Given from the Catholic Broadcasting Station 2SM Sydney Australia
Choose a topic from Vol 2:
Your parents apparently belonged to that school of Anglicans which refuses to admit that the Church of England originated only at the time of the Protestant Reformation. Those who belong to that school of thought persuade themselves that the present Anglican Church is one and the same as the Church which was established in England by the first Christian missionaries to that country. But this theory cannot stand the test of history.
Yes, until the Reformation, England was a Catholic country. The first missionaries preached the Catholic religion, and were as subject to the Pope as I am. Henry VIII. was a Catholic, and subject to the Pope until 1534, when he rebelled against the Catholic Church, left it, and made himself head of his own new Church within his own kingdom.
It is the normal and correct verdict of the ordinary historian who judges simply in accordance with the facts, and who has no particular ecclesiastical theory to maintain. Thus Lecky, an agnostic, in his "History of England in the Eighteenth Century," says that the Church of England was founded at the Reformation as an institution most intensely and distinctively English.
No. If it were, it would still be subject to the Pope, one with the Catholic Church throughout the world, observing the same Canon Law, offering the same Sacrifice of the Mass, and teaching the same doctrines as those held by all Catholics today, whether in Italy, Spain, France, Germany, Austria, America, Australia, India, Africa, and elsewhere throughout the world. But on all points, doctrinal, devotional, and disciplinary, the Church of England is out of harmony with the Catholic Church. Any one who believes that the religion of England for over a thousand years prior to the Reformation was correct, has no option but to leave Anglicanism and return to the Catholic Church—as I myself did.
Until the year 1534, Henry VIII., was in full communion with and subject to the Pope, and England was a Catholic country. In fact, after Luther in Germany had rebelled against the Pope in 1517, Henry wrote a book to refute him, and received in return for this from the Pope the title, "Defender of the Faith." Unfortunately Henry grew tired of his lawful wife Catherine of Aragon, and wished to put her away and marry Anne Boleyn. He asked the Pope to annul his marriage with Catherine; but, as his marriage to Catherine was quite valid, he failed to secure the favor he sought. He therefore broke with Rome, and had himself created head of the Church of England by the Act of Royal Supremacy in 1534. He thus set up the Church of England as a Church independent of the Catholic Church, and took the divorce he wanted. Whilst repudiating the authority of the Pope, however, Henry also repudiated the new Protestant doctrines apart from the denial of Papal authority. He insisted on all other Catholic teachings and practices, persecuting Catholics who denied the royal supremacy, and Protestants who denied transubstantiation and the Mass. After Henry's death, however, his new Church could not remain as it was, neither Catholic nor Protestant. Under Edward VI., who was but a boy, Cranmer protestantized both the doctrines and worship of the Church of England. Edward died before the work was consolidated, and was succeeded by Mary, who was an ardent Catholic. She determined to undo the work of both Henry and Cranmer, banishing the former's royal supremacy, and the latter's Protestantism. She restored the Catholic religion, and the deposed Catholic Bishops, and brought the Church once more into unity with Rome under the jurisdiction of the Pope. That ended the first phase of the Church of England as a separated Anglican Church. This was in 1554, twenty years after Henry's first break with Rome in 1534. Mary died, however, in 1558. And in the first year of her reign, 1559, Elizabeth renewed the Act of Royal Supremacy, and set up the independent Church of England again, this time on a definitely Protestant basis. The Protestant Church of England has continued unbrokenly since then, though it has exhibited an interior spirit of dissension and turmoil such as few other Protestant sects can boast
That denial will not stand the test of history. It is certain that prior to 1534 the Church in England was subject to the authority of the Pope. After 1534, when Henry repudiated the authority of the Pope and set himself up as supreme head on earth of the Church in his realm, a new Church was the result—just as America became a new and separate nation when, in 1776, it repudiated the authority of the King of England, despite its retaining the same customs, traditions, language, and possessions as before.
You forget that the Church is essentially a unified society, and that it is utterly dependent upon the bond of authority binding it together. The authority and jurisdiction of the Pope is the very heart of the constitution of the Church. When Henry rejected the authority and jurisdiction of Rome, and declared these things to be centered in him as far as the Church in his realm was concerned, he dragged that Church into schism and altered its essential character, by the radical constitutional change he had imposed upon it. The Henrician schismatical Church was by the very fact cut off from, and outside the true Catholic Church.
