The aim of this book has been to cast light on the paradox of French Catholic literary resistance to secularisation in the period 1880–1914, and on its coincidental parallels among EnglishCatholic writers of the same period. The task of remapping these writings against an analytical grid of secularisation theory was prompted by the weaknesses which we argued were inherent in approaching these writings simply under the confessional label of ‘Catholic’. This process has meant not discarding the category of Catholic literature, however
bereaved Catholics of
what St Bernard called the ‘martyrdom of the heart’, harder
to bear even than bodily martyrdom. 5 If this is also an account of the mood of
EnglishCatholics such as Byrd, as Southwell found them, they are an
unhappy company indeed; the music of such men was indeed full of
complaint and sadness: perfectly natural in the circumstances, Southwell
This book has so far sought to explore the writings of the French and EnglishCatholic literary revivals in the context of the secularisation of the individual and society. The aim has been to get beyond the limitations of confessional labels and to explore some of their inner dynamics in ways that cast more light on the confrontation between secularisation and resistance to it.
One possible objection, however, to the critics of secularisation is that the indices of religiosity in society show that
The conditions of unbelief, according to Taylor, are affected by the pluralisation of worldviews and the multiplication of alternatives to erstwhile Christian certainties. 1 It is logical, therefore, that in responding to secularisation many French and EnglishCatholic writers should subject such worldviews and alternatives to sometimes far-reaching scrutiny.
As we saw in Chapter 1 the secularisation of mentalities in France and England was denoted by the shift towards a more anthropocentric conceptualisation
Cavanaugh’s essay on societal secularisation provides us with a useful paradigm from which to begin analysing anti-secular alternatives. 1 Exploring this paradigm in all its theological resonances is unnecessary. The political and socio-economic dynamics which it outlines correlate with, and in other ways challenge, French and EnglishCatholic writings about societal organisation.
On the political level, Cavanaugh argues that ‘Eucharistic counter-politics’ have the capacity to undermine the secular State in two
anthropocentric, melioristic and, with regard to religion, increasingly pluralist, indifferentist and sometimes even hostile.
Reading French and EnglishCatholic writers from this perspective yields much of interest. They make a variety of attempts to associate the Church with the secular political dispensations in which they were living – the problem was in fact how to resacralise the State – without at the same time undermining their religion by subjecting it to the legitimisation of the secular State. Crucially, most did not attempt to resacralise
interest created by the gathering of the world’s Catholic bishops in Rome
for the Second Vatican Council (1962–65) – is the key backdrop to this
study of the transformations in EnglishCatholic spirituality, social identity
and popular religion from 1945 onwards. Also implicit in Lehrer’s lyrics
are some of the chief preoccupations of the chapters which follow, which
include the changing and vexed relationship between lay spirituality and
autonomy, clerical identity and professional authority, as well as Roman
centralisation and papal direction during the
New challenges and lasting legacies
Antisemitism and EnglishCatholics, 1919–26
Antisemitic images after the First World War most likely occurred in
EnglishCatholic discussions of modern capitalism and socialism,
but were not limited to the pure economic and political aspects.
‘Materialism’ was often associated with a ‘Jewish spirit’ that
pervaded national film, theatre and literature in the immediate postwar years.1 Antisemitism was not limited to the pages of EnglishCatholic newspapers at that
‘it seemeth’. The Articles were presented to the
leading Appellant, Bagshaw, and are accompanied in the surviving manuscript
by his answers.41
This is evidence of the extent to which Bancroft chose to work hand in glove
with this small and very far from representative party of EnglishCatholics.
He entertained one of them, Thomas Bluet, an elderly priest with a drink
problem, as his house guest at Fulham and assisted them with the publication of a whole string of anti-Jesuit books and pamphlets. He released four of
Bishop Richard Bancroft and the succession
St Thérèse of Lisieux, St Bernadette Soubirous and the Forty Martyrs
presentation of saintly witness, seemed to be appreciated by the church
hierarchy itself. On a visitation to Lisieux in 1980, Pope John Paul II
Saints never grow old. They never become figures of the past, men and
women of ‘yesterday’. On the contrary, they are always men and women of
the future, witnesses of the world to come.8
For some EnglishCatholics as the century progressed, ‘lighting a votive
candle’ was no longer as efficacious in creating a connection with the
communion of saints or conveying an image ‘of the world to come’. For