Tuesday, June 25, 2013

True and False Religion

Model of the Second Temple, Israel Museum,
I was struck reading Morning Prayer today by the words of Azariah in the Canticle from the Book of Daniel. 

For we are reduced, O Lord, beyond any other nation,
brought low everywhere in the world this day
because of our sins.

We have in our day no prince, prophet, or leader,
no holocaust, sacrifice, oblation, or incense,
no place to offer first fruits, to find favor with you.

But with contrite heart and humble spirit
let us be received;
as though it were holocausts of rams and bullocks,
or thousands of fat lambs,
so let our sacrifice be in your presence today
as we follow you unreservedly;
for those who trust in you cannot be put to shame.

And now we follow you with our whole heart,
we fear you and we pray to you.
The context is, of course, the time of the Babylonian Exile.  In the all-but- abandoned City of Jerusalem, the Temple of the Lord sat in ruins.  There was no sacrifice, no evening offering of incense.  Indeed the Cult had come to a halt—how was God to be served when no sacrifices could be offered?  And the lament of Azariah over this tragedy led to the great breakthrough in our Jewish/Christian tradition.  “Let us be received with contrite heart and humbled spirit”—this is the true sacrifice.  What use does God have for bulls and goats—and should he want them, the hills are covered with them and they are his for the taking (cf psalm 50: 8-13). The time of the Exile was a “Dark Night of the Soul” for Israel where they were taught by God what he truly wants: releasing those bound unjustly, untying the thongs of the yoke; setting free the oppressed, breaking off every yoke.  (Isaiah 58:6) 
I bring this up because of an article I read yesterday about aggressive plans being made by certain factions tied to the Netanyahu Government to seize the Temple Mount in Jerusalem in order to build a “Third Temple. (The first was the Temple of Solomon; the Second Temple was the Temple that stood in Jesus’ day.)  There is a strong desire in certain factions of moderate Orthodox Judaism to rebuild the Temple and restore the Cult.  The Ultra-Orthodox say that the Temple cannot be rebuilt and the sacrifices reinstituted until the Messiah comes and sorts things out. The Conservative and Reform branches of Judaism do not seem to have much interest in restoring the sacrificial rituals.   But that is not what I am writing about—nor, for that matter, is the rebuilding of the Temple and the restoring of the Cult.  Though I do want to bring up the issue, before I move on to my main point, of how can people be anxious to restore Cultic Worship when, at the same time, they see themselves as having a right to seize farms and groves and houses from the Palestinian people who have lived on this land since the time before Joshua brought the Children of Israel into the Land of Canaan approximately thirteen centuries before Christ? Though, again this being a history blog, it would be more accurate to speak of a series of migrations from the fifteenth through the twelfth centuries Before the Common Era (1499-1100 BC) than a single “Exodus.”  What is the point of building a Temple or sacrificing bulls and goats if one does not honor the commandments of God?  That was the message of the prophets as distinguished from the priests who supported the Cult qua Cult.  Jesus, of course—at least from the Christian understanding—reinforced this prophetic tradition that what God wants is mercy, not sacrifice (cf Matthew 9:13). 
Now let’s bring this over to issues that face us as Catholics today.  We too have people for whom everything is the Cult and for whom the greater commands mean little or even nothing.  They worry about issues such as using glass chalices or home-made breads for the Eucharist but want illegal immigrants rounded up and “shipped home.”  They want to deny those whom they deem unworthy Holy Communion but they support economic policies that leave the poor without access to health care or a chance for higher education.  They want to bend the knee to receive Christ in Eucharist while kneeling but they don’t bend their hearts to Christ in the least of his brothers and sisters. The women veil their heads but their hearts remain hardened and stiff.  The men put pro-life bumper stickers defending the unborn alongside NRA stickers and don’t see the contradiction.  The children are shielded not only from sex-education but from meeting their peers who are Black or Hispanic or Asian.  They want Mass in a language few if any understand because, “God-forbid we understand the Word of the Lord: we may have to change our attitudes.”   It is all magical mystical mumbo-jumbo that gives them a sense of otherworldliness when what Christ calls us to is change—deep, personal, change-of-heart change—in this world and in this life.  One might belong to the True Church but still have false religion. 

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Blessed Are the Peacemakers; Where Are the Peacemakers?

Recently Argentine President Christina Kirchner asked Pope Francis to mediate Argentina’s dispute with Great Britain over an archipelago which the Argentines, who claim sovereignty, call the Malvinas Islands and which Britain, which holds sovereignty, calls the Falklands.  The Islands, about three hundred miles off the coast of Argentina, have been in dispute since the eighteenth century when both Britain and Spain had settlements there.  The islands were unsettled at the time the Europeans first reached them and the majority of inhabitants there today are of British descent.  In 1982 the Argentines invaded the islands in hopes of establishing their sovereignty but were beaten in the subsequent war by the British.  Argentina is once again rumbling the drums of nationalism and this led to the invitation to the Pope to mediate the struggle.  For years now the Decolonizaiton Committee of the United Nations has called for a mediated settlement—but should it be the Pope?  Britain does not think so. 
Britain declined papal mediation with politicians claiming in the words of one Falklands legislator: “the last thing we need is religion inserted in this.”  Britain’s UN ambassador, Mark Lyall Grant, said: “I certainly share the view that religion is unlikely to help solve this.”  Once again the zanies took up their cry about how the Church is being disrespected.  But it is obvious to all but the most dense that Pope Francis is not the man to mediate this dispute, but not because he is Pope or represents “religion.”  He is an Argentine.  He has a vested interest.  He comes from a background that is bound to bias him.  And it puts him in a no-win situation: he is bound to alienate either the Argentines or the Brits.  It is just a stupid idea.  But even more stupid are people like Ambassador Grant or local councilman who thinks religion is the last thing needed to resolve these counter-claims.  Religious leaders—ones who could be truly uninvested in the dispute—would be perfect.  Perhaps Archbishop TuTu from South Africa would be good at this.  The Lutheran Archbishop of Uppsala or Cardinal Shönborn of Vienna are two others who have the potential to be good mediators.  There could also be Riccardo di Segni, the Chief Rabbi of Rome.  Or, if you wanted the best, the Dalai Lama—no one has more credibility (except in China) than he.  I think religion could play a very valuable role here.  But, of course, there are others like Ambassador Grant, who write religion off.  And not without reason.  For all its potential to be an agency of peace, religion—including Christianity and including Catholicism—all too often are, if not the source of conflict, the gasoline its partisans pour on the flames that only make conflicts worse rather than better.  We need both as Church and as individuals to recapture our vocation to be peacemakers, agents of reconciliation and not division. 