The new Church continued to retain the Church property and buildings that belonged to the old Church, but did not retain identity with that Church. It could not break away from that Church and still belong to it. The Anglican Dr. Goudge rightly says, "The English Church has in England supplanted the Roman, and we hold the Cathedrals, the parish Churches, and the little that the State has left of the ancient endowments. ... If English Roman Catholics were not hostile to the Anglican Church, it would be a miracle of grace."
To that I will let Sir W. S. Holdsworth, K.C., D.C.L., LL.D., professor of English Law in the University of Oxford, reply. In his "History of English Law," published 1931, he writes that, because the Pope would not grant Henry VIII. a divorce, "a break with Rome became necessary. Although the break was accomplished with as little external change as possible, it necessarily involved an altogether new view as to the relations between Church and State. In the preamble to Henry's Statutes we can see the gradual elaboration of the main characteristic of these changed relations .... the theory of the Royal Supremacy. The dual control over things temporal and things spiritual is to end. The Crown is to be supreme over all persons and causes. The Canon Law of the Western Church is to give place to the 'King's Ecclesiastical Law of the Church of England'.... In the preamble to the Statute of Appeals in 1533 the relations between the new Anglican Church and the State were sketched by the king himself with his own hand.... Henry VIII. often inserted in the preambles to his Statutes reasoned arguments designed to prove the wisdom of the particular Statute. And.... he never hesitated to color facts and events to suit his purpose. But the preamble to this Statute of Appeals is remarkable, partly because it manufactures history on an unprecedented scale, but chiefly because it has operated from that day to this as a powerful incentive to its manufacture by others on similar lines. Nor is the reason for this phenomenon difficult to discover. The Tudor Settlement was a characteristically skillful instance of the Tudor genius for creating a modern institution with a mediaeval form. But, in order to create the illusion that the new Anglican Church was indeed the same institution as the mediaeval Church, it was necessary to prove the historical continuity of these two very different institutions.... It was not till an historian arose who, besides being the greatest historian of this century, was both a consummate lawyer, and a dissenter from the Anglican as well as the other Churches (i.e., F. W. Maitland, LL.D., D.C.L., late Downing Professor of Law at Cambridge) that the historical worthlessness of Henry's theory was finally demonstrated." Such are the words of Sir W. S. Holdsworth on the recognition of Anglican continuity by English Law. They will be found in his "History of English Law," 5th Edit., 1931.
It permits the denial of those truths even by its own Bishops. In his book, "The Necessity for Catholic Reunion," published in 1933, the Rev. T. Whitton, M.A., an Anglican clergyman, writes, "The Anglican Communion is very unlike the Roman Catholic and the Orthodox Communions. Each of the latter are at least one in faith. In the Anglican Communion, on the contrary, there is no such unity. Not only are there at least three different and contradictory religions calling themselves 'Catholic,' 'Evangelical,' and 'Modernist,' but also these three religions are divergent."
The unalterable fidelity of the Church of England as a whole to the basic truths of Christianity is a mere dream. It is necessary to face realities. The Protestant Bishop Weston, of Zanzibar, published a book in 1914 entitled, "Ecclesia Anglicana." In it he wrote that the Church of England, of which he himself was a Bishop, is "puffed up with a sense of what she calls her broadmindedness," but that she "stands today at the judgment bar, innocent alike of narrowmindedness and broadmindedness, but proven guilty of double-mindedness. And until she recovers a single mind, and knows it, and learns to express it, she will be of use neither in the sphere of reunion nor in the mission field." He added that ministers of the Church of England treat "the fundamental articles of the Christian Faith as open questions."
Ideals, and not a vision of the real, dictate such statements. Deploring the different and contending parties in the Church of England, the Rev. T. Whitton, in the book above quoted, says, "In this confusion and contradiction what can be expected of the people? Seeing these differences, and the teachings of the Modernists, and that the Bishops do not repress these contradictions, they naturally conclude that the parsons themselves do not believe that Jesus Christ is God. They think that the Bishops would never allow these important doctrines to be denied if they believed them themselves.... The Church of England is simply unable to cope with a situation which is rapidly changing from bad to worse on account of these divisions.... There are Bishops and others who boast of their divergence from the Catholic Church even in the fundamental doctrines of the Holy Trinity and the Incarnation . . . and there is no court in the Church of England competent to declare the truth or condemn error." How can it be said that the Church of England does not allow the Apostolic deposit of the Faith to be impaired? The safest position for an Anglican to adopt is to say that it does not matter whether his Church holds to the old truths or not; that those truths cannot be cardinal; and that it is the genius of Anglicanism to allow any kind of teaching at all.
