Catholicism’s quiet renewal in the UK?

Catholicism is experiencing something of a renewal in Great Britain, ranging from the Catholic vitality of the Anglo-Indians to a “new sense of purpose and mission, and indeed of vocation…among the ‘creative minority’ of Mass-going adults,” writes Stephen Bullivant in the London-based Catholic Herald (August 11). Bullivant reports on the opening of “new cathedrals, new centers of learning [and] new religious orders…. At the risk of tempting fate, I believe we’re seeing the first fruits of a true resurgence, perhaps even a resurrection…of British Catholicism.” He acknowledges that the statistics on Mass attendance continue to drop and the Brexit vote will likely mean that “our pews are unlikely to keep being topped up—as thus far they have been—by a steady stream of new Britons from more religious parts of Europe and the rest of the world….” But Bullivant points to the vitality of the British Syro-Malabar community originating in Kerala, India, who have recently been given their own cathedral, and a new Eparchy for Great Britain (a non-geographical diocese); they are able to turn out close to 3,000 to bi-weekly prayer and Mass rallies out of a population of 40,000 such Catholics.

Bullivant adds that there are also new or renewed Catholic educational establishments and religious orders emerging, including Glasgow’s Sisters of the Gospel of Life, the Canons of St. Ambrose and St. Charles in Carlisle, two new Oratories in York and Manchester (with another one starting up in Bournemouth), and three historic parishes “given serious new life by two traditionalist groups….” This and other activity has contributed to a modest but promising rallying of vocations, both male and female, in recent years, as well as “a steady stream of committed Catholic couples, not simply aware of but genuinely excited by the church’s full vision of marriage and family life.” Bullivant concludes that “periods of renewal always begin in the midst of crisis. The very recognition that something must be done, and urgently, is often what inspires and energizes.”

(Catholic Herald,