Fr Z's post on Shakespeare reminds me of a Carmelite priest, Fr. Columba Flanagan. If there is anyone out there who spent any time at St. Mary's College, Aberystwith when it was run by the Carmelites, we might share reminiscences. I was sent to St. Mary's College for two years to study Latin. I was 18 and had been accepted as a candidate for the priesthood. Since it was 1967 and Latin was still being used in major seminaries (and most of the Mass was still in Latin), I needed some knowledge of it in order to proceed to Ushaw College in Durham.
Fr. Columba (nicknamed "spud") looked at me with something bordering on disbelief. During my first year I was at times, clumsy and, I would say, accident prone. He watched me carefully and obviously thought I was not going to make it. However, he discovered that I knew something about poetry, or, at least, Hopkins. When I told him about "sprung rhythm" he was happily surprised. Later on when he discovered that I actually wrote poetry, I was his friend. I remember very clearly when he told us that Macbeth was about the tragedy of mortal sin and the eternal loss of a soul. He once asked us why Shakespeare set Lear in a pagan environment. Nobody answered. It was, he said, because Shakespeare wanted to write a real - perhaps the ultimate - human tragedy, and in order to do this he had to remove all hope, which meant removing Christ. As such it could be seen as the ultimate tragedy because without Christ there is no hope. So, the idea that Shakespeare was a Catholic, which Fr. Peter Milward explores so well in his first book (I gather the second book was overdone) was not new to me.
Some years ago I was in Stratford with a hermit friend and I told her about the theory. I also said that it was not liked by many so-called experts and that I doubted if there were any copies of Fr. Milward's books anywhere in Stratford. I went into one of the major bookshops and asked. They had never heard of it. I tried other shops. I was right - no copies in Stratford. Now the situation has changed since there have been more studies and more books, but I know there are some Shakespeare fans who will have nothing to do with it (I suspect, for instance, Melvyn Bragg). As the evidence piles up and the Catholicism reveals itself more clearly in those extraordinary plays it will soon be impossible to deny it.