Monday, 26 September 2022
The Queen's Great Matter?
The cause of the canonisation of Henry VI would appear to have remained open. And Elizabeth II will be added to the liturgical calendar of the Church of England in short order, the only Supreme Governor other than Charles I to have attained that distinction.
Thus will be canonised everything that had received Royal Assent between 1952 and 2022. Well, of course. Simply being the law of England, on anything, makes something the doctrine of the Church of England at the given time, "the Protestant Reformed Religion established by law", which in turns makes it, in terms of the Coronation Oath, "the Laws of God and the true profession of the Gospel."
The theological repugnance of this has always been the standard Protestant position. Martin Luther and William Tyndale supported Catherine of Aragon. Again, of course they did. The hardcore Protestant supporters of Lady Jane Grey wanted to write Elizabeth as well as Mary out of the Succession, since while Mary was a Catholic, it was Elizabeth who was a bastard.
From the 1660s at the latest, there have always been at least as many English Protestants outside the Church of England as in it. Successive Protestant consorts maintained private chapels, staffed from back home, rather than join the Church of England. Protestant state churches abroad have always been a bit wary of it. And so on. Whatever else may be said of it, it springs from a tainted source.
As everyone has always known. However badly Peter Hitchens may want the Ladybird Guides of his childhood to have been the last word, they simply are not. Nor were they then, when the facts of Henry VIII's first divorce were universally taught and known, as they always have been. The conduct of the Church of England in relation to the present King's present marriage and in relation to his second son's only marriage makes it perfectly clear that it knows exactly what it is and what it is for. Everyone always has.
For the benefit of a member of the Royal Family, there will be a same-sex Royal Wedding conducted by an Archbishop of Canterbury within 10 years, and no one will bat an eyelid. As the law of England, same-sex marriage is already the doctrine of the Church of England at the given time, "the Protestant Reformed Religion established by law", which in turns makes it, in terms of the Coronation Oath, "the Laws of God and the true profession of the Gospel."
As with, for example, the Abortion Act 1967, or the Divorce Reform Act 1969, or the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 1990, or the Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Act 2020, any doubt about that will be dispelled definitively when the name of Elizabeth II was added to the Church of England's liturgical calendar.