The abuse crisis is no excuse for anti-Catholic bigotry

The Scottish composer James MacMillan has composed a congregational Mass for the Blessed John Henry Newman which is to be featured at the venues of  the Pope’s forthcoming visit to Great Britain. No surprise there.  But what’s novel I think,  is that MacMillan, unusually for a composer, is a bold controversialist and an unorthodox defender of British Catholicism who has started his own blog to comment on his own press interviews. 

MacMillan first slammed sectarianism as “Scotland’s Shame” 11 years ago and has not  been deflected since  by the horrors of the abuse scandal – not that he makes any excuses for it. His comments (if not the blog, yet) reflect  the sweep and passion of his music, from the ultra modern to strong traditional references.

He’s quoted today by the English Catholic writer Peter Stanford  condemning much secular comment about the Church as  “the new antisemitism of the liberal intellectual”.  Stanford asks: ” So why don’t other Catholics follow MacMillan’s example and speak up more often in their own defence?”

Amid the abuse crisis, the nuanced contributions of  liberal Catholics to the current debates around the Pope’s visit  is a reminder that anti-Catholic bigotry is just as bad as the other disease without the “anti”. 

During the visit, it will be interesting to see if Christians of all denominations will get a hearing  for their common cause, to defend the place of religion in public life. Or will their cause be swamped  by the attention inevitably focused on own bitter internal rows over different aspects of sex?

For all types of  Irish,  the separate  British debate  points up the contrast between the State within a State role long exercised by the Catholic Church in both parts of  Ireland and the keep our heads down, not quite belonging position of the Church in England and Wales and Scotland since the Reformation which it hasn’t  shaken off even yet.  The grounds for Catholics failing to belong fully may have shifited, from specifically anti Catholic discrimination which has greatly declined, to the gap between Catholic teaching and acceptance of  practices like abortion,  but it is probably as wide  as ever.  Secular Britain is a bigger stranger  to the conservative devout of all types of Britain  perhaps, than the old Protestant Britain was for Roman Catholics  in the last two hundred years.  

The main factor that keeps  Catholic isolation in check  is the  independent outlook of the Catholic laity. But even the furious response to the blatant cover-ups seems to have failed seriously to rock the position of  self-perpetuating Church establishment. 

Coming from the likes of  James MacMillan, the case in favour of the Church carries more conviction  than does the  Pope

 In James’s background  there are the familiar crossover links between the traditions on either side of the water, as he recently told  the Herald.

He describes how, at around 10 years old, he joined a brass band, encouraged by his beloved maternal grandfather, George. “The coal mines are saturated in brass band culture and my grandfather had played euphonium in a colliery band as a young man,” says MacMillan, lighting up as he speaks. “Brass was a big thing in Cumnock and I felt as though I was following in his footsteps. It’s quite a big thing to march, play and read music at the same time. I was excited by that prospect.”

Only this marching was to the thud of an Orange walk. “This engagement came in for [the band] to play for an Orange walk somewhere in Ayrshire. I was going to do it – I didn’t bother about it – but my parents thought it would cause a scandal if I was seen, a little Catholic boy.” He chuckles quietly.

If MacMillan once saw nothing strange about a Catholic boy marching in an Orange parade, he is adamant now there is nothing contradictory about having working class roots and voting Conservative.





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  • percy
  • The power of the RCC in the south was unquestioned and it seems to me almost unnoticed. It was simply the final word on all things. Politicians came and went and if some were as bent as cork screws, sure wasn’t that the same everywhere?

    Everyone knew the institutional schools could be cruel, hard places. If you put a child put of line he would be punished, and if most of the children came from broken, dysfunctional homes surely it was a good thing that they learned a little discipline. If a child was caught running away from the schools they were handed back with the comforting thought that the child would be taught a lesson.

    The true horror of the schools and some of the priests came as a shock. To find many if not all the Bishops knew about it and that the extent of the knowledge led all the way to the Vatican was and still is incredible.

    The RCC carried on regardless, knowing the scandal was unfolding all over the world, they chose as Pope someone who was himself mired in the scandal. This arrogant move alone has added to the horror and anger. The open feeling now is that no white suit and saintly smile can hide the arrogance and indifference of the RCC hierarchy.

    The victims fall into two main groups, those who were abused and those whose faith and trust have been abused. I’m not sure what the answer is for the RCC, but it seems that in the immediate future their power is curtailed and their ‘princes’ are held in open contempt.

    It is not sectarian, quite the reverse, it is a demand by people who believe in their church to see and know the RCC has cleansed itself of all abusing clergy and is treating its faithful with respect.

  • Cynic

    Sounds like good ice cream

  • Mainland Ulsterman

    Here’s an odd one: my wife, a Catholic, is going out to protest at the Pope’s visit; but as a Protestant (well, atheist really) who is no more impressed than she is about the goings on in the Vatican, I’m not going, on the basis that Ulster Protestants have done enough public ranting against Catholicism and people might mistake me for some backwoodsman wacko.

