This is a good moment to pause and review some of the ground we have covered in our survey.
Readers will recall that we are at present tracing the fortunes of the hierarchy of Rome through the so-called hidden years from the departure of the Roman Catholic Bishop Smith in 1631 to the instalment of Dr. John Leyburn as Vicar Apostolic in 1685.
The last Archbishop of Canterbury recognised by Rome was Queen Mary’s Papal Legate, Reginald Pole. Rome describes his trumped up office thus: ‘A synod of both convocations was held by him as legate in Nov. 1555, which passed many useful decrees of ecclesiastical reform, rendered necessary by the disturbed condition of the Church after twenty years of separation from Roman authority. On 20 March 1557, Pole was ordained priest, and two days after he was consecrated archbishop, while he solemnly received the pallium on the feast of the Annunciation in the Church of St Mary-le-Bow.’
Pole died on 19th November 1558, only hours after Bloody Mary herself, and Matthew Parker began the Anglican succession of Archbishops of Canterbury in the following year.
We have also noted that Bishop Goldwell was the last surviving Marian Roman catholic Bishop-in-Ordinary, that is, bishop with a true hierarchical position, directly responsible to the Pope, as in the old pre-Reformation days. He set out from the Flaminian Gate of Rome to return to England with Campion and Parsons in 1580. The expedition is known as the ‘first papal aggression’ against this country. However, Goldwell was by then too old to keep up with the pace of the expedition and he turned back to die in Rome in 1585.
The Vatican consistently refused to allow our rebellious, heretical nation to have bishops with the same power and status as those in popish countries. This policy continued until Rome was satisfied that the pro-papal party in England was powerful enough to crush those English Roman Catholic priests who professed loyalty to the English Crown – a state of affairs that did not come about until 1850. Then the English Roman Catholic hierarchy was duly restored in what is known as the second papal aggression.
Bishops of Chalcedon
Bishop William Bishop and his successor Bishop Richard Smith, though really Bishops of England, were tactfully given the title of Bishops of Chalcedon. The Bishopric of Chalcedon was of course, defunct. It had once been a Roman bishopric but was now part of the infidel, Islamic, Ottoman Empire. We will return to this point when we come to consider Leyburn, for he too was appointed to a defunct bishopric.
His restoration followed a clandestine power struggle, largely concealed from the R C laity until this century. This power struggle was between the ‘Seculars’, that is the ordinary patriotic hierarchical priests, supported by most English Catholics, and the ‘Regulars’, who were the Jesuits, Benedictines and other orders.,
Simple Catholic reference books have drawn a veil over these things to the point of historical dishonesty, at least until very recently. This was in order not to spoil the rosy picture of a succession of gallant, persecuted priests steadfastly continuing the ‘Old Faith’, under God’s preserving hand, in patient unity, awaiting the dawning of a better day.
We might note at this point that the whole era leading up to the re-establishment of the official papal hierarchy in 1850 was a lost opportunity for Protestantism. The Protestant establishment could have reduced English Romanism to the level of a dissenting sect, content in practice, to be severed from the political pretensions of the papacy. This was not a dream, as we shall see, DV, but a real possibility. The present writer would suggest that the blatant papal second aggression which resulted in the re-instatement of the Roman hierarchy in 1850 could be viewed as a judgement upon our nation’s faltering Protestant resolve. This resolve was weakened by allowing the machinery of state to be infiltrated by those whose real loyalty was not to Crown and country but to the Vatican and its ruler.
We have also seen that when Bishop Richard Smith was forced out in 1631, he left behind him a remarkably robust administrative machinery, which had originally been set up by Bishop William Bishop in 1623-24. Bishop was wise and knew both the wiles of the Jesuits and his own state of health. He wished to ensure that the Appellant voice would continue ‘to preserve jurisdiction’ after his death, which he probably realised was imminent. (The Appellants were those English Roman Catholics who repeatedly appealed to Rome to allow them to take the Oath of Loyalty to the Crown. They gave rise to the Seculars.)
Bishop Smith, although early deleted by the Jesuits, also sought to strengthen the ‘Chapter’ (see below) in the event of his death by ‘giving it the privilege of electing its own Canons and Dean, if the Vicariate should remain vacant after his death….".
For once, the Jesuits were outmanouvered. The Chapter managed to maintain its voice even though the bishopric remained vacant until 1685 – much longer than anyone could have foreseen. These efficient ‘vicars general, archdeacons and rural deans’, together with a Dean and Chapter continued, ‘to give formal representation to the hierarchical body of the English secular clergy’. They were able to ‘maintain its claim to continuity with the past, and express its elective will in the choice of future bishops’. They fulfilled ‘the ambitions of the original Appellants’. This was all the more remarkable when one recalls that the Jesuits had stopped at nothing to crush the Appellants and their successors the Secular priests.
The savage hostility that existed between these factions surpassed their mutual dislike of Protestants. The bitterness that prevailed between the patriotic sentiments of the Chapter of the Secular priests on the one hand, and the pre-Roman (and of course pro-Jesuit) aims of the Jesuits on the other, is described by one Romish author as of ‘an intensity which seems incredible to us today’. Another describes it as ‘scandalous’, adding that ‘it was this more than anything else which led to the loss of Faith in this country’.
By the time of the Restoration of a true papal hierarchy in 1850 the Chapter of the Seculars had become known as the ‘Old Chapter’. Readers will see that we might expect some illuminating insights into Vatican politics in this period, for Rome’s imprimatur rests the statement that the Chapter was ‘almost anti-papal’.
