England, John 
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Time Period
9/23/1786  - 4/11/1842
Description
In 1820, John England was appointed by Pope Pius VII as the first bishop of the newly formed Catholic Diocese of Charleston in South Carolina. Joining his experiences in Ireland with the democratic trends of the Jacksonian period, England wrote a constitution for his diocese, the first of its kind for Catholics in the United States. It gave laypeople the opportunity to work with the bishop and priests to administer the diocese and its scattered parishes. This brought a degree of stability to the fledgling Catholic presence in the Carolinas and Georgia.

England also established the country's first Catholic newspaper, the United States Catholic Miscellany, which allowed him to disseminate his ideas on Catholic teachings and defend the faith.

Apart from his leadership of the church in the Diocese of Charleston, England engaged actively with such issues as slavery, dueling, and politics.
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Narrative
John England was born in Cork, Ireland, in 1786. After ordination to the priesthood in his native country, England became a champion of Irish emancipation. Through the use of the popular press, he fought for abolition of the Penal Laws and began formulating a theory of Catholic republicanism.

In 1820, England was appointed by Pope Pius VII as the first bishop of the newly formed Catholic Diocese of Charleston in South Carolina. Upon his arrival, the new bishop worked to heal a schism resulting from a fight between clergy and lay leaders over control of a local parish. Joining his experiences in Ireland with the democratic trends of the Jacksonian period, England wrote a constitution for his diocese, the first of its kind for Catholics in the United States. This brought a degree of stability to the fledgling Catholic presence in the Carolinas and Georgia through the institution of regular diocesan conventions, which gave laypeople the opportunity to work with the bishop and priests to administer the diocese and its scattered parishes.

England also established in 1822 the country's first Catholic newspaper, the United States Catholic Miscellany, which allowed him to disseminate to his coreligionists his ideas on Catholic teachings and on the church's place in the nation. The Miscellany gained notoriety for serving as the venue for England's numerous defenses of the Catholic faith against what he saw as its enemies in the United States. The newspaper also allowed Catholics of the diocese to engage with national trends of religious democratization and nativism prevalent in this period.

Apart from his leadership in the Diocese of Charleston, England engaged actively with such issues as slavery, dueling, and politics, the latter of which became most strikingly apparent when the bishop was given the opportunity to address the U.S. House of Representatives in 1826. His opening of a school for free blacks in Charleston and his service as a papal legate to the Catholic Church in Haiti embroiled him in controversy in a South that was adopting an increasingly hard line in defense of slavery, a controversy he would help defuse when he joined fellow southerners in attacking abolitionism.

England's death in 1842 marked the end of many of the innovations in church governance he developed, but his ecclesiological theories proved influential through the 19th and 20th centuries, particularly during the years of the Americanist controversy and in the period of Vatican II and its implementation.
Religious Groups
Catholicism (Western Liturgical Family): Other ARDA Links

Events
Papal Condemnation of Slave Trade
Photographs

John England portrait- Internet Archive- from Progress of the Catholic Church in America and the Great Catholic Columbian Congress of 1893

John England portrait- Internet Archive- from The Works of the Right Rev. John England, vol 1 by Hugh P. McElrone
Book/Journal Source(s)
Carey, Patrick, 1982. An Immigrant Bishop: John England's Adaptation of Irish Catholicism to American Republicanism. Yonkers, NY: U.S. Catholic Historical Society.
England, John, 1849. The Works of the Right Rev. John England. Baltimore: John Murphy and Company.Notes: 5 volumes)
Guilday, Peter, 1927. The Life and Times of John England, First Bishop of Charleston (1786-1842). New York: The America Press.Notes: 2 volumes)
Web Page Contributor
William S. Cossen
Affliated with: Pennsylvania State University, Ph.D. in History

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