Sunday, January 06, 2008

The Henry you say

My mother-in-law, a Roman Catholic, was at it again. Just before Christmas, I was informed that the Church of England was started by Henry VIII because he wanted a divorce, and that the reason that the Episcopal Church has its homosexual problem is all due to married clergy. Thank God for monogamy, because one mother-in-law is quite enough. The saddest man in the Bible had to have been King Solomon with about a thousand of them to deal with. It should have been enough to put a king off of sex, since each bride probably had a mother. But, enough about my mother-in-law; we have enough Anglicans to worry about who believe this same stuff.

The second point is easy to answer, since the Orthodox have had married clergy for two thousand years, and their married clergy can beat up Rome's celibate clergy any day of the week (they might just prove this at the Church of the Nativity next Boxing Day). Try to find just one child molester or Vickie Gene imitator among those bearded fathers of the EOC. They did find one-once- and they threw him overboard immediately; they even burned his vestments as defiled. My mother-in-law should not be expected to know that Rome's all celibate clergy rule, not married clergy, is the experiment (and a failed experiment it is too). But, Anglicans should know it. No, the Henry thing is what takes more time to answer.

The ancient Celtic British Christians and the Anglo-Saxon Christians unified into one Ecclesia Anglicana (Church of England) at the Council of Hertford in 673 AD. Many centuries later Henry VIII did his thing, and it died shortly after his son did. Then Queen Mary (after whom a mixed drink is named) lit up England by burning Protestants at the stake, executing so many people in her brief reign that it took her sister, Queen Elisabeth, fifty years just to catch up on the executions, showing that sibling rivalry takes patience and perseverance. It is this second sister that must take center stage.

My mother-in-law is a hopeless case when it comes to setting the record straight, because her warped version of history was taught to her as if it was religious dogma (which I suspect it was). Bloody Mary has been removed from the picture Orwell style, the same way Bobby Kennedy never shows up in the films or photographs from his time as Joe McCarthy's right hand man. But, for Anglicans themselves, it is time to set the record straight once and for all.

The king of Spain saw England as a blossoming rival empire, and so he gave in to his rage about the fate of Queen Catherine of Aragon, the little Spanish lady who got ditched by King Henry for the sexy Anne Boleyn with her green sleeves and six fingers on each hand (Henry must have been turned on by strange things- twelve fingers in all- wow!). Using the unhappy treatment of Catherine as an excuse, or else as a reason many years after the fact, the unhappy Hapsborg brought all his pressure to bear on the pope, insisting that the Church stand up to the English for letting the daughter of six fingered Annie reign after Mary died. The pope issued a decree that the Faithful in England were to rise up, start a civil war, and murder their monarch. It was their Christian duty, damn it, to weaken their own kingdom so that the king of Spain could sail over and conquer them in the chaos. As a result, when the people of England rebelled against this, their Christian duty to take up the sword against friends and neighbors, and to destroy themselves in the process, that the pope excommunicated the Church of England. For a whole generation it was treason to be loyal to the pope- it really was treason too. Think about it.

And that, ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, dogs and cats, Jews and Greeks, is how Anglicanism was born.

Now, if you need a little more to think about, just remember that God sunk the Armada, and that shows whose side HE was on.

Put that in your thurible and smoke it.


poetreader said...

Nice job of hyperbole to answer hyperbole. The mistatements we are constantly hearing do need to be challenged, and, yes, a bit scornfully.

However, the events of that period (just as of any other historical period) are far more complex than they are often (or nearly always) presented, and consequently somewhere between difficult and impossible to interpret adequately. On the Tudor religious situation, I'm not sure whether I am more aggravated by what I see as a false treatment on the part of Anglicanism's adveraries, or by the inadequate and easily challenged way our position tends to be defended.

It ain't that simple or that clear. It takes whole books reflecting lifetimes of research to come up with an adequate discussion of the matter. If I can demonstrate a hand-to-head succession and a continuity of basic Catholic doctrine, I don't really need much more. There is Traditional Anglicanism, which is far from perfect. There is Roman Catholicism which is also far from perfect, and there is a separation that MUST be healed (truly healed -not merely organizationally) if we are to be obedient to our common Lord. That's where we find ourselves today.

Though I'm a bit of a historian, I'm quite willing to leave details for spe4cialist scholars and go on from what now is.


Fr. Robert Hart said...

I began to write this in all seriousness, but it just gets too tiresome without the humorous tone.

Warwickensis said...

I believe that Ann Boleyn's 6th finger was an Anti-Protestant invention. I have heard that she was perfectly quintedigital on both hands and that the 6th finger was added to as the mark of harlotry/witchcraft/demonic possession/other prejudice(please state).

Blighted viewers of QI will understand that.

Sandra McColl said...

Maybe your mother-in-law was telling the same story that's taught in RCIA.

Anonymous said...

Nothing like a "know it all" mother in law to bring out such an amusing post! I realy enjoyed it! I have always admired the Apostle Peter for requesting that our Lord heal his mother in law.
We need more of this!
My only comment is that unfortunately there is/was many more than one Eastern Orthodox priest that acted on his same sex attractions, but yes, the EOC's do remove them rather than cover it up. And please, save the ink, I mean no criticism of the EOC!
I especially enjoyed the reference to the sinking of the Armada.
Fr. DeHart, ACC

poetreader said...

