Great Catholic Converts: Msgr Ronald Knox

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It appears, then, that the two processes are going on side by side, the decline of Church membership and the decline of dogma; the evacuation of the pew and the jettisoning of cargo from the pulpit.” ― Ronald Knox, The Belief of Catholics (1927)

You could be forgiven for never hearing of Msgr Ronald Knox (1888-1957) before, but if so you are missing out.

Knox was a great writer, and like all notable Anglican converts to Catholicism he was an Anglo-Catholic. His conversion was influenced by the works of G.K. Chesterton, with Chesterton himself (another Anglo-Catholic) citing the works of Knox in his ‘coming home to Rome’. They both became good friends and broadcasters for the BBC- later Knox gave the eulogy at Chesterton’s Requiem Mass.

During one of Knox’s BBC radio broadcasts he simulated a radio report of a revolution taking place in London, with the Parliament building being destroyed: given the political tensions at the time this caused a minor panic, which was prolonged as it took place on a snowy weekend which delayed newspaper delivery by days.  This was the event that Orson Wells said gave him the idea for his famous War of the Worlds radio drama (which also caused a public panic).

Knox wrote a number of books on the Catholic Faith (and a number of detective novels no doubt influenced by his time in Military Intelligence during WWI).

Directed by his superiors, he singlehandedly translated the Vulgate Bible into English, using the Greek and Hebrew sources- the Knox Version Bible being the personal choice of this writer.

Knox also wrote the satirical essay “Reunion All Round” which mocked the famous broad-church tolerance of the Church of England, with an appeal to absorb everyone from Atheists to Muslims- well satire then, now it seems to be almost official Anglican Communion policy.

Msgr Ronald Knox is one of those Anglo-Catholic converts who went on to become Catholic greats, whose renown is slowly being lost with the progression of time. I urge all Catholics to rediscover the works of Knox, but especially the members of the Personal Ordinariates created by Rome to be an Ark for Anglo-Catholicism in the Catholic Church: Knox like Newman, Chesterton, Dawson and others are the forerunners on our journey to our true home in the Catholic Church. These individuals took the best of the English spiritual tradition, embodied in Anglo-Catholicism, with them into the Catholic Church, just like the “Anglican” Ordinariates do today.

For more reading on the very quotable Ronald Knox, you can click here for quotes by Knox.

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