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Of Wendy Wagner, Barack Obama, and Paula Deen

St Patrick's Church of Irleand (Anglican)
Cathedral, Dublin
I am anxious to get back to the issue of Anglican history but history happens faster than one can chronicle it and there are several items in the past week that I want to address before we go back to what I think will be the most fascinating chapter of Anglican history—the separation of the Church of England from the Roman Communion.  As we have seen the Church of England does not begin with Henry VIII but is an ancient institution going back to the Roman occupation of Britain, perhaps as early as the end of the first century in the common era.  And we have seen that the term “Anglican Church”—Ecclesia Anglicana in Latin—was used for at least three centuries before  Henry VIII ascended the throne.  But I digress.  I want to bring up the fabled bugaboo of the wing-nuts, the right wing wing nuts that is, President Obama.  The crazies are after him for “decrying” Catholic Schools in Ireland and calling for them to be abolished.  Of course, this has nothing to do with the facts, but then the crazies don’t need facts when they have opinions.  Just ask Wendy Wagner of Leesburg Virginia who says that she doesn’t hesitate to tell people how they need to think.  Ah yes—“don’t think for yourself—we’ll do your thinking for you.”  Whether is a dyspeptic matron from Loudon County or a corpulent Cardinal from Rome, no thank you.  God gave me a brain and I will think for myself.  It is I who will stand before the Judge of the Universe some day and be quizzed on my record; it is I who must make the decisions since it will be I who bear the responsibility.  But I digress.
When the President spoke in Belfast last Sunday, June 17th, he said:

“There are still wounds [in Northern Ireland] that haven’t healed, and communities where tensions and mistrust hangs in the air.” … “If towns remain divided – if Catholics have their schools and buildings, and Protestants have theirs – if we can’t see ourselves in one another, if fear or resentment are allowed to harden, that encourages division. It discourages cooperation.”

Northern Ireland has come a long way since President Clinton mediated the “Good Friday Peace Accords” of 1998.  Sectarian violence has receded and Catholics have been given a more proportionate share in the economy as well as government and social services.  But prejudice, anger, and hatred still simmer below the surface.  And the separate schools do not help but provide reinforcement for the stereotypes and intolerance that still run through Northern Ireland society. 

You will notice that the President challenged not Catholic Schools but sectarian schools—Catholic or Protestant—in Northern Ireland.  Don’t compare the situation in Ireland—North or South—to the American experience of Catholic Education.  The Republic of Ireland, which does not include the six counties of “Northern Ireland,” has an excellent system of public schools.  It does not have “parish schools” as we have had in the United States and what Catholic Schools there are, are what we would call “private schools”—rather upper crust and select—and inclusive of students from a variety of religious backgrounds.  Unlike American public schools, there is room for religion in the public school curriculum.  The vast majority of citizens in the Republic are Catholic.  Until the recent scandals the vast majority were devout Catholics.  But the Catholic Priest, Church of Ireland (Anglican) Minister, Methodist and Presbyterian Parson all have access to the school where their congregants study to teach religion to their respective students.  Such public schools put Catholic and Protestant youth on the same teams rather than pitting them against one another.  Friendships are formed across denominational lines.   And the political, social, and economic tensions that continue to divide the Catholic and Protectant communities in the North have long vanished in the South. 
It is a bit of a canard to go after President Obama for “attacking” Catholic Education when he did nothing of the kind.  But then the voices raised against him are the same voices that decry his administration’s lead on health care , immigration reform,  same-sex marriage,  and other contemporary issues. And the dissatisfaction with these policies more often than not is, like this flap over Northern Ireland, based on faulty facts and distorted simplifications.  It becomes obvious over a period of time that the problem is not the issues, but the man.  And what is there about the man that excites such anger?  Hmmm.  The answer is too obvious to name, is it not, Paula Deen?

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Gay Lobby in the Vatican? Ya Think?

Does this make
me look gay?
So Pope Francis says there is a “gay lobby” in the Vatican?  All due respect to the Holy Father, but there has been a gay lobby in the Vatican so long that it might actually qualify as “Apostolic Tradition.”  Peter Damian complained of it in the eleventh century and it was nothing new then.  
And we have had our share of gay popes.  Pope Paul II Barbo (reigned 1464-1471)—the Pope who built the fabulous Palazzo Venezia in Rome—died while being sodomized by a page.  Sixtus IV dellaRovere, (1471-1484) the Pope who built the Sistine Chapel, was openly homosexual during his pontificate and his nephew, Julius II dellaRovere, (1503-`1513) the pope who hired Michelangelo to fresco the Chapel ceiling, was a bisexual who allegedly rewarded one male lover with an archbishopric. Leo X Medici (1513-1521) was also said to be a practicing homosexual.  Julius III Ciocchi del Monte (1550-1555) made his lover,  a beggar youth of fourteen, a boy of great beauty and little intelligence, a Cardinal, and eventually Secretary of State, to the scandal of Church reformers such as Reginald Pole and Giovanni Carafa (later Paul IV).  To be fair, most popes of this period were, or had been before their election, sexually active; these few just preferred the company of gentlemen in their beds to those of the ladies.  There have been some rumors about more recent popes but at this point they are only rumors and not accepted as historically reliable stories. 
Not so for members of the Roman Curia or the Sacred College.  Among the American Cardinals it seems that Cardinal O’Connell of Boston (Archbishop 1907-1944) was blackmailed by his nephew, Monsignor James P. O’Connell, to keep secret a sexual relationship the Cardinal had with a judge.  There are some particularly salacious stories about O’Connell’s Roman Patron, the English/Spanish Cardinal Rafael Merry Del Val who served as Secretary of State (and almost vice-pope) to Pope Saint Pius X.  Upon the election of Pius’ Successor, the prudish Benedict XV, Merry del Val’s was pushed to the margins and his influence never again the same as it had been.  Stories alleging the death of George, Cardinal Mundelein (Archbishop of Chicago 1915-1939) was related to a homosexual love triangle have long circulated but what gives them credibility is that among those who told the gossip was the eminent Catholic Church historian, Monsignor John Tracy Ellis, himself a priest of Mundelein’s Archdiocese of Chicago.  And of course the stories about the homosexual double life of Cardinal Francis Spellman (Archbishop of New York 1939-1967) are widely accepted as factual.  Some stories even have ties between Spellman and the double life of long time FBI director, J.Edgar Hoover.  If the Spellman stories are true, and I think there is sufficient evidence to warrant their credibility, Spellman had to have protectors and allies not only in the Church but in law enforcement.    
As for the current scene in Rome, having lived there off and on over the last twenty-five  years and being a frequent visitor to the city, the gossip about prelates and priests with same-sex orientation abounds at every dinner party, every religious house, every seminary, every coffee bar.  The “Gay Bars” of Rome thrive with clerical customers.  Some prelates make little or no attempt to hide their homosexuality with their handsome young priests or seminarians trailing behind them whether to a Papal Mass at Saint Peter’s or embassy receptions.  Other prelates and priests live in fear of being betrayed or discovered but still have their liaisons with Swiss guards or young monks or petitioners who have come to Rome seeking some favor or dispensation.  Every so often the newspapers report a priest or monsignor being picked up by the police at the Termini (the train station) or the Pincio for soliciting sex and it never seems to be from a woman—though sometimes it is from one of Rome’s famous transvestite prostitutes.
So is there a “gay lobby” at the Vatican.  No doubt.  No surprise.  What this experience should teach the Church is that there is a need to rethink its theology of human sexuality from the foundations up.  Not only the mystery of sin and grace that is revealed to priests hearing confession should call for a re-estimation of sexual moral theology, but the lived experience of the clergy themselves should make them evaluate the true nature of human sexuality, whether “gay” or “straight.”   I am not saying that  that there should be a carte blanche for irresponsible sexual behavior but it does mean that we should know from our own experiences of grace that the magisterium’s current moral definitions are far more narrow than the parameters in which God works.    

