Association For Promoting The Unity of Christendom
He welcomed the restoration of a Catholic hierarchy in the United Kingdom, 1850, and tried to reconcile to it some of the Catholic laymen who thought it inexpedient. During the debates that ensued throughout the country he wrote two pamphlets: A Letter to Lord Shrewsbury on the Re-establishment of the Hierarchy and the Present Position of Catholic Affairs, and A few words on Lord John Russell's Letter to the Bishop of Durham. The progress of events raised his hopes so high that he regarded the reconciliation of the Anglican Church to the Holy See as imminent, and to hasten its fulfilment entered on a new crusade of prayer, in which the co-operation of non-Catholics was desired. "The Association for Promoting the Unity of Christendom", (A.P.U.C.) was founded on 8 September 1857, by fourteen people including Father Lockhart, Fr. Collins, O. Cist., and de Lisle; the rest were Anglicans, with one exception, a Russo-Greek priest.
The only obligation incumbent on members, who might be Catholics, Anglicans, or Greeks, was to pray to God for the unity of the baptized body. At first the association progressed rapidly. De Lisle wrote to Lord John Manners (Life, I, 415) said, "We soon counted among our ranks many Catholic Bishops and Archbishops and Dignitaries of all descriptions from Cardinals downwards; the Patriarch of Constantinople and other great Eastern prelates, the Primate of the Russlart Church ... I do not think any Anglican Bishops joined us, but a large number of clergy of the second order". He gave the number of members as nine thousand. The formation of this association was, however, regarded with distrust by Dr. (later Cardinal) Manning and other Catholics, who also took exception to Mr. de Lisle's treatise On the Future Unity of Christendom. The matter was referred to Rome and was finally settled by a papal rescript addressed Ad omnes episcopos Angliæ, dated 16 September 1864, which condemned the association and directed the bishops to take steps to prevent Catholics from joining it.
This was a great blow to de Lisle, who considered that "the authorities had been deceived by a false relation of facts". He however withdrew his name from the A.P.U.C. "under protest, as an act of submission to the Holy See". The ground on which the association was condemned was that it subverted the Divine constitution of the Church, inasmuch as its aim rested on the supposition that the true Church consists partly of the Catholic Church in communion with Rome, "partly also of the Photian Schism and the Anglican heresy, to which equally with the Roman Church belong the one Lord, the one faith and one baptism" (Rescript, in Life, I, 388). His own pamphlet was not censured, but the condemnation of the A.P.U.C. was regarded by him as the death-blow of his hopes for the reunion of Christendom during his own lifetime. But his own belief in it persevered and influenced his views in other Catholic affairs. Thus he warmly supported the attendance of Catholics at the English universities, and he even approved of the abortive project of a Uniate English Church.
The rest of his life passed without any very special incident, though he continued ever to take an interest in public affairs as affecting the fortunes of the Church, and in the same connexion he carried on intimate and cordial correspondence with men as different as Newman, William Ewart Gladstone, and Charles Forbes René de Montalembert. He counted among his friends John, Earl of Shrewsbury, Cardinal Wiseman, A.W.N. Pugin, who provided designs for Grace-Dieu, Faber, and many other well-known Catholics, and though he differed on many points from Cardinal Manning and Dr. W.G. Ward he remained on friendly terms with both. He died at Garendon, survived by his wife and eleven of his sixteen children.
Besides the pamphlets that have been mentioned, his other published works include Mahometanism in its relation to Prophecy; or an Inquiry into the prophecies concerning Anti-Christ, with some reference to their bearing on the events of the present day (1855). He also translated Dominic Barberi's Lamentations of England (1831); Manzoni's Vindication of Catholic Morality (1836); Montalembert's St. Elizabeth of Hungary (1839); Rio's La petite Chouannerie (1842); Maxims and Examples of the Saints (1844); and he compiled: Manual of Devotion for the Confraternity of the Living Rosary (1843); Catholic Christian's Complete Manual (1847); The Little Gradual (1847); Thesaurus animæ Christianæ (1847); Sequentiæ de Festis per Annum (1862).
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