To pray for the triumph of religion was, in time past, to pray for the success in political and civil matters of certain sovereigns, governments, parties, nations. So it was in the fourth century, when Julian attempted to revive and re-establish paganism. To pray for the Church then was to pray for the overthrow of Julian. And so, in England, Catholics in the sixteenth century would pray for Mary, and Protestants for Elizabeth. But those times are gone. Catholics do not now depend for the success of their religion on the patronage of sovereigns—at least, in England—and it would not help them much if they gained it. Indeed, it is a question if it succeeded here in England, even in that sixteenth century. Queen Mary did not do much for us; in her short reign she permitted acts as if for the benefit of Catholics which were the cause and the excuse for terrible reprisals in the next reign, and have stamped on the minds of our countrymen a fear and hatred of us, viewed as Catholics, which at the end of three centuries is as fresh and keen as it ever was. Nor did James II. do us any good in the next century by the exercise of his regal power. The event has taught us not to look for the conversion of England to political movements and changes, and, in consequence, not to turn our prayers for it in that direction. At a time when priests were put to death, or forced out of the country if they preached or said Mass, there was no other way open for conversion, but the allowance or sanction of the Government; it was as natural, therefore, then to look for political intervention, to pray for the success of dynasties, of certain heirs or claimants to thrones, of parties, of popular insurrections, of foreign influence on behalf of Catholics in England, as it would be preposterous and idle to do so now. I think the best favour which sovereigns, parliaments, municipalities, and other political powers can do us is to let us alone.
Address by Newman at Willis's Rooms 1880 (extract)