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Is Francis Backing the Vatican Off the LCWR?

Everyone is somewhat abuzz over Pope Francis’ admission last week in a talk to the Conference of Latin American Religious (CLARR) that there is “gay lobby” among Vatican officials.  DUH! Yah think so, Paul Revere?  But there is something else that needs attention in his remarks.   
 They will make mistakes, they will make a blunder [meter la pata], this will pass! Perhaps even a letter of the Congregation for the Doctrine (of the Faith) will arrive for you, telling you that you said such or such thing... But do not worry. Explain whatever you have to explain, but move forward... Open the doors, do something there where life calls for it. I would rather have a Church that makes mistakes for doing something than one that gets sick for being closed up...
Perhaps even a letter of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith will arrive for you….but do not worry….move forward….do something there where life calls for it. 
Now in the days before Francis the Gamechanger, this would be popespeak to tell the American ladies of LCWR not to sweat their run with the Congregation for the Doctrine of the faith.  I am not sure that it isn’t still Popespeak; it is just that Francis is, as I have said, a gamechanger and has often spoken far more bluntly than his predecessors.  You know, bluntly like Jesus in the Gospels rather than with hidden messages like the Scribes and the Pharisees.  Nevertheless, I think this is a hopeful sign to the good Sisters and a flag to Archbishop Müller to ratchet down the witchhunt.  Frankly I am not surprised, Francis, as a religious himself—and one from a once persecuted Society—and as a Latin American, is not as threatened by women who not only can think but are articulate.  Let’s hope this is the dawn of a new day where the intellectual ice-jam introduced by John Paul II and maintained by Pope Benedict sees the spring thaw of which Vatican II was the harbinger.  Like Francis, I too, “I would rather have a Church that makes mistakes for doing something than one that gets sick for being closed up...”

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Of Scouts and Shepherds

Scouts of Saint George: Catholic Alternative
to the Boy Scouts of America
Well the craziness about gay Boy Scouts seems to be dying down except among the usual nut-cases.  Our friends over at Kitchen Table Chats with a Catholic Matriarch, Les Femmes, The Tenth Crusade, Dymphna’s Road, Kresta in the Afternoon,  Restore DC Catholicism, and other lunatics-on-the-loose are beating the drums for troops to be expelled from Catholic parishes and a few clerical crazies are busy ridding their parishes of this Sodom and Gomorrah organization.  The Reverend Derek Lappe of Bremerton Washington (Seattle Archdiocese), The Reverend Brian Grady of Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton in Chicago (Archdiocese of Chicago), and the Reverend John De Celles of Saint Raymond of Penafort in Springfiled VA (Diocese of Arlington), have all expelled troops from their parishes.  Anne Hendershotte,  professor of Sociology at the Franciscan University of Steubenville, in a particularly bigoted article published in the Washington Times, endorsed these actions as well as the decision by the Reverend Richard Perozich of Saint Mary’s in Escondido not to permit any child or adult of same-sex orientation to be part of his parish.  I presume there are others and others yet to come, but frankly I am surprised there has not been more of a negative reaction despite the endorsement of conservative Canon Lawyer, Edward Peters that the Scout policy does not require Catholic parishes to terminate their relationship with local troops.  One priest, the Reverend George David Byers, bravely proclaimed on his blog that he would refuse communion to anyone coming to the altar in a scout uniform.   However the posting quickly came down, allegedly on order from diocesan officials who informed the priest that he wouldn’t be giving communion to anyone if that were the case. 
My favorite response comes from—as it so often does—from la femme herself,  the resolute Mary Ann Kreitzer, of the Les Femmes website.  As ever running in where angels fear to tread, the Wacko of Woodstock was among the first voices calling on the clergy to expel the scouts.  Even in her ultra-conservative diocese however, the influence she once exercised over the wing-nut clergy that abound in that stronghold of theological quackery has waned and other than for the aforementioned Father De Celles. It doesn’t seem that the priests are any longer dancing to her tune.  But what really gave me a chuckle was her endorsement of a counter-BSA organization being started by ex-Episcopalian priest, Taylor Marshall—the Scouts of Saint George.  Dr. Marshall, like so many others on this bandwagon,  marches to the tune of a drummer few others can hear, but I am sure he is going to give his best efforts to this new scouting venture and, as an Eagle Scout himself, he undoubtedly gets the Baden-Powell ethos at the heart of scouting.  Ms. Kreitzer, on the other hand, does not: in her gushing enthusiasm for life in a parallel universe she blogged

They've already tentatively picked a logo and a uniform shirt. They are busy working on a manual and they have nearly two thousand folks involved with the group including over 200 Eagle Scouts. But what I liked best reading about the vision was this lovely paragraph:
Please keep praying for the Scouts of Saint George. Just keep imagining the sight of forty boys sitting around the campfire praying the Rosary and singing Marian hymns. We will build this with God's grace.

