|'Roman Catholics live here'|
With emancipation and the Irish Famine came a new flush of growth to build on a small but sound base that owed its existence to the French Revolution and the re-establishment of French religious houses and pastors in Great Britain. A new fervour began and with it a slight imbalance crept in; rural Catholics expecting a priest to arrive to hear Confessions and say Mass would begin to prepare themselves days if not weeks in advance and there were the extremes of fasting and only occasional reception of the Eucharist. Lenten fasts and abstinences invariably meant no meat throughout the whole of that period. This did bring a sort of rigorous reverence with it and, perhaps had much to commend it. But it would have been better had it been tempered a little.
After the Second World War, our identity (or character if you prefer) fragmented considerably. The break up of the family unit, a loss of community as men and women moved around the country and overseas to work, divorce and, more recently, the paedophile scandals - all contributed to us being rather less than forthcoming in stating our beliefs. Catholics began to lower their profile, keeping quiet at dinner party abortion debates, afraid to condemn homosexuality. Keen to be accepted as equals in society rather than outcasts.
And now....maybe the beginnings of a sense of something lost. That all is not quite right with the world. That we need to do a little soul gazing and determine exactly what kind of animal we are.