Tuesday, October 27, 2009

The Coronation Oath and The Crisis of the Church of England

The enclosed article by Tom Johnstone traces the history of the Coronation Oath taken by English Monarchs since the time of Archbishop Egbert of York to the modern time. What we see is a gradual transformation of the Oath to reflect the changing political and religious factors that were brought to England especially during the Penal times which saw the Oath linked with the established protestant Church, aligned eventually with the Test Act, which meant to exclude the possibility of Catholics from taking an active part in the Parliament.

"I ... do solemnly and sincerely, in the presence of God, profess, testify and declare that I do believe that in the Sacrament of the Lord's Supper there is not any transubstantiation of the elements of bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Christ at or after the consecration thereof by any person whatsoever: and that the invocation or adoration of the Virgin Mary or any other Saint and the sacrifice of the Mass, as they are now used in the Church of Rome, are superstitious and idolatrous."

What is certain from this excellent article by Mr. Johnstone is that the English State Church, linked as it is to the Crown and these oaths have been altered in response to growing concerns for religious toleration, and another historical concern for disestablishment.

Since many members of the Royal Family have renounced claims to the throne since marrying Catholics, the future looks bright for an alteration in the Coronation Oath to reflect the failure of the Church of England to respond effectively to liberalizing elements essentially making the English Church indistinguishable from the surrounding modern society and undercutting continuity with the perennial moral teachings common to all Christians before the modern age.

Queen Elizabeth has been quoted by "informants" recently in The Telegraph that she is appalled at the established church: yet it is clear, given her own points of concern in the past with the course of things in society, her sympathy to the Catholic Church and fondness for the Pope who is to stay at Buckingham Palace when he visits England next year, the precedent for changes in the Coronation Oath and the abrogation of the aforementioned Test Act, it is possible that her successor, if not herself, could become the first Catholic monarch of England since James II.

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