Archpriest Controversy

A dispute that divided the clergy of England, on the occasion of the appointment of George Blackwell in 1598 as archpriest with jurisdiction over the English and Scottish secular priests, the ancient hierarchy having been extinguished some years earlier. An appeal to Rome against the legality of the appointment was denounced by Blackwell as schism; the Holy See in 1602 upheld the appointment but censured Blackwell for his severity and freed the appellants from the charge of schism. This ended the controversy, but some mistrust and friction still remained and in 1621, on the death of the third archpriest, the office was abolished and the first vicar Apostolic appointed.