I find the sixth finger believable and the usual interpretations of the phenomenon outrageous. The extra digit is an uncommon but not unheard of genetic trait more likely to be found in inbred communities, such as an isolated mountain village (I knew one such born in Appalachia), ... or ... an inbred nobility such as existed in Europe and in England. It, of course, signifies no more than that the gene is present in the population. Was it true of Anne? We can't know, but I would suspect so.


An Anglican Cleric said...

And it was my understanding that it wasn't until the Pope excommunicated Elizabeth I those who followed her (the Church and England) that the rift became irreparable.

While the Romans consider this a myth, I've read many historical accounts of the English Reformation that claim the Roman Church was willing to allow the Prayer Book in English so long as they would submit to Roman authority, which Elizabeth was unwilling to do. Hence the excommunication (and the assassination attempt).

Warwickensis said...

"I find the sixth finger believable and the usual interpretations of the phenomenon outrageous. The extra digit is an uncommon but not unheard of genetic trait more likely to be found in inbred communities, such as an isolated mountain village (I knew one such born in Appalachia), ... or ... an inbred nobility such as existed in Europe and in England. It, of course, signifies no more than that the gene is present in the population. Was it true of Anne? We can't know, but I would suspect so."

Au contraire Ed, there is less historical evidence for Anne having 6 fingers than for her having an Adam's apple, another anti-Boleyn Claim.

In fact, many contemporary descriptions of her describe her as not being conventionally attractive, but of being reasonably good looking. Not a single one of them mentions Polydactyly.

Anonymous said...

I have been a 'lurker' on this forum for quite some time now. I am a Roman Catholic theology student who has both professional and personal associations with many traditional Anglican clergy and laity from differing jurisdictions.

From a Roman Catholic perspective, I have always viewed favorably those movements that support full ecclesial unity among Caholic bodies.

It is no surprise therefore, that I wholeheartedly supported the move by the Traditional Anglican Communion in seeking unity with Rome.

Now please note, I am not just some "Catholic triumphalist" but merely a faithful Roman Catholic who would defend his faith, just as surely as any of you would defend your own.

That said, I must voice my disagreement with many of the points brought up by the Reverend Hart.

However, the point of this particular post is not to disect those points but rather to express my gratitude for those Anglican Catholics, including those on this board who embrace Rome as a sister Church, rather than something less.

I thank God for the ACA and in particular its College of Bishops, who have gone above and beyond the call of duty to foster Catholic unity.

Please know that many rosaries and prayers are being said so that we may unite in faith and charity, without the lessening of our particular patrimonies.

I also thank the Reverend Hart and jurisdictions like the Anglican Catholic Church-OP for speaking frankly about my Church and expressing their dismay over many of our practices and beliefs. It is always favorable to speak frankly and openly. Perhaps this candor will help us to dialogue in the future. Until then let us agree to disagree.

For now, I am confident that the Roman Catholic Church is not only some part of the Church Catholic, but is in a very real sense the full expression and culmination of the Church Catholic. Hopefully with many prayers, the TAC will unite herself with us in a full rather than partial communion.

So whats my point with all of this?

Basically, I feel that many of the recent posts here were rather negative in their overall mood and I wanted to express my hope for unity with those "across the fence" in the Continuum who share the same hope.

For those who cannot see hope in union with Rome, I pray that we may come together in friendship and mutual concerns for social issues that affect our society.

May God bless us all, because we all need it.

Anthony, (Florida)

Anonymous said...

Anne Boleyn did indeed have what appeared to be an extra digit, it is an historic fact. She was known to hide her hands when anyone looked too closely at her.

Eccelesia Anglicana refers to the English Catholic church not the Church of England which was created during the Tudor age. Likewise, the Scottish Catholic church was Ecclesia Scotticana, not the Church of Scotland, and the Spanish Catholic church was Ecclesia Hispanica not the Church of Spain etc.

St.Edmund Arrowsmith was a Catholic priest born at Haydock, Lancashire in 1585. He was educated at Douai College, and then returned to England to minister to the Catholics, travelling throughout Lancashire under cover. He was betrayed by a young man who had contracted an incestuous match before a Protestant minister. He was committed to gaol for refusing the oaths of Supremacy and Allegiance. The outcome of his trial was that he was sentenced to be hung, drawn and quartered. To show their detestation, no man could be prevailed upon to undertake the execution, except a butcher, who was too ashamed to do the job himself, so engaged his servant. The account of Edmund Arrowsmith's trial and execution is a contempory one, and we are told that his fellow prisoner, who had himself been condemned for being a priest, showed himself to Fr. Arrowsmith from a large window, and gave him absolution at a sign which had been agreed upon.
The account is lengthy, but I will reproduce his near to final words which will give you a true picture of the relationship between the Church of England and the English Catholic church at the time. Going up the scaffold he spoke to the spectators, 'Bear witness gentlemen, who are come to see my end,that I die a constant Roman Catholic; and for Jesus Christ His sake, let not my death be a hindrance to your well doing, and going forward in the Catholic religion, but rather may it encourage you thereto. For Jesus' Christ sake, have a care of your souls, than which nothing is more precious; and become members of the true Church, as you tender your salvation; for hereafter, that alone will do you good. I beseech you, request my brethren for His sake, who redeemed us all, to be careful to supply my want and insufficiency, as I hope they will. Nothing grieves me so much, as this England, which I pray God to convert.'

