Cleansing Fire

Defending Truth and Tradition in the Roman Catholic Church

The Tudor Truth and Protestant Perpetrations Part II

November 5th, 2009, Promulgated by Gen

Last time we spoke of the Tudor Truth and Protestant Perpetrations, I noted that we would begin next time with “battle lines being drawn.” Well, no better way to do this than to show that the current debate about Canon Law and Lay Involvement (which shouldn’t be a debate because Rome has spoken) was just as wide-spread in the 16th Century as it is now. Note that back then, this resulted in murder, intrigue small-scale genocide and a general loathing of anything Traditional.

Lay Supremacy:
Reform of the canon law of England from Henry VIII to
Elizabeth I (1529-1571)

Lay Supremacy
From the very outset the reform of the canon law was driven first and foremost
by the constitutional necessity inherent in Henry VIH s claim to the
title of headship in relation to the Church of England. In the preface to his
edition of the Reformatio, John Foxe briefly recounts the tortuous history of
efforts to constitute the Royal Commission which eventually drafted the text
of the revised code presented to Parliament by Thomas Cranmer in 1553.
The earliest suggestion for such a committee originated with the clergy in
Convocation more than twenty years earlier in the midst of political manoeuvres
surrounding Henry’s quest for a divorce from Queen Catherine?
“the King’s great matter.” In 1529 the first in a series of statutes was passed
by Parliament denouncing papal authority as a usurpation of the traditional
jurisdiction of the English ecclesiastical courts, and reasserting the doctrine
of the late-fourteenth century Statutes of Praemunire.” Clearly recognizing
the anti-papal writing on the wall, the clergy in Convocation initiated a preemptive
attempt at a systematic overhaul of the canon law four years before
the break with Rome was formally sealed.’ The canon law together with
its complex apparatus of courts, procedures, and precedents was so closely
bound up with papal authority that the flexing of royal claims to supreme
ecclesiastical jurisdiction provided an irresistible impetus to constitutional
and legal reform.

On 28 April 1532, in the Answer of the Ordinaries,’ the English hierarchy
defended for the last time their constitutional status to conduct their affairs
independently of the civil power. A fortnight later on 16 May, the bishops
voted a formal Act of Submission’ which they presented to Henry. In their
submission they promised not to make or promulgate any new ecclesiasticallaws without the license and assent ofthe Sovereign, thus eflFectively abjuring
the papal supremacy. The bishops also offered the entire corpus of the canon
law for royal evaluation by a committee of Parliament. The ‘Act of Submission
ofthe Clergy’ contains the first reference to a Commission of thirty-two
members charged with the reform of the canon law of England, although
twenty years were to elapse before concrete action was taken to this end (note: the letter “r” often appears as “t”):
So that finally whichsoever ofthe said constitutions, ordinances ot canons ptovincial ot synodal shall be thought and detetmined by yout grace, and by the most patt ofthe said thitty-two persons, not to stand with God’s laws, and the laws ofthe tealm, the same to be abtogated and taken away by yout gtace, and the cletgy. And such of them as shall be seen by yout gtace, and by the most patt of the said thitty-two persons to stand with God’s laws, and the laws of yout tealm, to stand in full strength and powet, yout grace’s most toyal assent and authority once obtained fully given to the same.”

In rapid succession Archbishop Warham died (August 1532); Cranmer
was appointed his successor to the see of Canterbury; Henry married Anne
Boleyn (25 January 1533); Henry’s marriage to Catherine of Aragon was pronounced
invalid (23 May 1533); Anne was crowned Queen (1 June 1533);
and Henry was excommunicated by Clement VII on 11 July 1533.”’ The
thread of hierarchy which linked England through the papacy to the sacramentally
interconnected framework of Christendom was cut. Confirming
the new constitutional reality of royal ecclesiastical supremacy, the ‘Act in
Restraint of Appeals’ passed by Parliament in 1533 declares England to be an
’empire,’ Henry’s crown ‘imperial,’ and dissolves all juridical ties to the see of
Rome on the ground that the English Church is ‘sufficient and meet of itself,
without the intermeddling of any exterior person or persons.”



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