|CATHOLIC SAINTS INDEX||A||B||C||D||E||F||G||H||I||J||K||L||M||N||O||P||Q||R||S||T||U||V||W||X||Y||Z|
By PROFESSOR DENIS GWYNN
(University College, Cork)
AS the title of one of Newman's most famous sermons, the phrase 'The Second Spring has been associated par'ticularly with the part played by the Oxford converts in the Catholic revival in England, during the years which closely preceded the restoration of the Hierarchy in 1850. For that reason there has been widespread misunderstanding of the causes which actually produced the restoration of the Hierarchy. Newman's personal contribution has been exaggerated to an extent that he would certainly have deplored. Although Newman was the most outstanding of the converts from the Church of England who had become Catholics in the previous years, their accession was only one of the factors which decided the Holy See to establish a properly constituted Hierarchy. It had been found necessary to supersede the former arrangements under which the powers and authority of the Vicars Apostolic were utterly inadequate to cope with the immense and rapid changes which had been developing within the previous twenty years.
A number of compelling reasons had made it imperative to restore a hierarchy; and negotiations for such a restoration had been proceeding for a long time. The conversion of Newman and many of his followers was undoubtedly an important factor in hastening the decision. The Tractarian Movement, which had brought about an active revival of Catholic practices and of Catholic doctrines within the Church of England, had begun in 1833 and had aroused intense controversy. It had been inspired chiefly by the series of Tracts for the Times which were edited and largely written by John Henry Newman while he was vicar of St. Mary's at Oxford and a tutor in Oriel College. But early in 1841 the Protestant opposition within the Established Church compelled Newman to discontinue publication of the Tracts. He then retired to lead a life of almost monastic seclusion, with a few of his young disciples, at the hermitage which he built at Littlemore on the outskirts of Oxford. After four years during which he refrained from all public controversy, he decided in October 1845 to be received into the Catholic Church. By that time a number of his friends had already become Catholics. The news of his conversion influenced many more of his friends and admirers to become Catholics also. Before long a considerable number of former Anglican clergymen had followed his example. Some of them were left in a pitiable position, with their families deprived of livelihood; others, like Newman himself, were preparing for ordination as Catholic priests. Manning and a good many other celebrated converts did not follow Newman's lead until some years afterwards, when various events had convinced them that their position as Anglo-Catholics had become untenable.
In the same year, 1845, another factor of vastly more widespread importance affected the revival of the Catholic Church in England. Immigration of Catholic labourers from Ireland had been proceeding with increasing impetus since the end of the Napoleonic wars, with the rapid expansion of industries and shipping while the industrial revolution was in full swing. The Catholic population had grown so fast that in 1840 the Holy See had found it necessary to double the number of Vicars Apostolic to England, creating eight Districts instead of four, so as to provide for the organisation of new missions and churches. But in 1845 and the following years the immigration from Ireland assumed immense proportions. The potato crop, upon which the Irish poor depended for their food as completely as the Indians depended upon rice, failed suddenly with the arrival of blight, as an unknown disease, of which neither the cause nor the remedy had yet been discovered. Famine became widespread when the winter set in; and in 1846 and again in 1847, the potato blight returned more virulently and more extensively than in 1845. Starvation and cholera spread death through the whole country on an appalling scale, and a mass exodus from Ireland began. Most of the emigration was directed at first towards England, and later to America and Australia. Within those next few years the Catholic population of England and Wales, which had been barely 300,000 until then, was suddenly increased by about a million refugees from the Irish famine, most of them being destitute and in search of employment and food and shelter.
This sudden and overwhelming increase of Catholic population created conditions which required far more priests and churches and schools than had ever been contemplated before. The four Vicars Apostolic, with their vast Districts and thinly-scattered Catholic populations, had been unable to cope with the growing numbers of their flocks. There were now eight Vicars Apostolic since 1840; but a mere increase in the number of bishops would have been no remedy in itself. The Vicars Apostolic had for years found the utmost difficulty in providing for this constant expansion, because they lacked the authority to create parishes or even to appoint and transfer such priests as were at work in England. A large proportion of the clergy were still dependent for their maintenance upon the old Catholic families who had maintained private chapels in their isolated country houses through the centuries of penal laws. Many more of the clergy were Regulars- Benedictines and Jesuits and Franciscans particularly-who, whether they lived in communities or separately on the missions, were under the direct control of their own superiors.
