person of the Sovereign was unimpeachable. They hailed James I with enthusiasm. He wa's remembered as the Son of Mary Queen of Scots and the pen-friend of Popes and Cardinals; his own wife was a Catholic and he sought one for her son. Yet the loyalty of his Catholic subjects was mocked at and made an instrument to ruin them by the younger Cecil, the deviser of the anti Catholic Oath.

Charles 1. out of kindness of heart and love for his wife, largely neu tralized the persecution, tolerated Catholics at Court and enjoyed discussing the Faith with the Pope's envoy, He was rewarded when civil war broke out and English Catholics espoused the King's cause to a man -and accordingly suffered doubly for their% loyalty to their double allegiance.

Charles II owed his life to the Catholics of Staffordshire and to a Benedictine monk in particular. He was all the more inclined to free his Catholic subjects of their dilemma because he himself was convinced not only of this loyalty but of the truth of their Faith which he himself accepted on his death-bed. Yet he said ; "I cannot pardon them because I dare not."

It was the politician who spoke. There was none of it in his brother, hut James II, our last Catholic King, was both honourable and a man of conscience, qualities that he soon found did not pay.

With his Catholic subjects as loyal as ever to the Crown, it was the politicians who betrayed the King, and in particular his close friend. John Churchill, whose treachery set him on the path that led to a dukedom.

The accession of Dutch William in 1688 meant for the English Catho

lics the loss of their leaders into a French exile and destroyed all their hopes for the next 90 years,

Excluded

BY the Succession Act of 1700, 13 Catholics of Royal Stuart blood were excluded from the throne and the German Hanoverians were summoned to save England for ever from a Popish prince, George I could hardly speak a word of English; and in matters of religion, though his younger brother Prince Max had become a Catholic, he himself was indifferent rather than Protestant. Neither were disadvantages. His job was to he stolidly nonCatholic.

Though the Stuart Rising of 1715 could have involved the English Catholics in a further charge of disloyalty, they were in fact tepid in their Jacobitism. This was much more an Anglican interest. So the English Catholics plodded on, dispirited and discouraged, many of their nobility conforming. only to repudiate their political conversion on their death-beds.

With the accession of George II, the German Protestant dynasty was assured, though the country in general showed little pe rso n al loyalty to the King and there was general discontent with his Government-so much so that when Bonnie Prince Charlie reached Derby in December, 1745, the Prime Minister seriously considered declaring for "James HE" but the Highlanders' decision to retreat relieved suspense.

English Catholics were made the scapegoats of the general disloyalty. though ironically enough they had been persuaded from joining this "March of Scots" by Bishop Chatloner, who had always acknowledged George II as de facto King.

Yet the King remained without Catholic contacts, his Queen Caroline of Anspach was hostile, and when his son-in-law, the Landgrave Frederick of Hesse. became a Catholic in 1749, he was at once expelled from the family circle.

The long reign of George III was to sec the fortunes of English Catholics fall to their lowest ebb and then steadily recover. "Farmer George," the friend of the Welds of Lulworth, the Oldest Catholic family in the country, was a kindly man. whose d omestic virtues and genuine Christianity his Catholic subjects came to admire arid respect. Their complete acceptance of the Hanoverian dynasty was expressed by the attitude of the Holy See after the death of the Old Pretender in 1765.

Cardinal of York

THE Popes had always recognised him as James III, King of England. They gave no such recognition to Bonnie Prince Charlie or to his younger brother, the Cardinal of




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