Sunday, 23 December 2007

Britain - a Catholic Country?

The headline in the Sunday Telegraph would have pleased the likes of Cardinal Wiseman and Pugin: Britain has become a 'Catholic country.' Apparently. This is more to do with the decline of the Anglican Communion and the number of Catholic immigrants than any deeper conversion of the national psyche.
A survey of 37,000 churches, to be published in the new year, shows the number of people going to Sunday Mass in England last year averaged 861,000, compared with 852,000 Anglicans ­worshipping.It is part of the changing face of churchgoing across Britain in the 21st century which has also seen a boom in the growth of Pentecostal churches, which have surpassed the Methodist Church as the country's third largest Christian denomination. Worshipping habits have changed dramatically with a significant rise in attendance at mid-week services and at special occasions - the Church of England expects three million people to go to a parish church over Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. In an attempt to combat the declining interest in traditional religion, the Anglican Church has launched radical new forms of evangelism that include nightclub chaplains, a floating church on a barge and internet congregations.
Bishop Hollis told the Sunday Telegraph: 'we don't want to be seen to be scoring points over the Anglican Church as we are in no way jealous of its position as the national church, but of course these figures are encouraging. It shows that the Church is no longer seen as on the fringes of society, but in fact is now at the heart of British life.'

Of course, post-Blairite Britain shows few other signs of being 'Catholic', especially with the high abortion rate, recent laws permitting same sex partnerships and euthanasia by neglect, and the secular, politically correct Big Brother nature of government. Reports such as these show the positive aspects of Tony Blair's 'conversion.' This is a great opportunity for the Church, as people will undoubtedly be curious about the 'Catholic thing.' It would be a pity if all they saw in the Catholic response was condemnation and negativity.



Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes who wants to join a miserable Church? we have much to be thankfull & offer not least the true faith.We can avoid triumphalism but speak the truth..

1:59 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If we assume that the figures relate to ENGLAND (population 50million or so), and less than 2 million people attend Catholic or Anglican services (5% more or less) it seems a big jump in logic to say that England is a Catholic country.
Even adding in various reformed churches and orthodox churches, its still not encouraging for the broader Christian family.
Adding in other members of the "faith family" (Jews, Muslims, Hindus etc) it still is a big stretch to think of England as Christian or Catholic or even "faith based"
Statistically there are probably more baptised Anglicans than Catholics,
While most Anglicans would probably be English, I wonder how many Catholics are actually English born. (75%?). How many of the Catholics (Irish, Poles, Italians etc) are actually potentially permanant resident in England?
While the Anglican Church is the old Conservative Party at prayer, based in quaint villages Catholics are much more diverse...the recusant English Catholic being somewhat different from the Catholics in Manchester and Liverpool.
More importantly can the Catholic Church thrive on the new diversity offered by new migrants or ghetto-ise the flocks into parishes with a migrant ambience.
All in all "Britain..a Catholic Country?" is a good newspaper headline but ultimately not borne out by a study of the statistics. A pity.

6:14 pm  
Blogger A Simple Sinner said...

The prayers of a faithful remnant transform a nation.

We are going to be suprised at who is in heaven. The biggest suprise will be us.

Many prayers for Britian especially my grandfather's native Scotland.

1:52 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think the official figure of the population of the UK is something like 60m. If this is so, less than 1m practicing Catholic or Anglican worshippers is worryingly small. If anything emphasizes that we are living in a post-Christian society it is this. We are used to seeing closed and closing Anglican and Nonconformist churches and chapels. Hard though it is to imagine, it's inevitable that Catholic churches will soon follow. Writing as a convert, when I go to Mass in churches outside London I am reminded of what the Church of England was like forty years ago. Some churches are thinly attended, others fuller, none full.

12:00 pm  

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