From The Telegraph, reports that William Shakespeare may have been Shakespeare and, in an added bonus, may have been a Catholic:
L'Osservatore Romano, a week after proclaiming Tintin a Catholic hero, said the Bard's plays "teem with open references to the Catholic religion."
The newspaper reopened a debate which has raged ever since an Anglican archdeacon said of Shakespeare a few decades after his death: "He died a Papist."
In a lengthy article which appeared alongside a review of the new Shakespeare film, 'Anonymous', L'Osservatore Romano (The Roman Observer) said the references to purgatory in Hamlet and other plays betrayed distinctly Catholic beliefs and marked Shakespeare out as a crypto-Catholic.
The newly released film, which explores the theory that Shakespeare's plays were in fact written by Edward de Vere, the Earl of Oxford, stars Rhys Ifans as the aristocrat and Vanessa Redgrave and Joely Richardson as the older and younger Queen Elizabeth I.
"Shakespeare or not Shakespeare, this is (or seems to be) the problem," wrote L'Osservatore Romano, which has the backing of the Vatican. "His identity may be open to discussion but not his faith." It quoted Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, who during a discussion at the Hay Festival in May said he thought Shakespeare was "probably" a Catholic.
Joseph Pearce, who has written a thing or two about Shakespeare and Catholicism, reacts at the Ink Desk blog to the L'Osservatore Romano article, as does Kevin O'Brien, who writes regularly on the same blog.
UPDATE: I see that Mark Brumley has also posted on this story, over on the Catholic World Report blog.
• Joseph Pearce calls the movie, "Anonymous", an "act of defamation against the Bard himself" (Nov. 8, 2011)
• Fr. Joseph Fessio and Joseph Pearce discuss, "Who really was William Shakespeare?" (Oct. 28, 2011)
• A "Bard's-eye" View | The Preface and Prologue to Through Shakespeare's Eyes: Seeing the Catholic Presence in the Plays | Joseph Pearce
• Finding Shakespeare and Reclaiming the Classics | Joseph Pearce
• Will the Real Shakespeare Please Stand Up? | The opening chapter of The Quest for Shakespeare
• Fr. Joseph Fessio and Joseph Pearce Talk About Shakespeare | A video interview (Sept. 8, 2008)
• The Quest for Shakespeare website (includes a PDF version of this excerpt from The Quest for Shakespeare)