Even with 200 Eagles to help, it will be hard enough to build from scratch a new scouting program without access to key scouting resources such as Philmont and Sea Base, but I doubt the chance to sit around a campfire and say the rosary and sing Marian hymns is going to be a huge draw.  What Ms. Kreitzer and her pack can’t seem to realize is that the days of Bing Crosby Catholicism are over and they ain’t coming back.   I could be wrong, but I don’t think Father Chuck O’Malley would be tolling the bells of Saint Mary’s on the local scout troop.  Perhaps the best remark comes from one Father Chris Markel whom I heard on the radio—“these boys—gay or straight, black or white, Catholic or Protestant, Democrat or Republican, liberal or conservative, legally here or illegally here—all belong to Christ’s flock and they need a shepherd.  I was ordained to be a shepherd of Christ’s flock.  They all have a place and will have a place under my pastoral care.  To do otherwise would be to betray the Great Shepherd of the Sheep who shed his blood not for some, not even “for many” but for all.”      

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Religion Gone Bad

Let’s take a little break from the Anglican history—though it just about to get interesting with Henry VIII and all that stuff—and look at some contemporary issues.  The following article by Jason Rezaian appeared in the Washington Post on May 31st  

In the narrow alleys of south Tehran, life is a struggle that feels anything but just.
The traditionally religious neighborhoods have long been a base of support for the Islamic republic and the 1979 revolution that led to its formation. The densely populated communities supplied tens of thousands of young men to fight in the eight-year war between Iran and Iraq in the 1980s. Their working classes formed a base of support that helped catapult Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to the presidency in 2005.
But the quality of life has been plummeting for families such as the Vahidis, a three-generation clan of 14 people crammed into three small floors of a roughly built house. On a recent day, the 80-year-old matriarch, Khatoon Vahidi, lay quietly trembling in a room, the victim of a recent stroke; her three daughters said they have halved the dosages of her medication because the imported drug she needs has tripled in price.
“We love our supreme leader. We just hope a better president comes,” said 45-year-old Mahboobeh Vahidi, the oldest of the daughters and a mother of four. Devout, working-class Shiite families such as the Vahidis compose much of Iran’s population of 75 million, but with an election to choose Ahmadinejad’s successor less than two weeks away, some are questioning old allegiances.

“We love our supreme leader…”  This encapsulates the major problem of organized religion—any religion.  We too often have the cult of the leader instead of the search for Truth. In this case Ms. Vahidi. her belief in the Ayatollah Khamenei has blinded her to the role that a particularly dogmatic school of Islam plays in the misery of the Iranian peoples.   Iran’s domestic and foreign policy is driven by dogma, and dogma as defned by one man, rather than reason and the search for the welfare of the people of Iran. But this is not a problem limited to Iran or to Islam.  It doesn’t matter whether the leader is Sayyed Ali Khamenei or Ruhollah Khomeini before him or Joel Osteen or Patriarch Kirill of Moscow or the Lubavitcher Rebbe, the Dalai Lama, L. Ron Hubbard, or the Pope.  The Problem is when people confuse religion with Truth and religious leaders with Divine Authority.  I say divine authority rather than God because there are many far too devout people who can, at least intellectually, distinguish between God and a human leader but who still confuse the credibility of the human leader with a confidence that should be placed in God alone. Many people cling to religious doctrines, or even opinions, as God’s final and authoritative word when religious doctrines, at best, can be no more than attempts to articulate a Truth that surpasses any human ability to comprehend much less to define.  This over confidence in one’s religious opinions leads to the burning of Christian churches in Nigeria, Buddhists attacking Moslems in Myanmar, Palestinians being driven out of their homes by Jewish settlers in the West Bank, and Hindu attacks on native Indian Christians.  It has led to the outrageous attacks on Christians under Pakistani “Blasphemy Laws.” It was responsible for pogroms against the Jews in Russia and it permitted “good Catholics”—even Saints like Maximilian Kolbe—to fan the flames of anti-Semitism that led to the Holocaust.  It is responsible for the fire-bombing of abortion clinics by right wing Christians and attacks on the LGBT community by Christians, Jews, and Muslims alike. Contemptible amounts of evil have been—and are being done—in the name of Jesus, of the Prophet, of the Buddha, and of God himself by people claiming to be religious but who have confused prejudice for faith and rage for virtue. 

Does this mean that religious people should not organize themselves into churches, synagogues, mosques, or sanghas?  By no means, but we need to keep in focus what the nature of religion is and we need to recognize that those who pretend to religious leadership whether on the level of the local congregation or through vast television “ministries,” or national and international conferences, councils, synods, or curiae are no more than charlatans if they do not speak for the dignity and rights of men, women, and children (note: women and children, not merely men) that empower each human person to live not only in safety but with the opportunity for a better future in this world as well as some doctrinally defined “next.”   And let us remember too that while each of us is entitled to believe our particular religious tradition to contain “more” truth than others, that no religion or Church has the monopoly on Truth and that far less Truth is “known” to the human mind than can ever be apprehended or defined. 
If religion does not succeed on the human level it can make to pretense to bear Divine sanction for if it does not allow us to be more fully human it impedes the work of the One who created humankind.  The High Middle Ages and Renaissance fostered a humanism that was deeply rooted in the Catholic Tradition of our Christian faith precisely because it took seriously the levels of human development that make us more god-like people.  The disdain of “humanism” and “humanistic thought” by self-proclaimed Christians only betrays how little these same “Christians” understand of our history and heritage as Christians in general and Catholics in particular.
Church Fathers such as Iranaeus and Athanasius spoke of how God became human so that humans might become Divine.  (Actually the Greek in which they wrote was far more explicit, even scandalous: God became Man so that Man might become God.  Their use of the word “Man” here is not a gender specific word as “man” has become in English but defines how each man, woman, and child is invited by the Incarnation of Christ to “become God.”  A priest friend of mine tells me he has been reported for “heresy” six times in this thirty plus years as a priest and every single time was for that quote: God became Man so that Man might become God.)    
The lesson of the Incarnation is that it is precisely in the fully human person of Jesus, that is in his humanity, that we come to see his Divinity and if we were truly human, truly what God has created us to be, we too would see in our humanity the revelation of our becoming Divine.  The problem is that we are less than human.  We have masked the “image and likeness of God” in which we were created by our anger, our prejudices, our indifference to the sufferings of others, our greed, and the other vices which make us less than human.
If Christianity is to be faithful to its founder, it must reinfuse its theology with a genuine humanism—a focus on our human development that evokes from us our best nature, our “angel faces” of which Newman wrote, that let the divine glory shine out from us.  To many of us remind me of the words attributed to Gandhi; I love your Christ but I have yet to meet a Christian.    