These problems had been constantly discussed and considered in Rome, and the proposal to restore a fully constituted hierarchy had been under consideration for years. But there were many obstacles to overcome. The Government would almost certainly oppose such action by the Holy See; even after the Catholic Emancipation Act of 1829, which had at last allowed Catholics to sit in Parliament. There had been other concessions also, of which perhaps the most important was the acquiescence of the Government in the Holy See's desire to establish a hierarchy in Australia. That had been regarded as an invaluable help towards developing social order and civil life. But the Holy See considered that in England and Wales the recent doubling of the number of Vicars Apostolic was likely to suffice for the time being. There had been real difficulty in finding priests of sufficient training and personal qualifications to fill the eight vicariates.
47, there had been a remarkable revival of Catholic life in England since the Emancipation Act. It had arisen in various forms; and the conversion of Newman and his friends, as the outcome of the Tractarian Movement, was only one symptom of religious renewal. Moreover, this revival during the twenty years before the actual restoration of the Hierarchy had produced a leader of outstanding gifts and energy, who had long experience in Rome, and who was considered capable of becoming head of the new Hierarchy. The story of that revival in its various aspects during the twenty years between the Emancipation Act and 1850 is the subject of this pamphlet. It covers roughly twenty years, which may be divided naturally into a succession of five-year periods, each marking the culmination of a new phase.
The first phase is mainly centred in Rome in the early 'thirties. A curiously mixed group of Englishmen, who were to play a decisive part in all that followed, were almost accidentally congregated there at the same time. In England, since the Emancipation Act of 1829 had removed the long injustice which prevented Catholics from entering Parliament, a very small number of country gentlemen had been elected to the House of Commons. The House of Lords had also been opened to a rather larger number of Catholic peers, including the Duke of Norfolk and the Earl of Shrewsbury. But there was very little sign of any general intention to take a prominent part in public life; and the tradition of seclusion and of avoiding religious controversy still persisted strongly among the older Catholics.
In Rome, however, new forces were stirring. The Emancipation Act had been forced through Parliament, against the determined opposition of King George IV, simply as a result of O'Connell's overwhelming Catholic agitation in Ireland. But the Act was regarded in Rome as a sign of growing toleration by the English Government, which had been evident in various other ways for sometime past. Since 1818 the English College in Rome, which had been pillaged by Napoleon's army of occupation, had been reopened after the end of the Napoleonic wars. One of its first students in the new conditions had been a brilliant young Irish scholastic, Nicholas Wiseman, who had come out to Rome from Ushaw. He had won many academic distinctions, and had even become professor of Oriental Languages at the Roman University, before he was promoted at the age of twenty-six to be rector of the English College in 1828. One of his first official duties had been to call upon the Pope and announce the news of the Emancipation Act. As a gesture of gratitude and of reconciliation the Pope had decided to appoint an English Cardinal in curia; and Cardinal Weld, a widower who had been ordained late in life, was now established in Rome as the recognised spokesman for all English affairs.
Religious revival had become one of the most striking symptoms of the new age since peace returned to Europe; and there were many direct links between Rome and England which aroused a real interest in the question of England's future restoration to Catholic unity. Pope Leo XII had given special encouragement to the resuscitated English College, and to its young rector who had become a conspicuous figure in Roman life. He had arranged for special sermons in English in one of the great Roman churches, and had even appointed a choir for such occasions. Young Mgr. Wiseman was one of the chosen preachers. Another was Bishop Baines, the coadjutor Vicar Apostolic of the Western District, who had come for a prolonged visit to Rome because of a temporary breakdown in health. Bishop Baines was much the most vivid figure among the English bishops and he had recently embarked on an extremely ambitious enterprise which suggested that the English Catholics intended to assert themselves much more openly. He had bought at Bath the palatial mansion of Prior Park, which he proposed to utilise both as his official residence and as a seminary, besides providing a fully equipped college for the sons of the Catholic gentry. His ideas expanded further; and after meeting Wiseman he decided to invite him to Prior Park to become President of what should be a Catholic University in England. Pope Gregory XVI not only approved but gave permission for Wiseman to leave the English College while he tried the experiment.