    Am I being dishonest here – should I join the protest? Or would Catholics be offended by someone from my background joining the protest (in London)? My objections to the man are mainly on the basis of the child sex abuse stuff, the treatment of women, homosexuals and the approach to AIDS in Africa.

  • Mainland Ulsterman

    I can only speak for me, but Im not in favour of protests about the Popes visit. The RCC has many believers and they are entitled to see the embodiment of their faith in peace.

    To protest in England? Hmm, open to misinterpretation and the ‘history’ between the two main faiths would be too close to the surface.

    The ‘battle’ is for good to triumph within the RCC. As a lapsed catholic you can safely assume I will not be there, or with any luck anywhere else the pope is.

  • Nunoftheabove

    Mainland Ulsterman

    I would say that those would be more than sufficient Igrounds to consider going, so long as you’d take the same approach to a methodist, presbyterian or muslim leader. Don’t let the die-hard defenders of the church dare guilt-trip you into witholding criticising and protesting on the completely bogus basis that that makes you a bigot – that is the sort of gutter tactics they are already resorting to. That’s like sayiing that to criticise aspects of Islam makes you a racist, a preposterous (even in its own terms) and malicious argument often used or implied by the official left in the UK.

  • Nunoftheabove


    So you’re saying that the church should be given a bye-ball from reasonable peaceably made criticism ?

  • Edgar

    The Catholic sex-abuse stories emerging every day suggest that Catholics have a much bigger problem with child molestation than other denominations and the general population. Many point to peculiarities of the Catholic Church (its celibacy rules for priests, its insular hierarchy, its exclusion of women) to infer that there’s something particularly pernicious about Catholic clerics that predisposes them to these horrific acts. It’s no wonder that, back in 2002—when the last Catholic sex-abuse scandal was making headlines—a Wall Street Journal-NBC News poll found that 64 percent of those queried thought Catholic priests “frequently” abused children.

    Yet experts say there’s simply no data to support the claim at all.

  • Nunoftheabove

    No, there are protests aplenty! I just think the faithful should be allowed to enjoy his visit. He represents so much to them including years of kneeling and ring kissing idolatry.

    I hope the investigations and criticism continue, that Archbishop Martin gets the full support he needs from churchgoers and that this pope will take himself back to the Vatican as quickly and quietly as possible.

  • Tommy

    MacMillan is infamous in Scotland for finding bigotry where it doesn’t exist. We call him a Mope (Most offended person ever) for his paranoia and obsession with anti Catholicism. James sees bigotry where it doesn’t exist. In fact he’s now regarded as an Opus Dei crackpot.

    Why any sane person would not oppose the Pope’s visit, is totally beyond me. Child abuse, bombing in Claudy, cover ups, stolen loot, contraception and many other issues blight the RC church.

    In Glasgow the 16% minority Roman Catholic children are allowed the day off school, as are their teachers, motorways are being closed, millions of pounds of our money is being wasted, all for what and who?

    A poll was published in the RC friendly Sunday papers this morning, saying only 5% of Scots opposed the Papal visit. Of course, the Sunday Mail etc, never mentioned the poll was carried out by the RC church. How very odd!

    This visit was set up by Jim Murphy to pander the Labour voting RC’s in Scotland, but the costs are passed on to the other 84% of our nation who oppose this man and his policies.

    When they stop the apartheid schooling in Scotland, we may start to think of him as good Christian, rather than a man and church who don’t want our kids near theirs.

  • fitzjameshorse1745

    If anti Catholicism is the new anti semitism then surely Polly Toynbe is the new Goebells.
    Its probably genetic.
    The abuse scandals have made anti catholicism respectable much the same way that Israeli “counter terrorism” or Bernie Madeoff has made anti semitism respectable.
    Despite legitimate concerns about Israels Gaza and other policies…. theres often a hint of anti semitism in the protests. and certainly a casual look thru the Internet reveals a hint of anti semitism in the reaction to the banking crisis.
    And of course when legitimate concerns are raised ..the targets Israel or the Catholic Church play the anti Semite card or anti Catholic card as a way of dodging legitimate criticism.

    But in fact Islamophobia is the real parallel with Elizabethan and subsequent anti Catholicism.
    Elizabethas feared that Catholics were more loyal to the Church than the State……young Englishmen were radicalised in Jesuit and other seminaries in Flanders and France and shipped back into England to ferment revolt. man Imans today……Garnett, Campion of days gone by.
    Guido Fawkes was after all a home grown terrorist who was a Yorkshire man…..radicalised in a religious war on the Continent.
    All parallels are there with the Yorkshire 7/7 bombers….and Afghanistan..and the madras in Pakistan.
    Of course text books (O’Faolai) in history classes in Christian Brothers schools and others in Belfast in 1960s did not refer to Garnett, Campion as terrorists….or Oliver Plunkett……..although I suppose if those adherents of integrated education had their way….they might stop referring to them as saints.

