Thursday, September 19, 2013

Foundations of the Anglican Church XLV

The Family of Sir Thomas More by Rowland Lockey
after a sketch by Hans Holbein the Younger,
Well, we should, I suppose, next look at Thomas More as he plays a crucial role in the development of the separation of the Church of England from the See of Rome.  Catholics have been steeped in the stories of this martyr for the faith—the Catholic Faith that is—but as in the case of most hagiography, the stories are somewhat selective and highly edited to the point of distortion.
More was a Londoner, born in 1478, to a prominent London jurist who was sufficiently well connected to place his son as a page in the household of Archbishop Morton, the Lord Chancellor of Henry VII.  Here More was exposed to the new humanism of the Renaissance and received an excellent education in Latin and Greek.  He went on to Oxford but remained only two years when, at his father’s insistence, he returned to London to study at the Inns of Chancery in preparation for a career in the civil service.  He went on to Linconl’s Inn in the Inns of Court and was called to the bar in 1502. 
More was prepared to cause his father grave disappointment by, like Luther, embracing the monastic life.  He lived near the Carthusian monastery, the London Charterhouse, and regularly joined the monks for the Divine Office and other spiritual exercises.  However he abandoned the idea of monastic life, finding celibacy a struggle which he did not think he could win.  He married Jane Colt in 1504 and they had three daughters and a son before Jane died in 1511.  In less than a month after his wife’s death, More remarried.  His second wife was Alice Middleton, a widow of considerable means.  She was, according to one source, a shrew of the first order and not a pretty woman either.  She certainly was a contrast to the gentle and docile Jane.  It was not a love match but a marriage of convenience as More needed a mother for his four young children.  More adopted Alice’s daughter in to his family as well and raised her as his own.  While romance may not have been the motive for the marriage, More deeply loved Alice and she certainly brought life into the household with her fiery temper and outspoken ways.  But beneath her attempts to dominate her husband and push his career, she loved him deeply too.
More had been in Parliament since 1504 and served as undersheriff of London, a position which brought him to the royal attention.  He was named Master of Requests—a position of handling requests to be brought to the King’s attention and a member of the Privy Council in 1514.  He was knighted and made under-treasurer of the Exchequer in 1521 and elected Speaker of the House of Commons in 1525.  This last advancement he owed to Cardinal Wolsey with whom he often worked closely in advancing the plans of the King.
Henry took a genuine liking to More.  Henry seems to have had a natural bonding with men somewhat older than himself, perhaps due to his strained relationship with his father, Henry VII.  In any event, as Wolsey began to fall, More began to rise in the royal favor.  This was not an auspicious time to find oneself in the public gaze however, as Henry’s desire of an annulment and his passion for Anne  Boleyn were both coming to the boiling point and unless the valve were released, the pot was about to blow.  In 1529, with
Wolsey being dismissed from the Lord Chancelorship, More was named to the post.  It was a fateful choice.

It was also an interesting choice however.  Henry obviously had confidence that More would go where Wolsey could not vis a vis the annulment.  Henry had no doubt in More’s absolute loyalty.  More, for his part, played the game very cagily.  More was opposed to the annulment and refused to sign the petition to Clement VII to annul the marriage.  But he was the King’s good servant and played both sides of the street in as that he signed the opinions of the Universities that the marriage to Katherine had been unlawful.  When Henry married Anne and had her crowned Queen in June 1533, More avoided going to the coronation, pleading ill health.  By that time, however, he had already resigned as Lord Chancellor and so the avoidance, while conspicuous, was not sufficiently grave a misstep to cause him trouble—at the moment.
In any case, it was not his refusal to subscribe to the marriage that was his undoing; it was his avoidance of the issues of the King’s supremacy over the Church, i.e. the rejection of papal authority.  More declared that he would subscribe to the 1534 Act of Succession both in recognizing Anne as Queen and in recognizing her offspring as next in succession to the Crown over Princess Mary, the daughter of Henry and Katherine.  This is an interesting detail because while we think of the Crown as inherited  by the male and then female children of the Sovereign in order of their age, More understood that the English Crown is indeed an elective Crown and that Parliament has a right to choose who will be Sovereign.  This principle would not be settled definitively until when in 1688 Parliament took the Crown from James II and gave it to his daughter Mary and her husband, William of Orange, but it had already been established in principle from Anglo-Saxon times and More was affirming that Parliament had a right to choose the Sovereign over any right that an individual might claim as rightful heir of the previous Sovereign. 
But, as I said, the issue was not the marriage, it was the Royal Supremacy.  Henry’s separation from Rome was not a sudden move nor done in one act.  We will look at the process in a future posting, but beginning in 1531 there was a series of bills passed in Parliament weakening the ties with Rome and strengthening the King’s position over the Church in England.  The 1532 Act of Submission of the Clergy led More to resign as Lord Chancellor under the pretext of his health. More avoided a face-down with the King—he was no one to go out of his way to die for a principle, even an important one,  unless he had no choice. Indeed, in his service to the King he was not unlike some contemporary politicians who have to juggle conscience and public duty. In the end, for More, conscience would triumph, but only in the end.   More could see that a break was coming and he wanted no part of it.  It was in 1534 that the payment of Peter’s Pence was suspended and later that year that the Pope’s name was removed from the Liturgy.  However it was only in 1536 that the final act denying papal authority in England was passed.  By that time More was dead. 
In 1534 More was arrested for denying that part of the 1534 Act of Supremacy that granted the King headship of the Church.  The trial began on July 1, 1535.  Anne Boleyn’s father was one of the judges. More had never spoken, even in private, on this matter and claimed that no one knew his thoughts on the matter because he had never shared them, even with his wife or family members.   Yet his silence spoke volumes as everyone knew.  He was convicted by the perjury of one Sir Richard Rich. More argued
 Can it therefore seem likely to your Lordships, that I should in so weighty an Affair as this, act so unadvisedly, as to trust Mr. Rich, a Man I had always so mean an Opinion of, in reference to his Truth and Honesty, ...that I should only impart to Mr. Rich the Secrets of my Conscience in respect to the King's Supremacy, the particular Secrets, and only Point about which I have been so long pressed to explain my self? which I never did, nor never would reveal; when the Act was once made, either to the King himself, or any of his Privy Councillors, as is well known to your Honours, who have been sent upon no other account at several times by his Majesty to me in the Tower. I refer it to your Judgments, my Lords, whether this can seem credible to any of your Lordships.
Only after his conviction did More speak out and affirm his belief that neither King nor Parliament had the right to usurp the authority of the Pope over the Church which came from God’s gift.  Five days later, Thomas More was beheaded on the Tower Green in London and his head displayed on London Bridge as a traitor.  His request that his body be returned to his family for burial was denied and his headless body was buried in the chapel of St Peter in Chains in the Tower of London.   His daughter Margaret paid to have the head stolen from the bridge before it could be tossed into the Thames and it was eventually buried in her husband’s family vault in the Anglican Church of Saint Dunstan in Canterbury. 
In his time as Lord Chancellor More had been responsible for the execution of six “heretics” who had been spreading Protestant ideas in England and for the imprisonment of several more.  Some were actually imprisoned in his home.  John Foxe, the great Protestant Apologist and author of the Actes and Monuments, more commonly known as the Book of Martyrs, claimed that More had been responsible for cruel torture of these prisoners.  More, in his own lifetime, denied that he had ever tortured any prisoner and it is likely that they were confined in his home precisely to make sure they were not tortured by jailers.  Nonetheless, the facts are not known and it is today more a matter of polemics than of history as we cannot know from an objective source.  Of course, whether or not he tortured people before having them burned at the stake makes the torture somewhat of a moot point.  Execution of religious dissenters was common at the time and heretics continued to be burned in England even after Henry’s separation from Rome.  Henry’s daughter Mary burned several leading Anglicans and that has tarnished her reputation even today.  Elizabeth, on the other hand, never executed a person for religious dissent—but she had another way of dealing with those who denied her to be head of the Church.  But more on that later.  