Anglicanism adopted that principle from the Continental reformers. But it no longer believes in that doctrine. The Rev. Mr. Whitton writes, "The real Evangelicals are in a difficult position, for the Church of England no longer believes in the Inspiration of the Bible, as she allows it to be denied by those who teach in her name." As for the Reformation, he says that the Anglo-Catholic or High Church clergyman "regards the Reformation as thoroughly bad. He yearns for the time when it shall be undone, and the Church of England be one in faith under the Pope as she was until the catastrophe of the sixteenth century, since when she has lost the mass of the people. He gradually learns to repudiate the whole of the present regime. He sees that the so-called Ecclesiastical Courts derive their authority from the State, and that there are no Spiritual Courts whatever left. He sees that the Book of Common Prayer is a schedule to an Act of Parliament, and that spiritual authority it has none except the promise made to use the form contained in it; also that this promise is made by order of, and to the State, and therefore is to be interpreted in a sense as strictly minimized as possible."
Mr. Whitton writes, "Membership in the Church of England determines nothing; in that comprehensive body all beliefs are called in question except perhaps the existence of God. No one can say that a man, just because he is a member of the Church of England, must hold any one doctrine. Anglo-Catholics and Evangelicals will probably dispute this." But the Rev. Mr. Whitton adds that each of these groups follows its own theory, and it is not in obedience to any authority of the Church. In fact, "they know that the Church of England does not demand it; that others in the same Communion believe and act quite contrarily, and are allowed to do so quite freely by their Church." How then can it be said that Anglicans believe in the authority of their Church?
I would that the Church of England did maintain such Catholic teaching. But it does not. The Report of the Girton Conference of Modern Churchmen, 1921, records the words of the head of an Anglican Theological College as follows: "Christ did not claim Divinity for Himself.... I do not suppose for a moment that Jesus ever thought of Himself as God.... We must absolutely jettison the traditional notion that His person was not human but Divine." How can it be said that the Church of England insists on belief in the Trinity and the Divinity of Christ? In their book, "Is Christianity True," Cyril Joad, the rationalist, challenges Arnold Lunn, an Anglican at the time of their controversy, in these words, "The only branch of Christianity which has not declined is Roman Catholicism. Logical, coherent, definite, and above all, dogmatic, it offers a sure foundation to those whose feet are beset by the quicksands of modern doubt. I find it in the highest degree significant that, although you have so recently controverted against Father Knox and taken up the cudgels against Catholicism, when you come to a rough-and-tumble with me over the whole field of Christian controversy, you have over and over again adopted the Catholic point of view, and.... retreated in safety behind the ramparts of the citadel of Rome." So speaks the rationalist. And, as a matter of fact, shortly after this controversy with Joad, Arnold Lunn found no alternative save to be received into the Catholic Church.
Some Anglicans or Episcopalians venerate seven Sacraments; some venerate two; some have no faith in any. The 39 Articles declare that there are two Sacraments properly so-called, Baptism and the Eucharist. The other five are not to be regarded strictly as Sacraments. And, of course, even though the Holy Eucharist is declared to be a Sacrament, it is not accepted in the orthodox sense, and that it contains the Real Presence of the Body and Blood of Christ is denied. Both the Catholic Church and the Greek Orthodox Church have retained seven Sacraments as coming down from the very beginning, and as instituted by Christ Himself.
