Michael Hornsby-Smith examines the religious transformations that have occurred among English Catholics since the Second Vatican Council of 1962-65. He explores the meanings English Catholics attach to being Roman Catholic and to Catholic beliefs over a range of concerns from doctrinal matters to questions of personal and social morality. He also examines the legitimacy accorded by English Catholics to both papal authority and religious authority in general. This study is based on a wealth of interviews with members of the Catholic Church. From his evidence, Michael Hornsby-Smith convincingly demonstrates that although beliefs and practices are derived from "official religion," English Catholics have gradually withdrawn legitimacy from the clerical leadership, particularly in the area of personal morality. He concludes by reflecting on the implications of this secularization of English Catholicism.
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