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The Gunpowder Plot – one authentic victim?

November 6, 2016



Reflecting on the Gunpowder Plot yesterday, I neglected to say anything about the one real victim of the whole affair – Father Henry Garnet.  Garnet was an English Catholic priest who refused to conform but earnestly desired the peaceful reconciliation of Christendom.

Garnet’s crime was that he learned of the Gunpowder Plot under the seal of confessional.  His private religious judgement forbade him from passing on what he had learned to the authorities.  He did however do everything he could behind the scenes to encourage the plotters to abandon their enterprise.  He used his international contacts to try to have English Catholics warned not to engage in terrorism.  Indeed, Father Garnet was one of those rare early-modern individuals who wanted protestants and catholics to stop killing one another.

Unfortunately, there was tremendous political pressure to execute at least one Catholic priest following the Gunpowder Plot.  Garnet’s  “equivocations” became notorious, and…

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