Fr. Robert Hart said...


I like your attitude and agree with your overall hope, adding that I want unity among all Catholic Christians whether Roman Catholic (or Eastern Rite), Orthodox or Traditionalist Anglican. Unless we discuss things that we disagree about (which can be done not only with charity, but from charity) we have nothing but friendly social chats that indicate an underlying cynicism concerning the power of the Holy Spirit.

Fr. Robert Hart said...


If you wish to continue in this thread a name or handle will help us to know that we are hearing from the same person.

Obviously I refuse to accept your designation of "the Church of England." It is simply not factual.

Now, if you want to move people to tears about the Papist Catholic martyrs (and Papist is not a derogatory term), any of us can come up with equally moving stories about the Protestant Catholics who had been murdered by Bloody Mary. This would include the aged ++Cranmer himself, a man who did not deserve to die by the torture of having been burned at the stake for his years of faithful service.

But there is a difference. The Papist Catholics were not executed for heresy, but for treason (with the standard "cruel and unusual punishment" for treason against the monarch). The problem is, the pope himself was responsible for creating this unhappy state of affairs, since he actually demanded real treason against the throne from all the "Faithful." Even amidst my unsentimental dark humor above, I have stated the reason why the pope of that time shares the blame, and have done so with complete accuracy.

Anonymous said...

Apropos treason: wasn't England a Papal fief via King John?


John said...


That's "Father" Hart to you. The Reverend thing has not gone unnoticed.

Why do Romans believe there own propaganda about Anglican Orders? I guess somebody has to believe it.

John A. Hollister said...

Fr. Hart has put very neatly the distinction between those who were martyred for religion under Bloody Mary and those who were punished for political crimes under Elizabeth I. My own umpty-umpth-great grandfather, John Rodgers, was only the first of Mary's hundreds of victims who died for their consciences' sake.

As for the anonymous Anonymous, the fact that Edward Arrowsmith died a Roman Catholic provides absolutely no evidence that the Church of England was not, on the date of his death, the true Catholic Church in England or that the denomination he represented was not a foreign interloper. In fact, his own use of the term "Roman Catholic" supports the "branch theory of the Church" that is so much derided by Romanists.

John A. Hollister+

Fr. Robert Hart said...

Sean wrote:
Apropos treason: wasn't England a Papal fief via King John?

We all know where the term "long Johns" comes from. But, no- Nice try, but come on. By what right would any pope demand the start of a civil war in any country, send an assassin, take sides with one country as a rival empire against another, etc.? The first break was Henry's fault. The second break was the pope's fault.

Fr. Robert Hart said...

John wrote:
That's "Father" Hart to you. The Reverend thing has not gone unnoticed.

Thanks John; but, if for conscience sake he believes he cannot or should not recognize my orders, I am not offended. Better to let him communicate with us, even if he has to use "Mr."

We understand the meaning of "invincible ignorance" in an Anglican way.

Carlos said...

I'm not totally certain, but are not Roman priests also addressed as Reverend and the term "Father" is an informal affectionate term as "Papa" was fro the Pope?

- Carlos

John said...

Ok Fr. I'll let it ride.
I'm not an Anglo Catholic, Papist Anglo Catholic, I am a Redneck Anglo Catholic- a some what rare strain.

Good thing he did not address clergy as such locally it would earn a ride in the bucket of my backhoe to the manure pit. ;-)

Conscience? yea... sure, (it's called propaganda round here).

An Anglican Cleric said...


I think you are correct. The official title of all priests is "the Reverend" (deacons also, but then Rev. Mr.). You'll notice that when an RC priest is cited on the news for, ahem, some activity with those below the age of consent, he is refered to as "the Reverend" (rather than "father"). If I went to an RC church and called the priest "the Reverend" I'm sure I would be corrected and told to call him "father," but I could point out that it is indeed an honorary title of affection given to those we consider to be our spiritual fathers, not an official title. I'm sure this is the sense in which it was used here, but even so in a not so subtle way it indicated that the writer does not view Anglican priests as "spiritual fathers." So be it--he used the official title, one that RC priests in England had to fight for, for it was only given to priests of the Church of England to avoid confusion.


poetreader said...

Yes, Carlos,
It has become common to see RC priests mentioned in the newspaper as "Reverend so-and-so" It seems to have been instituted by ignorant reporters and to be tolerated by the liberal 'indifferentist' priests so common in America. By any standards I was ever taught, however, it's wrong, and I won't do it.

It is true that at one time (centuries ago) "Father" tended to be reserved for monastic priests, secular clergy being called "Mister" or perhaps by another title such as Vicar or Cure. "Reverend" as a title is decidedly modern, very Protestant, and a bit uneducated.

For centuries, 'Father' has been normal.


Sandra McColl said...

