England’s Deep Anti-Catholicism

Posted By: November 05, 2013

Remember, remember the 5th of November. How could I, a Catholic, forget?
By Cristina Odone Religion . 
The Telegraph ( London) November 5th, 2013
Frankly, how could I, or any Catholic, forget. Today is the day when Britons still burn an
 effigy of the Pope - and do so, joyously, in public.
I first came to Britain in 1979, and promptly fell in love.  Wide-eyed and
enthusiastic as only a 17 year old can be, raised on the Brontes, Dickens
and Austen, I found romance in every corner of this green and pleasant
 land. The architecture, the rolling countryside, and oh, those wonderful
 traditions! Like a needy girlfriend, I desperately wanted to fit in, and worried that my
mid-Atlantic accent (a mixture of Italian convent school and 
American high school) and my preppy clothes would single me out as 
I was wrong. What distinguished me from the great majority of Britons I met was my faith.
 Being a Catholic marked me out as the "odd one" (my rather
 obvious nickname at college). I couldn't believe the prejudice I 
encountered. My first boyfriend's mother warned him that if he married me I would send all
 his money to Rome, to line the Vatican coffers.  The science
 teacher at school said he knew why I wasn't doing
it for A Level: Catholics didn't believe in evolution. And a classmate who
 visited my room expressed surprise when she couldn't see a plastic 
Madonna or a candle in the mould of the bleeding heart of Jesus.
This wasn't Northern Ireland, but north Oxford. I was shocked, saddened – and then
 repulsed, as I watched a chanting jeering crowd on the telly hold
 up an effigy of the Pope, only to the set it alight. My beloved, civilised, 
romantic Britain had a dark streak running through it: anti-Popery.
When I later read history, I understood just how ingrained this bigotry was. Linda Colley's
 Britons was particularly shattering: we Catholics were the
"outlandish"people ready to betray England to the Pope. Our allegiances  
were suspect, our mission clear: we prayed for the conversion of every
 Protestant we met.
 I had hoped that my adopted homeland would overcome its ancient
 prejudice. It hasn't: even in 2013, Britons see the 5th of November
 as a chance to show my "outlandish" community that they hold it in