Vatican Insists There Is No Debate About Shakepeare's Catholic Faith

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By Katherine Weber, Christian Post Reporter
November 21, 2011|5:17 pm

In response to the recently released "Anonymous" movie, Vatican-backed newspaper L'Osservatore Romano has re-hashed the age-old argument of playwright and poet William Shakespeare's religious background.

The Nov. 18 opinion article's headline reads "More Catholic than Anonymous," and appeared alongside the newspaper's review of "Anonymous," which made its debut in late October.

The film portrays Shakespeare as a fraud, attributing Edward De Vere, the Earl of Oxford, as the true genius between the famous plays and sonnets.

"Shakespeare's identity was the matter of debate his religious faith was not," affirms the article.

According to the article, Shakespeare was "a member of that Protestant society proudly and cruelly defended by Queen Elizabeth," but that "the reality was very different," affirming he was secretly Catholic and used various hints and codes in his writings to reveal his Catholic allegiance.

L'Osservatore Romano points specifically to the famous "to be or not to be" soliloquy in Shakespeare's play "Hamlet" as particularly telling of the poet's faith.

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Critics believe "The Oppressor's wrong" and "The insolence of Office" found in this soliloquy refers to the oppressive nature of the English throne, which in 1559 embraced the official Church of England and sought to vigorously punish Catholic believers.

Similarly, Hamlet describes the state of purgatory, the limbo between heaven and hell, which is a belief belonging solely to Catholic teaching.

Many argue that Shakespeare's parents were Catholic before Protestantism became the official religion in 1559, and Shakespeare continued to practice the faith of his childhood in secret.

The argument is further supported by Anglican leader Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, who affirmed Shakespeare "probably had a Catholic background and had Catholic friends."

Still, others refute the claim, and argue that there are both elements of Protestantism and Catholicism in Shakespeare's writings.

His body is allegedly buried in the Church of England's Church of Holy Trinity in Stratford-Upon-Avon. Further evidence suggests that Shakespeare was baptized in this same church. He was died in 1616.

"Shakespeare's identity will long be the subject of morbid curiosity but there can be little doubt over his faith," affirmed the newspaper.

 

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