The Catholic Herald has some fun with alternative history, playing off the popularity of the TV series Wolf Hall, asking what would England be like if it were still Catholic?
Going after Wolf Hall in particular, there’s this:
When Wolf Hall’s Thomas Cromwell talks superciliously about legions of indolent monks growing rich on dodgy relics, he is spinning Tudor high propaganda, not history.
Medieval monasteries mostly grew because ordinary people gave them money to conduct charitable works. On the eve of the Reformation, most wills, even by people of modest means, contained donations to religious houses for the relief of the poor. A century later, this Christian tradition was gone. Before Henry and Cromwell, London alone had 35 religious hospitals, including St Bartholomew’s and St Thomas’s, which are now both over 800 years old. Religion was inseparable from community caring.
The Reformation’s wholesale replacement of a Catholic framework devoted to the needy (salvation by faith and works of mercy) with a Protestant one of Bible study and personal prayer (salvation by faith alone) altered our society fundamentally, refocusing us into ourselves and cutting off an entire infrastructure of charity. If we still had monasteries with the money to heal, feed, clothe, educate and offer hospitality to the poor, I doubt we would have nearly so many in our society sleeping rough with nowhere to go.
Posted by John B. Chilton