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Foundations of the Anglican Church XXII

The Chapter House of York
In our previous post we looked at John Wycliffe, the English priest and Oxford scholar who towards the end of the fourteenth century challenged the wealth of the Church.  The Lollards are said to be his followers but I suspect that Lollardy was a movement somewhat independent of Wycliffe but which found his teachings consistent with their beliefs and sort of hitched their cart to his horse.  There seems to have been a general agitation in England about the power and wealth of the institutional Church even before Wycliffe and certainly a resentment of the political influence of the Church both on the Crown and on the daily life of Englishmen. 
Wycliffe, even though he was a priest himself and had a rather comfortable living as the rector of Lutterworth, was scandalized by the wealth and worldliness of the clergy.  Moreover, there seems to have been some personal rancor in Wycliffe towards the hierarchy and the religious orders because of the way his own career at Oxford had been thwarted when Archbishop Langham replaced him as head of Canterbury Hall with a monk.  But personal issues aside, Wycliffe had legitimate reason for criticizing the Church and its hold over the economic and political structures of England.  I am not inclined to think that his voice was the trumpet that gave out the tune to which everyone else danced, however.  I think rather that Wycliffe was simply the scholar who systematically developed a theology that articulated what many people in England had already felt.  In other words, he gave voice more than he gave leadership to the rebellion against the Church.
Moreover, I estimate Wycliffe to have been sincere in his criticism while I think others were motivated by other and less noble reasons.  Wycliffe’s chief protector, John of Gaunt—uncle of the King (Richard II) and Regent during the King’s minority, and other nobles were jealous of the immense wealth in land held by the Church.  Their support for Wycliffe was based in their desire to secularize the lands belonging to the monasteries and to the various bishoprics of England and put these lands at the disposal of themselves and their fellow nobles.  Land represented wealth—land provided rents from the vast populations that lived on them and worked the land.  These rents were going to the Churches and abbeys and being poured into immense building projects of the medieval cathedrals and monasteries.  The rents were also providing for the vast libraries of the monasteries, the silk and brocade vestments used in worship, the gold and silver bejeweled altar ornaments.  Of course the production of such artifacts created employment among thousands of craftsmen, builders, quarrymen, and others hired by the Church, but they also provided what had become a very luxurious lifestyle for the monks and for the clergy. 
The pomp of the clergy not only excited the jealousy of the nobility, but alienated many of the working class folk as well.  Priests and friars talked about the poverty of Christ and his disciples but they themselves lived far from simple lives.  Pious folk would see Christ hanging naked on the crucifix but then be puzzled by the vestments worn by the clergy at his altar and even more disgusted by the elegant horses they rode or fine houses in which they lived attended by servants.  At the same time that the Church had accumulated so much corporate wealth, many individual priests charged exorbitant fees for baptisms and weddings and funerals.  The clergy had become a cash-making profession rather than a vocation of preaching the Gospel.  People felt trapped—their salvation depended on these rites but these rites were available only for great charge.
Thus when Wycliffe came along and said that the clergy should be poor and humble folk, ministering to the poor and humble as a peer and not as a great person who made his power felt over lesser ones (remember Matthew 20:25?)—his message resonated with many people.  When Wycliffe said that the True Church was not a collection of prelates and priests but of those pious souls of pure heart and good intention—souls known with certainty only to God—people felt inspired.  The clergy, on the other hand, felt threatened and betrayed—here, one of their own, was undermining their control and power.  They struck out at Wycliffe.   He was several times made to answer charges of heresy though he was never, in his lifetime, convicted.  Posthumously the Council of Constance condemned his writings and his exhumed corpse was burned as a heretic.  But striking at Wycliffe’s cadaver did not destroy the movement.  Those who adhered to his ideas were called “Lollards” from the middle Dutch word, lollaerd, a mumbler or one who mutters. 
There were many Lollards in late fourteenth and in fifteenth-century England. It wasn’t an organized movement.  There was no Lollard hierarchy.  Most continued going to Mass,  were married at the Church porch (as was the custom of the day),  had their children baptized, their dead buried with the rites of the Church.   One thing that did distinguished them from “good Catholics” was that they often possessed copies of the scriptures in English—Wycliffe had provided the first English translation since the days of King Alfred.   They would meet and discuss the scriptures.  Sometimes their ideas took them far afield of Catholic orthodoxy in regard to the real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist or the ability of the priest to absolve sins.  They were seen as much a threat to the State as to the Church since over time they more and more became a movement among the working classes which resented not only the wealth of the Church but the wealth and political power of the nobility.  They would be the first to rally to Protestant ideas in the sixteenth century but in the meantime were often arrested, tried, and burned at the stake for their lack of religious orthodoxy and their political radicalism.  At Lambeth, the London residence of the Archbishops of Canterbury, there is the famous “Lollards’ Tower” which was used as a prison for Lollards awaiting execution.  But we can see cracks appearing in the fabric of Catholic England a century and a half before Henry VIII.    And those Lollards who did die for their religious convictions became the heroes in the minds of many people—not for their distorted ideas of Christian doctrine but for the courage they showed in facing down the institutional Church even to the cost of their lives.  sanguis martyrum semen christianorum. 

