They didn’t mention this at mass this morning, but the Vatican is now claiming there is “little doubt” that Shakespeare was, in fact, Catholic.
Forgive me while I butcher the history for newcomers, but we’re talking about England in a time shortly after Henry VIII and the whole “What do you mean I can’t have any more annulments? I quit the church!!” controversy. So the England that Shakespeare born into was, officially, Protestant. As such, rumors have always been rampant that there were secret Catholic societies constantly trying to sneak in, murder Queen Elizabeth, all that good stuff. And, of course, both sides want to claim Shakespeare as their own. I remember when some sort of document supposedly written by Shakespeare’s father was discovered, which clearly proved that at least he (the father) was Catholic. Whatever happened to that, was it proven to be a forgery?
What I can’t figure out is, what’s changed? Their argument appears to go back to the whole idea of Purgatory in Hamlet (something that’s been right there in the text for 400 years). The Vatican says that Purgatory is a Catholic concept, therefore Shakespeare was Catholic. Ok, fine – but, again, why suddenly now declare that?