England: Catholic succession and the reformation


#1

This is a kind of Historical question but it doesn’t just apply to England I guess.

A friend told me that at one time all the bishops in England were excommunicated during the refromation when the whole country became protestant… a simplification lol.

She asked me how England could still have priests when their line had been broken and also if this meant that England could never have an English Pope as the state religion is the Church of England.

Any ideas?..


#2

Well, first off as a general rule Anglican “priests” are no considered Sacramental priests by the Catholic Church. Some have Apostalic Succession from foreign Bishops coming in historically, but by and large this is not the case. As for Catholic priests in England, their lines were brought in by foreign Bishops after the formation of the Protestant Anglican Church, and continued on from those imported lines, or they derive from native Bishops who did not leave the Catholic Faith (not sure how many, if any, took this route).

There would be no problem with an English Catholic priest/bishop becoming Pope, but obviously it would be impossible for an Anglican.

Hope that helps!

God bless!


#3

The Pope cannot unseat a bishop. So excommunication doesn’t remove his status as a successor to the apostles, and his ordinations are still valid. Therefore the Eastern churches, and the recently broken away Society of St Pius the Tenth, both have valid orders.
In the late nineteenth century there was a dispute about Anglican orders, and the Pope pronounced them null and void. The reason was that episcopal succession had become so haphazard during the Civil War in the seventeenth century that a valid chain of bishops could be considered to have been lost.

There would be real political problems in electing an English Pope when Anglicanism is the state religion, but not theological ones, presuming that he was a Catholic in good standing.


#4

good answer, thanks.

why can’t a pope unseat a bishop? is it because the calling of a bishop is a calling from god and not the pope?


#5

it’s because the sacrament of Holy Orders makes an indellible mark on the soul. So, just as a “laicized” priest is still technically a priest, and can perform valid (but illicit) sacraments, so also an excommunicated bishop can still perform valid (but illicit) sacraments, including ordination and confirmation.


#6

Also, the words of ordination that the Anglicans used were changed so far that the Pope discerned that ordinations were not taking place at all.


#7

About this whole idea of an “English Catholic”: how can one be both a citizen of England, which requires one to accept the authority of the Anglican Church, and a Catholic? I could never figure that out…or does English citizenship not require one to accept the authority of the Anglican Church?


#8

thanks,

S

why is the eastern tradition recognised and other groups who have broken away are not?


#9

The story as far as I know it is that, when henry VIII first broke with the Catholic Church, most of the bishops stayed with him - the notable exceptions being Wolsey who died at the vital time, and Fisher who was executed.

But when elizabeth took over, those catholic bishops had gone and the new ones refused to join the Cof E so new bishops were created without AS


#10

They have not altered the Faith, nor the Sacraments. Their use is the same as the Catholics, especially the same as the Eastern Catholics who use the exact same rituals and theology.

So groups like the Eastern Orthodox are real Churches, just not in full Communion with the Catholic Church.

Peace and God bless!


#11

You forgot to mention Bloody Mary. I’ve always found that part to be interesting. All the bishops who sided with Henry VIII did was extend their lives a little bit and perhaps find themselves in Hell for it as Bloody Mary had them all executed and temporarily turned England back to Catholic. I assume that is why Elizabeth had to get all new ones when she finalized the Church of England.


#12

and they wonder why I’m not a royalist! lol

If America ever wanted a monarchy I think we should sell them ours lol… pay off the pensions crisis lol


#13

You’re confusing three different events, if not more:

  1. The loss of union with the see of Rome in 1535
  2. The loss of apostolic succession to the see of Canterbury, when Matthew Parker was ordained Archbishop of Canterbury in 1559 in succession to Cardinal Pole, the 69th successor to Saint Augustine (d. 604)
  3. The final loss of Apostolic succession to the entire English episcopate, when Thomas Goldwell (formerly bishop of St. Asaph) died at Rome in 1585 (It would not have been lost, if Rome had not be so dilatory. :mad:)

There were plenty of priests ordained before 1535 who were alive in 1554, when the country was reconciled to Rome. It was Catholic in principle when Elizabeth I was crowned in (IIRC) 1559; and there had been ordinations in those four years. After the early 1560s, what with the seminaries on the Continent, the supply of priests continued. What could not have been foreseen in 1559, was that when Parliament voted in favour of the Act of Settlement - which returned the country to something resembling its doctrinal position at the death of Henry VIII (in 1547) - the change of religion would be permanent.

The English hierarchy was restored in 1850 - there were English cardinals after the final break, & before 1850, & have been since: so there is no reason why an Englishman can’t be elected Pope. The Queen’s authority is not exercised over Catholics in Church matters; your friend is confusing the authority of the Queen as Governor of the Church of England, with her authority in civil matters over her non-Anglican subjects. Catholics are subject to the latter; not to the former.

The Church of England is reliant on the Crown for its bishops; in practice, this means they are recommended by the Prime Minister of the day, after consultation with the bishops. Otherwise, although the Church of England’s own legislation as resolved on in Synod (which is the C of E’s “Parliament”) has no legal force until approved by the Crown, it is pretty well self-governing. An example - the issue of ordaining women as priests had to be agreed in Synod; then go to Parliament for further debate, & in due course, approval; then it was ratified by the Crown. The CC in England has no part in any of this - just as the Church of Scotland does not. All three bodies have their own structures for their government. The Crown is represented at the opening of the General Assembly of the Kirk of Scotland each year - but leaves the debates to the ministers of the Kirk. If anything, the Crown probably has less to do with the CC in England and Wales, than with the C of E or the Kirk: probably because Catholics are not members of an established Church, unlike Anglicans & Scottish Presbyterians

BTW - don’t confuse England with Britain. Scottish Episcopalians & English Presbyterians are not members of the established Churches in their respective nations either


#14

1. That’s all untrue. Those who had survived from the time when union with Rome was lost in 1535 were employed as judges in the heresy of trials of 1555 to 1558 (the Protestants put to death in those years were tried by the bishops, under a statute of 1401; not by the Inquisition; just so people know).

