Thursday, February 15, 2007

Holy Henry VIII!

News from the London Times tonight to the effect that Catholics are set to surpass Anglicans in the UK religious census. This will get people's attention since England has been one of the major Catholic vs. Protestant battlegrounds since the time of the Henry who had all those wives.

The reason for this development is the influx of Poles into London and the UK generally--some 600,000 have settled in London alone since Poland became an EU member. Poles and other refugees from the "New Europe" are doing much as Hispanics do here, i.e. taking the jobs Londoners and British don't care for--dishwashing, house-cleaning, child care, hospital orderly, etc. etc. And they have brought their religious convictions with them, accounting for Catholics' much-improved numbers in the UK.

Reports from Irish newspapers and websites indicate that Polish residents in Ireland have similarly brought the Catholic Church back from disgrace, even death in some cases. The church there has been reeling from the priest abuse scandals, the revelations about the Madeleine sisters, the tyrannical role it sometimes played in rural life. But the Poles know very little of this and have repopulated and revitalized many parishes all over Ireland, generally delighting their neighbors, Irish citizens dismayed at the state of their church.

Just as in the US, immigration is changing the face of the British Isles, every single day. This is just the latest, maybe most dramatic, evidence.


SS97 said...

Very interesting. Aren't Anglicans the Episcopalians of Europe?

I've also heard that church attendance was on the rise in the Netherlands. The report I read attributed it to the influence of the recent influx of Muslim immigrants. Apparently lapsed-Christian Europeans feel "out-of-touch" with their religiosity compared to devout Muslims they're surrounded by.

moville said...

Yes, Anglicans and Episcopals are one and the same.

That's a great point about secular Europe vs. pious immigrants. Native Europeans have become increasingly less devout over the years, while their newcomers have brought their personal piety with them and are not abandoning it in their adopted country. That's not a problem in Catholic Ireland with Catholic Poles; it's more serious in places like the Netherlands, where you have a kind of cultural Christianity and an increasingly fundamental, strict Islam.