Actually, Ed, I understand that for secular or diocesan clergy, even in Rome, the title 'Father' is only about a century old in Anglophone countries, having previously been reserved for religious. Even now in German-speaking countries, religious are 'Pater' but seculars are not, and are more likely to be addressed as Herr + whatever other special title they have.

'Reverend' is not a title, but an adjective. Consequently, it always needs to be preceded by the definite article and followed by the gentleman's other title (e.g., Canon, Dr) or his Christian name or initial, and should not be used as a form of address to his face.

For example, I address a letter to 'The Revd Robert Hart' and begin it 'Dear Father'.

Strictly, as I understand it, 'The Reverend Father' should only be used with religious.

Further, if I were addressing a letter to both the Harts, I would address it to 'The Revd R Hart and Mrs Hart'.

If I were writing an article about Fr Hart, I might well refer to him as 'The Revd Robert Hart' when first introducing him, and then 'Fr Hart' thereafter.

Needless to say, along with a lot of other correct English, this has all been largely lost. Precious Anglo-Catholic and ignorant Roman clergy expect everything to be addressed to 'Father', which is still really only a courtesy title, some of them, it appears, because the think 'the Revd' to be too stuffy and formal (there's nothing stuffy and formal about being simply correct). Generally, however, the use of 'Reverend' as a form of address or as a bare title appears from my observation to come from American Baptists and related bodies. Perhaps that's just my prejudice: blame the Americans for the decay of the language ;-}

It's not about showing proper respect to the clergy so much as correct English usage. It would be a good thing if the Continuum were universally to insist on proper usage. You can be Catholic and use proper English.

I expect the Eastern Orthodox, even in English, to have their own conventions, but I think I've made a fair fist of correct usage in the West.

Antonio said...

"My mother-in-law should not be expected to know that Rome's all celibate clergy rule, not married clergy, is the experiment (and a failed experiment it is too)."

A failed experiment?

I'm a Roman.
I pray for the unity of all Christians. I don't think that Orthodox or Anglican clergymen would have to follow the "Roman experiment" to achieve unity.
But a "failed" experiment?

What about all the priests who faithfully lived it as part of their vocation?

Fr_Rob said...

As a former “semi-professional” student of the English Reformation and English Church history, I always get a chuckle out of these discussions of the very vexed matter of 16th-century English church history. Many scholarly volumes and scores of journal articles have been written on this subject, so I doubt that much new light is going to be shed here. And I suspect that Dr. William Tighe, a historian of this period who sometimes contributes to this blog, would have some very weighty counter-arguments for Fr. Hart from the RC side.

My impression is that all of the professional academic historiography that’s been written in this area for the past 30-40 years has come down quite firmly on the Protestant/Reformed nature of the English Reformation. Moreover, the traditional Anglo-Catholic/Oxford Movement view of the English Reformation has not been taken seriously by academic historians nor had any serious scholarly support since the 1960s.

I say all of this as a priest and long-time member of the ACC. It doesn’t bother me or my allegiance to Anglicanism, but I want my Anglican friends to know that such is in fact the case among professional historians. Then again, as someone once said, history is always written by the winners.

Fr. Rob Whitaker, Ph.D.
Virginia Beach, VA

Fr_Rob said...


Your understanding of the "Rev/Father" business is the same as mine. And I'm an American! Along these lines, I've heard that Dom Gregory Dix was the first clergyman since the Reformation to be addressed as "Father" in the C of E Synod. All the rest were "Mr".

Anonymous said...

During the reign of Pope Leo XIII, Queen Victoria would begin her letters to the Pontiff with the words, "Most Eminent Sir" rather than the standard "Your Holiness".

As an Anglican Protestant, the Queen, clearly could not bring herself to use to term Your Holiness when referring to the Pope.

In a similar way, I have used the term "Reverend" in my post. Had I intended to truly disparage the Reverend Hart, I would have used the term Mister.

I would never presume to correct a non-Roman Catholic into calling one of our priests "Father," that would be entirely their decision based upon their own conscience.

Therefore, please do not presume to tell me what I should do.

I do not believe my original post was contentious and I do appreciate the sentiments of shared hope for unity.

Anthony (Florida)

Albion Land said...

Precioussssss. Very preciousssss.

Gollum likessss reverendzzzzzzz.

Fr. Robert Hart said...

Antonio wrote, concerning my statement that the requirement of all-celibate-clergy is a failed experiment:

A failed experiment?

Because St. Paul lists celibacy as a charism, and was himself the one exception to the general fact that the apostles were married (as he states clearly). We know that in the Church God appoints those who have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of God (i.e. celibates, in the poetic use of imagery employed by our Lord), and so we must always have a place for celibates. When a man is ordained, it should be established which vocation he has, either as the husband of one wife or as a celibate, since his ministry will be hindered if he is looking for Miss Right.

But, St. Paul's favorite requirement for ordained ministry, other than obvious spiritual and theological gifts, was to see if a man ruled his household well, that is, was a good husband and father (I Tim. 3). The RCC has really hurt itself by throwing away this whole portion of scripture and apostolic wisdom. It is paying the price all over the world.