    After all Toynbe, Dawkins and others are against “faith schools” radicalising young Moslems.
    Its a dilemna for the neo Whig left……or concensus.
    Whigs opposed a religious state but in days gone by liberals felt obliged to defend minorities….Catholics, Jews, Muslims.
    But the “faith school thing” has given them a crisis of sorts.
    In 1960, opposition to JFKs Catholicisim disqualifying him would naturally be seen for what it was…..sectarianism.
    Any notion of Obamas perceived Islamism is also islamophobic.
    but have we reached a stage in the western world (again!!!) where a Catholic or indeed any person of faith is disqualified from public office.
    The mob wont be led by Titus Oates but rather Polly Toynbe and the rest…feigning an interest in child abuse, womens rights (those poor girls condemned to wear those head scarves)…
    Maybe Christianity does better when its persecuted. Toynbe has not as yet advocated the Afghan way of dealing with Christians……
    Of course English Catholicism with its recusant vanity and Duke of Norfolk splendour is but a tip of the iceberg of the English Catholic Church. In the 1990s it was the last refuge of the very worst of Anglicanism (Widdicombe, Selwyn Gummer) who found catholicism a safe haven for their peculiar views.
    Beneath the recusant/Jacobite/Newmanite tradition of English Catholicism, the actual membership in the pews is made up of Poles, Irish, Filipinos and others wth a tradition of a “peasant” and socially involved Church.
    Alas this had the effect of squeezing the last remnants of decent liberal Catholicism. Pope John Paull II, Pope Benedict have moved the Church to the right.
    But beneath the iceberg is a liberal Church anxious to re-assert itself.
    Of course these terms are relative.

    Unfortunately the conservatives have driven too many people of liberal views away from the Church.
    But arguably the liberal ascendency of post-Vatican Council Catholicism drove conservatives out of the Church.

    The pendulum swings.
    Difficult I would think to say on a website as “liberal” as Slugger that a contributor is actually a practising Catholic…much more respectable to be a member of the Orange Order or Freemasons or whatever. That would after all be evidence of “diversity”.
    But difficult to imagine that the pendulum has much further to swing.
    Much as Polly Toynbe and others would will it.

  • Mainland Ulsterman

    Thanks for the advice Nunoftheabove and Pippakin. I’d still feel funny about going, I think. But interesting feedback. In reality I’ll be on childcare duty anyway so both me and my Mrs going to the demo is probably not an option.

  • Nunoftheabove

    It’s the whining self-pity of the church that is the most noticeable aspect of this (apart from their almost unbelievably inept PR), catholicism plays that role so well. Alays has done. Remarkably faux humble on one hand, incredibly arrogant in so many other ways.

    They shouldn’t be able to escape the appalling track record on child rape, on AIDS, on anti-semtisim and on their very cosy relationship with fascism in many parts of Europe and I really do wish the mainstream media would give them a much fairer challenge than it routinely does.

  • Alan Maskey

    Brian: The Centre will almost always hold. When I go to masses in England, a posh English priest says it, the congregation wear Poppies and they pray for HMQE11, who is the head of a “competitor”. Many of the Congregation are obvious Asain and African immigrants and it is a way for them to begin settling in. Anglican churches have not dissimilar congregations.
    In Ireland, growing up, all the craw thumpers harassed the priest as a safe or not so safe surrogate lover. Now a new generation pass the plate and do the readings. Smaller crowds but maybe better for that.
    As regards the kiddy bonkers, Benedict has taken action against some high profile scumbag RCS.

    But paedohilia is only a (particularly nasty) symptom of a much deeper malaise, involving manipulating and using people.
    The Christian Brothers, for long the back bone of the GAA, exemplify. Most were kidnapped from their homes at around the age of 13, and forced into teaching ingrates, many of whom were mere social climbers. Ireland got education and reform schools on the cheap but the gallant Irish, who are so quick to vote for obvious gangsters, turn on those who aided their greasy climb.

    Religion will always thrive. It greases society.

    Mainland Ulsterman: By all means, go to the protest (against what?) if you must. I am sure Benedict knows his audience and isn’t to worried beyond them. I don’t think I will make it to either or both the Mass and the protest. But I do hope the music is nice. And fair play to that dude for having a mind of his own.

  • Alan Maskey

    The abuse crisis is no excuse for anti-Catholic bigotry…. but it is a very good reason to have a full, fair, frank and open enquiry into the power structurs of the RC Church.

  • Nunoftheabove

    Bigotry and rational criticism aren’t the same thing and there are a number of people very determined to blur the distintion between the two things – this will not stand. I say we should not allow them to get away with it, any more than we would allow anti-semitic, misogynist, homophobic, totalitarian Islamists to play hard done by due to the ‘racism’ of western society and to try to exploit western tolerance and diversity through its guilt to introduce sharia into democratic societies. Pure manipulation and opportunism which needs – and will be – resisted.

