Background


Westminister Abby

 

Great Britain - has a surface area of 230,762 square kilometres [29,098 sq. miles] and a population of 59,381,000 of whom 5,264,000 (8.87 percent) are Catholic. There are 32 ecclesiastical circumscriptions [dioceses and equivalent] and 2,977 parishes. Currently there are 59 bishops, 5,225 priests, 6,497 religious, 160 lay members of secular institutes and 34,669 catechists. Minor seminarians number 2, and major seminarians 245. A total of 806,334 children and young people attend 2,828 centres of Catholic education, from kindergartens to universities.

Other institutions belonging to the Church, or run by priests or religious in Great Britain include 8 hospitals, 1 clinic, 171 homes for the elderly or disabled, 79 orphanages and nurseries, 94 family counselling centres and other pro-life centres, 147 centres for education and social rehabilitation, and 31 institutions of other kinds.

 

 

England – Center of United Kingdom (which includes Wales, Scotland, N. Ireland), off NW coast of Europe: capital, London. Christianity was established among the Celts in Britain by the 4th century. Anglo-Saxon invaders from Germany were evangelized by St. Augustine of Canterbury, sent by Pope Gregory I (597). In 663, the Celtic Christians came under papal authority. In the 780s the Church was decimated by the Danish invasion, but recovered under Alfred the Great. The whole country was Christianized by the mid-10th century. The Norman Conquest (1066) opened the English Church to fuller European influence. In the 14th century, John Wycliff questioned papal authority, presaging the Reformation. When Henry VIII was denied (1529) his appeal to Rome for annulment of his marriage to Catherine of Aragon, he rejected papal authority over the English Church, declared himself its head, suppressed houses of religion, and persecuted those who refused assent to his claims.

 

Under Edward VI, Protestant doctrines were introduced through the Book of Common Prayer. Mary Tudor’s Catholic restoration (1553-58) failed, due to popular reaction against the execution of so many Protestants. Elizabeth I (1558-1603) helped organize the now separated Church of England, with its own hierarchy, laws, and articles of faith. Priests and missionaries from France, attempting to revive Catholicism, were executed for treason. Apostolic vicariates represented the Catholic Church in England from 1685 till 1850, when the Catholic hierarchy was restored. In 1829, full citizenship was restored to Catholics, though with continuing restrictions on public worship. In the 20th century, the Catholic Church increased in size, and closer relations between Catholics and Anglicans gave hope for eventual reunion, until the English Church began ordaining women in 1994. Catholics are 8.3% of population.

 


 

Scotland – In the northern British Isles, belonging to United Kingdom: capital, Edinburgh.. Christianity was introduced with the arrival of St. Ninian in 397. In 563, with the arrival of St. Columba and his monks, a new era of evangelization began. The Faith was carried to remote areas by the end of the 6th century. From his influence, the Celtic Church was organized along tribal and monastic lines, rather than diocesan. The Council of Whitby in 664 decided to adopt Roman usage. In the 8th and 9th centuries, invasions from Scandinavia threw the Church into disorder. In the 12th century, Scotland was brought into closer conformity with the Church on the Continent, by the arrival of religious/monastic orders and the founding of new dioceses. Scottish prelates resisted any attempt to place the Scottish Church under English jurisdiction. In the later Middle Ages, Scotland suffered invasion from England, the Black Death, and civil war.

 

In the 16th century, Reformed ideas took hold and spread. In 1560 Parliament denied papal jurisdiction and in 1567 committed the country to Presbyterianism. The Catholic Church was proscribed, and the hierarchy disbanded. To save the Catholic Faith, priests launched the Scottish Mission in 1653, working under ground. Many Catholics left the country, but later immigrants from Ireland helped to replace their number. Penalties against Catholics were gradually lifted, and in 1878 Pope Leo XIII restored the hierarchy with two archbishoprics. Catholics are 14% of the population.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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