History redux, all over again...

Just an addendum to my earlier post on the meaning of "historic," which prompted many fine insights: One of my favorite items in The Tablet--or any periodical that includes such a feature--is their column re-printingan excerpt from their pages of 50 and 100 years earlier. The editorsfind fascinating (to me) bits that are a peephole into another era or, in this case, a magnifying glass on ours. Here is the excerpt from The Tablet's pages a century ago thatstarted me thinking thoughts about history and a context forthe latest talk of an Anglican "schism." I'd forgotten to cite it in in my original post, which was alreadylong anyway:

The Very Rev. Father Pheenan, editor of The Catholic World, who is now on a visit to Rome, thinks that the conversions announced from Philadelphia, Fond, Du Lac, and other places in the United States, will soon be followed by many others. He points out that the Protestant Episcopal Church is being broken up by the two antagonistic tendencies which have been so long at work in its bosom towards Catholicism on the one hand and towards Rationalism on the other. The spirit of indifference in the matter of definite dogmatic teaching has been fostered by the absence of religious instruction in the schools for the last hundred years. The open-pulpit canon is reducing the obligation of belief to the lowest possible dimensions. Three-fourths of the Protestant population of America are unbaptised and the divorces are five times as many as are granted in the rest of the world together. The House of Laymen of the Episcopal Church has a divorced man for its President in the person of Mr Vanderbilt. In one State of America there are as many divorces as there are marriages. This startling picture given by Father Pheehan [sic] leads him to infer that men of goodwill, who have been brought up in Protestantism, are taking alarm and flying for refuge and salvation to the bosom of the true Church.

--The Tablet, 13 June 1908

David Gibson is a national reporter for Religion News Service and author of The Coming Catholic Church (HarperOne) and The Rule of Benedict (HarperOne). He blogs at dotCommonweal.

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