At the Reformation the Church of England abolished that doctrine. Thomas Cranmer, who had gone to the Continent and absorbed the spirit of Protestantism in Germany, decided after the death of Henry VIII. to protestantize the Church of England. And one of the foremost planks in the new Protestant platform was the rejection of the Catholic doctrine of the Mass, and of the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist. As Archbishop of Canterbury under the boy king Edward VI., Cranmer had practically a free hand to do as he pleased. And having lost the Catholic Faith himself, he made the fullest use of his position to rob the English people of that same faith. Rejecting any idea that the bread can actually become the Body of Christ, the Anglican Articles have to find some other explanation of the Eucharist. They say that the Body of Christ is received by faith. The bread still remains bread after the consecration. There is no trace of Christ's Body in the bread, or under its appearances. At most the bread is but a symbol of Christ's Body. If the one receiving the bread has faith, it will be as if it were Christ's Body for him, though it isn't in itself. That is the authentic Anglican doctrine, invented as a substitute for the Catholic and Greek Orthodox doctrine of the real objective Presence of Christ's Body. John Jewel (1571), Bishop of Salisbury, wrote: "The bread we receive with our earthly mouths is an earthly thing, and therefore a figure, as the water in Baptism is also a figure . . . the Sacramental Bread is bread; it is not the Body of Christ." In 1898, April 4th, the then Anglican Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr. Temple, wrote to a lady who asked him whether the doctrine of the Real Presence were according to Anglican teaching: "Dear Madam, The bread used in Holy Communion is certainly not God, either before consecration or after; and you must not worship it." Bishop Barnes, of Birmingham, repeats the same doctrine today: "There is no real objective Presence of Christ attached to the bread and wine used in Holy Communion."
Both practices are quite out of harmony with Anglicanism or Episcopalianism. The 31st Article of Religion, setting forth Church of England doctrine, says, "The sacrifices of Masses, in which it was commonly said that the priest did offer Christ for the living and the dead to have remission of pain or guilt, were blasphemous fables and dangerous deceits." In his book, "What We Owe to the Reformation," p. 19, Dr. Ryle, Anglican Bishop of Liverpool, says, "The Reformers found the Sacrifice of the Mass in our Churches. They cast it out as a blasphemous fable and a dangerous deceit..... The Reformers found our clergy sacrificing priests, and made them prayer-reading, preaching ministers—ministers of God's Word and Sacraments. The Reformers found in our Church the doctrine of a real corporal presence of Christ in the Lord's Supper under the forms of bread and wine, and laid down their lives to oppose it. They would not even allow the expression 'real presence' a place in our Prayer Book."
There is a profound and radical difference. For High Church Anglicans equally belong to the Church of England with Low Churchmen who hold the Protestant teaching and outlook; and equally with them repudiate the divinely-given authority of the Catholic Church. No introduction of similar forms of worship could make the High Church section of the Church of England identical with the Catholic Church. For the essential thing in religion is obedience. We went from God by disobedience. Our way back is to retrace our steps by obedience. And if religion is to get us back, it must essentially demand obedience. So Christ said, "If you love Me, keep My commandments." Jn. XIV., 15. And again, "If a man will not hear the Church, let him be as the heathen." Matt. XVIII., 17. Similar rites and ceremonies can no more make an Anglo-Catholic a member of the Catholic Church than the similar language makes an American a member of the British Empire. For the United States repudiates the unifying bond of authority proper to the British Empire. The profound and radical difference between High Church Anglicans and the Catholic Church will cease to exist only when these High Churchmen sever their connection with the Anglican Church and submit to Rome.
Writing in the "Hibbert Journal" for July 1930 apropos of the Lambeth Conference of that year, the Rev. J. M. Lloyd Thomas, a Protestant minister of Birmingham, said, "We can all be magnanimous enough to recognize that Rome in a uniquely tenacious temper, is a steward of the mysteries and of the moral witness of the Christian Church. The supreme attraction of Rome is to be found in its ethical rigorism. Rome is the one uncompromising corporate witness to that moral Code of Christendom which preserves Western Civilization from final collapse. It represents the last loyalty of the human race to its own highest moral standards. It is the iron bulwark of Christianity against the overwhelming invasion of the corrupting neo-paganism of our times. There is no authoritative moral theology which can tell us what is the final judgment of Anglicans and Free Churchmen on questions such as marriage, divorce, birth control, companionate experiments, abortion, euthanasia, suicide. Only Rome speaks with one voice on such themes, and these are the issues of life and death, of the survival or decline of the West." After the Lambeth Conference of that year, the London "Daily Express," Aug. 15th, 1930, said that the Anglican Church "could not hope to control the conduct of men by debated measures conceived in fear and born in compromise." And the Anglican Rev. T. H. Whitton wrote in 1933, "So the defense of Christian morals is left to Rome, and the Anglican Communion, and all of us within it, stand disgraced before the world . . . the only remedy, and the only safeguard against other breaches in the Christian moral Code, is Catholic reunion." "The Necessity for Catholic Reunion," pp. 116-117.