We have also recorded our suspicion that during the years of Charles I, Jesuit educated Urban VIII, working hand in hand with the Inquisition and the Jesuits, was too interested in the conversion of Charles I – a coup that would have brought Archbishop Laud and England into Rome wholesale – to worry about the patriots and their hierarchy. The inept Vatican agent Gregory Panzani who so overstepped his brief in his bias towards the seculars, and in promoting the re-instatement of Smith, seems to have been just a smokescreen behind which Urban hid his attempts to advance the cause of the Jesuits. But to the chagrin of the Jesuits, this hierarchical machinery of the seculars suddenly came into its own again after Charles I, Henrietta Maria and Laud were gone and Oliver Cromwell’s Commonwealth was in full swing.
The future of Romanism now fell into the hands of the generally patriotic Squires who were probably genuinely ignorant of the full extent of the activities of their private Jesuit chaplains. Apparently, after the Restoration, a Mrs. Curson speaking from Newgate jail accused an Oxford Jesuit, one Fr. Lovell, of embezzling what would be almost £2 million worth of the King’s jewels at to-day’s prices. It is unlikely that the sheltering Squires would have known of or approved such actions, despite being subjected to Jesuit moral theology.
The Chapter governing the Seculars was an institution which suited the Squire’s outlook and social class. But there was another factor to be taken into consideration. Urban VIII, together with the Inquistion and the ever manipulating Jesuits, may have been opposed to the Chapter’s reintroducing an overseeing Bishop but, as is so often the case, the Vatican was divided against itself. The age of exploration was well under way. The Propaganda Fide, which was responsible for all foreign missions, was rapidly growing and gaining experience in introducing Romanism in varying cultural and political situations all over the world. In this it enjoyed Urban’s powerful backing.
The Propaganda Fide
So, despite the stubborn bigotry of certain opposing Cardinals, the Propaganda’s practical experience in foreign territories could not easily be ignored. By the time Urban died in 1644 the Propaganda was a powerful new player within the Vatican. And none was more powerful than the Propaganda’s first secretary, Msgr. Francis Ingoli, a deadly enemy of Protestantism and one whose importance is little appreciated, even to this day. ‘It was his organising ability and his grasp of the essentials of the missionary task that really made the Congregation of Propaganda a working institution.’
The historian Pastor, speaking of Rome’s global missionary activities, says in tribute to Ingoli: ‘There was no pause even when in 1649, the death occurred of Francesco Ingoli, the indefatigable secretary of Propaganda and its quickening spirit. His inspiration opened the new paths along which it was desired to develop missionary activities. Ingoli’s plan was to place the missions under the immediate direction of the Propaganda, to render them independent of the colonial powers, to employ secular (emphasis mine) priests and to create a native clergy in missionary countries. Propaganda’s vigilance over the missions extended likewise to the papal colleges for the training of priests; these institutions were to remain subject to canonical visitation.’ In other words, the Jesuits were not going to run the show if Ingoli could help it.
Hence Msgr Ingoli, the first secretary of the newly established Propaganda Congregation, was forever producing analytical reports on the state of missions in India, China, the Americas and elsewhere. His time was spent defusing the causes of disorder and abuse on the world’s mission fields, particularly the damaging and counter-productive rivalries between Portugal and Spain. Ingoli was the man of the moment with an unforeseeable rose to fame in the Vatican. And tucked away in the bottom of his over-loaded cosmopolitan in-tray were reports from England. These led him, in the light of his global experience, to come down firmly on the side of the Chapter and an overseeing Bishop in the disordered little backwater of England.
Knowledgeable Fr. Hughes has summarised Ingoli’s thoughts, on the basis of a manuscript Che la missione (‘That the mission’) taken from the Propaganda archives. ‘Ingoli, it must be borne in mind, when he spoke of the problems presented by the state of Catholicism in England and suggested a means of solving them, had before him the experience of troubles in other countries too. He knows there were similar troubles in Holland, which he had been largely responsible for ending. He knows what remedy had served there, the appointment of a bishop with certain jurisdiction even (emphasis mine) over the Regular missionaries. He knows what a power the Bishops have been in Ireland. He can contrast the flourishing state of the mission in Bosnia and in Albania – where there are bishops – with the decay of the Church in Serbia which lacks bishops. He can point to Hungary, bishopless, as another warning and distinguish between the different islands of the Aegean Sea.’
Hughes goes on to describe the breadth of Ingoli’s global overview. Vatican intelligence gathering is something we do well not to underestimate today. Ingoli ‘can even go so far as India and see the beneficent results to the mission of there being at its head what God everywhere meant to be at the head, a hierarchy of bishops with real power to rule the churches committed to them. Still more widely informed he can point to the fact the patriarchs of the schismatic churches of the East – The Nestorians, the Jacobites, the Copts, the Syrians, the Greeks – have never ceased to appoint bishops, despite the Mahometan persecution. As the result is to be seen in the fact that all those parts are full of Christians still loyal to their bishops. Whereas in the Latin sees the Faith has disappeared: the Popes having failed to provide a succession of bishops.’
Seculars and Jesuits
Readers will recall that the Seculars grew out of the Appellants who were so called because of their patient and persistent lobbying of Rome to curb what they saw as the disastrous results of Jesuit predominance. The Seculars were traditionally well used to acquainting Rome with their distresses and they now had a sympathetic ear in Rome.
Had the Jesuits not had this influence to curb them, their excesses might well have been their downfall. When they were finally suppressed in 1773, a sufficient public outcry against them might have led to measures being taken that would have prevented a Roman hierarchy being reintroduced among us. The legacy of Ingoli's influence in England, although only a tiny part of his sphere of activity, can be seen running right down to the 1850 re-establishment.
How he tackled the disorder of the English Romish mission we shall see in the next article, DV.