A Cause For Concern

 Just a note of concern: I was at the Wednesday audience yesterday and seated only perhaps 30 feet from the Pope where I could see and hear clearly.  He appeared to be totally exhausted, even to the point of slurring words.  This should be a cause of concern and of prayers for those of us who are delighted with the direction he is giving the Church.  I hope over the next few weeks to do some postings on his recent interview with La Civiltà Catholica, a Catholic publication in Rome, in which the Pope made some remarkable statements that very much change the tone of the Church in the modern world. 

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Foundations of The Anglican Church XLIV--The Rise and Fall of Thomas Wolsey II

Cardinal Wolsey's Coat of Arms
can still be seen above gateways
at Hampton Court
By the time that Henry had decided on seeking an annulment of his marriage to Katherine of Aragon, Wolsey was running the English government single-handedly.  Henry had entrusted everything to him.  This is not to say that Wolsey was setting policy—he was always very careful to follow royal policy though he could often persuade the King to follow a particular course of action as in the instance of when the King’s sister, Mary, the Dowager Queen of France,  in 1515 married Charles Brandon Duke of Suffolk, without Henry’s permission.  (Keep this marriage in mind as it will have complications a little later in our story when a Protestant grand-daughter of Mary and Brandon claims the throne against the Catholic heir.)  Henry wanted to imprison the couple, and even considered executing Brandon (to marry an heir to the throne without permission of the monarch was an act of treason), but Wolsey talked Henry into forgiving the couple.  Mary was always Henry’s favorite sister and Wolsey’s healing the breach worked greatly to his advantage and Mary always remembered him as an ally.  When Henry would try to annul his marriage to Katherine, however, in favor of Anne Boleyn, Mary was strongly opposed.  She was a friend of Katherine’s and an enemy of Anne’s.
Wolsey too was an enemy of Anne.  Wolsey had been responsible for ending her romance with Henry Percy.  Some claim that Wolsey was only pimping for the King in breaking up the romance.  Others think he was working with the Boleyn family who had—before they saw the possibility of snagging the King—a more advantageous marriage in mind for the young lady.  Wolsey may have wanted to see Anne married to remove her as a threat to Katherine as he preferred the Spanish alliance over a French one.  But when Henry was determined for an annulment, Wolsey set about his work, promising the king it would be no problem.
And it should not have been a problem except for the complications caused by the relationship between Pope Clement VII Medici and Katherine’s nephew, the Emperor Charles V.   Whether from fear of Charles’ army that had sacked Rome in 1527 or in hopes of a Medici-Hapsburg alliance that would restore the Medici to Florence, Clement was determined to prevent the annulment.  After sending Cardinal Lorenzo Campeggio to England to “hear” the case along with Wolsey, Clement recalled the Cardinal in 1529 and said the case would be resolved in Rome. In other words, it would not happen.
This was Anne’s chance to attack Wolsey.  To paraphrase an episode of The Big Bang Theory, Anne was pushy and Henry was whipped.  Wolsey was finished.  Anne drew Henry’s attention to the Wolsey’s lavish residences in London—York Place and, upriver outside the city, Hampton Court.  Where did Wolsey get the resources, she wondered, to build such marvelous palaces.  Why did the King’s servant live even more grandly than did the King?  In 1529 Henry dismissed Wolsey as Lord Chancellor, replacing him with Sir Thomas More.  Hampton Court and York Place were confiscated.  Wolsey was particularly disturbed about signing over York Place as it was not his—it belonged to him only because he was Archbishop of York; it belonged not to him personally but to the Archbishopric.  Nevertheless, Henry got what Henry wanted; or what pushy Anne wanted.  York Place was renamed Whitehall, and would become the principle royal residence for the next 168 years.  (It was destroyed by fire in 1698.)  Hampton Court became the King’s favorite residence and it too would remain a royal palace throughout the Stuart period.  It is not to be missed if you go to London today.
Wolsey was forced to retire to his see in York—which he had not yet visited though he had been Archbishop there for fifteen years.  In 1530 he was arrested for treason—Henry sent Henry Percy—Anne’s old boyfriend—to arrest him in Yorkshire.  On his way south to London he stopped at Leicester Abbey, an Augustinian foundation where he told the Abbot and canons, “I have come to lay my bones among you.”  And so he did, taking ill and dying there on November 29, 1530.  His final words were allegedly: If I had served my God as diligently as I have served my King, he would not have given me over in my grey hairs.”
Prior to becoming a bishop, Wolsey had been in long term monogamous relationship with Joan Larke who bore him two children, both of whom survived to adulthood.  As his advancement drew more attention to himself, he arranged a marriage for Joan and provided her a handsome dowry.  The King built a home for the couple, though given Wolsey’s running the government, Henry may not have been aware of it. 
In the end, Wolsey had been a most industrious servant to the King and was treated quite shabbily but then that is the fate of those who step on people on their way up and who must suffer the consequences of how others treat them on their fall from power.  Henry and his daughter Elizabeth would each be served by several great ministers who took the day to day affairs of government into their hands.  The difference is that Henry didn’t watch closely what these ministers did while Elizabeth was assiduous in her attention to government.  Despite the impression Catholic historians give, Henry was a great King—and I will give reasons for that over several postings to come—but Elizabeth is undoubtedly the best monarch England would ever have.  That is ironic given Henry’s fears that a woman could not rule England, but then Mary—his daughter by Katherine of Aragon and his first heir—would prove his point and be a disaster on the English throne.  But all that is a ways down the road yet. 

