Friday, May 3, 2013

Foundations of the Anglican Church XIV

The High Altar of Salisbury
We can see that in the two centuries after the Norman conquest papal authority expanded dramatically in the Church of England.  From ancient times the English Church had been autonomous but like other Churches that accepted the seven ecumenical councils was in communion with the Church of Rome.  When I say that the Church of England—or the Church in England—was autonomous I mean it elected its own bishops without Roman appointment, it followed its own liturgical rites (Sarum, York, Hereford, and Lincoln), determined its own disciplines at English synods such as Whitby in 664 and Winchester (1071).   When I say it was in communion with Rome I mean that named the Bishop of Rome in its diptychs and commemorated him in its prayers; it voluntarily sent tribute in the Peter’s Pence, and its archbishops appealed to Rome for their pallia and received it from the Pope as a sign of their communion.  But in the centuries following the Norman conquest, Rome became more and more involved in decision making in the English Church.  Bishops were still elected in England by their cathedral chapters but both kings and popes made it known to the electors whom they wished elected or, at least, whom they would not confirm if elected.  Upon their elections, bishops sent to Rome—along with monetary gifts—petitions requesting papal confirmation of their election before they could be consecrated.  Popes began sending legates to preside over English Church synods or councils.  (Sometimes one or the other English Archbishops would be named legate; sometimes a foreign legate would be sent.  These legates outranked the Archbishops even after they had been named as primates, reminding the English Church that it no longer had ultimate authority in its decision over its own internal affairs as it had in Anglo-Saxon days.)   Sometimes, with permission of the king, foreign prelates were named as absentee bishops of English Sees such as Giovanni de Gigli, Silvestro de Gigli, Guilio di Guiliano Medici, and Girolamo Ghinucci who successively held the See of Worcester from 1497 until 1535.  (One of these, Giulio di Giuliano deMedici would become Clement VII, the pope who refused Henry VIII his annulment from Catherine of Aragon—but that is getting ahead of our story.)    Naming officials of the Roman Curia to English posts—bishoprics, cathedral deaneries and canonries, abbacies etc. permitted Curial officials to draw an English salary with the understanding that they would grease the skids for English interests in the Roman Curia.  Cardinal Adriano Castellesi is another example of a Curial official holding English Sees.  Castellesi held the Sees of Hereford and then Bath and Wells between 1502 and1518. 
The squabbles between Canterbury and York with their frequent appeals to Rome for support to their rival claims and their taking appointment as papal legates to enhance their positions one against the other, all contributed to the Roman Curia getting more direct control over the English Church.  There were various instances when kings—Stephen, Henry II, Richard—forbad appeal to Rome in an attempt to keep papal power from expanding but there were enough appeals that got through to change the relationship of the English Church to the papacy with the papacy getting the upper hand.  However, the battle would continue on, as we shall see with the fallout from the murder of Becket to Magna Carta to the statutes of Praemunire.   

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