cover of book

An Immigrant Bishop: John England's Adaptation of Irish Catholicism to American Republicanism, Second Edition
by Patrick W. Carey
Catholic University of America Press, 2022
eISBN: 978-0-8132-3460-1 | Paper: 978-0-8132-3459-5
Library of Congress Classification BX4705.E66C37 2022
Dewey Decimal Classification 282.415

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of England nor any subsequent scholarly study of England has uncovered and analyzed, as this book does, England’s many unpublished and published writings in Ireland—his explicitly authored texts, his published speeches before the Cork Aggregate meetings, and his pseudonymous articles in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.
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