Monday, September 16, 2013

Foundations of the Anglican Church XLIII--The Rise and Fall of Thomas Wolsey, I

Hampton Court, Gate House 
Before we go too far on into Henry’s split with Rome, we need to tie up a few odds and ends here.  I want to take a look at the rise and fall of Cardinal Thomas Wolsey and of Lord Chancellor, Sir Thomas More.  I also need to introduce you to a third Thomas, Thomas Cranmer, the Archbishop of Canterbury who granted Henry’s annulment and was his ecclesiastical agent in the break with Rome. And as long as we are looking at Thomases, we will add a fourth—Thomas Cromwell, the secular agent of the break with Rome.   But let’s start with Wolsey.
Wolsey was born in 1473 in Ipswich.  Reports differ as to his Father’s occupation, some claiming he was a butcher, others a merchant.  In any case, Wolsey’s origins are middle class, though perhaps rather prosperous.  In fact, his father died in the Battle of Bosworth Field in which Henry VII Tudor defeated Richard III and became King.  An ordinary merchant,  much less a common butcher, would not have had his death noted even if he had been involved in a battle and so Robert Wolsey must have been a man of some prominence and means—perhaps a wealthy businessman (whether in the meat-trade or cloth trade) seeking to earn a knighthood by fighting valiantly on the right side.  We don’t know, of course, which side he was on and, though as he might have fought valiantly, he was killed and so he did not become a knight.  Thomas would have been a boy of twelve or thirteen when his father died.  Wolsey had studied at Ipswich school and went on to matriculate at Magdalene College, Oxford.  At the age of 25 he was ordained priest, not an unusual choice for a university graduate and not necessarily a sign of his having a genuine vocation.  Priesthood was about career and did not usually involve a call from God.  His career was somewhat meteoric.  He went from being Master of Magdalene, to being chaplain to the Archbishop of Canterbury.  Unfortunately Archbishop Deane died after only a year and the young chaplain found himself in search for a new patron. Entering the service of Richard Nanfan, a knight, he was named executor of Nanfan’s estate and when Nanfan died, had come to the attention of Henry VII who brought him into the royal service.
Wolsey was an ambitious man; he was also extremely capable.  Today we would label him a “workaholic.”  Henry VII, distrustful of the old nobility, relied on men from the middle class who were efficient and hardworking to perform the tasks of government administration.  Wolsey was perfect for this role.  The old king died when Wolsey had only completed two years in the royal service, but the young Henry VIII had noticed Wolsey and appointed him almoner, a post that gave him a seat on the privy council—the King’s “cabinet.”  The almoner was the royal servant in charge of disbursing charity in the King’s name but in fact he controlled the royal budget and had immense power to act in the King’s name.  You wanted the favor of the Almoner.  You might give the Almoner a handsome gift now and then to be sure of his favor.  Wolsey grew to be a wealthy man. 
Wolsey certainly used his position to do good to those who were good to him, but first and foremost he was there to serve the King.  He did not always agree with Henry, but he always bowed to Henry’s will and he made Henry’s choices work out well.  Some of the older counselors were more forthright in opposing the King’s choices and advising against him.  Henry did not like that.  He liked Wolsey’s approach—do what the King wants and make it work.  In 1515 Henry asked Archbishop Warham of Canterbury to resign as Lord Chancellor and he appointed Wolsey to that post.  (Warham remained Archbishop of Canterbury—and that is an important part of our story to which we will get in a few postings down the road.)   Today the Lord Chancellor’s role is more ceremonial than anything else, but in the sixteenth century the Lord Chancellor was the King’s chief minister.  The Lord Chancellor made the government work.
And Thomas Wolsey made the government work.  Henry had only to communicate his choices, and Thomas made sure they were carried out.  He was so efficient that Henry felt no need to oversee the day to day operations of government.  Wolsey had it all in hand.  To provide sufficient financial support for his aide-de-camp, Henry nominated Wolsey first as Bishop of Lincoln, and then, later in the same year, 1514, as Archbishop of York.   York was England’s second Primatial See if you remember from earlier postings.  In 1515, at Henry’s request, Leo X named Wolsey a Cardinal. 
Wolsey did not go to Rome to receive his Cardinal’s hat.  It was common in those days that the hat was sent and placed on the new Cardinal’s head by whoever was the Cardinal’s Sovereign.  Wolsey arranged for a magnificent pageant for the hat being received at Dover and brought in solemn procession to Westminster Abbey where it rested on the altar until the day when Henry placed it on Wolsey’s head.   Just as a note, the royal crown traditionally rested on the altar of Westminster Abbey between the funeral of the previous Sovereign and the coronation of the next.  In arranging this pageant, Wolsey was setting himself up as a second king in England.  Henry was too busy having a good time to realize this.
Wolsey used the immense resources at hand to build a lavish palace for himself at Hampton Court.  He already had a palace in the city—York Place—the traditional London residence of the Archbishops of York, but he wanted a “country house” as well and so built Hampton Court.  Wolsey spent £50,000, which would probably be worth over 350 million dollars in today’s currency.  Wolsey’s extravagant designs were based on Paolo Cortese’s De Cardinalatu, a manual to instruct the prelates of the Roman Court on how to live graciously as Renaissance princes.  Henry knew of the house—he stayed there as a guest of Wolsey’s on several occasions, but at first it never crossed his mind how this butcher’s boy from Ipswich had found the resources to live as well—if not better—than the King.  Ah, but that would all come to a close

