The Gospel According to John Bull

taken from The Point

Edited Under Fr. Leonard Feeney MICM — Saint Benedict Center

March, 1954

When the Reformation came to England, it cut like a knife, severing the country cleanly from the Faith, from the traditions and culture of Europe, and from its own past. In the space of just a few lifetimes, the England that had been — that carefree, joyous country with its tender love for the Mother of God — was obliterated. And in its place there arose something new: Protestant England — mistress of the seas, merchant of the world, mother of the Empire.

What had once been called Our Lady’s Dowry became, in apostasy, the most un-Mary-like of nations. It became cold, haughty, ambitious and, when necessary, officially ruthless. It developed a lust for empire, a passion to impose its government, its culture, its ideas on the rest of the world. It became, in its interests and aspirations, no longer merely English, but British.

Among the products which this Protestant empire has been responsible for is British Catholicism. Though this is not the Faith of all English Catholics, it is the official, By-appointment-to-Her-Majesty version. It is represented mainly in the writings of certain articulate Britons who, for reasons of their own, decided to join the Church.

The fact that these writers should be the spokesmen, self-appointed or otherwise, of the Faith in England is the most conclusive evidence of how the Reformation has triumphed in that country. An examination of some of them, therefore, ought to be instructive for more than just what it reveals about themselves.

The outstanding Catholic novelists writing in the English language today are, by the consensus of all unbelieving critics, Evelyn Waugh and Graham Greene. These two have developed a convenient technique: they deny that they are writing as Catholics when they see that such a commitment would hamper their free expression, but advertise their Faith when they are trying to get the Catholic public to buy their books. In the latter case they assure their readers that what they are writing is not simply pornography, but pornography with a point; that it has a very moral and Catholic purpose, and will probably lead thousands to the truth.

The Bible in England comes clothed in the vocabulary and the manner of Monsignor Ronald A. Knox. “Ronnie,” as the Oxford students used to call him, is otherwise known for his clever quips and his superficiality in theology. He is known as a man who is willing to sacrifice any value, any truth for the sake of scoring a point against an intellectual adversary. Here is a typical instance, in which it happens to be the singularity of Our Lady’s sinlessness that falls by the way. In refutation of a noted blasphemer who says he does not believe in the Immaculate Conception, Knox remarks: “Does he believe in original sin? I imagine not; and if he does not believe in original sin, then he believes in the Immaculate Conception; not merely in the Immaculate Conception of Our Lady, but in the immaculate conception of everybody else.”

We should like to point out to Monsignor Knox that it is the preservation from original sin, not the non-existence of original sin, that accounts for the Immaculate Conception. If one does not believe in original sin, one does not believe that anyone, not even Our Lady, was immaculately conceived.

Ronald Knox’s British reply to this correction would probably be: “I was only pulling his leg”; to which we add our American reply: “And you were also pulling a bone.”

Another outstanding English apologist, and a disciple of Monsignor Knox, is Mr. Arnold Lunn. His little vagary is a predilection toward certain Modernists, particularly the condemned English priest, George Tyrrell. Lunn quotes Tyrrell approvingly and at length in his books. But Lunn is far too cagey to go on record as openly favoring a Modernist; and so, by way of excusing Tyrrell and exonerating himself, he offers this: “Tyrrell’s poor tortured diseased liver was largely responsible for his Modernism.”

Alfred Noyes has the distinction of being the only one of these British writers to have a book of his condemned by the Holy Office during his lifetime. The book is Voltaire, Noyes’ friendly account of that notorious hater of Christ and His Church.

Some British government office lost an excellent clerk when Donald Attwater entered the Church and found a lucrative occupation in compiling various sorts of Catholic dictionaries. Despite his conversion, however, his heart has always remained true to the realm. Here is what he has to say on the subject of Pope Saint Pius V: “By the Regnans in excelsis, he excommunicated Elizabeth of England, declaring her deposed and releasing her subjects from their allegiance. It was a great error of judgment.”

Having thus surveyed the authors of British Catholicism — though there are others, these are sufficient to delineate the type — we have just one further thing to note. Indeed, for us in America, it is the most significant thing: the fact that these writers’ influence is not confined to England, or even to the Empire, but extends to this country. Consequently, to all the peculiarly American expressions of lack of faith, we have the added burden of this imported mongrelism. (A good deal of which is brought to this country by an ad hoc little outfit in New York, named Sheed & Ward, founded by a disgruntled lawyer from Australia, in partnership with an English wife.)

There is a long road to travel before America will ever become a Catholic country. However, the first clear sign that we have begun will be when we see America rid of British Catholicism, its authors and its advocates. That ought to be the first step. And, considering our national traditions, it ought to be the easiest.


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The Gospel According to John Bull - by stvincentferrer - 01-05-2010, 06:02 PM
Re: The Gospel According to John Bull - by tflinn - 01-06-2010, 11:37 AM
Re: The Gospel According to John Bull - by Satori - 01-07-2010, 10:57 AM
Re: The Gospel According to John Bull - by Satori - 01-08-2010, 10:26 AM

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