England Should Be a Catholic Country again – Spectator Debate

Reportedly, according to zenit.org – March 5, 2010:

“The Reformation was bad for England, and the nation would do well to become a Catholic country again.”

This was the affirmation proposed by Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor on Tuesday during a debate hosted by The Spectator magazine as part of its debate series. The topic under discussion was “England Should Be a Catholic Country Again,” and the cardinal — who is a retired archbishop of Westminster — was joined by author Piers Paul Read and Dom Antony Sutch, parish priest of St. Benets Catholic Church, in speaking for the motion.

Speaking against the motion were Lord Richard Harries, retired Anglican bishop of Oxford; Matthew Parris, former Conservative Member of Parliament and currently a columnist for the Times; and Stephen Pound, Labour Party Member of Parliament.

Though affirming that the Reformation “brought a tremendous loss to this country,” the core of Cardinal Murphy-O’Connor’s contribution focused on an ecumenical vision.

The 76-year-old prelate presented this Church as one that would speak for life, the poor and all those without a voice. It would be one that defends the family and that “would continue to respect and dialogue with those who differ from us, people of other faiths, people with no faith, the agnostics and atheists. The English Church would be a strong voice, witnessing to all that is good and true. It would be a Church, sustained not only by Scripture, tradition and reason favored by the Anglican Church but, crucially, by Scripture, tradition, reason and teaching authority. It would encapsulate that authority in teaching the truth and the beauty of the Christian faith.”

“So I have given you a vision,” Cardinal Murphy-O’Connor concluded, “and I am an old man, with a dream of the English Church in this land which we love so much and, let me tell you, Ladies and Gentlemen, it is a dream that can be, that should be, that will be realized.”

However, the account of the debate according to catholicchurch.org.uk March 3, 2010, includes:

“Pre-Reformation England, therefore, was bad: with corrupt and worldly prelates like Cardinal Wolesey, and an uncouth and ignorant clergy. The only signs of Christian life came from the Lollards, the Protestants who rejected the mumbo-jumbo of the sacraments, read the bible in English, so all in all, England was ready for the good news of Protestantism.”

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