Friday, June 7, 2013

Foundations of the Anglican Church XXI

The Church in England in the fourteenth century was rife for trouble and John Wycliffe was just the man to stir the hornet’s nest.  We have seen the anti-papal legislation of the Statutes of Provisors and of Praemunire that tried to limit papal power in England and, even more important, to stem the flow of English gold to Rome.  Geoffrey Chaucer would chronicle the amusing idiosyncrasies and corresponding dispiriting decay of the English religious scene at the end of the fourteenth century in the Canterbury Tales.  This was Wycliffe’s world.
John Wycliffe was born c 1323 in the Yorkshire village of Hipswell and after local primary school found himself at Oxford, probably about the age of fifteen as was then usual.  Though he would accept a number of Church appointments, Oxford would always remain the center of his life.  His career seems to have begun at Baliol, and he studied natural science, mathematics, philosophy, and theology.  Advancement to degrees was not the fairly straightforward things it is today and it took him over thirty years before he attained the doctorate in theology.  In the meantime he had served as the Master at Baliol and later as the head of Canterbury Hall—a residence for men preparing for the secular priesthood.  Wycliffe himself was a secular priest.  After only a few years at Canterbury Hall, the new Archbishop—Simon Langham—replaced Wycliffe as head of the Hall with a monk.  Wycliffe appealed his deprivation to Rome but without satisfaction.  Wycliffe seems to have turned against the monastic and religious clergy from this point. 
There was another event at this time that poisoned the feelings of many English towards the papacy.  If you remember our entry on King John, I mentioned that John had been forced to cede England to the Pope and receive it back as a feudal holding.  This was, as I said, largely symbolic but it did involve the paying of an annual tribute of one thousand silver marks.  This was at the time equivalent to about  £ 660; today it would be several million dollars.  In any event, over the years the tribute had ceased being paid to the pope and no one noticed.  Then in 1365 Pope Urban V demanded the tax once again.  Parliament—remembering the Statutes of Provisors and Praemunire—reacted strongly and declared that King John and, indeed no king or other person, had the authority to cede the sovereignty of England and no tribute would be paid.    The pope backed down but anti-papal feeling was running high in England.  And remember at this time the popes were living in Avignon where they were very much disposed politically in favor of the French, the enemies of England. 
As a theologian, Wycliffe was particularly interested in the scriptures and espoused the older patristic approach of doing theology based in the scriptures rather than the new scholastic approach which saw theological principles in the light of Aristotelian logic.  His study of the scriptures gave him a desire that they should be available to the common people—at this time there was no English translation and the scriptures were available only in Latin.  Granted, more people knew Latin in the fourteenth century—any educated man (and the relatively few educated women) knew Latin—but that still was only a handful of the population.  Wycliffe had been “given the rectory” of Lutterworth—that is, appointed the rector (we would say pastor) of Lutterworth parish in Leicestershire and while he continued his work at Oxford he spent considerable time in the parish and it was there he made the first English translation of the scriptures in an attempt to make them accessible to the common person. 
Wycliffe’s reading of the scriptures soured him on the wealth and power of the institutional Church.  The Gospels, in particular, can do that. The extravagance of the papal court at Avignon was a scandal to him and the greed with which churchmen accumulated salaries and appointments in order to have more luxurious lives stood in sharp contrast with the poverty of Christ and his apostles.  Wycliffe saw the religious orders to be no better. The monasteries held vast wealth in lands and Church ornaments.  Orders such as the various mendicant groups—Franciscans, Carmelites, Augustinians—once founded in poverty had become known for good food and drink, comfortable life, and immoral behavior.  Wycliffe saw the hope for renewal of the Church in secular priests who would live poor lives among the people teaching and preaching the scriptures.   
Wycliffe believed that the true Church of Christ was a pure and poor Church, very different from the Institutional Church of the hierarchy and monks.  He spoke of an “invisible Church of the elect”—an idea that would surface two centuries later with John Calvin.  This “invisible Church” was comprised of those holy souls whom God had predestined to salvation.  No one knew with certainty who were among these forechosen.   You could look at a Sunday congregation or a pilgrimage assembled at Canterbury or the throngs of faithful gathered to see the Pope and only God knew who belonged to him and who did not.  Such a view made not only the hierarchy but the clergy themselves irrelevant to the plan of salvation and it is not surprising that the Church’s axe fell on the priest of Lutterworth.  Gregory XI dispatched to England five copies of a bull condemning Wycliffe in May 1377.  But Wycliffe had a protector in John of Gaunt, the uncle of Richard II and, during Richard’s minority, his regent.  Joan of Kent, the King’s mother, as well as Henry Percy, the Lord Marshal of England also supported him.  It was a question of England vs. the foreigner—always a flash point for the English. Many of the nobility supported Wycliffe because they were jealous of the land that the Church had accumulated and wanted to seize it; the London mob was also pro-Wycliffe as they too resented the wealth and power of the Church while they lived with struggle and hard work and had little to show for it. But in the end it was his Englishness that saved Wycliffe.  Wycliffe was one of them and represented England; the Pope was a foreign prince and they resented a foreign prince claiming authority in England.  Perhaps the bishops and even the Crown had eventually caved in to the papacy but in the hearts of many English, they still wanted independence. 
Wycliffe was indicted several times in episcopal courts and had to defend his doctrines but he never was convicted of heresy nor was he deprived of his living.  On December 28th 1384, the feast of the Holy Innocents, while saying Mass in his parish church, he suffered a stroke and three days later he died.  He was buried beneath the floor of his church. 
Wycliffe’s ideas spread through the universities of Europe and in Prague they were taken up by an energetic and evangelical young chaplain, Jan Hus.  Hus was not so fortunate as Wycliffe.  He was charged with heresy and when he came to the Council of Constance to defend himself, the Emperor broke faith with the safe conduct he had been guaranteed and Hus was burned at the stake as a heretic.  The same council posthumously declared Wycliffe a heretic and at the orders of Pope Martin V, his body was exhumed some  31 years after his death, burned, and his ashes thrown into a local river.  But Wycliffe’s influence survived where his ashes did not.   

just an advisory--I will be travelling and at meetings the next week or so and my posts may be somewhat sporadic --hope not, but no promises.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Foundations of the Anglican Church XX