If this twelfth century experiment is not a failure, then please explain why many priests in the RCC are supposed to pastor thousands of people each. We will not even go into the obvious other problem of the perfect place to hide, and the clericalism of protecting sexual predators. I hate to bring that up, but it is a fact that the problem is very real, and has been for centuries (mentioned by very obvious implication in the old Lutheran Confession of Augsburg in the 16th century. That means it is not a new problem, but a very old scandal).

What about all the priests who faithfully lived it as part of their vocation?

Here again we have the wisdom of St. Paul. Like him, some are celibates by charismatic power. Others, however, live with unnecessary temptations but struggle on successfully. For that second kind I have both admiration and sympathy. In the end they obtain a crown for their faithfulness.

Fr. Robert Hart said...


I think Queen Victoria (very Protestant in her thinking until a sudden turn around in old age) was just plain rude. How would she have liked an answer in kind? "Dear Vic."

I would never presume to correct a non-Roman Catholic into calling one of our priests "Father," that would be entirely their decision based upon their own conscience.

With the exception of my brother, in which case it would be silly, I always call RC priests "Father." Usually they call me "Father" in return, sometimes asking first if it would be proper (which is also polite of them). By the way, and though it may disturb some people in both rivers (Thames and Tiber), I have had a good Roman Catholic priest as my confessor quite often. I call him Father too.

I don't mind if you prefer not to do so, since a good conscience before God is what matters most. It is enough for me that I was ordained by a real bishop, and so am a real priest- sometimes too much. No one is worthy.

Fr. Rob:

Of course Bill Tighe and I disagree about the full Catholic validity of Anglicanism, and we disagree as Christians and as friends. Of course, there are many points of history that my little post was too short to include. The real issue is, with only a few saintly exceptions on both sides, divided by the politics of their time as much as if not more than by convictions, almost everybody was a bad guy (or gal).

Sandra McColl said...

Fr Rob: I am the first to admit that Americans are perfectly capable of getting things right, and that when they do, they get things very right.

Oh, and Anthony, although it's not my blog, welcome! My banging on about correct English usage wasn't aimed in your direction.

William Tighe said...

This (and the preceding threads) have been interesting. As Fr. Rob indicated, I found some things with which I agree, and others with which I disagree. I must say, though, that the assertion that surprised me most was that of Canon Hollister that (if I understand him correctly) the Church of England and the Church of Rome were in communion with one another, or at least recognized one another as in some sense both "Catholic" down to the papal excommunication of Queen Elizabeth I in 1570.

I would be interested in the evidence for this, for (to put it at its most modest) everything that I have read from the period 1559 to 1570 (from the Anglican side, Jewel and Guest, and the renunciation of the "errors of popery" required of Justices of the Peace in 1569, as well as the reports of what was taught at Oxford and Cambridge in this period -- and official declarations terming French Protestants as "one with us"; and from the Roman side the prohibitions conveyed to English noble and gentry families from Rome in 1563 and 1567 forbidding "loyal Catholics" to attend any services in the Church of England, and not merely to avoid communion in the Church of England) would argue otherwise.

To set against that, there are those episodes from that same period in which Elizabeth sought to have the French or the Spanish ambassadors attend service with her in the Chapel Royal, to show then that the English rites differed only in "incidentals" from those in use in their countries; and the attempt of Pius IV to send a nuncio to England in 1562 to invite Elizabeth to send rrepresentatives to the Council of Trent -- an attempt that Elizabeth seemed to be inclined to explore further, when Cecil scuppered it by arresting a number of peers who had been caught attending Masses celebrated by priests who had refused to accept the 1559 religious settlement, and persuading the queen that such "disobedience" would multiply alarmingly if the nincio were admitted to England.

At the very least, I cannot call to mind, or find, so much as a single statement from the English or the Roman side between 1550 and 1570 that even hints at a mutual recognition between the two sides.

John A. Hollister said...

Anthony from Florida commented on the "standard" usage of "[the] term Your Holiness when referring to the Pope."

That reminded me of an odd fact I noticed over the nearly 20 years I lived in New Orleans. During that time, the Pope came to the city several times, visiting a small parish in Marrero. On these occasions, even the secular media always referred to him as "His Holiness, Pope Shenouda IV", which they normally did not do when they meant the other guy, the one with the palaces in Rome.

Considering how predominant Roman Catholicism is in New Orleans, and how tiny the Coptic branch of the Church is there, I always thought that was odd but it was a nice acknowledgement of the importance of the other (and often overlooked) historic Patriarchs who, of course, are the persons to whom the title "Pope" actually applies.

John A. Hollister+

Anonymous said...

Thanks to Sandra for some accurate information on the Father/Mr handles.
I recall reading a history of the American Dominicans by Fr Reginald Coffee, OP (whom I had the pleasure of meeeting years ago at the Dominican House of Studies, Washington DC). The Dominican priests who served as missionaries in Ohio and Kentucky in the early 19th century made quite a point of speaking of diocesan priests as "Mr So-and-so," and were careful to reserve the title Father for religious priests such as themselves. I detect a slight degree of snobbery in this.