Just so this is clear - some of the Henrician bishops survived to see the change of religion under Elizabeth I in 1559: & more than made up for their (surely very pardonable) weakness earlier, by standing firm, & being imprisoned for it, & dying in prison. Fantasy is no substitute for facts.

2. As to the Elizabethan Protestant hierarchy: once Matthew Parker had been ordained to the episcopate (he had been a priest since 1527) he & his ordainers (one of them a Catholic bishop of advanced age, the other two ordained as bishops during the break with Rome) ordained others, to replace the imprisoned bishops, & to fill the sees which had fallen vacant & not been filled. Mary I (1553-58) & Cardinal Pole (Archbishop of Canterbury 1554-58) had enormous trouble filling vacant sees, for two reasons in particular:
[LIST]
*]Paul IV (1555-59) hated the Spanish, who were then the masters of Italy - & the Queen’s husband was the King of Spain, Philip II (1527-1555-1598)
*]Paul IV also had a morbid suspicion of Cardinal Pole, because the Cardinal was not as venomously anti-Protestant as some in the Curia; some of the Cardinals wanted to deal with Protestantism by burning it out of Europe, others were more conciliatory and more prepared to listen. Cardinal Carafa (= later Paul IV) may have regarded the irenic approach of Cardinal Pole as too peaceable, & so, by extension, not orthodox. At any rate, he did not trust him to be orthodox - he got on like a house on fire with the future Pius V, who was a most zealous Inquisitor.[/LIST]So although Julius III (1550-55) was quite happy to nominate Cardinal Pole to Canterbury, Paul IV was not prepared to trust the Archbishop - result: several vacant sees - seven, IIRC. If they had been filled, England might still be Catholic. The vote in Elizabeth I’s first Parliament that approved the change of religion from Catholicism passed by three votes - had there been four more bishops present in the House of Lords, it would have failed to pass. That there were not those four bishops (or more), in addition to those who were present, is the fault of a morbidly suspicious Pope. In a sense, Paul IV is responsible for the Church of England. For a passionate hater of heresy like him, that’s a terrible thing to be remembered for.


#15

[quote=Gottle of Geer]So although Julius III (1550-55) was quite happy to nominate Cardinal Pole to Canterbury, Paul IV was not prepared to trust the Archbishop - result: several vacant sees - seven, IIRC. If they had been filled, England might still be Catholic. The vote in Elizabeth I’s first Parliament that approved the change of religion from Catholicism passed by three votes - had there been four more bishops present in the House of Lords, it would have failed to pass. That there were not those four bishops (or more), in addition to those who were present, is the fault of a morbidly suspicious Pope. In a sense, Paul IV is responsible for the Church of England. For a passionate hater of heresy like him, that’s a terrible thing to be remembered for.
[/quote]

Excellent post except for this bit. 16th-century England was not a democracy. If Elizabeth I and her Protestant backers hadn’t “had the numbers” in Parliament, they would simply have arranged the appointment of however many new Protestant lords it took to get their legislation passed. It’s true that the confrontational attitude of certain popes didn’t help (especially the decree puporting to release Englishmen from obedience to Elizabeth), but she and her backers were determined to force protestantism upon England as the compulsory state religion using whatever means they found necessary, and probably nothing any pope could have done would have been able to stop them.


#16

What would happen if a Catholic were Prime Minister and refused to name new bishops?


#17

i don’t know about the legalities but I don’t believe it is within any one parties rights to interfere in the dealings of the state religion here. I’ll check on that.

S


#18

Regardless of the reason, or of the creed of the PM, the Church of England is “the Protestant religion by law established”, which the Queen, like her Protestant predecessors, swore at her Coronation to protect; she has a most serious moral obligation to do this, so bishops would have to be found. If the PM could in conscience not play a part in this, there are several possibilities:

[LIST]
*]1. Not becoming PM - & no politician wanting to be PM is likely to accept the invitation to form a Government without knowing what his duties in ecclesiastical matters are likely to require of him (or her :))
*]2. Resignation
*]3. A Royal Commission (or similar ad hoc body) to relieve the PM of having to be involved. (This one is a semi-educated guess, BTW)[/LIST]The PM is in this exercising a function which properly belongs to the Crown - not acting as a private person, as though enjoying full freedom to carry out only those responsibilities that he did not find objectionable. It would be irresponsible in the extreme for such a person as you describe to accept office in the first place.

It’s so unlikely as not to need to much thought - it’s like wondering what would happen if the Pope were converted to Lutheranism :slight_smile: : not impossible, but a very remote prospect. What is more likely is that the C of E may cease to be established - that would be most undesirable, IMO. But that’s a bridge to be crossed when we come to it - not before. What that would imply for the C of E’s relations with the Crown, is impossible to say at this stage; there are too many unknowns for speculation to be more than that ##


#19

What would happen if a British Monarch converted to Catholicism?

Would the Church of England cease to be the state church?

Would Catholicism become the state church?

God Bless.


#20

i don’t believe they are legally allowed to be monarch if they are catholic… I know they are not allowed to marry anyone that is catholic.

although I don’t know how this interferes with anti-prejudice laws and equality laws. I think the european court of human rights would overturn the rule if a monarch converted. I don’t know if in reality they would simply be sacked for being Catholic as this seems prejudicial. human rights must apply to monarchs too despite how their families keep power lfor themselves lol


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