This year represents the 450th anniversary of the saddest event in the history of England; when the Provinces of Canterbury and York were forcibly sundered from the unity of Western Christendom and from the See of Peter. For Anglican Catholics, at this particular moment, such a commemoration is not merely 'History' and 'Heritage'; it relates directly to where we are now and where we are going. There is a sort of symmetry between that sundering, and the sundering involved in the decision of 'our' bishops and synods to dump the ARCIC ecumenical process which seemed so promising and, in place of ecumenical convergence, to choose a path of deliberate and irrevocable (because structural) divergence.
At this timely moment, Professor Eamon Duffy has published his Fires of Faith: Catholic England under Mary Tudor (Yale; ISBN 978-0-300-15216-6). It should be read by everybody with a serious interest in the history of our provinces at that particular turning point and moment of rupture; it demonstrates the vibrancy of Marian Catholicism, its popular appeal, its intellectual strength, its personal heroism. It demonstrates how England, as a unique locus in which Protestantism had been turned back and replaced by a renewed and invigorated Catholicism, became an early laboratory for the Catholic Counter-Reformation. Duffy shows how the English Counter-Reformation of 1553-8 helped to shape the reforms of the Council of Trent and of Catholic mainland Europe. Did you know, for example, that S Charles Borromeo incorporated Cardinal Pole's decree on Pastoral Visitation word for word into the document issued by his first Milan Synod of 1565? When you've read Duffy, you'll know a lot of significant details like that; and you'll have a clear understanding of how Whiggish historiography has corrupted our national memory of that brief but exciting five years.