  • fitzjameshorse1745

    The “posh priest” is more usually found in a Parish environment. The Ampleforth educated “recusant type” will usually be posted to specific “historic” parishes, to keep the recusant tradition alive.
    Many of the London churches are former “embassy churches” and even if the local population has a particular ethnic make up…..the parish will stay in safe “English hands”
    Warwick Street in London for example is former Portuguese and Bavarian embassy locations……and has a particular significance for modern (sic) Jacobites. Recently it became the Westminster church for the Gay, Lesbian and Transgendered which gave the old Jacobites the vapours worse than when it was the Church for “hotel workers”.

    There are non-posh English priests from working class communities who do most of the work with the ethnics and a disproportionate high number join religious Orders which keeps the “English” church posh.

  • Alan Maskey

    Good comment Fitzjames. The organised Catholic Church certainly put a big emphasis on kissing the right backsides.

    The posh priests are good in the sense that they can string a few words together, drag in a quote from Joyce or Poe or whoever. But I think you, Fitzg, point at a deeper malaise beneath.
    The Spannish hotel workers probably were not inundated with quotes from Cervantes.
    One of the most inspiring series of masses I went to were run by Armenians; one of them was on the anniversary of the 1915 genocide. Very moving and a good mixture of rites with deacons and what not buzzing around.

    Celibacy and the like is not the major problem. It is one group of bachelors manipulating other and the general problems a gerontocracy brings.

  • A.N.Other

    How ironic it is to see people who spend their time chattering about the need for evidence, standing up for organised religion.

  • Nunoftheabove


    Indeed. I think it’s no accident that so many of them confuse opinion with fact and then become upset and insufferable when they’re challenged.

    As John O’Sullivan used to say, “If the pope says he believes in God, he’s only doing his job; if he says he doesn’t believe in God, he may be on to something.”

  • Mainland Ulsterman

    Matches my experience. I was at one Catholic wedding of a working class mate in Burnley (Irish background) and another of a posh mate in Farm St, Mayfair around the same time and it was hard to believe it was the same Church. The two Catholic cultures in England seem to be chalk and cheese.

  • Alan Maskey

    Fitzjames: Tahnk you for your info. I looked up Appleworth’s site and

    Seems Robert Nairac was an old boy. Perhaps Turgon would kindly amend the Wiki page.
    I thought he went to Stoneyhurst.
    One of the better bits in Angela’s ashes was when the father tries to get his son into the church as an altar boy. Fat chance.
    You evr read Brideshead Revisited? Those English who stayed loyal to Rome were an interesting bunch. Anne Hathaway’s family, by all acounts, were that way.

    Of course, painting Medieval Jesuits out as the Islamic nuts of the day, you may as well say the English were the Islamic/Prof fundamentalists if their day, which Garnett probalby thought: his skin turned into a book cover.

  • fitzjameshorse1745

    Yes nairac went to Ampleforth. as I recall the late Cardinal Hume was headmaster at the time.
    Cant say as Ive read Brideshead Revisited but read more than enough on English recusancy and Jacobitism …worse Ive been compelled to talk to “recusants” and “jacobites” (they havent gone away you know)

  • Alan Maskey


    The English form of Roman Catholicism was a much more civilised form than the Irish which was essentially: Send the farmer’s third son to Maynooth, kidnap kids and dragoon them into the CBS to teach ingrates and get everyone to play GAA in boggy marshes on wet afternoons. The Benedictine English form and the anyone but Rangers Catholic form had some big clashes in Australia with the former holding out in NSW and the latter sweeping all before it in Victoria.

    So Appleworth would be one of the jewels in the English RC crown? I guess they must have had wealthy donors to get pads like that. I asked an English RC about this after reading Brideshead Revisited ( I actually met Cambridge alumni RCs who fell into that strange other world category). He said the rich RCs just paid their fines and kept their heads down.
    The ASppleworth entry says Nairac was killed. Turgon would prefer murdered I guess.
    Nairac might stil be alive if he’sd gone to a secondary modern. Tering around South Armagh singing Danny Boy and pretending to be from Belfast was not a hard front to crack.

  • Alan Maskey @ 12:08 am:

    You evr read Brideshead Revisited? Those English who stayed loyal to Rome were an interesting bunch. Anne Hathaway’s family, by all acounts, were that way.[sic]

    I first read that in connection with Anne Hathaway (the contemporary actress, and it is her birth name) who is reported to have left the RC church over the homosexuality issue. The earlier Anne Hathaway (born 1555/6 in the reign of Mary I), would have been born RC. The marriage at Temple Grafton proves little. The John Shakespeare “confession” is a proven forgery. Beyond that, the denominational loyalties of herself, her husband and his family, and their children are speculative.

    Waugh’s treatment of the Marchmain menage is less than adulatory.

