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Prisoner of conscience

19 August 2016

August 18th, 1916.

TO YOUNGER Churchpeople the announcement of the death of the Rev. Sidney Faithhorn Green would convey nothing beyond the mere fact. When they are told that this worthy priest, for no cause except that he did as the Church required him to do, spent more than a year and a half as a prisoner in Lancaster Castle, they will, we should think, receive the statement almost with incredulity. Yet it is most true. In the ’seventies incredible deeds were done in the name of religion, and huge sums of money were expended in the Law Courts for the suppression of the Catholic religion in the English Church. The Public Worship Regulation Act, passed in 1874, was intended by its patrons, Disraeli and Harcourt, to put down “the Mass in Masquerade”, and under its operation priests such as Green, Enraght, and Tooth were haled to prison as though they were felons. New courts and processes of law unknown to the Church or, for that matter, to any decent Christian community were set up, and for a few years the patience of Catholic Church-folk was sorely tried. The Act which caused the trouble is still on the Statute-book, but for the present generation it is a dead letter. And the reason why it is so is the fact that Mr Green and other confessors stood firm to the principle that the Church is a divine not a secular foundation, and has its own laws and rules of discipline, to be administered or interpreted by its own officers. It is inconceivable that anyone to-day would attempt to set in motion again the machinery installed by the Public Worship Regulation Act. . .


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