Besides these ecclesiastical figures, there were in Rome also a number of other Englishmen who were to exert great influence before long. Convert clergymen from the Church of England were still a very rare phenomenon, but two of them had recently arrived in Rome. One was an Old baronet from Cornwall, Sir Harry Trelawney, who had applied, like Cardinal Weld, for a dispensation as a widower to be ordained late in life. He had already established a mission at his home, Trelawney Castle, and he was looking for priests to help him there. Another, much younger, convert clergyman, the Rev. George Spencer, had also come to study under Wiseman at the English College, in 1830. He was a son of the second Earl Spencer who had been Home Secretary in the 'Ministry of All the Talents (1806-07); and his elder brother, Lord Althorp, was soon to become Chancellor of the Exchequer. He had become a Catholic most unexpectedly through his friendship with young Mr. Ambrose Phillipps from Leicestershire, whose father had been for years Deputy Lieutenant and member of Parliament for his county. Phillipps himself had become a Catholic while he was still at school. He had gone on to Cambridge, where he met another gifted young convert, Kenelm Digby, who was already making a literary reputation by his writings on mediaeval chivalry.
These three young men, Spencer, Phillipps and Digby, had all come to Rome together, and there met Mgr. Wiseman who regarded them with rather amused surprise. They were introduced to old Sir Harry Trelawney; and by accident they all made the acquaintance of a humble Passionist priest, Father Dominic Barberi, who was then teaching at the principal house of his Order in Rome. He was of peasant stock, and unable to speak any language but Italian, but he confided to them that since his childhood he had dreamed that his life's work would be as a missionary in England. The founder of the Passionists, who was not yet beatified and was still known as the Ven. Father Paul of the Cross, had also been strongly attracted by the idea of missionary work in England. But there could scarcely be a less likely missioner for England than Father Dominic, who became their confidant in Rome.
Yet Father Dominic believed that his dreams already seemed to be coming true, when he found not only convert clergymen studying for the Catholic priesthood, but so many signs of sympathy towards the Church among the English aristocracy. Young Phillipps was himself an important landed proprietor, and he was planning to found on his own estates the first Catholic monastery to be opened in England since the Reformation. He had just married Lord Clifford's niece, and he was a close friend of the Earl of Shrewsbury, whom he had now inspired to employ his great wealth on building churches and reviving the glories of Catholic liturgy in England. Young Mr. Spencer was the son of another Earl; Sir Harry Trelawney was a baronet with ancestral estates. And among other recent converts, he heard of the young genius, Augustus Welby Pugin, whose religious work as an architect was soon to make him the pioneer of the Gothic revival in England. Pugin had been discovered as a boy prodigy by Lord Shrewsbury; and he and his patron and young Ambrose Phillipps intended to devote their lives to the revival of Catholic art and church building in England.
Besides Father Dominic Barberi there was another young Italian priest in Rome, who was similarly attracted towards the apostolate in England. Luigi Gentili had been a young barrister of great promise, well known in Roman society, and specially conspicuous among the many English visitors and residents there. He had suddenly retired from social life and gone to live at the Irish College, to study for the priesthood as a disciple of Father Rosmini in his newly-founded Institute of Charity. Rosmini, as well as Gentili, had thought intensely about England as a field for missionary work; and he, too, had many English friends. Before long, the group separated. Sir Harry Trelawney died soon after his ordination, before he could return home. Father Dominic was made Passionist provincial in northern Italy. Ambrose Phillipps went home to arrange for bringing the Trappists to his new monastery in Charnwood Forest. Bishop Baines returned to Bath and Prior Park. And George Spencer went back to England to begin work under most discouraging conditions as a pioneer in the growing industrial centres around Birmingham.
Wiseman at the English College had been absorbed in his Roman duties, but his conversations with these strange visitors, and his personal contact with the leaders of the Catholic revival in France and Germany and Italy, had awakened him to the undoubted possibilities at home. He had been impressed particularly by a visit in 1833 from two earnest young dons from Oxford, John Henry Newman and Richard Hurrell Froude, who had called upon him to enquire about the possibilities of reunion between the English and the Roman Churches. They had gone back to England, and almost immediately afterwards Newman had begun publishing his Tracts for the Times, which were to produce an astonishing revival of fervour among many of the younger Anglicans.
