Henry VIII and the Anglican Church

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Many would be surprised to hear that the Church of England in its early days was more like the Catholic Church than it is today.  Not only did it not have gay ‘wedding’s and ‘ordination’ of women, but the liturgy was still in Latin, the liturgical calendar was the same as the Roman calendar, and priests had to be celibate.  In the earliest days, the Church of England did have valid Sacraments since the Ordinal maintained teaching of the sacrificial nature of the priesthood, transubstantiation and the Real Presence.  Leo XIII mentions that Anglican ordinations became invalid with the Edwardine Ordinal which changed much of the ordinal to exclude the sacrificial nature of the priesthood along with transubstantiation.

The English Church (hence the term Anglican, from the Latin term for “English”) was declared in 1534 to be under Henry VIII’s jurisdiction simply because the pope would not grant him an annulment.  Henry was not interested in doctrinally changing the English Church, nor did he have any interest in abolishing the use of Latin nor clerical celibacy.  In other words the Anglican Church in its early day was in schism, not heresy, much like the Eastern and Oriental Orthodox Churches or the Assyrian Church of the East.

The Oxford Movement in the 19th century, led by later convert Blessed John Henry Newman, sought to revitalize this Anglican tradition (minus the Latin) that King Henry maintained, but was not interested in reconciling with the Holy See, but rather defended its ordinations against Leo XIII’s declaration of them to be null and void.  They believe that the English Church even prior to the English Reformation was not under the direct jurisdiction of the Holy See.  Ironically however the first primate of English, Saint Augustine of Canterbury, was sent by the pope to convert the Anglo-Saxons to Christianity.  So from the very beginning of England’s Christianization clergy took orders from the pope in Rome.

Anglicanism perhaps more than any other Protestant sect is a perfect example of what happens to Catholics who want to keep parts of the faith but not others.  It gradually leads to more heresy, even to the point of using a complete concept of Sacraments.  It witnesses to how cafeteria Catholics may violently react to the Church on matters they disagree with.  Henry himself had many monasteries throughout England sacked and destroyed to finance himself and the lords who sided with him.  This is nothing praiseworthy.  I am interested to hear what about the Reformation is praiseworthy.

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