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v2.1 Reference

An Immigrant Bishop

John England's Adaptation of Irish Catholicism to American Republicanism, second edition

An Immigrant Bishop is a revised examination of the Irish intellectual roots of Bishop John England's American pastoral works in the diocese of Charleston, South Carolina (1820-1842). The text focuses on his political philosophy and his theology of the Church, both of which were influenced by the Enlightenment and a theological, not a political, Gallicanism. As the study demonstrates, we now know more about England's intellectual life prior to his immigration than we do about any other Catholic immigrant from Ireland. Neither Peter Guilday's monumental two-volume biography (1927) of England nor any subsequent scholarly study of England has uncovered and analyzed, as this book does, England's many unpublished and published writings in Ireland—his explicitly authored texts, his published speeches before the Cork Aggregate meetings, and his pseudonymous articles in the Cork Mercantile Chronicle between 1808, when he was ordained, and 1820, when he emigrated to the United States.

John England (1786-1842), the first Catholic bishop of Charleston, was the foremost national spokesman for Catholicism in the United States during the years of his episcopacy and the primary apologist for the compatibility of Catholicism and American republicanism. He was also the first Catholic bishop to speak before the United States Congress and the first American to receive a papal appointment as an Apostolic Delegate to a foreign country (in this case to negotiate a concordat with President Jean Pierre Boyer of Haiti). He is considered the father of the Baltimore Provincial Councils and the nineteenth-century American Catholic conciliar tradition. He was also the only bishop in American history to develop a constitutional form of diocesan government and administration. Among other things he was the first cleric to establish a diocesan newspaper that had something of a national distribution. England's contribution to the early formation of an American Catholicism has been told many times before, but he has the kind of creative mind and episcopal leadership that demands repeated re-considerations.

About the Authors

Patrick W. Carey is emeritus professor of theology at Marquette University.


"Patrick Carey is one of the most distinguished scholars of the American Catholic intellectual history writing today."—William Portier, University of Dayton

"Balancing the papal, episcopal, and lay dimensions of the church and recognizing differences in roles and authority, Bishop John England's constructive ecclesiological vision is timely and provocative. Patrick Carey systematically exposes for the first time the unity between England's political experience in Cork, Ireland, and his knowledge of patristic, medieval, post-Tridentine and Gallican theological sources. This new edition from a historical theologian is a masterpiece of clarity and theological sophistication. As he has elsewhere, Carey here demonstrates once again the importance of founding theology and pastoral practice on exacting historical understanding. A must read for all those concerned with a movement beyond polarizations to a reassertion of an ecclesiology that takes synodality and the American experience seriously."—Joseph Chinnici, OFM, Franciscan School of Theology at the University of San Diego

"There is a great deal to praise in this deeply researched, and clearly presented, study of the first bishop of Charleston, South Carolina. During his episcopal tenure (1820-1842), Bishop England became the foremost apologist, by word and deed, for a more complete, and unapologetic, Catholic participation and acceptance in the republic's public conversation and life. As Patrick Carey carefully demonstrates, England's ideas and activities, including the creation of a unique diocesan constitution, were parts of a coherent and well-considered integration of faith and culture. England's contributions to the perennial issues of the relationship of faith and culture, here the ancient faith and a democratic culture, offer, according to Carey, inspiration and perhaps direction for our own time."—Thomas Jodziewicz, University of Dallas

"Almost forty years ago, Patrick Carey first established himself as the authority on Bishop John England. This revised edition will reign for another generation, incorporating a ton of new research, especially about England's Irish origins. This extensive revision refines our understanding of England's theology and updates his significance within current research and debates about the Catholic Church in America. Bishop England's singular, innovative notions about church hierarchy, which borrowed heavily from republican institutions, 'incorporated priests and lay people into the pastoral governance and administration of his own diocese' to an extraordinary extent. Altogether, Carey makes a convincing case for bringing John England out of the darkness of neglect and into the light of contemporary debate."—Joseph P. Kelly, College of Charleston

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296 Pages
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