But on the other hand, 18th and 19th century Presbyterians commonly gave the title "Father" to their own clergy, particularly those of advanced years. In the Presbytery meetings I recall, it was still common to address the body as "Fathers and brethren."
Btw, whenever one has to deal with the common Protestant objection to the title "Father," on the basis of Matthew 23:9 ("Call no man Father..."), an adequate counter-argument is Acts 7:2 as well as Acts 22:1, where "Fathers and brethren" is used as a title for the Jewish hierarchy.
Laurence K. Wells

John A. Hollister said...

Sean asked, "Apropos [of] treason: wasn't England a Papal fief via King John?"

John "Lackland"'s reign was notable primarily for his inability to get along with his barons which, in the early Feudal period, effectively paralyzed his government of the country. We all know how that dispute endeded, with John's caving in to the barons at Runnymede.

Similarly, he spent a significant portion of his reign on the outs with the Church (of which there was only one in those days, at least in the West). Because all of the people were Christians, and were Christians of the Catholic persuasion, they took access to the Sacraments as a vitally important issue.

Thus when the Pope (of Rome) of the day, to put pressure on John, placed England and Wales "under an interdict", so that no Sacraments could be celebrated licitly within the Kingdom, the situation ultimately became intolerable. In order to preserve his throne, John pulled a switch on his opponents and offered to do homage to the Pope (o'R.) for the country, thus constituting it a feudal fief of Rome and the King as the Roman Patriarch's vassal.

This resulted in that Patriarch's immediate volte face, but no one after John ever paid it the slightest credence as a real fact, nor did John himself ever show much regard for it.

The extent to which John's homage was viewed as a fiction is shown by the very early date at which the first of the successive statutes of Praemunire was passed.

So, no, Sean, England was NOT a Roman fief and within the Kingdom, treason meant disloyalty to the Queen (in Elizabeth's case), not to some foreign monarch in Italy.

John A. Hollister+

Anonymous said...

King John made a feudal submission to the pope (as feudal overlord) in 1214. Part of the terms of that submission was that the king was to send a "token" payment of 100 pounds to Rome every year. John paid it once. John's son, Henry III (king from 1216 to 1272) renewed that submission and periodically paid the requisite annual fee to Rome, although in most years he got the papacy either to waive the payment or to postpone its payment indefinitely. Edward I (king 1272 to 1307) acknowledged England's feudal dependency on the papacy before he became king, but I do not know whether he did so subsequently; and the papacy's siding with the Scots in their claim that the Scottish Church was not part of the Metropolitan Province of York, but was rather in direct dependence on the Holy See appears to have annoyed him considerably -- even though in the 1290s the papacy backed Edward in his claims to be feudal overlord of Scotland, and excommunicated at Edward's request leading Scots opponents of English rule, such as William Wallace and Robert the Bruce. Edward II (king 1307 to 1326) acknowledged England's feudal dependency on the papacy at least once. Edward III never did, and in 1366 the English Crown repudiated the idea that it was politically dependent on any outside authority.

William Tighe

poetreader said...

Feudal suzerainity was always an aspect of civil goivenrnment, and thus would have been a submission to the secular authority of the Papacy -- a matter of state, not church, even under conditions that tended to mix the two in practice. So far as I can see that removes this concept from the discussion at hand.

It's also notable huw impermananet the relationships of feudalism tended to be. Vassals were constantly shifting their loyalty. John's behavior toward the papacy seems quite in accord with what I observe in medieval political history, and doesn't seem to have a whole lot to do with a church structure which remained far more constant.


Fr_Rob said...

Regarding the period 1559 to 1570, I suspect (with absolutely no evidence to back this up, however) that it was a period of flux for both sides (Elizabeth/England and the Pope/Roman Catholic Church) in terms of their relationships with one another. Probably both were playing a bit of footsie hoping that the other would capitulate. The Bull of 1570 was probably issued once the Pope tired of the game and/or could see no possibility that Elizabeth/England would acquiesce to Roman claims.

Alice C. Linsley said...

What? Nothing about Charles V taking action in defense of his Tia Catherine?

William Tighe said...

Alice, he didn't take that much action, beyond having his ambassador sound out English nobles about overthrowing Henry in 1534-6, and, later on, in 1539, when he was briefly friends with Francis I of France, agreeing with Francis on a joint invasion of England and how to divvy up England and Ireland between them -- but they fell out with one another (over unrelated issues) before they could act on it.

John A. Hollister said...

Fr. Rob said:

"The Bull of 1570 was probably issued once the Pope tired of the game and/or could see no possibility that Elizabeth/England would acquiesce to Roman claims."

From what I have read, the Bull excommunicating Elizbeth and releasing her subjects from their allegiance to her was simply a secular weapon (something like an earlier Pope's placing of England under the Interdict until Bad King John came to heel) to assist the Spanish who were planning an invasion of England.

"Spanish invasion?" someone will ask, "but the Bull was in 1570 and the Armada didn't sail until 1588!"

Actually, there were several Armadas, but the so-called "Great Armada" that we tend to remember best had been in planning for many years prior to its actual departure. Spanish naval administration at that period was not the most efficient; for example, the eventual commander of the "Most Happy Armada" was chosen because he was a great aristocrat, with social precedence over the other officers of the fleet, not because he was a sailor (which he wasn't).

