From without the Flaminian Gate: 150 Years of Roman Cahtolicism in England and Wales 1850-2000

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From Without the Flaminian Gate: 150 Years of Roman Catholicism in England and Wales 1850-2000. Edited by V. Alan McClelland and Michael Hodgetts. (London: Darton, Longman and Todd Ltd. 1999. Pp. xvii, 406. L24.95.)

On September 29,1850, Pope Pius IX restored the Roman Catholic hierarchy in England and Wales. Soon afterwards, the new Archbishop of Westminster, Nicholas Wiseman, issued a pastoral letter from Rome, "From Without the Flaminian Gate," which announced the pope's plans to the country's Roman Catholics. The Roman authorities had worked hard to soften the protests which would greet this papal action, but the exuberant rhetoric in Wiseman's message neutralized these plans. Protests in the press, hostile comments from Anglican bishops, an act of parliament, the burning of Wiseman and the other bishops in effigy, and the threat of hostile mobs demonstrated that anti-Catholicism flourished in Victorian England. But the climate has changed during this century. The tributes following the death of Cardinal Basil Hume in June, 1999, just short of the 150th anniversary of the restoration of the hierarchy and the new millennium, revealed that Roman Catholicism had become an important and respected part of the country. From Without the Flaminian Gate is a collection of articles which discusses aspects of the development of Roman Catholicism from 1850 to the present.

These articles, which celebrate the 150th anniversary of the establishment of the Catholic hierarchy in England and Wales, provide a scholarly and entertaining insight into the life of English Catholicism since 1850. This is not the first time that a volume of essays commemorated the achievements of Roman Catholicism following the restoration. In 1950, Bishop George Beck edited The English Catholics, 1850-1950,which studied the remarkable resurgence of Catholicism during that century and looked toward the future with confidence. While avoiding nostalgia for the past or contentment with the recent accomplishments of Catholicism, From Without the Flaminian Gate might not possess the same self-assurance as Beck's book, but it "poses a set of questions which will present themselves with considerable urgency in the new millennium" (p. xiv).

V. Alan McClelland and Michael Hodgetts have brought together a number of outstanding scholars who have succeeded in giving the reader a penetrating insight into the growth of the Catholic community since 1850. Three articles by McClelland, Sheridan Gilley, and Edward Hulmes narrate the history of Roman Catholicism since the restoration. …