    Note that Waugh himself was a convert (in 1930, under the influence of Fr Martin D’Arcy, SJ). The essential text here is his Converted to Rome: Why It Has Happened to Me. That presents a Waugh who converts more because of innate conservatism than for theology> He describes making a choice between “Christianity and chaos” (on which basis, other contemporaries turned to political ideologies: fascism or marxism).

    In retrospect one can see foreshadowings of Waugh’s conversion in the last pages of Decline and Fall [1928], where Paul Pennyfeather attends the lecture on church history. That book is Waugh’s moral antithesis of “passive”/”static” Pennyfeather and “active”/”dynamic” Margot. Why does Brideshead get the attention, and Decline the neglect?

    Now, aren’t we all a trifle “off-topic”, which was James Macmillan?

  • Alan Maskey

    Not entirely off topic. This shows that Roman Catholicism is multi rooted or, if one likes, is a hydra with many heads.
    I did read an Irish Times article many years ago (unreliable source I know), which claimed Shakespeare’s wife’s family was into hiding Jesuits and the like. I was really sorry I did not keep it.
    Maybe I should dig a little when time and Chesney’s reputation allow.
    I am indebted to Fitzj for his comment and would love to hear more about the English nonIrish RC Church. Were those big schools donated. for example?

    Tommy: I take it you are not a Celtic fan. Which is just as well, given how crap they are.
    I am sure John Knox will be turning in his grave. But don’t worry, His Holiness wil soon go. Wouldn’t you prefer Rome, civilisation and Bayern Munich to Ibrox Park, off key singers, bad breath and cold porridge? Cheer up. Rangers will probably win the league again and all will be well. In fact, maybe you could ask the Pope to buy Rangers or at least clear its debt. Reaching out and all that.

  • Gosh, for a moment there I had hopes of a Major Literary Discovery: instead you offer random wikipedia links.

    That is unworthy, even of your tortuous methodology.

    You’ll find that very little is certain about the Hathaways of Shottery (Cf: the heavy lifting done by CJ Sisson) . Was the daughter of Richard Hathaway whom Shakespeare married “Anne” or “Agnes”?

    Given that degree of ignorance, we can speculate, invent and fictionalise to our hearts’ content.

    Hey! Why not go the whole County Meath hog?

  • fitzjameshorse1745

    No its not off topic.
    You draw attention to Waughs conversion and his son Auberon often drew attention to his kind of Catholicism in “Private Eye”.
    Waughs comment on the post Vatican liturgy where the congregation offer each other a sign of peace….he opposed this on the grands that (I paraphrase) its impossible to attend Westminster Cathedral without being assaulted by drink sodden Irish women wanting “to shake my hand and hug me”.
    Indeed if you go back to around 1983, David Alton (Liberal MP) took out full page ads in broadsheets protesting abortion.which was backed by many Tory MPs (pics in the advert) including many Catholics. People who had difficulty with abortions but NOT cruise missisles.
    Labour MPs of that time kept their heads down.
    But Id make the point that those Catholic Labour MPs from South Lancashire and West of Scotland were a “different” Catholic to the Brideshead Revisited types……the recusant or posh convert from the 1930s.
    Indeed the FICTIONAL TV programme of the mid 1970s had Bill Brand (Jack Shepherd) as a left wing MP for a Lancashire constituency having trouble with his Catholic constituents over stances he has taken.

    Its right I think to draw attention to this fault line in English Catholicism. Not quite a political split…..but one where readers of The Tablet wont read The Catholic Herald and vice versa.
    Its a mistake to think that English Catholicism is homogenous…even if the hierarchy emphasises the English tradition of recusant Catholicism.
    The very public rebuke (accompanied by private vitriol) which Cardinal Hume received from Cardinal O’Fiach during the Hunger Strike crisis had a reminder of the distaste with which Irish Catholic hierarchy views the English Church. After all Bloody Queen Mary was not exactly pro-Irish.

    Of course the Church of England was once viewed as the Tories at prayer and certainly theres an aspect of thinking that this can now be said of the English Church. After all many of the Daily Telegraphs finest are Catholic. And Conrad Black (himself a Catholic convert) is a shareholder in the Catholic Herald.

    But the basic error in Brian Walkers interpretation of MacMillan as a UK thing. Scotland has its own hierarchy.
    The sectarian nature of Scottish society is well established and the Scottish hierarchy is in a situation where it wants to appear more “Scottish” as its seemingly top heavy with Celtic supporters of Irish heritage.
    The “Scottish Catholic” once devoteda blank page to Labours response to a questionaire (back in Kinnock days) as it asked the same questions of each party.

  • Alan Maskey

    “And Conrad Black (himself a Catholic convert) is a shareholder in the Catholic Herald.”

    As Fitzg has already pointed out, there were plenty of plebian Portugues, Italians and whatever to go with the Irish navvies, chambermaids and nurses, and to be kept far away from the in set.

