This week marked the 450th anniversary of the death of Queen Mary I (Mary Tudor), the only legitimate child of King Henry VIII and his his lawful wife, Queen Catherine of Aragon. Fr. Nicholas Scofield has an excellent piece on his blog, Roman Miscellany. One cannot help but imagine what would have happened had Henry VIII not separated from Rome and therefore not created the Church of England (Anglican). Had England remained Catholic either by Henry never divorcing Catherine OR if Mary had heirs from her marriage to Philip and thus preventing Elizabeth I from ever sitting on the throne. If England remained Catholic, would the colonies (USA and Canada) been Catholic? Scotland probably would have remained Catholic.
According to Thomas Woods in his book How the Catholic Church Built Western Civilization, the English Reformation threw progress backward by centuries. Prior to Henry's usurping Church property in Britain, the English monks used to gather for their annual and international meetings. There they exchanged ecclesiastical and theological information BUT ALSO scientific, agricultural, economic and other fascinating facts which literally helped create, sustain and enhance Western culture as a CIVILIZATION. Once the monasteries were destroyed, the monks banned and the property confiscated and distributed among the Protestant nobility, the networking ceased and the flow and exchange of ideas halted. An information FREEZE of sorts occurred. The global interpedence of a unified CHRISTENDOM was replaced by a parochial and provincial NATIONALISM whereby each country with its own religion (cuius regio, eius religio ). Had England stayed with the Pope and remained Roman Catholic rather than establish the Anglican Church (Church of England), PROGRESS and technology, according to Woods, would have ushered in the industrial age centuries ahead of when it did finally happen.
Though many ascribe the financial power of the United States to the Protestant work ethic, imagine had the Pilgrims been Catholic or that the colonies were and remained Catholic from their foundation. The same networking which occurred in pre-Reformation England would have been brought to the New World. What if Spain had won the war against England and the Armada had conquered Elizabethan England? A Spanish speaking USA (soon to come?) and a Catholic USA would have replaced an English Protestant America.
Nevertheless, Queen Mary I gets a lot a bad press since her sister succeeded her and resented her staunch Catholicism. Consequently, English history sanitizes the reign of Elizabeth and demonizes the reign of Mary. The persecution of Catholics during and after the so-called glorious Elizabethan era surpassed anything done in the previous reign.