The invitation from Bishop Baines to become president of a new Catholic university at Prior Park was so attractive in these circumstances that Wiseman set out in 1835 on a journey of investigation. He arrived at Bath expecting to conclude arrangements quickly with Bishop Baines. But their views did not coincide, and the idea was dropped at once. So he turned elsewhere and spent nearly a whole year in England, going from place to place and noting his impressions. He was so distinguished and so vital a personality that his visit had a wide and lasting influence. In London he preached two series of public lectures, drawing audiences which included many of the most eminent men of the time. And before he went back to Rome he had accepted Daniel O'Connell's invitation to found and edit a new Catholic quarterly, to be called the Dublin Review, which should be a platform for Catholic controversy and scholarship. The first number appeared in May, 1836.
On his return to Rome that autumn, Wiseman was a changed man. He was absorbed henceforward in his plans for work in England, as part of the general Catholic revival which was proceeding all over Europe. His friends included such famous Catholics as Lacordaire and Montalembert and Frederic Ozanam, besides Doellinger and Goerres and many leaders of Catholic activity in Italy. He had acquired a close knowledge of Catholic progress in England, because he was agent for all the English Vicars Apostolic and also for some of the American bishops. He had been impressed in England partly by the extreme conservatism and caution of the older Catholics, and partly by the unexpected signs of rapid Catholic expansion in the new industrial areas. His letters contain vivid descriptions of the opening of new churches in the north and in the Midlands, of the sudden growth of Catholic numbers through immigration from Ireland, and of the indications of a new confidence which produced public devotions and processions in the streets such as had been unimaginable before. Not least he had been surprised by the steady flow of converts who were coming into the Church in most unlikely places.
As agent for the Vicars Apostolic, he could urge strongly the necessity for greater authority in meeting the demands of the new conditions. Until 1840 there were only four Vicars Apostolic for the whole country; and, except Bishop Baines, the bishops all lived in small secluded houses, without even secretaries to write their letters for them. The London District included the whole south-east of England. The Western District included Wales as well as the West country. The Midland District included all East Anglia, besides the central counties which were beginning to develop rapidly with the industrial revival. The Vicar Apostolic of the Northern District was more burdened even than the others; not merely because Lancashire and Yorkshire had always contained the largest remnant of Catholic population, but especially because of the vast immigration from Ireland which was chiefly attracted to the new northern cities.
In 1840 the Holy See decided that a decisive change must be made to provide for these new conditions. The four old Vicariates were accordingly divided among eight Vicars Apostolic. The London District was affected least, and only Bedfordshire and Buckinghamshire were taken from it. They were made part of the new Eastern District, which included all East Anglia, where Catholics were still extremely few. The Midland District was divided into two parts. Most of its territory went to the new Eastern District; while Bishop Walsh retained the important areas round Birmingham and Staffordshire, and down to the Thames at Oxford and Windsor. The huge Western District was similarly split in two. It lost Wales, which became a separate District, containing even fewer Catholics than did the Eastern District. In the north there were to be three Districts instead of only one. Yorkshire became a separate District, and Lancashire another; while the new Northern District comprised Northumberland, Durham and Cumberland.
Besides providing this fuller organisation of the whole country, the Holy See took the further step of sending Mgr. Wiseman back to England as coadjutor to Bishop Walsh in the Central District. He was also to be President of the seminary at Oscott, which had recently been greatly enlarged. Wiseman's appointment was specially important, not only because of his personal reputation and his great energy and gifts as a controversialist and as a public figure. The Central District, where he was to assist Bishop Walsh, included Oxford, where the Tractarian Movement had become so powerful an influence in arousing sympathies with the Catholic revival. Wiseman had been deeply impressed by the sincerity of Newman and his friends, and he came to England in the autumn of 1840, hoping to establish close personal contact between Oscott and Oxford. His hopes were, however, disappointed almost at once.