    But what of the upper class Catholics, who predate the Waugh crowd? What of them?
    Also, some of the Scottish islands stayed true to Rome, I believe.

    Cardinal O’Brien does have a slight Irish resonance to it as does Cardinal Cormac Murphy O’Connor. I guess this is all a throwback to when Irish Catholicism was a force with the Christian Brothers and what not and the Micks did tend to keep the top spots for themselves in the States, Australia and so on. I guess the Vatican would have cherry picked the better all-English bets.
    I looked up Cardinal Hume. Interesting background. And a statue, unveiled by HMQE2, in Newcastle, a city whose god is Alan Shearer.

  • Are we debating perceived class distinction in Roman Catholicism? Or merely the old Irish Sea/North Channel cultural divides?

    If the former, I am reminded of Evie Hone. Her background takes us into the very core of the Anglo-Irish mercantile élite. When she converted in 1937, she is supposed to have told Archbishop Byrne that she could be a Roman Catholic, “but only a low-church one”.

    A pardonable (?) aside: Evie’s My Four Green Fields was made for the 1939 New York World Fair. It is now the feature of the main stair-case in Leinster House, as deservedly iconic as Downing Street’s front door. Pub balladeers, please note: she beat Tommy Makem to the conceit by three decades.

    Back on the main drag:

    My (real-life) alter-ego has Throckmortons and other recusants in the upper branches of his family tree. Hence his passing interest in the topic.

    The English Catholic History Association is as good a place to start as any; and has a useful set of links and references. Some of its recent lectures (e.g. Abbot Geoffrey Scott’s two-parter on the later Stuarts in Rome) are available as pod-casts from that site.

    Scottish Catholicism:

    David Livingstone, of “… I presume” fame, was a non-conformist from the Isle of Mull. He had an anecdote that his ancestors were forcibly converted from Roman Catholicism by the laird’s yellow walking stick, hence creideamh-a’ bhata-bhuidhe. Dr Samuel Johnson had a similar story about the isle of Rum.

    Let’s not overlookt Compton Mackenzie (another Catholic convert) and his Whisky Galore (1947). His “wee Free” Great Todday and Papist Little Todday are fictional stand-ins for Barra and Eriskay.

  • Alan Maskey

    Wow. Where in God’s name do you get these wonderful snippets of informatron from? I have bookmarked those sites and will peruse them later. Great work.
    Nice Hone quote by the way. I am sure the high Church Cork RTC prelates would have liked to get into her family’s vaults and barrels.

  • fitzjameshorse1745

    Compton MacKenzies Catholicicism was closely related to his support f Jacobitism and Scottish independence.
    Speaking for myself Im not debating the “class” distinctions in English Catholicism…class is merely one indicator of the divide within English Catholicism……
    And of course Scottish hierarchy is totally independent of Westminster. There is no “UK” Catholic Church.
    It is I think reasonable to point out the chasm that exists between the “institution” of English Catholicism and the “reality” of English Catholicism.

  • Prionsa Eoghann

    What an utter pile of pish Tommy.

    This bigotry in Scotland that doesn’t exist…………..em remember when UEFA discovered bigotry in Scotland circa 2003 and then the media and labour leader Jack McConnell decided to actually speak about the elephant in the room. Ach aye and the fact that my fathers generation including Billy Connoly talk about the need ti hide which school they went to to ensure employment etc. What you should have said that bigotry is now no longer tolerated by the establishment and people like yoursel are quite rightly reduced to the lunatic fringe.

    Why shouldn’t Catholic children indeed any children who want to go and see the pope be denied? It might be a once in a lifetime occassion, what is it to you. A small part of the M77 will be shut and used as a bus park the nearby M8 should cope.

    >”This visit was set up by Jim Murphy to pander the Labour voting RC’s in Scotland, but the costs are passed on to the other 84% of our nation who oppose this man and his policies.”<

    Whilst the first part is undoubtedly true, how/why have you managed to make up the information that the 80 odd percent of non-Catholic Scotland is opposed to the Pope and his policies? I won't ask for something that you can't possibly provide………like evidence.

    The last two lines are incredible. The primary school my weans go to has perhaps over 30% of non-Catholic pupils and this is in a traditional orange area, something unthinkable 20 years ago.

    Welcome to the 21st Century Tommy were everyone is supposed to be equal. And aw Jock Tampsons bairns be they descended from Bengal, Barlanark, Belfast or whatever are cherished.

