Anglo-Catholicism: A Study in Religious Ambiguity

By W.S.F. Pickering

A new and revised edition of what has become the standard work on the history of the Anglo-Catholic movement.

ISBN: 9780227679883


A revised and enlarged edition of the most powerful and polemic critique of the Anglo-Catholicism movement. This penetrating and highly readable study has established itself over the years as the standard text on the subject.

Rising in the wake of the Oxford Movement, Anglo-Catholicism can be seen as a deliberate attempt to catholicise the Church of England and to make its doctrines and services similar to those of the Roman Catholic Church. Early followers were persecuted, but they became famous for their work and for breaking down the social divisions associated with the Church.

The Anglo-Catholic Movement indelibly changed the ethos of the Established Church with the foundation of religious orders, overseas missions, theological colleges and public schools, promoting new social doctrines often associated with socialist ideas.

Anglo-Catholicism traces the movement from the origins to the heyday in the 1920s and 1930s. It is the first study which analyses it from the sociological point of view. The book concentrates in the interwar period and the decline of the movement to the present time, showing now the ambiguities and tensions originated and the way they have been dealt with over the years.

This revised edition also contains a new chapter examining the impact of women’s ordination to priesthood on the movement.

Additional information

Dimensions 234 × 156 mm
Pages 300

Trade Information JPOD

About the Author

The Revd Dr William S.F. Pickering has been an Anglican priest since 1950, and for twenty years was a lecturer in Sociology at the University of Newcastle upon Tyne. He is currently the General Secretary of the British Centre for Durkheimian Studies, which he helped to found in 1991. It is based in the Institute of Social and Cultural Anthropology, Oxford University.

He has written and edited a number of books and articles on Durkheim and his followers, including Durkheim on Religion, Durkheim’s Sociology of Religion and Durkheim: Essays on Morals and Education, all three of which have recently been reprinted by James Clarke and Co Ltd. Among his other publications are Sociology and Theology: Alliance and Conflict (Harvester Press, 1980), A Social History of the Diocese of Newcastle 1882-1982 (Oriel Press, 1981), The Hutterites (Ward Lock Educational, 1982).


Preface to the 1989 edition
Preface to the 2008 edition

Part I: The phenomenon of Anglo-Catholicism
1. What is Anglo-Catholicism?
2. From strength to strength: the glorious congresses
3. A missionary movement
4. The extent of success
5. Further achievements

Part II: Ambiguities
6. Some inherent ambiguities
7. The ambiguity of a Catholic sectarianism
8. Ambiguity over sexuality

Part III: Responding to Sexuality
9. A popular escape route
10. Remaining where they are
11. The effects of various options: the position today

Postscript to 2008 edition
Name Index
Subject Index


Endorsements and Reviews

By far the most searching, shrewd and substantial analysis of Anglo-Catholicism yet to appear.

An interpretation of history through a sociologist’s eyes … This is necessary though painful reading.
John Habgood

Well-read, useful and lively … Probably the best critical analysis of the party since E.A. Knox.
John Kent

The phenomenon of Anglo-Catholicism in the Church of England, and wider Anglican Communion, undoubtedly merits sociological as well as theological study, and this treatment goes some way towards addressing the former.
N.H. Taylor, in The Heythrop Journal, Vol 53:6

… a particularly fine analysis of the gay male dimension in Anglo-Catholicism.
Diarmaid MacCulloch, Professor of the History of the Church, University of Oxford and Fellow of St Cross College, Oxford

… the best modern sociological analysis of the movement … Ch 8 is a particularly fine analysis of the gay male dimension in Anglo-Catholicism.
Diarmaid MacCulloch, in Silence: A Christian History (London, 2013)