The Tablet had an article last week by Francis Davis entitled Players in the public square.
Catholic bishops are often overshadowed in the national debate by their Anglican counterparts, as shown in the furore caused by the Archbishop of Canterbury’s critique of the Coalition Government last week. A Catholic academic and political adviser asks why this may be…
A sample of the analysis:
…For a start, there are more than 100 Church of England bishops across 43 dioceses compared with 29 Catholic bishops across 19 dioceses in England. Catholic bishops in these dioceses shepherd around 4,000 clergy in England while the Anglican tally is double that number, bringing with them spouses and children whose joys and sorrows have direct consequences for the success of diocesan ministry.
The Anglicans have more than twice the number of schools – 4,820 with more than a million pupils – giving them greater presence in communities and opportunities for encounter. These schools are mainly primaries while the Catholic Church has far more secondary schools. There are 2,000 Catholic schools altogether in England and Wales educating 860,000 children.
I have also selected for closer examination the 19 Church of England bishops whose dioceses most closely compare with their Catholic counterparts. In these dioceses, Catholic bishops are generally older and remain in post longer than the Anglicans. The average Catholic episcopal age is 66 and their average service a decade at the diocesan helm compared to 60 and just over seven years for the Anglicans. Church of England bishops normally retire a decade younger than their Catholic counterparts.
This contrast in institutional reach and episcopal age is mirrored by matters of formation and experience. Each of the 19 Church of England bishops I surveyed had at least one degree from Oxford, Cambridge, London or another leading university. Only nine Catholic bishops in England have degrees from outside Catholic institutions, with some having pursued all their studies from secondary age in a seminary. Four of the current Anglican bishops have published more books between them than all English Catholic bishops combined since the Second Vatican Council. This is not only a question of class, as half of both groups surveyed were schooled in grammar or other state schools…