Wolffe, John (2023). Anti-Catholicism. In: Mangion, Carmen M. and O'Brien, Susan eds. The Oxford History of British and Irish Catholicism, Volume IV: Building Identity, 1830-1913. The Oxford History of British and Irish Catholicism, IV. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press, pp. 191–208.



This chapter moves beyond simplistic dismissal of anti-Catholicism as mere prejudice to explore its diverse dynamics. Following a review of the historiography, the subject is considered under three headings. First, religious factors, including the travails of the (Anglican) Church of Ireland, competition between priests and Protestants, and the prevalence of an eschatology that equated the papacy with the Babylon of the Apocalypse. Second, political anti-Catholicism was fuelled by the perceived unconstitutional extra-territorial associations of Catholics, especially at the time of the restoration of the hierarchy for England and Wales in 1850, in the aftermath of the 1870 Vatican Council, and in successive crises over Irish Home Rule. Finally, popular antagonisms were fuelled by Guy Fawkes Day traditions, the Orange Order, gendered and sexual concerns, and localized community rivalries. Catholic responses were correspondingly diverse. By the early twentieth century anti-Catholicism was becoming less intense and widespread but remained a significant presence.

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