Also, the invasion plan required ships from Spain but Spanish troops from the Netherlands. As the fortunes of the Dutch War of Indendence flowed back and forth, so the numbers, as well as the availability or unavailability, of those troops kept changing.

So, too, did the material resources available to the government in Spain to assemble and support the necessary ships and army. Whenever the war in the Netherlands heated up, not only were (the heavily mercenary) troops needed there rather than floating across the English Channel but the government's money would start burning up in seiges of Breda or other Dutch cities and similar encounters. And money was MUCH scarcer in the 16th Century, being almost exclusively bullion coinage.

So yes, the excommunication of 1570 was directly linked to the fleet of 1588; that flota was just a bit delayed in setting sail. And that 18+ years' delay gave scope for Providential developments that helped assure the English victory over the Spanish fleet.

Two of these time-blessed events were especially critical. In 1567 the Spaniards at San Juan de Ulloa, South America, treacherously captured the embayed English ship "The Jesus of Lubeck" and massacred its crew. Two survivors of that attack, Sir John Hawkins and Sir Francis Drake, took to heart the lesson that a ship with large ungainly structures on its fo'clse cannot effectively beat up to windward, which led to a revolution in English ship building.

It was Sir John Hawkins' fast, maneuverable "low-charged" galleons -- with guns mounted high enough that their ports could be opened with a sea running -- that won the battle in the Channel because in the intervening 18+ years he had remade the English fleet into his new, more weatherly pattern.

Then in 1587 Drake, still driven by the hatred engendered by the 1567 massacre, "singed the King of Spain's beard" at Cadiz, sinking and burning several oared galleys and a number of merchantmen from Northern Europe.

This seemingly trivial byplay had enormous effects, because those merchantmen turned out to be carrying the Spanish fleet's entire replacement stock of seasoned oak lumber, i.e., of several years' worth of reserve barrel staves.

This critical loss meant the fleet of 1588 had to set sail with barrels made of green wood, so its water and food supplies quickly leaked and spoiled, weakening its fighting effectiveness and resolve. Out of such minor events an economical God weaves His works.

As Fr. Hart earlier pointed out, in the 1588 contest between the English and the Roman Pope's surrogates, the palm went to London, not Madrid or Rome (or, perhaps, to Plymouth, not to Cadiz).

Loyal Englishmen, of course, regarded the Bishop of Rome's Bull as no sounder or more trustworthy than the Duke of Medina Sidonia's barrels.

John A. Hollister+

Michael T said...

The Official Information board of the Royal Family disagrees with this assessment of history and leans toward the Catholic perspective. From the Royals own website, History of the Monarchs>the Tudors>Henry VIII:

Henry VIII was born at Greenwich on 28 June 1491, the second son of Henry VII and Elizabeth of York. He became heir to the throne on the death of his elder brother, Prince Arthur, in 1502 and succeeded in 1509.

In his youth he was athletic and highly intelligent. A contemporary observer described him thus: 'he speaks good French, Latin and Spanish; is very religious; heard three masses daily when he hunted ... He is extremely fond of hunting, and never takes that diversion without tiring eight or ten horses ... He is also fond of tennis.'

Henry's scholarly interests included writing both books and music, and he was a lavish patron of the arts.

He was an accomplished player of many instruments and a composer. Greensleeves, the popular melody frequently attributed to him is, however, almost certainly not one of his compositions.

As the author of a best-selling book (it went through some 20 editions in England and Europe) attacking Martin Luther and supporting the Roman Catholic church, in 1521 Henry was given the title 'Defender of the Faith' by the Pope.

From his father, Henry VIII inherited a stable realm with the monarch's finances in healthy surplus - on his accession, Parliament had not been summoned for supplies for five years. Henry's varied interests and lack of application to government business and administration increased the influence of Thomas Wolsey, an Ipswich butcher's son, who became Lord Chancellor in 1515.

Wolsey became one of the most powerful ministers in British history (symbolised by his building of Hampton Court Palace - on a greater scale than anything the king possessed). Wolsey exercised his powers vigorously in his own court of Chancery and in the increased use of the Council's judicial authority in the court of the Star Chamber.

Wolsey was also appointed Cardinal in 1515 and given papal legate powers which enabled him to by-pass the Archbishop of Canterbury and 'govern' the Church in England.

Henry's interest in foreign policy was focused on Western Europe, which was a shifting pattern of alliances centred round the kings of Spain and France, and the Holy Roman Emperor. (Henry was related by marriage to all three - his wife Catherine was Ferdinand of Aragon's daughter, his sister Mary married Louis XII of France in 1514, and the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V was Catherine's nephew.)

An example of these shifts was Henry's unsuccessful Anglo-Spanish campaigns against France, ending in peace with France in 1520, when he spent huge sums on displays and tournaments at the Field of the Cloth of Gold.

Henry also invested in the navy, and increased its size from 5 to 53 ships (including the Mary Rose, the remains of which lie in the Portsmouth Naval Museum).

The second half of Henry's reign was dominated by two issues very important for the later history of England and the monarchy: the succession and the Protestant Reformation, which led to the formation of the Church of England.