Rouen Cathedral
For those who are following this series on the history of the Church of England it might be important to step aside for a moment and take note of how the Church was supported financially in medieval England as it differs from our contemporary American experience.  We—at least Catholics in North America—are used to the parish church being supported through the offerings of the faithful at Sunday Mass and the occasional special collection or far more rare capital campaign.  The bottom line is the same—the parish is supported by the contributions of the parishioners.  The Diocese is supported by a tax on the parishes called the “cathedraticum.”  I understand that the exact amount differs from diocese to diocese but 12% of normal parish revenue would not be unusual.  “Normal parish revenue” generally means that special or designated gifts to a parish are exempt from this tax.  If Mrs. Smith gives fifteen thousand dollars to the parish for a new piano in the sanctuary, that money would not usually be subject to the diocesan tax.    Dioceses usually have an annual campaign—the Bishop’s Lenten Campaign, the Cardinal’s Campaign, The Archbishop’s Annual Appeal, it differs from diocese to diocese—which also goes to special projects in the diocese such as designated charities, priest’s retirement, Catholic Social Services, whatever.  Individual donors also might give to the diocese, and perhaps money is obtained by grants from foundations and other sources for special projects.  In addition to this the bishop is often given a rather handsome check when he visits a parish for confirmation or other special events and this check generally provides a portion of his income. 
This is not how it worked in the Middle Ages however.  To begin with, when a church was built it was generally the responsibility of the feudal lord on whose lands the church stood and whose serfs the church would serve.  Lord Jones was not only responsible to build the church for his serfs but even more important he was expected to give the church lands to support it.  Land had to be given for the support of the priest.  In the earlier part of the Middle Ages it would be normal for the priest and his family to work the land themselves but as time went by the land was generally rented out and the priest collected the rents.  Land had also to be given to provide for the upkeep of the church and its needs—vestments, candles, sacred vessels, furnishings, etc.  Lord Jones might give several fields, an orchard, a mill, some fishing traps on the river, and a toll booth on a road through his lands for the support of the Church.  The priest would then rent these lands and traps and tolls out to farmers who wanted to farm the land or orchards, to a miller to work the mill, perhaps to a widow who collected the fish or the tolls.  The rents were then used to support the parish.  The income from the Church lands was divided between the priest, the upkeep of the church facilities, the bishop, and Lord Jones.  Moreover, as explained in earlier entries, Lord Jones held the “advowson.”  He had the right to “present” his candidate for rector (pastor) of the church to the bishop.    The bishop could not turn down Lord Jones’ nomination unless there was a very grave reason and Lord Jones could appeal the bishop’s refusal to the Crown should he think he was treated wrongly.  Later he could send the appeal to Rome if he thought he would get a better hearing from the Roman Curia than the Crown but as said in the previous post, the Statute of Praemunire was meant to prevent such appeals over the head of the King. 
Now the original donation was not the only property attached to the Church.  When Lord Jones died, perhaps his widow or his son would want to make a further donation for his soul.  Perhaps they would give another mill or a toll over a bridge and that income would come with the condition that the priest would each month say a Mass for the eternal rest of Lord Jones.  And perhaps Aunt Sally would die and leave a house in the village to the church on the condition that the rent be used to build a small chapel in the Church in honor of Our Lady.  And Mr. Browne died and left a farm to the Church for annual masses for his soul.  And over a period of time quite an endowment would be raised for the parish, providing a handsome salary for the priest and a good return on Lord Jones’ original investment for whomever then held the advowson.
There was another source of income for the parish church as well.  The tithe was enforced by law.  The parish had a reeve and the reeve’s task was to visit each of the parishioners at harvest time and collect the “first fruits” of the harvest.  Ten percent of the apples in the orchard, the wheat in the field, the grapes in the vineyard, the olives on their trees—all to the parish.  Well, actually olives don’t grow well in England but you get the idea.  And this system was not unique to England in any case but throughout Catholic Europe.  Moreover, every tenth lamb, every tenth piglet, every tenth calf went to the tithe.  The reeve would put aside what he or the priest could use, turn the rest into cash and it got split, like the rents, between the advowson, the priest, the maintenance of the church fabric, and the diocese.  Of course not all reeves were honest, nor were all priests, but that is how it was supposed to work. 
Now what about the diocese?  Well townsfolk also donated property to the Cathedral and to the town churches.  They might donate a field or a farm or an orchard but they more likely donated city property—shops, houses, market stalls, or other city property.  The rents went to the church to which the donation had been made.  Mary Jones was convicted of running a bordello—the building was confiscated and given to the cathedral for its support.  John the shoemaker died and left a house to the cathedral which then collected the rent for that house.  Perhaps the city council would designate that twenty percent of a tax on salt be given to the Cathedral for its support.  In Rouen in Normandy the Cathedral boasts the famous “Butter Tower.”  This tower to the cathedral was built with money that the citizens of Rouen contributed to the cathedral in return for a dispensation allowing them to eat butter during lent.  No Frenchman could go forty days without his good Normandy butter.   Perhaps the cathedral—or any church for that matter—had relics.  Canterbury in England had the shrine of Saint Thomas Becket.  Westminster Abbey the shrine of Saint Edward the Confessor.  Durham Cathedral had the remains of Saint Cuthbert.  Most churches had relics.  Pilgrims came and made offerings.  Perhaps, the relics were kept in a special chapel and one had to pay to enter that chapel.  It might cost the pilgrim only  a penny or two but those pennies added up.  Rents were particularly valuable because they keep coming in, year after year after year.  And relics were particularly important not only for the small gifts they generated but for the sometimes very large gifts from kings or nobles whose prayers in time of need had been heeded by the saint.
The bishop had his funds separate from the Cathedral.  Bishops were Peers of the Realm.  They sat in Parliament.  They served the King as ambassadors and chief officials of the realm.  Their bishoprics had been from the beginning invested with royal lands to provide them income in return for their public duties.  Over the centuries some of these bishoprics became quite wealthy yielding immense salaries from the rents and incomes the lands provided.  Bishops often had to maintain any number of knights who would fight for the King in return for the lands the Crown had given the bishopric.  Because they sat in Parliament, they also had to maintain a house in London as well as in their diocese.  Both their London houses and their various local palaces were grand establishments requiring scores of servants.  They also had their own curiae—their courts—with their vicars general, chancellors, and other officials.  All this was expensive but then their wide holdings in lands as well as the gifts given them in return for various dispensations and favors—both in the Church and in Parliament—provided for them handsomely.
Abbeys and monasteries also had vast holdings of land.  The king or nobles who had founded them had provided for them initially with enough land to support the monks.  But even more than the parish churches, the monasteries drew generous donations in return for the prayers of the monks.  Moreover, when a young man or woman came to the monastery he or she was expected to bring a dowry—almost always land—which was added to the monastery’s lands and which continued to provide income for the monastery long after the monk or nun whose dowry it comprised had died. 
If all this makes the Church sound very land-rich—it was.  The Church grew richer and richer and exercised every greater power.  There were those who were impressed, even awed, by the greatness of the Church.  There were those who were jealous of the Church’s wealth and coveted it.  There were those who became cynical and bitter over the Church’s place in society and determined to undermine it.  And there were those who saw how wealth and power were corrupting the Church and were determined to reform it.  Unfortunately, they were unsuccessful.  But we will talk about that later. 


Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Foundations of The Anglican Church XIX

Cardinal Burke's robes don't come cheap and
somebody has to pay for them.
In 1306 Parliament, under King Edward I, enacted the Statute of Provisors which prohibited monies belonging to the Church being sent out of realm as any form of tribute or fee due to a foreign prelate.  This was primarily intended to stop monies being paid to the papacy in return for papal appointment to office in England or for appeals made to Rome for judgments in ecclesiastical cases.  A second Stature of Provisors was enacted in 1350. 
The problem was this.  Traditionally offices were filled either by election—normally bishops and abbots were elected by their cathedral or monastic chapters—or by appointment by the individual with the right of patronage.  Rectors (pastors) were appointed to parish churches, not by the bishop, but by the individual having the right of appointment which was called the advowson.  If, by way of fictitious example, the Earl of Grantham built a church for the peoples on his land, he had the right of advowson and “presented” the candidate for Rector to the bishop for approval.  The bishop had very limited rights of refusal and almost always had to accept the presentation.  Lord Grantham could give that advowson to another—perhaps it could be part of Lady Mary’s dowry.  Or he could give to the nuns or monks of a nearby abbey.  Most parish churches were filled by such rights of presentation and, as the candidate presented then began collecting the rector’s income—which could be quite handsome—it was a valuable gift to be named rector of a Church.  The advowson itself was valuable too as the person with the right of presentation also collected a share of the Church income. 
There were other ecclesiastical offices that were also “in the gift” of various prelates, nobles, or the Crown.  The head of a hospital or a college, a canonry, a chaplaincy, a chantry in a cathedral, and other positions—all with an endowed income—might be filled by the person, secular or religious, having the right of presentation.  (A chantry was a chapel to which a priest was appointed to offer masses and other prayers at various times in return for a salary.)    
One of the reasons that the Statutes of Provisors were enacted is that popes had begun appointing people to these positions while the incumbents were still alive.  In other words, the pope might appoint a Rector to Lord Grantham’s parish church to succeed the current rector upon his death or advancement to another post.  This papal appointment would thus deprive Lord Grantham of his right to appoint whomever he would choose.  So the Pope appoints the Reverend Dominus John Smith to be the Rector of Downton village Church upon the death of the Reverend Dominus Michael Jones.  (In the Middle Ages secular priests were not called “Father” but usually “Dominus” which is the Latin for “Lord.” This survives in the Italian and Spanish “Don.”)  In return for the appointment, R.D. John Smith sends the Pope 50 sterling.  Lord Grantham is completely shut out of his right to appoint the rector (and receive whatever gratuity the new rector might see fit to make.)   The papacy was raking in money from the usurped appointments. 
A variation on this was the matter of Rome naming bishops to English Sees in violation of the right of the respective chapters to elect.  Of course, elections were rarely free for if the Pope was not telling the chapter whom to elect, the King most likely was.  And then, whoever was elected, had to appeal to Rome for the bulls authorizing his consecration and installation to the see.  All this meant considerable money going to Rome.  By the time of the Reformation the amount being paid to Rome for the confirmation of a bishop in his see was called an Annate—from the Latin, Annus, a year.  This is because the fee was generally the bishops’ first year’s income from his diocese—something measured in thousands of pounds, or in today’s money, millions of dollars.     
Another problem the statute addressed was that Lady Mary Crawley wished to marry her cousin, Matthew Crawley, Esq., but being cousins, such marriage was prohibited under canon law.  No problem.  Papal letters of dispensation can be obtained.   ₤20 sterling will nicely cover the costs of notaries and scribes.  (The ₤ sterling was worth far more in purchasing power in the Middle Ages than today. ₤ 20 would be worth several thousand today.)  
The Statutes of Provisors were meant to stop cash from leaving England for Rome but they were also attempts to limit ever increasing papal power and keep the authority of the English Church in English hands.  
Finally in 1353 Parliament enacted the Statute of Praemunire declaring that “ the right of recovering the presentments to churches, prebends, and other benefices . . . belongs only to the king’s court of the old right of his crown, used and approved in the time of all his progenitors kings of England."  It then went on to declare that “if any purchase or pursue, or cause to be purchased or pursued in the court of Rome, or elsewhere, any such translations, processes, and sentences of excommunications, bulls, instruments or any other things whatsoever ... he and his notaries, abettors and counsellors shall be put out of the king's protection, and their lands escheat.”   “Translations” here refers to moving a person from one ecclesiastical office to another—as in Justin Welby was “translated” from the Bishopric of Durham to the Archbishopric of Canterbury.   This provision prohibited an English prelate from purchasing a position from the papacy.  Escheat means forfeit so that if Justin Welby had paid Pope Francis to advance him from Bishop of Durham to Archbishop of Canterbury, Archbishop Welby’s lands would be forfeit to the Crown.  Of course these days Pope Francis doesn’t get any say in who is Archbishop of Canterbury, but we will get to that part of the story down the line. 
I hope this isn’t too confusing.  We don’t have advowsons in America, though they still exist occasionally in the Church of England.   We do have something similar to it, however, as a Religious Order that has charge of a parish still presents a candidate to the bishop who then names the candidate the pastor.  Like the advowson, the bishop must have grave reasons to decline the nomination.  However today newly named prelates—Cardinals, Archbishops, Bishops, and monsignors typically make appropriate (or inappropriate) gratuities to the Holy See upon their appointments.    Bishops are still translated from one see to another.  Timothy Dolan was translated from Milwaukee to New York.  And such “translations” are generally steps “up the ladder.”  Handsome gifts are still presented to the Holy See or to individual prelates who work there by individuals seeking various favors. (Cardinal Burke’s scarlet silk and fur trimmed cappa magna probably cost in the neighborhood of ten thousand dollars.) 
The Statutes of Provisors and of Praemunire will come back with great importance when Henry VIII will use them to force the Bishops of England to break with the Holy See.