Bishop John Milner: one of the greatest opponents of the Cisalpine movement in English Catholicism

He carried on the controversy throughout his life

Bishop John Milner
  • Bishop John Milner

Bishop John Milner

Admitting, however, the obligation of worshipping my Creator, these men will sometimes say: “What necessity is there of my being shut up in a particular building or of my joining with other people in the performance of it? Is not the whole universe the temple of the Deity? And is not the homage of a sincere heart more acceptable to him that any exterior rites or forms whatsoever?” It is true the immensity of God fills the heavens and the earth, as he himself declares. It is true, he requires to be worshipped in spirit and in truth, as our Divine Savior expressly tells us. Nevertheless in the very passages of scripture here quoted and in many others…the Almighty is pleased to sanction and appoint social and public worship to be offered up to him in certain places appropriated to this purpose. Accordingly I find the Holy Patriarchs, from the beginning of the world, worshipping God in an exterior and public manner and dedicating certain places and things to the honor of his Divine Majesty.

– from The Substance of a Sermon, Preached at the Blessing of the Catholic Chapel of St. Chad in the Town of Birmingham on Sunday, December 17, 1809, by Bishop John Milner

Bishop John Milner (1752–1826) was an English writer and Catholic prelate who served as Vicar Apostolic of the Midland District in England from 1803 to 1826. An apologist and controversialist, Milner was one of the greatest opponents of the Cisalpine movement in English Catholicism – which held that allegiance to the English crown was not contrary to allegiance to the pope in Rome. He carried on the controversy throughout his life, until the 1791 Roman Catholic Relief Act was passed by English Parliament (and a similar act passed two years later by Irish Parliament). These laws allowed for greater social, political, economic and religious freedoms for Catholics in the United Kingdom and practically speaking rendered the questions raised by the Cisalpine movement more academic than vital to the average Catholic in the pew.

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