He found on his arrival that an article which he had published in the Dublin Review had created a profound impression at Oxford. It had shaken Newman's confidence in his own convictions that the Anglican Church was the ideal compromise between the Protestant and Catholic churches, and that it retained the true marks of Catholic unity, while correcting the abuses which had arisen before the Reformation. Wiseman's criticisms had shaken Newman's faith in this comfortable theory; and very soon afterwards Newman was assailed within the Church of England by an organised attack which compelled him early in 1841, to cease publication of the Tracts. Before long he withdrew from all further active controversy, and went to live in seclusion at Littlemore, pursuing his studies of the Fathers of the Church.
Wiseman had hoped at first that his own efforts to arouse a Catholic revival would proceed side by side with the Anglo-Catholic movement; and that great results might be achieved by promoting close relations between the two movements. But while he was rebuffed by Newman and his friends he found astonishing progress on the Catholic side. The influence of Lord Shrewsbury and Pugin and their young friend Ambrose Phillipps had stimulated church building on a scale which astonished everybody. Birmingham was actually building the first cathedral in England since the Reformation. All through the Midlands and the north, noble churches of every size were arising. London was following suit with plans for a new cathedral at Southwark. Moreover, the Italian missionaries, whom they had all known earlier in Rome, had almost miraculously arrived in England and were producing most surprising results. There was, inevitably, some conflict between these different forces. Pugin and his friends held that all church building must be in the Gothic manner, while the Italian missionaries, and also Wiseman to some extent, desired to introduce Roman practices which the older English clergy regarded as unsuitable in England.
Father Gentili had come first to teach at Prior Park, but afterwards went to Leicestershire, where he had a free hand, as chaplain to Ambrose Phillipps, in evangelising the remote villages in the county where the Church had been almost unknown. Even Father Dominic Barberi had succeeded in coming to England. He, too, was starting work as a pioneer under appalling difficulties in the Potteries. The success of these foreign missionaries was beyond all expectation. They were attempting to make converts openly, without regard for Protestant opposition. News of their achievements and of their sufferings from insult and outrage, as they preached openly in Protestant towns, began to reach unlikely places. It impressed Newman and his friends at Littlemore particularly. Newman's chief antipathy to the Catholic Church had been towards its political associations, and what he regarded as its methods of intrigue and its hostility to other churches. But he found now that actually in England there were humble and ascetic missionaries doing exactly what he had reproached the Church for not doing before. They were going barefooted into our industrial towns and preaching to the people like St. Francis Xavier. They were being insulted and reviled, yet persevering. They 'were doing what he had said openly that the Anglican Church was unable to do, and what he would always respect deeply if he could see it done. And it was the bumble but devoted Italian Father Dominic who received his submission late one night at Littlemore in October, 1845, when he had cut himself deliberately off from all contact with the Catholic clergy who had sought to know him.
In the five years before Newman's submission, Wiseman had been almost alone in England in proclaiming his faith in the sincerity of Newman and his friends. He had been derided and distrusted for his sympathy with them. He had been accused of encouraging them to remain in the Established Church, and of undermining Catholic loyalty by his refusal to denounce them as timid and halfhearted opportunists. But Newman's surrender enhanced Wiseman's reputation at once. He became thenceforward the chief protector and supporter of the convert clergymen, who became Catholics in large numbers. He threw his energy and enthusiasm into finding work for them and welcoming them as an accession to the Catholic clergy.
But while Newman and his friends had perturbed the Church of England by their secession to Rome, a vastly greater development arose with the sudden influx of destitute Irish immigrants. They swarmed into the seaports and the industrial cities which were expanding so rapidly, and providing almost unlimited scope for cheap labour in the factories and the mines and the docks. Even before 1845, Father Dominic and Father Gentili were receiving urgent requests from every side to give public missions in districts where churches did not yet exist, and where thousands of destitute and demoralised Irish Catholics had come in search of work. Manchester had not 50 Catholics at the beginning of the century; but it had already become the centre of a vast Catholic population of some 100,000. Liverpool became still more a centre of Catholic immigration while the famine spread desolation and starvation in Ireland. Birmingham and London, as well as northern cities like Sheffield and Newcastle, were faced with similar urgent needs for priests and schools and churches.