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Lead By Example

Francis is really shaking up the conservative wing of the Church because he has a very different understanding of the role of the Church in society.  Don’t misunderstand me.  Pope Francis is no liberal.  He shows no sign of compromise on key Catholic doctrines, whether in dogmatic or moral theology.  But his ecclesiology is fascinating.  Unlike his immediate predecessors who ultimately saw the role of the Church as Teacher of Truth to a world that is in darkness, Francis sees the role of the Church to accompany people in their search for faith.  He is far more dialogical in his style than was Pope Benedict or even Pope John Paul II.  This is maddening for those who want an Ecclesia docens (a teaching Church).  Francis’ reaching out to non-believers for honest and sincere dialogue would have been unthinkable even a year ago.  His remarks about sacraments and the remarried divorced, about gays, about those estranged from the Church and about so many other issues are remarkable not for any change of doctrine but for their open and honest appreciation of the complexity of the issues at hand.  I think this papacy signifies a shift from the Church of Power to the Church of Service that Cardinal Dulles mentioned for the third millennium in his book on the Catholicity of the Church.  And it certainly is making its point.  Francis has won an audience that Pope Benedict was never able to reach.  The crowds in St Peter’s square both for the Sunday Benediction and for the Wednesday audience are at all time highs.  Priests report more people starting to come back to Mass.  Non-Catholic religious leaders are reporting a thaw in relationships with Catholics which had stiffened in the last decade or so.  He is a somewhat homely little man, but there is no doubt that Francis, like his namesake saint, is a man who can draw people to Christ.  You don’t need to change the substance of the faith; you only need to offer it humbly rather than create the pretense you have Truth which is accessible to none outside your circle of the self-proclaimed elect. 

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Things Change, Kundun

The altar at World Youth Day 2013
I mentioned in the previous post about the author of the Les Femmes website and her complaints of the Pope’s Mass for World Youth Day.  Drawing on the video of John Vennari of Catholic Family News, she noted the following things to have been “objectionable” about Pope Francis’ Mass. 

 Profane music more appropriate to a rock concert and in violation of the rubrics on music,

Dancing more appropriate to an aerobics class than the liturgy,

Drums and other rock instruments specifically prohibited by sacred documents on music,

Solo singing reminiscent of a cabaret act,

Plastic cups for distributing the Body of Christ???

Some of these objections are obviously highly subjective: whether a particular solo is more appropriate for a “cabaret” than for worship or whether particular dancing is more appropriate to an aerobics class than for worship.  Others are just disinformation: there is no ban on the use of drums in the Sacred Liturgy. 
I don’t think there is malice on part of the good lady, only ignorance.  And this is the problem.  I gather from reading her posts and her news letter over the years that she and I grew up at the same time, I north of the Mason Dixon and she south.  I gather that we both went to Catholic Schools where we had the good nuns who taught us the music of the Latin Liturgy (especially Mass 8), and told us about Pope Saint Pius X and his insistence on the organ being the only instrument for the liturgy.  Pius was reacting to the orchestra masses of the 18th and 19th century—the Mozart Coronation Mass for example—in which the congregation was reduced to the state of an audience while professional singers were required for performance.  Pius’ determination to restore chant was precisely to restore active participation in the Liturgy.  Pius’ Liturgical reforms were a tremendous step forward, but they were not the final step in liturgical development. Now I am not saying that Pope Saint Pius X would have loved the Copacabana Mass.  I am sure he would not have.  But like all us mortals, Pius lived in a fixed period of time which shaped his worldview.  The Church is a living organism, as is its liturgy.  It has continued to develop since the days of the Pope who made such a difference in Catholic devotion with permission for daily Holy Communion.  Pius’ norms remained in effect for decades but change did come and it came before Vatican II.  First came the encyclical letter of Pius XII, Mediator Dei approximately fourteen years before the Council opened.  Then came Vatican II and Sacrosanctum Concilium which mandated serious revision of the Sacred Liturgy (though not perhaps as serious a revision as we were given in the Missal of Paul VI) and encouraged “inculturation” to permit the liturgy to be adapted to the various cultures in which the Church finds itself.  Sacrosanctum Concilium was followed by innumerable other documents carrying out the mandate of the Council that the Liturgy should involve a full, active, and conscious participation on the part of the laity in the Mass.  All sorts of permissions were given and some permissions were denied.  Some permissions—dance for example—were allowed in certain cultures and banned in others.  The Papal Masses, both in Rome and when the popes were “on the road” became models for what could be done with the Liturgy and different cultures used Papal Visits to showcase their unique gifts and now being worthy of an offering to God.
Personally I am delighted that Pope Francis has signaled an end to the attempts at partial restoration of the pre-conciliar rites.  His choice to wash the feet of women in the Holy Thursday liturgy was the first clear sign that there is a new sheriff in town.  His choice of the simplest of vestments, his insistence on celebrating facing the congregatgion (versus populum as opposed to versus apsidem), his use of the “for all” (as opposed to the “for many”) in vernacular celebrations, and other gestures have been clear signs that we don’t have to worry about the peculiarities of the neo-trads being imposed on us at prayer.  I know it upsets the good lady from Woodstock and others of her ilk who thought that they were about to restore the traditions they knew so well but which had begun to fade from pious memory, but it is allowing the rest of us to get on with a serious and focused approach to our faith.      