Henry had married his brother's widow, Catherine of Aragon, in 1509. Catherine had produced only one surviving child - a girl, Princess Mary, born in 1516. By the end of the 1520s, Henry's wife was in her forties and he was desperate for a son.

The Tudor dynasty had been established by conquest in 1485 and Henry was only its second monarch. England had not so far had a ruling queen, and the dynasty was not secure enough to run the risk of handing the Crown on to a woman, risking disputed succession or domination of a foreign power through marriage.

Henry had anyway fallen in love with Anne Boleyn, the sister of one of his many mistresses, and tried to persuade the Pope to grant him an annulment of his marriage on the grounds that it had never been legal.

Royal divorces had happened before: Louis XII had been granted a divorce in 1499, and in 1527 James IV's widow Margaret (Henry's sister) had also been granted one. However, a previous Pope had specifically granted Henry a licence to marry his brother's widow in 1509.

In May 1529, Wolsey failed to gain the Pope's agreement to resolve Henry's case in England. All the efforts of Henry and his advisers came to nothing; Wolsey was dismissed and arrested, but died before he could be brought to trial.

Since the attempts to obtain the divorce through pressure on the papacy had failed, Wolsey's eventual successor Thomas Cromwell (Henry's chief adviser from 1532 onwards) turned to Parliament, using its powers and anti-clerical attitude (encouraged by Wolsey's excesses) to decide the issue.

The result was a series of Acts cutting back papal power and influence in England and bringing about the English Reformation.

In 1532, an Act against Annates - although suspended during 'the king's pleasure' - was a clear warning to the Pope that ecclesiastical revenues were under threat.

In 1532, Cranmer was promoted to Archbishop of Canterbury and, following the Pope's confirmation of his appointment, in May 1533 Cranmer declared Henry's marriage invalid; Anne Boleyn was crowned queen a week later.

The Pope responded with excommunication, and Parliamentary legislation enacting Henry's decision to break with the Roman Catholic Church soon followed. An Act in restraint of appeals forbade appeals to Rome, stating that England was an empire, governed by one supreme head and king who possessed 'whole and entire' authority within the realm, and that no judgements or excommunications from Rome were valid.

An Act of Submission of the Clergy and an Act of Succession followed, together with an Act of Supremacy (1534) which recognised that the king was 'the only supreme head of the Church of England called Anglicana Ecclesia'.

The breach between the king and the Pope forced clergy, office-holders and others to choose their allegiance - the most famous being Sir Thomas More, who was executed for treason in 1535.

The other effect of the English Protestant Reformation was the Dissolution of Monasteries, under which monastic lands and possessions were broken up and sold off. In the 1520s, Wolsey had closed down some of the small monastic communities to pay for his new foundations (he had colleges built at Oxford and Ipswich).

In 1535-6, another 200 smaller monasteries were dissolved by statute, followed by the remaining greater houses in 1538-40; as a result, Crown revenues doubled for a few years.

Henry's second marriage had raised hopes for a male heir. Anne Boleyn, however, produced another daughter, Princess Elizabeth, and failed to produce a male child. Henry got rid of Anne on charges of treason (presided over by Thomas Cromwell) which were almost certainly false, and she was executed in 1536. In 1537 her replacement, Henry's third wife Jane Seymour, finally bore him a son, who was later to become Edward VI. Jane died in childbed, 12 days after the birth in 1537.

Although Cromwell had proved an effective minister in bringing about the royal divorce and the English Reformation, his position was insecure. The Pilgrimage of Grace, an insurrection in 1536, called for Cromwell's dismissal (the rebels were put down) but it was Henry's fourth, abortive and short-lived marriage to Anne of Cleves that led to Cromwell's downfall. Despite being made Earl of Essex in 1540, three months later he was arrested and executed.

Henry made two more marriages, to Katherine Howard (executed on grounds of adultery in 1542) and Catherine Parr (who survived Henry to die in 1548).

None produced any children. Henry made sure that his sole male heir, Edward, was educated by people who believed in Protestantism rather than Catholicism because he wanted the anti-papal nature of his reformation and his dynasty to become more firmly established.

After Cromwell's execution, no leading minister emerged in the last seven years of Henry's reign. Overweight, irascible and in failing health, Henry turned his attention to France once more.

Despite assembling an army of 40,000 men, only the town of Boulogne was captured and the French campaign failed. Although more than half the monastic properties had been sold off, forced loans and currency depreciation also had to be used to pay for the war, which contributed to increased inflation. Henry died in London on 28 January 1547.

To some, Henry VIII was a strong and ruthless ruler, forcing through changes to the Church-State relationship which excluded the papacy and brought the clergy under control, thus strengthening the Crown's position and acquiring the monasteries' wealth.

However, Henry's reformation had produced dangerous Protestant-Roman Catholic differences in the kingdom. The monasteries' wealth had been spent on wars and had also built up the economic strength of the aristocracy and other families in the counties, which in turn was to encourage ambitious Tudor court factions.

Significantly, Parliament's involvement in making religious and dynastic changes had been firmly established. For all his concern over establishing his dynasty and the resulting religious upheaval, Henry's six marriages had produced one sickly son and an insecure succession with two princesses (Mary and Elizabeth) who at one stage had been declared illegitimate - none of whom were to have children.