The problem had passed beyond the capacity of individual priests. Religious orders of priests and brothers and nuns were brought from all sides wherever they could be found for the purpose. Large numbers of priests from Ireland came in to help their own people, while missionaries of various orders from abroad were brought in also. But the position remained chaotic while the Vicars Apostolic were still without adequate authority or powers. They could not establish organised parishes; and they had little control even over the parochial clergy, while the religious orders were naturally under the direction of their own superiors.
The need for a regular Hierarchy became so pressing that discussions were undertaken vigorously in Rome. Among the younger priests who had taken a leading part in the revival and in organising the new conditions was the Benedictine Father Ullathorne. He had recently returned from Australia, where he had been a most vigorous and effective vicar general to Bishop Polding. Conditions in Australia also had become chaotic, with sudden development and immigration. Even the Government had requested that steps should be taken to provide a solid organisation of Catholic religious life. Ullathorne himself had played a large part in the negotiations which resulted in establishing an Australian Hierarchy, and he had with difficulty refused the appointment to several of the new Australian Sees. His refusal had been permitted only because he was himself designated as a future bishop for an English see; and when Bishop Baines died in 1847, he was appointed to the Western District.
To apply the same remedies in England as in Australia was the obvious solution. But there were many difficulties to surmount. -Wiseman's personal influence both in Rome and in London went far towards overcoming the official difficulties; but he was only a coadjutor in the Midlands. There was still no outstanding personality among the Vicars Apostolic to assume the leadership of a new Hierarchy. Wiseman himself was the most gifted and most distinguished bishop in England, but he had been widely distrusted by the older clergy both for his Roman training-which they regarded as foreign to English ideas-and because of his encouragement of Newman and the convert clergy. One of his chief critics was Bishop Griffiths in London, who was still comparatively young and, as bishop in London, could scarcely be passed over in the selection of a leader for a new Hierarchy. Apart from these personal factors, and the possibility of opposition by the Government, the principle had been generally accepted, both in Rome and in England, when in 1848 the outbreak of revolution in Rome compelled Pope Pius IX to flee to Gaeta.
For two years the question was thrown back into abeyance; while the Irish immigrants continued to flock into the English industrial areas, and while the accession of converts increased steadily. Newman had been ordained as a priest in Rome in 1847, and the problem of finding full scope for him and his friends was still largely unsolved. But a big step had been taken, after the sudden death of Bishop Griffiths in London, in 1847, which had left the way clear for a new appointment. Rome had decided that Wiseman must go there sooner or later as Vicar Apostolic, so that he should occupy the position which must lead to his nomination as head of a new Hierarchy. He was therefore appointed acting Vicar Apostolic in London for a short period. As coadjutor to Bishop Walsh of the Central District he had been connected with the most notable developments of the revival. It was Bishop Walsh who had given full scope and encouragement to Ambrose Phillipps and Lord Shrewsbury and Pugin in their church building and their revival of the liturgy. In his District the first Catholic cathedral had been built in Birmingham, besides many other fine churches. It was he who had brought in the Italian missionaries. Not least it was he who had brought Wiseman back to England, and given him a free hand in his relations with Newman and the Oxford converts.
Notwithstanding his age and infirmity, Bishop Walsh was accordingly transferred to London as Vicar Apostolic, with Wiseman again as his coadjutor. And when the bishop died in 1849, although opposition to Wiseman still persisted strongly, Wiseman succeeded him definitely as Vicar Apostolic in London, and continued vigorously his work of stimulating and organising the Catholic revival. In the summer of 1850, after the Pope had been able to return to Rome from exile, the question was opened again and a decision was soon reached. Even Wiseman did not realise how spectacular the Pope's decision was to be. When he received word that he was to be made Cardinal, he believed sadly that his efforts in England were thereby to be brought to an end at once. He assumed that he was being recalled to Rome as a Cardinal in Curia, to be the Pope's resident adviser on English affairs; and that the teeming activities with which he had been so closely connected were to be carried on without him.
It had been a wrench for him when he had left Rome for England ten years earlier, after many years of happy and fruitful activity there. His return to Rome to receive the Cardinal's hat was a still greater wrench, after all that he had accomplished in the interval. Not until he reached Rome and saw the Pope did he realise that he was to be not only the first head of a restored Hierarchy but a Cardinal Archbishop of Westminster. The appointment was the fulfilment of years of hope and striving, and the added dignity of being a Cardinal resident in England gave him a deep sense of gratitude to the Holy See, for its recognition of the Catholic revival which he had helped to organise.