Friday, September 13, 2013

Know Your Sources

Our friend over at Les Femmes recently published an attack on Pope Francis and his liturgical style.  The video was prepared by John Vennari who was at one time connected with sede vacantists such as, among others, Marion Horvat  from Tradition in Action and Gerry Matatics, a prominent Evangelical turned Catholic turned Sede Vacantist.  (A Sede Vacantist is one who believes that there is no legitimate Pope at the moment because the alleged Pope is a heretic.  The “See is Empty”: Sede Vacante in Italian.   Most Sede Vacantists allege that every Pope since and including John XXIII has been in heresy and that the Second Vatican Council is a “false council,” its decrees being, according to them, heretical.  This Sede Vacantist connection was probably unknown to the author of the Les Femmes site who, while ignorant of (or disagreement with) most legitimate changes in liturgical and canonical law over the last forty years, is sincere in adhering to papal authority, or at least papal authority that support her somewhat eclectic choice of political and devotional positions.
Mr. Vennari seems to have left his Sede Vacantist position to edit Catholic Family News, a website that manages  to stay just on the Catholic side of the schismatic line.  Catholic Family News is the source of many of the Videos posted on the Les Femmes site.  Vennari’s site also has a consistent stance of rejecting the Council and its changes without formally renouncing papal authority.  It has been extremely critical of Pope Francis and especially for his liturgical style.  The Papal Mass at World Youth Day sent Catholic Family News over the edge and its video is replete with allegations of liturgical violations in the Papal Liturgy as if Tra le Sollecitudini of Pope St. Pius X and other pre-conciliar legislation had not been superseded by Sacrosanctum Concilium of Vatican II and Post Conciliar legislation.  The only effect of such biased videos is to undermine not only the Conciliar liturgical reforms but papal authority itself. 
What the Oracle of Woodstock doesn’t seem to realize is that videos like this are an attack not simply on a style of liturgy which perturbs her, but an attack on the Pope who celebrated this Mass and celebrated it with an obvious enthusiasm and enjoyment.  Granted that the more introverted Pope Benedict would have been somewhat discomforted by its enthusiasm, but even in the days of Pope Benedict and his penchant for liturgical restorationism it was clear that the best the neo-trads could hope for was space for their particular liturgical preferences.  There was never a realistic chance for “The Reform of the Reform” to reestablish its ideal of liturgy draped as tragic opera to be the normative worship of the Catholic Church in the United States much less in Latin America, Asia, or Africa where indigenous cultures have been integrated into Catholic worship.  Francis has made it clear from the first moments of his papacy that he was not going to permit the Church to go backward.  He is no liberal and liberals must take note of that, but he is thoroughly committed to the program of the Second Vatican Council as it was originally understood before Cardinal Ratzinger’s attempts at the “hermeneutic of continuity” began revising the Council.   No, I think we are going to see plenty of liturgical dancing and music with a beat and roaring crowds at future World Youth Days as well as at other gatherings.  But then the Oracle of Woodstock dreams of her new Catholic Scouts sitting around a campfire saying the rosary and singing Latin hymns (see posting for June 13, 2013).  Just what do they smoke in Woodstock?

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Foundations of the Anglican Church XLII

