Caroline Casuistry

Caroline Casuistry

The Cases of Conscience of Fr Thomas Southwell, SJ

Edited by Peter Holmes


Catholic Record Society



Edition of theological debates and discussions, giving an intriguing and unusual insight into the English catholic community in the seventeenth century.
How did English Catholics come to terms with living in an alien state? Could they, for example, practise equivocation to avoid arrest, possible imprisonment and execution? Could they use force against their captors? What contact could they maintain with Protestants in order to survive and carry on a normal life? In such a context it is not surprising that a training in casuistry, the science of resolving difficult cases of conscience, was an important aspect of the education of English Catholic missionary priests.
A number of the manuals used in that training have survived, largely in manuscript versions only. This volume, a companion to Dr Holmes' selection from Elizabethan materials (Elizabethan Casuistry, 1981), contains discussions and debates dating from the reign of Charles I. Their author was Thomas Southwell, a professor at the English Jesuit College in Liège, a respected scholar and teacher. He focuses on the problems facing Catholic priests and laymen under persecution in England, discussing, for example, attitudes to the Oath of Allegiance, the Roman Index of Prohibited Books and the Church's laws on fasting. In addition, there are cases here about witchcraft, astrology, duelling, usury, monopolies and bills of exchange. An important section contains over sixty cases dealing with betrothal and marriage, both from the point of view of English Catholics and in more general terms.
The documents are accompanied by a full critical introduction, setting them in context, and elucidatory notes.

Peter Holmes holds a doctorate in History from the University of Cambridge, where his research focused on the political thought of the Elizabethan Catholics


November 2012
1 black and white illustrations
358 pages
21.6x13.8 cm
Catholic Record Society: Records Series
ISBN: 9780902832275
Format: Hardback
Catholic Record Society
BISAC REL010000, HIS015000, HIS037040
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Table of Contents

The Cases
The English Cases
Cases Regarding the Priests
Cases Regarding the Penitents
Cases Concerning Marriage
Cases Concerning Ecclesiastical Fasts
Appendix: List of Faculties


A rich resource not only for historians of Reformation England, but for scholars in both moral theology and canon law as well. RECUSANT HISTORY

A valuable resource for study of Caroline Catholicism. PARERGON

Offers fascinating insights into the lives of English Catholics, and more generally into early Stuart religious and social history. ... This book makes a substantial and important contribution to the history of early modern English Catholicism, and more generally to the history of religious and moral thinking. RENAISSANCE QUARTERLY

(A) fine volume. THE INNES REVIEW

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