Friday, June 5, 2009

Mr. Shapiro on Prof. Duffy’s latest book

Via CathNews I found a review, by one James Shapiro, of Prof. Eamon Duffy’s latest book, namely Fires of Faith: Catholic England under Mary Tudor. Mr. Shapiro says that

Fires of Faith challenges the historical commonplace that by burning heretics, “the Marian church was using the wrong weapons ... in a fight it could not win”. Eamon Duffy, Cambridge professor of the history of Christianity, argues that for Catholic authorities, burnings were a way to combat heresy in England after Henry VIII broke with Rome in the 1530s, which only intensified in Edward VI’s reign. But they were also a warning to spectators that hotter hellfires awaited anyone who refused to embrace Catholicism.
Sadly, most Catholics these days would reject altogether (in contradiction of the infallible teaching of Pope Leo X in the Bull Exsurge Domine) the liciety of the practice of burning heretics. And of those who uphold the Traditional doctrine, many argue, as Mr. Shapiro indicates, that the Marian persecutions were just but imprudent, but it seems that Prof. Duffy argues that in fact the persecutions had a reasonable prospect of success.

Mr. Shapiro also observes that

Fires of Faith goes a long way to overturn the conventional view that “Mary’s church was backward-looking, unimaginative, reactionary, sharing both the Queen’s bitter preoccupation with the past and her tragic sterility”.
Now I already knew that this was going to be a book that I would have to read, but then, as though to eliminate any possibility of me putting off obtaining my copy, Mr. Shapiro says

Reginald Pole is Duffy’s hero, “the invisible man of the Marian restoration”. Under his leadership, Catholic worship was re-established rapidly and efficiently. By the summer of 1558, Pole thought that the country was turning the corner, at last “beginning to recover its pure form”.
(my emphasis)
The book’s author regards Cardinal Pole as his hero? How quickly can they send me a copy?!

Reginaldvs Cantvar
Ember Friday of Pentecost, A.D. 2009


Anonymous said...

It is misleading to characterise the just punishment of criminals as persecution.

Cardinal Pole said...

That's a fair point, Anonymous; I had just used the term 'Marian persecutions' because that seems to be the term most widely in use among historians and I hadn't thought to contest it. Although I think that the meaning of 'persecution' is wide enough to apply to just punishment of criminals (and I certainly don't dispute that Mary I's anti-heresy policies were just), I will see about using a more suitable term in future.