Anne Boleyn
Henry’s seeking an annulment was not dependent on his relationship with Anne Boleyn.  Henry had been questioning the rightness of his marriage even before meeting Anne.  Henry began  his formal search for an annulment  just about the time he noticed Anne, one of Katherine’s ladies-in-waiting,  and most likely he had no intention of marrying Anne but only of making her the next in his series of mistresses.  Anne was a commoner, the daughter of a petty government official and the granddaughter of a cloth merchant, albeit a wealthy cloth merchant, indeed Lord Mayor of London in 1457.  But a commoner nonetheless and kings did not marry commoners.  They might sleep with them, but not marry them, 
Anne, for her part, was not about to be used by the King and then cast off.  Her sister Mary had been Henry’s mistress and borne Henry a child but had never even been acknowledged as the King’s Mistress.  When Henry tired of her, she was left more or less to fend for herself.  Henry showed her no favor whatsoever even though it was likely that the two children she bore were his and not her husband’s.  Anne was not going to be used; Anne was far more ambitious and had the audacity of foresight to see that if she played her cards right, despite all odds she could be queen.
Anne was encouraged in her plans by her mother’s brother, the Duke of Norfolk.  Norfolk saw that he could increase his own prestige if he could advance the cause of his niece.  Moreover, Norfolk was an archenemy of Cardinal Wolsey.  Norfolk, the premier noble of the realm, resented that England was being run by this upstart prelate who allegedly was the son of a butcher.
This surfaces a problem that will be key in the history of the Reformation in England.  You had the old nobility whose families went back to the time of the Conquest and they represented the old feudal system where the nobles were a check on the power of the King.  The nobility—Dukes, Earls, etc. were used to exercising power in their own areas of jurisdiction and they also were used to being able to hold back the power of the King by the King’s being required to have their assistance in time of war.  Moreover, the law of England was that the King needed their consent in Parliament to introduce taxes.  A strong nobility meant a weak King.  The nobles liked that.  Kings, especially the Tudor Kings Henry VII and Henry VIII did not like that.
Wolsey’s capable administration of the government managed to bypass the power of the nobles who saw the King growing stronger and stronger and their own power eroding.  But it was not only Wolsey.  On Wolsey’s advice, Henry depended more and more on choosing officials not from the old noble families but from new and up-and-coming families.  The old families were jealous of their prerogatives and had nothing but contempt for the new blood.  Anne Boleyn, though she came herself from the new blood, was connected by marriage to the old nobility and she represented an opportunity to break the power of Wolsey who represented the royal policy of using new comers to advance the strength of the monarchy.
Anne also represented the ascendency of the pro-French party in its struggle against the pro-Spanish.  Her years at the French court and her preference for French fashions and styles would indicate a change in influence over the King in his foreign policy.  The French ambassador did what he could behind the scenes to increase her prestige; the Spanish ambassador circulated vile rumors about her. 
Anne represented a challenge of the nobility to Wolsey’s power and she represented those who wanted a change in foreign policy, but don’t think Anne was just a pawn.  She was a very clever woman who saw her chance for greatness.  She was willing to sacrifice much to attain it.  Henry was considerably older than she and by this point of his life he was no longer the young and lithe athlete.  He may not have yet attained the gouty obesity of his later years but he was gettng heavy.  His auburn hair was going grey.  This was about power, not romance.    
Anne had been in love with Henry Percy, the Earl of Northumberland and in fact had secretly been engaged to him, but his family demanded that the engagement be broken as she, a commoner, was beneath him.  Again this is an example of the resentment of the old nobility towards the up and coming gentry.   Wolsey was involved in this breakup as well and Anne harbored a grudge against Wolsey for the breakup that would lead to Wolsey’s downfall.  It is unlikely however than Anne’s family would have permitted the marriage in any event as they had planned a marriage for her to her cousin, James Butler, in an attempt to secure the Earldom of Ormond, an Irish title to which he had claim but to which the Boleyns also had claim through the marriage of Anne’s father to a Butler.  All this is terribly confusing, I admit, but was such were the struggles of the wealthy gentry like the Boleyns to rise to nobility and the resentment of the old nobles to them. 
There is another factor which caused some to advance Anne’s cause.  During her time in France, she had been mentored by Marguerite of Navarre, the sister of the King, and a woman given to the new Evangelical ideals coming from Germany.  Anne was hardly a Lutheran, much less a rabid proto-Protestant.  She had and would have through her life a deep devotion to the Blessed Virgin.  She didn’t seek to overthrow the Latin Mass or Catholic doctrines, but she cherished the ideals of Christian humanism and wanted to see the Church purified of many of its medieval accretions that obscured the core of the faith.  Despite Henry’s avid conservativism in matters religious, there was at the universities, and Cambridge in particular, growing interested in Evangelical ideals.  The possibility of a Queen that would influence Henry away from the Spanish Catholicism of Katherine was attractive to this party which had some important contacts in the Court.  
Henry’s noticing Anne brought her father noble titles of his own.  In an attempt to win the young lady’s favor, Henry named Thomas Boleyn Viscount Rochford and several years later the first Earl of Wiltshire.  He also was made a Knight of the Garter.  Anne herself was given the title Marques of Pembroke, a title that put her just beneath a Duke and gave her sufficient status to qualify as potential royal bride.   All this got Henry lot’s of attention and flirtatious promises, but it didn’t get her into his bed.  As Henry’s passion increased Anne was able to extract a promise of marriage.  This became necessary in January of 1533 when Anne found herself pregnant.
Anne had played her cards well, but here was the hitch.  She had Henry firmly on the hook but there was as yet no annulment.   It was a gamble, but one that was fairly secure.  There was the concrete possibility of an heir; Henry would have to fish or cut bait.  What would he do? 
Before we go further,   it is important to note an important change in the cast.  Wolsey was out of the picture and in disgrace.  We will come back to that in a post in the near future.  More to the point of Henry’s quandary, William Warham the old Archbishop of Canterbury had died and was replaced by Henry’s nominee, Thomas Cranmer.  All had been done properly with the required papal bulls but Cranmer was an Evangelical Trojan Horse in Catholic Troy.  He was a King’s man, not a pope’s man.  When Anne found herself pregnant, Henry married her on January 25, 1533 in a private ceremony without a papal annulment.   Cranmer granted the required annulment on May 23rd of the same year and declared the marriage of Henry and Anne consequently valid.  Anne was crowned Queen in June. 
We are going to have to come back to this point several times from different perspectives to more fully explain what happened and how it affected the relationship of the Church of England to the See of Rome.   

