Saturday, April 17, 2010

Historical Background to Anglicanorum Coetibus

During a meal at Ushaw there was a conversation about Scotland and the Reformation as we quizzed one of our Scottish brethren about how it differed from that in England. During this conversation when it came to talking about James I and VI, I mentioned the proposal when he was king of England for reunification of the Church of England with the Catholic Church. No-one had heard of this and so I said I`d provide details here.

I am grateful to Mgr Gordon Read`s article in the December 2009 issue of the Canon Law Society Newsletter which in itself drew on an article in the Catholic Herald of 6th November 2009 by Fr Michael Rear.

Mgr Read writes:

Early in his reign James I wrote to Pope Paul V offering to recognize the spiritual supremacy of the Pope and to reunite the Church of England to Rome provided the Pope would disclaim political sovereignty over kings. Paul V took a tough line and condemned the oath of loyalty proposed by James I in the wake of the Gunpowder Plot. Urban VIII took a more conciliatory line: "We know that we may declare Protestants excommunicated as Pius V declared Queen Elizabeth and before him Clement VII the King of England Henry VIII....But with what successs? The whole world can tell. We yet bewail it in terms of blood. Wisdom does not teach us to imitate Pius V or Clement VII". Archbishop Laud of Canterbury mentions in his journal that on the day of his appointment he was offered a Cardinal`s hat.

Urban VIII sent a Benedictine monk, Dom Leander, to report on the state of the English Church.[....]

Leander suggested that the following measures might serve to reconcile the moderate Anglicans:

1. Communion under both kinds

2. Marriage of the Clergy

3. Liturgy in English

4. The admittance of English Protestant clergy to benefices (coming to agree in points of faith) either by conditional re-ordination or by way of `commenda`.

5. Permitting Roman Catholics to take the Oath of Allegiance to the monarch.

Later in the 1630`s Gregorio Panzini was sent to England as the Pope`s agent and negotiated for two years with King Charles I and various other parties.

The Jesuits were among those opposed to the plans! The Civil War put an end to negotiations. Charles II tried to establish religious tolerance and again there was a plan for reunification in 1663 which came to nothing. It would have allowed the king to nominate bishops, and for the Mass to be in Latin with English hymns.

I found all this very interesting in terms of how flexible the Holy See was willing to be to achieve reunification. Let`s hope Anglicanorum Coetibus is more successful than these previous attempts to accommodate an Anglican identity within the Catholic Church.


Em said...

Are Catholics currently permitted to swear an oath of allegiance to the monarch or not?

I would never do it, whether it was permitted or not, just as I will not sing the National Anthem.

Thomas More said...

Of course Catholics are permitted to swear the oath of allegiance. Otherwise there would be no Catholics holding any public offices.

You get some very strange questions on this blog Fr B.

Richard Rainbow said...

Very sad!

1569 Rising said...

A fascinating, and little known aspect of English legal history. The difficulty for Catholics has often rested in the linking of an Oath of Allegiance to acceptance of the Supremacy of the Monarch over the Church in England. For obvious reasons, Catholics could never accept such a position, especially since the Oath always included a clause denying any jurisdiction by the Pope over English ecclesiastical affairs.

The position of James 1 & V1 is especially interesting. He was a Protestant, but the son of Mary Queen of Scots. He came to the throne of England with the intention of mending the religious divide in his new realm, and Catholics were greatly encouraged by his apparent willingness to accommodate them within the State.

Very quickly, hope turned to despair when it became obvious that James had no intention of offending the Established Church (of which he was Head), and the talk of toleration was just talk.

The resulting Gunpowder Plot of 1605 was followed by the "Popish Recusants Act" of the same year, which included an Oath of Allegiance. Briefly, the Act forebade Catholics from practising law or medicine, and from acting as guardian or trustee of estates. It allowed magistrates to search their properties for arms. The Oath denied any jurisdiction of the Pope in England, and made it High Treason to obey the authority of Rome rather than the King. The recusant was to be fined £60 or to forfeit two-thirds of his land if he did not receive communion at least once a year in his Anglican parish church.

Subsequent Oaths, under Charles 1 & 11, William of Orange, Queen Ann, and the subsequent Hanoverian Georges all included clauses which were unacceptable to Catholics.

The current Oath, administered to certain civle and militaro office holders seems relatively inoffensive -

" swear that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth, her heirs and successors according to law. So Help me God."

I much prefer the Jacobite toasts - "To the king over the water", and to "the little ghentleman in black velvet".

BJR said...

What awful people must read this blog.

I always enjoy singing the, rarely heard, seventh verse of the Anthem:

From France and Pretender
Great Britain defend her
Foes let them fall!
From foreign slavery
Priests and their knavery
And popish reverie
God save us all!

If people don't want to be loyal to their country no one is stopping them moving to the Vatican.

Fr Michael Brown said...

BJR do you maybe think it is rarely heard because it is offensive to Catholics who are loyal citizens? As Thomas More has pointed out there is no conflict of conscience for Catholics today in taking the oath of allegiance to the queen as they do not have to acknowledge her as head of the Church in England.