    Soar Alba and aw that

  • fitzjameshorse1745

    The upper class Catholic has “not gone away”. They like to trace their links back to Tudor times when their families were either dispossessed or executed (or as they would say “Martyred”).
    They can be divided into roughtly two camps…..”recusant”….which is more or less based on devotion to Catholicism itself……and “Jacobite” which is more political in nature an related to the Tory/Whig debate.
    As well as a (then and occasionally) still tendency to believe in the Divine Right of Kings……they are socially and often politically “conservative”.
    The influx of Irish migrants (1850 onwards) had the unusual effect of strengthening the English Catholic Church in numerical terms…..but effectively were unable to change its conservative nature (likewise Polish, Portuguese, Spanish etc migrants).
    The Catholic Church in England has effectively ensured its survival as an English Church by establishing some Churches as ghettos….for example a Church off Leicester Square is the “French” Church……a Church in Quax Road, Kilburn is not surprisingly “Irish”. and there are numerous other examples.
    Burnley .in the Diocese of Salford (large “Irish” population) is a little different. The last man to be hanged drawn and quartered in England was Francis Townely from Burnley (actually one of seven executed in 1746 as a Jacobite) . There is a strong “English Catholic” recusant presence in North Lancashire…..note the “lamb” image on the badge of Preston North End FC…..”P P” means either Proud Preston or Papish Preston depending on who says it.

  • Alan Maskey

    Very very interesting. Would you car to expound more on all this please.

  • Prionsa Eoghann

    Not got a clue what your last sentence means btw. However the head honcho in Scotland is none other than wan mario Conti. I have no clue whether he supports the Pope’s 11 but I am pretty sure his roots are more Padua than Poleglass.


    The latest joke going round paradise is a wee song parodying the advert “we buy any car dot com” only instead of car it is another c word ending in t. I’m afraid the novel idea of putting in Norn Irelands much lamented tame Taig AKA ‘like me and you he’s a provo too (sic) Neil Lennon won’t work. You know by my reasoning Martin McG can’t be a provo either…………..

    Oh and I might need you to elaborate on the Victoria NSW stuff at another date. I am an ex-St Monica’s alumni from Epping in the outer suberbs of Melbourne.

    Oh btw chaps, fascinating stuff! This is what makes slugger so good.

  • fitzjameshorse1745

    Prionsa Eoghan
    Thank you. But mario Conti is actually archbishop of Glasgow. Cardinal Keith O’Brien is archbishop of St Andrews/Edinburgh is head of Catholic Church in Scotland.
    My last sentence referred to a questionaire in a Catholic newspaper on the eve of an Election (1987? 1992?) when the newspaper sent a questionaire to the main parties in Scotland. Labour did not bother to reply….a bad mistake.
    Notably in the last Govt…..Des Brown, John Reid Jim murphy were catholic Scottish labour MPs…and of course Ruth Kelly (born in County Derry) was in the cabinet much to the ire of Polly Toynbe who feels Catholics cant be in the cabinet.
    Odd stance for a liberal.

  • fitzjameshorse1745

    Mr maskey,
    It would only take us further away from the topic.

  • Prionsa Eoghann

    Thanks fitzjameshorse1745, duh how could I forget about O’brien who’s inconvenient comments regarding Megrahi were convienently paid lip service then forgot by the Scottish *Unionist* media. O’brien has great potential.

    “>Mr maskey,
    It would only take us further away from the topic.<"

    If it is similar quality then who would complain. A great opportunity for learning that shouldn't be missed.

  • Alan Maskey

    Fitzg: Toynbe is a big secularist/anti religionist. She has made part of her career on it. She certainly has not made it from her educational attainments, which are pathetic.
    OK, No English RC diversions, which is a pity.

  • fitzjameshorse1745

    Toynbe is the Top person (Chairman? President?) of the British Humanist Association ……so this should be borne in mind when she writes about “religion”.
    Always look at WHO AND WHAT the journalist is……

  • Alan Maskey

    Eoghann: Where does O’Brien stand on things? Is he a Hibs man? Brits out? SNP? If he handn’t moved from Antrim, the Provos would have probably shot his da.

  • Nunoftheabove

    Yes and always look at the spellings of their names while you’re at it, fitzjameshorse1745.

    You don’t need to look too hard for her views on religion, she doesn’t attempt to conceal them. Never has done. It’s a function of free speech, see. Something a good many religionists – the real believers, not the a la carte liberal bullshitters and make-it-up-as-they-go-along ‘protestant catholic’ ones at any rate – aren’t in much of a position to lecture the commonsense rest of us about.

  • fitzjameshorse1745

    indeed nunoftheabove.
    For the record…Toynbee.
    Not completely sure how my mispelling invalidates anything. But sloppy language and sloppy thinking are oft related.
    By the way do you usually end a sentence with a preposition?

  • Nunoftheabove

    Oh probably about as often as you might, say, use ENTIRELY UNNECESSARY words using UPPER CASE LETTERING in the middle of a sentence, yeah. Stylistic choice, see. Free speech, as I say.

    Not entirely sure why you think that misspelling invalidates anything either or indeed how or why one would imagine that anything I said would imply any such thing.

  • fitzjameshorse1745 @ 1:47 pm:

    On matters Jacobite we could even play for the same team.