Monday, September 9, 2013

Foundations of the Anglican Church XLI

St John Fisher
At this point, matters become very complex.  We need to watch three separate strands of development which are inter-related but independent of each other.  The two major strands are the matter of Henry’s annulment and Henry’s separation of the Anglican Church from the Roman Communion.  The third strand, somewhat less important but also central to the developments was Henry’s relationship with Anne Boleyn.  While no one of these three can be studied in isolation from the others, each must be considered in and of itself as it is likely that each would have happened even if the others had not.  And it is important to know that each of these events was not a “flash in the pan” but a somewhat drawn out affair lasting over a period of years. 
Let’s look at the annulment matter first.  Henry began having serious doubts about the “rightness” of his marriage as early as 1524.  His wife, Katherine, had borne him six children, including three sons.   All but one, a daughter, did not survive infancy.  By 1524 the royal physicians had told Henry that Katherine would have no more children.  There would be no sons.  That did not bode well for the Tudor dynasty.  It did not bode well for England.  The only previous time a woman had succeeded to the throne, the Empress Maude (sometimes known as Matilda) in the early 12th century, was a time of dynastic rivalry and civil war when various male claimants to the throne tried to seize it from her.  One of them, her cousin, Stephen of Blois, was successful.  Thousands died in the long wars between Maude and Stephen.   Henry feared that should his daughter Mary ascend the throne, there could be another period of instability as the Tudors were a new dynasty and there were others whose claim to the throne  had more legitimacy than that of the Tudors. 
Henry’s marriage to Katherine was theologically problematic.  Katherine was the widow of Henry’s older brother, Arthur.  Katherine, and her chaperone, claimed that the marriage—between two teens and lasting only a few months—had never been consummated. The problem with the marriage is this: Deuteronomy commands that should a man die childless, his widow must marry his brother and raise up children to the dead brother’s memory; Leviticus prohibits such a marriage.  In practice, the Christian Church had never followed the prescript of Deuteronomy that a widow should marry her brother-in-law and in fact the Church had always, following Leviticus, prohibited such marriages.  Dispensations were given however when requested. 
When Katherine and Henry had married, a papal dispensation had been obtained from Julius II to ensure that any improprieties in the marriage should not render it invalid.  But could a Pope annul the Law of God as commanded in Leviticus?   It would seem, to devout Catholics, that the Pope had such power, especially since the scriptural norms were ambiguous.  But Henry began to wonder: was God punishing him for marrying his brother’s widow by depriving him of a viable heir. 
Now politics get into every argument.  Henry’s marriage to Katherine represented an alliance with Spain—Katherine’s parents being the famous Ferdinand and Isabella, the most powerful rulers in Europe in its day.   England’s long time enemy was France.  An alliance with Spain provided England with an alliance against their common enemy—France.   But there were Englishmen who saw the future for England as being an alliance with France against Spain.  Spain was gobbling up this new world of the Americas—there would be no room for England to grow and expand overseas.  France and England together could check the growing power of Spain, a power that threatened to squeeze out everyone else and dominate the world.  The French party in English politics saw their chance to break the Spanish influence over Henry if they could break his marriage to Katherine.  They fed Henry doubts about his marriage.  Maybe the King should take a new wife to provide the needed heir.  Retire the Spanish princess and put a French princess in her place.  The King of France had sisters who could provide an heir and ally England and France.
Nevertheless, for most people in 1525 or 1526 the idea that the King would renounce Katherine was beyond imagination.  Katherine was popular with the people.  She was a good wife who quietly tolerated her husband’s serial infidelities.  She had left Spain with its wealth and luxuries, its sunny climate and orange groves for cold and dreary England where she had performed her duties with elegance and grace.  Katherine and Henry were good Catholics.  Moreover, his infidelities aside, they had a good marriage.  They sincerely loved one another.  How could she be cast off?   What was really surprising is that Wolsey, the King’s chief minister, wasn’t more aware of the dangers to the marriage.  Wolsey ran England.  He normally anticipated Henry’s every whim and arranged matters accordingly.  Wolsey’s attention to detail permitted Henry to play while Wolsey governed.  But when Henry came to Wolsey and said he wanted to have his marriage annulled, it was a bolt out of the blue to Wolsey.   Wolsey recovered quickly and promised Henry that it could be arranged.
And it probably could have been arranged save for European politics.  Henry  could not have picked a worse time to ask for an annulment.  As seen in previous postings, it was just at this time (1527) that the troops of Katherine’s nephew, Charles V, sacked Rome and holed the Pope up in the Castel Sant’Angelo.  And it was just at this time that the people of Florence expelled the Medici, leading the Pope to forge an alliance with the Emperor—the Sack of Rome not withstanding—to restore the Medici to Florence.  Clement was in no position to satisfy Henry if he wanted to keep Charles on his side. 
Clement didn’t come right out and say no to Henry.  In April 1528 Clement declared that the matter would be referred to a commission to examine the matter and the following June he appointed Cardinal Lorenzo Campeggio and Wolsey to be the ecclesiastical judges to examine the validity of the marriage. 
Campeggio was an interesting choice.  In 1524, with Henry’s encouragement, he had been elected Bishop of Salisbury.  Of course he did not live in England.  His English Vicar General administered the diocese, but Campeggio, living in Rome, collected the income—and it was a considerable income –of the diocese.  So he was in Henry’s debt.  But Campeggio had already written an opinion supporting the validity of the marriage.  So how would he go on this matter?  Would he stay true to his principles or would he be faithful to his English benefactor?
In fact, Campeggio had been given instructions from Clement that he was not to grant the annulment but neither was he to refuse it.  He was to stall for time.  It was a typically Italian strategy.  Promise everything, but do nothing. Keep everyone happy.   
By the autumn of 1528 Campeggio had arrive in England and convened the court at Blackfriars (the Dominican convent in London).  Katherine made a dramatic appearance, declaring that she would not recognize its jurisdiction and producing the original dispensation permitting the marriage.  She threw herself at Henry’s feet stating she had always been a good queen and a faithful wife and he had no reason to put her aside.  She then left the court and refused any summons to return.  Henry, for his part, gave a speech in November 1528 , praising Katherine as a good wife and declaring he would marry her again if circumstances were different.   Henry was both sincere and false in making this declaration.  There is no doubt that he had loved her and probably in 1528 loved her still—though more as a matter of gratitude and respect than in any romantic sense.  Nevertheless, by this point, he was determined on a new marriage—though not necessarily to Anne Boleyn.   
Katherine found a champion in John Fisher, the aged prelate who had been Henry’s childhood tutor and was now Bishop of Rochester.  Fisher was an old man but he had fire in his belly.  He defended the marriage and excoriated Henry, comparing him to Herod declaring that he, like John the Baptist, would surrender his head to defend the marriage.  He would, in due time, be taken up on this offer but the irony is that John the Baptist had lost his head for attacking a king for marrying his brother’s wife and John Fisher was attacking a king for trying to separate from his brother’s wife.  Rhetoric does not always follow logic. 
Campeggio dragged the matter out for months and Wolsey was in a panic.  He began to realize that there would be no annulment and the security of his own position depended on their being an annulment.   Meanwhile, Henry had become infatuated with Anne Boleyn.  We will say more about this in the next posting but suffice it to say that initially Henry had no intention of marrying Anne, only bedding her.  But Anne was not about to be bedded and discarded by Henry as her sister Mary had been.  Anne was bold enough to see a chance at becoming Queen and she led Henry on while fending him off at the same time.  As Henry was not yet thinking of marriage to Anne he was willing to put up with Campeggio’s delays.  The French princess or whoever else might be his bride could wait until this was all sorted out.  Henry was still fairly young;  there was still time for him to sire an heir.
In July 1529, after about nine months of hearings, Campeggio recessed the court until  October but it never reconvened.  It was not that Henry had become impatient and dismissed the Court, but Clement—afraid that pressure might be put on Campeggio to yield—reserved the matter to himself.  Campeggio left England for Italy and as of Christmas 1529 there was still no resolution of “The King’s Great Matter.”  