I assume you are not a Catholic.

Antonio said...

1. Communion under both kinds

3. Liturgy in English

Ah, if they were born a couple hundred of years later. They would have got what they wanted at the Council!

1569 Rising said...

Methinks BJR is having us on. I hope he is, because I worry about anyone who knows that 7th(?) verse of the Hanoverian Anthem. I spent the best part of an hour last night on the web looking for it, with no success.

Seriously, from 1539 (the Accession of Elizabeth) until 1829 and the passing of the Catholic Relief Act, far from Catholics being disloyal, the various Penal Laws disbarred Catholics from acting as loyal subjects. I can see no reason at all why Catholics had any reason whatever to owe any loyalty at all to a State that obviously hated them.

Let's drink to the little gentleman in black velvet!

Em said...

And still hates them.

Fr PF said...

Did no one ask Father Stephen Dunn, parish priest of loyal Bridgeton, to sing the verse of the national anthem that refers to those Scots who drink to the little man in the black velvet coat?

Lord, grant that Marshal Wade,
May by thy mighty aid,
Victory bring.
May he sedition hush,
and like a torrent rush,
Rebellious Scots to crush,
God save the King.

Fr Michael Brown said...

No. Why would anyone want to sing yet another obsolete verse of the National Anthem? How many more of these are there? Does it include verses which are rude to the people of Yorkshire for fighting the Lancastrian usurpers to the throne? How about something hurled at Saxons for daring to follow King Harold?

BJR said...

Well here is another one:

From every latent foe,
From the assassins blow,
God save the Queen!
O'er her Thine arm extend,
For Britain's sake defend,
Our mother, prince, and friend,
God save the Queen!

At the end of the day it is not about being rude to the people of Yorkshire or anywhere else. It is simply a question of loyalty to one's country. If some RCs cannot do that they are no better than certain IRA or Moslem terrorists. British subjects loyalty is to HM The Queen before any other.

Fr Michael Brown said...

BJR that sounds like a recipe for totalitarianism. Do you allow no room for conscience? `The king`s good servant but God`s first` sums up the Catholic position. It worked for 1,000 years or more in England.

Canny Lad said...

Living as we do in the present and leaving behind the unchangeable past is it not time we resumed the practice of saying after Mass the Prayer for the Queen which used to be said on Sundays after the ptincipal Mass of the day? Like it or not (I happen to like it) she is our Head of State and, I suggest, a rather better head than some of the alternatives (politicians who were past their best come to mind) who might have been foisted on us.

1569 Rising said...

Canny Lad...
Will this make you feel nostalgic;
"Domine, salvum fac Reginam nostram Elizabeth.
Et exaudi nos in die, qua invocaverimus te"
It goes on, (in English)
"We beseech thee, O Almighty God, that Thy servant Elizabeth, our Queen, who by Thy mercy hath assumed the government of the kingdom, may likewise receive an increase of every strength, whereby becomingly endowed, she may be able to avoid the evils of vices and with her royal consort and children in all grace attain to Thee Who art the way, the truth and the life. Through Christ our Pord. Amen."

Fr PF... I suppose we in this part of the Kingdom can be grateful to Marshall Wade for his construction of the Military Road in 1745, although he did build part of it over the Roman Wall, using Hadrian's stones. It was a pity that his thuggish troops set fire to the Catholic chapel in Gateshead on his way north.

Please allow us Jacobites a little indulgence. I am as loyal as the next Tory (in the historical sense) to the Crown, but it is indisputable that the claims of the House of Hanover to the British Crown is deeply flawed, based as it is simply on the determination of the Whigs in 1688 to overthrow the lawful and crowned James 11 solely on the grounds of his Catholicism. The present ban on the Monarch, or the heir to the throne either being a Catholic, or even being married to one, stems from the illegal usurpation of the throne by William of Orange in 1690.
I still think it ironic that the horse that threw King Billy after it stumbled on the molehill cast up by the little gentleman in black velvet was a horse from James' royal stables.
Let's drink to the King Over The Water.

michael said...

Thanks be to God I am a Jarra Republican! Give me Glorious St Bede anytime!


(Jarra Lad)

Fr Michael Brown said...

Does the SSPX have a view on republicanism?

1569 Rising said...

Probably not officially, but Bishop Williamson probably does - he's got one on everything else.

Richard S Rainbow said...

It has a view, not entirely unbiased, on everything!

Mike said...

1569 Rising
Elizabeth did not become Queen until 1558. In 1539 Henry VIII still had another 8 years to go.
(By the way, congratulations for not putting a number after the name Elizabeth since, as there was only ever one Queen Elizabeth of England, a “1” is superfluous. No one says Victoria I. 1569 Rising
Elizabeth did not become Queen until 1558. In 1539 Henry VIII still had another 8 years to go.
(By the way, congratulations for not putting a number after the name Elizabeth since, as there was only ever one Queen Elizabeth of England, a “1” is superfluous. No one says Victoria I. In 1952 there was a lot of controversy in Scotland about the adoption of the title Elizabeth II. Look for further trouble if a certain William assumes the title William V.)