    Sorry, by the way, not to have picked this up before: I was waiting for my gem about the Hathaways [Your comment is awaiting moderation] to pop up: guess it was the reference to Anne/Agnes’s home hamlet.

    Bron Waugh was, first and last, a contrarian. I gave up on the CoE happy-clappers for the same reason. I may not be a believer, but I do like a good bit of theatrical ritual, with musical accompaniment. I draw the line at guitars (my ultimate disappointment at Notre-Dame de Chartres), dancers in the aisle, hand-shaking and “kisses-of-peace” (particularly when it involves some of the pieces who frequent our local fane).

    I’d love to expand on the Waugh generations shift from Scottish secessionist presbyterianism to Evelyn’s and Bron’s RCism. I’ll put that “in salt” for elsewhere.

    Perhaps Evelyn’s conversions can be traced circuitously back to big brother Alec. Alec had been “asked to leave” Sherborne, went to Sandhurst and then to the trenches. His Loom of Youth referred as explicitly as the time allowed to homosexual jinks in a boys’ boarding school. That got Alec (then a PoW after Passchendaele) removed from the list of Old Shirburnians. Little brother Evelyn was also declared not welcome.

    So Evelyn went to Lancing College, which remains the acme of bells-and-smells High Church Anglicanism.

    Evelyn’s mate at Oxford was Christopher Hollis (later Tory MP) who converted while an undergraduate. Through Hollis’s Old Etonian mates at Oxford, Evelyn himself became a boozy and rampantly-gay social butterfly.

    When Evelyn himself converted, in 1930, his clearing-his-conscience confession must have amounted to a major epic.

  • Prionsa Eoghann

    He had a hard act to follow following in the footsteps of Cardinal Winning, I’m sure you know of him. Can’t say that he had set the heather on fire prior to 2007 when he started making rumblings regarding the unspoken tacit support of he church and naturally her flock of the British labour party. Time and place I suppose, the BLP had always acted as a bulwark from the Scottish establishment that was institutionally anti-Catholic and of course even worse the forces of the left led by the great John Maclean. Noteworthy guys the ilk of Catholics like John Wheately are of course few and far between and the obviously corrupt (veritas) modern BLP in Scotland no longer could rely on supporting Catholic education to get them by for instance and keep in the church’s good books. Issues like abortion have always been a biggie (of course and over which Winning first put up the sceptre of a church/party split) but it was stem cell technology and the BLP’s seeming championing of it that was the final straw.

    Salmond was a game changer, whilst not publicly taking on the dying orange establishment he nevertheless reinforced the previous labour undertakings under Jack mcConnell that the unspoken bigoted society was finished (Scottish society had pretty much moved on long before this but still). Salmond made it clear that Catholic education was safe in his hands and he also had several Catholics in the upper echelons of his party. I recall on the eve of the SNP victory in 2007 that O’brien sanctioned an open letter read to Catholic congregations all over Scotland that screamed out DON’T VOTE LABOUR! This was unbelievable and it did not go down well with the old school drones some of whom are my in-laws. The result was that the SNP even more unbelievably won the popular vote in Glasgow for the first time ever. Consider that we were up against the drones and their orange/rule Brittania pals who on principle will not vote SNP.

    O’briens finest hour to date undoubtedly was over the Megrahi issue. Ian Hmilton covers it very well here, scroll down;

    I suppose the media suspect that O’brien is a SNP supporter but in reality no sane thinking person could but support anyone else…………what is the alternative? There is no other media but a Unionist media in scotland, even the BBC (sic) who constantly parroted the irrational hang’em’n’flog’em line despite having the likes of Mandela and O’brien championing the compassionate angle.

  • Alan Maskey

    So P Eoghann: you are a SNP man. What is the rough denominational breakdown of their vote? I take what you say about Gorgeous George but I like him. And how radical is the SNP? Are they just PSF lite?

  • Prionsa Eoghann

    I wouldn’t know how/where to begin quantifying the SNP vis a vis SF. And I am glad I was able to hide my SNP leanings for as long.

    The SNP are very much an establishment party really who represent pretty well where Scottish society is, a criticism that I think has merit is that they were/are far too pally with the Edinburgh Banking and legal elite. There is a strange paradox in that over the last say 20 years they have stolen mostly tory votes yet are much further to the left than the BLP. Wierdly for an establishment party they do not have the support of one daily national newspaper pretty much because all of our media is English owned or is foreign owned but with England’s interests to the fore.

    I’d speculate that the direction is definetly a Scandanavian type social democrat left progression. promoting the sense of community etc. something that even Scottish tories can’t even begin to communicate to their English peers with their “I’m alright fuck the rest!” psuedo American mentality/philosophy.

    Post independence there would be no need for an SNP and I’d expect that what remains may become a centrist type party while a new or totally reformed Scottish (genuinely) labour party emerges although not one that any labour drone would recognise at present.

  • I suppose its hard for someone outside of Northern Ireland to realise just how weird someone like Cardinal Winning was/