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Foundations of the Anglican Church XL

Pope Clement VII
Well, enough about Judie Brown and Michael Voris and their ilk for now, let’s get back to ol’ Henry and his annulment problems.  We left off that story with the 1527 Sack of Rome by the troops of the Emperor Charles V.  The troops were mostly German followers of Martin Luther, recent converts to the Protestant movement Luther had established less than ten years previously, and all their religious bile came out as they had the chance to sack the papal capital.  It was, as I wrote, a sickening sight with about 12,000 people murdered, from priests at their altars and nuns in their monasteries to women and children in the streets and alleys of Rome.  The Swiss Guard were massacred as they protected the Pope, permitting him to escape through a secret passageway in Leonine Wall to the Castle Sant’ Angelo where he was holed up for months like a rat in his warren until a hefty ransom could be paid to call off the German troops. 
Historians often say that Clement refused Henry his annulment because he was afraid that Charles—the nephew of Henry’s Queen, Katherine of Aragon—would return and revenge his aunt’s disgrace.  But the story is a bit more complicated.  We need to remember that Clement, like Luther’s Pope Leo X, was a Medici.  And the Medici were, as usual, “up to something.”
The Medici had been country folk from the Mugello, an area just north of Florence, who moved into the city sometime around 1200.  It was a time of urban expansion in Europe, and in the cities of Italy in particular.  From the very beginning the Medici began advancing up the social ladder.  They married into some of the better families.  They forged business alliances with some of the more successful families.  Little by little and generation after generation they did better and better.  Actually their rise was comparatively rapid.  In 1397 Giovanni di Bicci Medici established a bank which soon became the leading Bank not only in Florence but in Europe.  The family had had some previous experience in banking but it was when Giovanni di Bicci took his operation in Rome and moved it back to Florence that it really took off.  In the fifteenth century it was Florence that was the center of the Renaissance and indeed the economic center of Europe.  And the Medici were bankrolling it to their profit.
The Medici knew not only how to run a good bank but how to use a bank to advance themselves not only socially to become the premier family in Florence but politically to control the policies of the Republic.  Ironically few Medici ever held civil office and yet the family were the puppet masters of the great Republic.  Florence had longed been governed as a republic but with a rather clumsy governmental structure of a Council known as the Signoria and composed of representatives of the various guilds.   Members of the Signoria were chosen by the respective guilds to serve terms of two months during which they were sequestered in the municipal palace with little or no contact with the outside world so that they could not be influenced in their decision making by individuals or corporations that might want the city government to go this way or that.  So it worked in theory.  In practice the Medici were always able to make their will known to the officials and officials dutifully followed Medici policy.  So important was their position in society that Cosimo the Elder (1389-1464) became known as Pater Patriae (Father of the Fatherland) though the highest office he ever held was a brief term as Priore della Republica—one of the “priors” or members of the Signoria, the city council.  Cosimo’s grandson was Lorenzo the Magnificent (1449-1492)
On Easter Day 1478 Lorenzo and his brother Guiliano were attacked while they were at Easter Mass in the Cathedral of Florence by a coalition of political rivals under the leadership of the Pazzi Family and with the support of Pope Sixtus IV.  Guiliano died, Lorenzo survived.  The plot failed and the Medici emerged victorious.  Lorenzo’s son went on to become Pope Leo X, the Pope with whom Luther struggled.  Giuliano’s illegitimate son, Giulio, became Pope Clement VII, the Pope Henry would petition for his annulment.
While they successfully staved off the attack by the Pazzi and Pope Sixtus, the Medici eventually ran afoul of the Republic and were banned from the city from 1494 until 1512 when Leo X Medici was able to use his power as pope to have the ban lifted and the family return from exile and restored to power.  They were again sent into exile in 1527 as the Florentines realized that their political machinations were a danger to the Republic.
Now this is where the story will intersect with the Annulment—or lack thereof—requested by Henry VIII.
When the Medici were exiled from Florence in 1527 there was a Medici—Clement VII—on the papal throne.  He was determined to have his family restored to power in Florence as his cousin Leo X had  managed to have them restored after their earlier exile.  But how?  Rome was in ruins after the sack by the troops of Charles VII.  Clement’s Swiss guards had been all but wiped out and indeed the papal armies were not only beaten but decimated.  There was no money to hire mercenaries.   What did Clement have to use as a bargaining chip.
Well, fortunately he had a bastard son, Allesandro (1510-1537).  And fortunately for Clement, the Emperor Charles V had an illegitimate daughter, Margaret of Austria (1522-1586).  Now illegitimate children, especially daughters, can be a bit tricky to place as far as marriages go and Clement—a bastard himself—was not one to quibble about which side of the blanket one had been born on (or actually conceived).   Charles had, of course, just beaten Clement silly in the Sack of Rome but Clement wasn’t one to hold a grudge when it came to family politics.  And besides, Charles himself was horrified that his troops had behaved so sacrilegiously and he needed to make things up to the Pope.  Of course the girl was only five or six, but marriages were arranged that early.  The wedding itself wouldn’t take place until 1536 but negations were underway throughout this period and the deal was this:  Charles should take his army and beat the cr** out of Florence just as he had Rome.  Then he should put an end to this pesky Republic and install the young couple in Florence as the Grand Duke and Grand Duchess of a Florence that was now, in name, a fief of the Empire.  Thus the Medici would be restored to Florence and secure in their position.  There was only one problem.  That pesky King of England kept petitioning for an annulment of his marriage to Charles’ aunt.  For the Pope to grant an annulment to Henry would scotch his ambitions for the Medici to be restored in Florence.  Florence or England?  Hmmm.  Which should it be?  In the end Clement was willing to give up England rather than for his family to lose Florence.  As Jesus said, A hired man, who is not a shepherd and whose sheep are not his own, sees a wolf coming and leaves the sheep and runs away, and the wolf catches and scatters them. This is because he works for pay and has no concern for the sheep.” (John 10:12-13)