With a full sense of all that was involved in this sudden restoration of the Church in England to its former position in Christendom, Wiseman wrote out a long pastoral letter which he forwarded to London before he could reach home. He had a triumphal progress through all the principal Catholic capitals on his journey. In his flamboyant pastoral he gave full vent to his gratitude and his sanguine enthusiasm. It was read out in the churches, at the end of October, before his return, and the result was a storm of public protests in the English newspapers, which began with a broadside from the London Times, and gathered such momentum that both the Prime Minister Lord John Russell, and the Lord Chancellor, Lord Campbell, joined in a chorus of indignation against what was called the 'Papal Aggression. Popular feeling had been so inflamed that the Guy Fawkes' celebrations, on November 5th, acquired a special character of outraged protest. Effigies of the Pope, of Cardinal Wiseman and of the twelve new bishops, were publicly burned amid scenes of jubilation in many places. There were such fears of a repetition of the Gordon Riots against all Catholic buildings, or at the least of personal violence against Wiseman himself, that some of his friends hurried across the Channel to urge him to stay abroad until the excitement had died down.
It was characteristic of his courage and his ardent faith that he returned immediately to London and went openly to the new St. George's Church in Southwark, defying all hostility and disarming his opponents by his personal sincerity and distinction. Within a few days he had composed a long Address to the People of England which appealed to their instinct of fair play, and revealed a true appreciation of their character. Its eloquence and irony, combined with its shattering exposure of the injustice with which Catholics had been treated, won him such respect and admiration that the reaction in his favour gave a new impetus to the Catholic revival. The attack upon the Hierarchy had been so ignorant and unfair that it shook Manning particularly. He had become the leader of the AngloCatholic party since Newman's surrender five years before. He and his friends were faced with a new crisis by the Gorham Judgment, in which the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council decided that Mr. Gorham must be appointed to a parish, although he denied the doctrine of baptismal regeneration. Manning himself was received as a Catholic within a few months afterwards. In time Manning became Provost of the Chapter of Westminster and successor to Wiseman as Archbishop of Westminster, and in many ways the most powerful organiser of the revival during the later Victorian period. Newman, too, was spurred to compose his lectures in Birmingham on the Present Condition of Catholics in England, which had an immense influence on public opinion. They brought him overwhelming proofs of Catholic confidence in him, after he had been prosecuted for criminal libel by the apostate Father Achilli, whose disgraceful record he had exposed.
The new era had begun in earnest. It fell to the young Cardinal Archbishop to draw up the new constitution of the Church under its restored Hierarchy, and to preside over the first Synod, at which both Manning and Newman were among the chosen preachers. Wiseman's chief contribution hitherto had been his encouragement of the converts, when they had been suspect and despised in other quarters. In the short time that remained to him, before he became crippled and undermined by diabetes during the last years before his death in 1865, he was to lay the foundations and construct the solid framework from which the whole subsequent revival of the Church in England was to expand. The part played by Newman and Manning in the following years is well known and recognised. But justice has scarcely been done either to Wiseman or to the great organising work and the spiritual leadership of Ullathorne in the Midlands. Seventy-five years after the restoration of the Hierarchy in 1850, a masterly appreciation of all their labours was set down by that great scholar and biographer, Abbot Butler, in the concluding chapter of his Life of Ullathorne. Writing in 1925 he gave his final impressions as follows: 'After reading again and again, and maturely pondering over the materials collected for the Lives of the four great churchmen, Wiseman, Manning, Newman and Ullathorne, the impression finally and clearly graven on my mind is that, taken all in all, Wiseman stands out as the greatest. He was not the deep acute thinker that Newman was; nor the masterful resourceful man of affairs that Manning was; nor had he the sound practical grip of men and things that Ullathorne had: but in the combination of richly endowed nature, and attractive loveable personality, and well-balanced all-round character, and many-sided intellectual attainments, and successful achievement of a great lifework, in short as a complete man, he surpassed them all.
Copyright 1999-2023 Catholic Support Services all rights reserved