Thursday, September 13, 2012
"The English Reformation Today" Podcasts
After the live Saturday broadcast of "The English Reformation Today", Radio Maria US repeats the show on Wednesday morning, and then the most recent podcast is uploaded to this page on their website.
Saturday, September 8's episode was the first part of a two part discussion of the reign of Elizabeth I and what it meant for Catholics in the 16th century:
Describe the legislation that established the Church of England as a via media compromise between Calvinism and Catholicism (The Book of Common Prayer and the Thirty-Nine Articles). Catholic Reaction: The Northern Rebellion.The controversial excommunication of Elizabeth I by Pope St. Pius V--casting suspicion on all Catholics in England and leading to recusancy and martyrdom. Stories of early martyrs like St. Edmund Campion and St. Margaret Clitherow.
The most relevant issue today of the episode is the issue of divided loyalty and obedience to authority. To whom did English Catholics owe their homage? Their queen or the pope? For some reason--and this would be an interesting research project--the sixteenth century political order could not apply Jesus's Gospel admonition to render unto Caesar what was Caesar's and to God what is God's to the vision of a united polity. In the sixteenth century there was little or no notion of diversity or certainly plurality. Throughout Europe the motto cuius regno, eius religio (the religion of the ruler was the religion of the ruled) prevailed. The pope's position as a temporal ruler of the Papal States also confused the issue: were Catholics being loyal to their own nation or to a foreign power? The English government was convinced that Catholics could not be loyal to England even temporally if they were loyal to Rome even spiritually.
Now, our situation in the United States has parallels but some important distinctions too: The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops has been pointing out since January this year, through the Fortnight for Freedom and even into the current political season, that religous liberty has been endangered by the U. S. Government through the HHS Contraceptive, Abortafacient, and Sterilization Mandate--especially because of the limited definition of a religious organization AND the lack of an opt-out conscience clause. Like the English Catholics of the sixteenth century, Catholic business owners, for example, have to choose between two loyalties, between their Church doctrine and the US Government law--if they wish to be faithful to God and His Church's teachings, they cannot comply with the state's new demands for loyalty. They will not suffer blood martyrdom, but they will be fined; they can fight the law in the Courts, but their risk is great. The most important distinction is that Catholics in the U.S.A. as citizens have opportunities/rights to campaign for change through legislation, the justice system, and the electoral system: Elizabeth I's Catholic subjects did not have these opportunities.
English Catholics pressed for a view that they were temporally loyal to Elizabeth I but spiritually loyal to Pope Pius V, and their respective successors. Elizabeth I, because of her instability on the throne, could not accept that view, although it was expressed by many of the Catholic martyrs even as they faced death--they could accept her as monarch but not as governor of the church in England. And then there came the "bloody question": when it came to armed conflict or invasion, with whom would they side, England or attacking Catholic power. That's the crucial question coming up in the next episode when we look at the Spanish Armada or the plots against Elizabeth I to replace her on the throne with Mary, the former Queen of Scots.
This Saturday, Sepember 15's episode will conclude the discussion of Elizabeth and introduce the new dynasty, the Stuarts of Scotland. By focusing on the two dangers to Elizabeth's throne, we'll also see the result of this divided loyality--even when Catholics DID support their country when facing invasion, they were punished by the state and when Catholics despaired of receiving any tolerance for their Faith in their own country, they turned to desparate measures, hoping for a change in leadership as the only means of relief:
Explain the two great dangers to Elizabeth and how they affected Catholics: her rivalry with Mary, Queen of Scots and the Spanish Armada (plots led by Catholics to depose Elizabeth and replace her with Mary on England's throne and the Catholic position on the Spanish Armada). Describe the wave of martyrdoms of Catholic priests and laity after the Armada: why are they martyrs? Describe the end of the Tudor dynasty and the transition to the Stuart dynasty--the status of Catholics in 1603.
Once the Elizabethan government designated all Catholic priests as traitors and most Catholic laymen as potential traitors, a long-lived anti-Catholicism developed in England: a prejudice that certainly emigrated from England to New England in the 17th century.