Be careful about “loyal Bridgeton”. When you come out of Bridgeton railway station (about 5 minutes from Sacred Heart) you are confronted by a building on the other side of the road which is used by the Orange Order and not far away there is a rather tatty building also used by the Lodge. I pass it most Sundays but only ever see it being used when the Orange Order (or whatever they are) assemble for their parade. On several Sundays we have been entertained at Sacred Heart to the sound of the pipes and drums while attending Mass. One Sunday, Rangers were playing at Celtic Park (almost within eyesight of Sacred Heart). A pub nearby Bridgeton railway station was festooned with union flags.
By the way, Sacred Heart is a lovely church. You can see it at

On the question of “rebellious Scots” you have to remember that the context was that some Scots were rebellious and some (probably the majority) were loyal so the verse does not imply that all Scots are rebellious but it is referring to those Scots who were rebellious. Most Scots were Presbyterian and only too glad of Cumberland’s victory at Culloden.

For those who wish to learn more about the Reformation in Scotland you can look up:
It is written by a Catholic although nearly 100 years ago so views might have changed since then.

1569 Rising said...


I know this might seem like a lame excuse, but my 1539 date for Elizabeth's accession was actually a typo. I do know the correct date. Thank you for the correction.

On the point of the 1 or 2 bit of the present Queen's title - since I am writing this in England, on an English blog, then Elzabeth 11 is correct for her majesty. What she is called in Scotland is up to the officials at Holyrood. The same would go for William V.
Does this make sense?

I must confess to a liking for Orange Bands. The combination of the Lambeg drums, flutes, bagpipes and accordians can be quite entertaining. Can I recommend the Donegal Pass Defenders Band from Belfast, their "Sash" has to be heard to be believed.

michael said...

Dear Fr Brown,
As I am not a member of the Society of St Pius X, just an ordinary Roman Catholic Layman I do not presume nor can I answer for their Bishops, Priests and Religious! However, why do you bring the SSPX into the argument? Methinks , once again I detect a hint that you being little disparaging too! Therefore, I speak only on my own volition and conscience: the sooner we get rid of the Protestant Ascendancy and the Monarchic Anarchism the better! Lets have the Kingship of Jesus Christ. Maybe the words of St Paul are apt 'Tradidi vobis quad et accepi' (I have delivered unto you that which I have received)


(Jarra Lad)

Fr Michael Brown said...

Dear Michael,

I`m not being disparaging. I mentioned it because I know you are very involved with the SSPX, as MC at Gateshead I believe, and just wondered how your views might fit in with that of other SSPX followers.

michael said...

Dear Fr Brown,
I am most interested that you seem to know of my involvement with SSPX! Do I detect that we maybe have a LITTLE MOLE in our midst? However, I still think that you are being a wee bit disparaging!

God Bless,

(Jarra Lad)

Fr Michael Brown said...

Michael, You don`t need to look for a mole: being MC is a very public role!
Where is the disparagement? Of course I`d rather you went to a Mass which is licit but I wouldn`t call that being disparaging.

Richard S Rainbow said...

Michael (Jarra Lad) suggests that ‘”the sooner we get rid of the Protestant Ascendancy and the Monarchic Anarchism the better!” Can he explain exactly how it would be better? Or is he simply being rather silly? (I think I have the answer!)

1569 Rising said...

Michael (Jarra Lad) -

Surely Monarchy and Anarchy are two completely opposite concepts. Anarchy historically resulted from the collapse of Monarchy.

The little mole that you accuse Fr B. of consorting with, is he the same fellow who killed King Billy?

God Bless.

michael said...

Dear Fr Brown,
This is for the infalliable and impectable Mr Richard Rainbow, should I try again with my fallible and peccable grammar and spelling (Monarchic Anachronism) "Off with their Heads" Could it be that I just being a wee bit silly now?

God Bless them ALL
(jarra Lad)

Richard S Rainbow said...

Sadly, the answer has to be yes. And you have made no attempt to answer my question!

Kenneth said...

The little mole that you accuse Fr B. of consorting with, is he the same fellow who killed King Billy?

I think I must be the mole michael is talking about as he calls me an LMS spy.
Let me assure him that I am neither a spy nor mole, just a devout catholic who will help ANY catholic priest to say the traditional Latin Mass

Fr Michael Brown said...

Ken, don`t worry I know a number of people who attend the Lefebvrist church in Gateshead!

Richard S Rainbow said...

Talking of the King over the Water, as 1569 oft seems to do, I understand that there is to be Mass in the Traditional Form at the Jacobite stronghold of Dilston on 22nd July at 6.15 p.m. Can anyone confirm this? (I can't discover which branch of the Jacobites are running things at present.)Mya we assume that Jarra Lad will not be there?