Ahead of the Church of England’s General Synod, the Archbishop of Canterbury may be preparing a statement expected to call for repentance for the violence of the English Reformation.
“As the Church of England prepares to celebrate the Reformation, it
should also repent of the violence and brutality it sometimes committed
in God’s name,” commented Rev. Andrew Atherstone, a member of the
Atherstone said that aspects of the Reformation are “deeply embedded
in our national psyche,” and was the historical context for the
attempted invasion of the Spanish Armada and the Gunpowder Plot, when
Catholic would-be revolutionary Guy Fawkes attempted to blow up
The U.K. newspaper the Daily Mail, citing unnamed sources, said the
joint statement by Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby and Anglican
Archbishop of York John Sentamu is expected to recognize the “lasting
damage” of the Reformation, while also welcoming improved relations
between the Catholic Church and the Anglican Communion.
The statement will mark a week of prayer for Christian unity as the Church of England’s General Synod debates the anniversary.
“People often look to the past so they don’t make the same mistakes
again and can move on,” a spokesperson for the Archbishop of Canterbury
The English Reformation, driven largely by King Henry VIII’s desire
to divorce his wife so he could remarry and produce a male heir,
resulted in a Church of England headed by the English monarch and a
strengthened European Protestantism.
The split in the early 1500s
resulted in martyrdom and persecution of many Catholics who remained
loyal to the Pope, with Sts. Thomas More and Bishop John Fisher being
among the first to be executed.
The English Reformation resulted in the confiscation of many Catholic
churches and monastic lands which provided a key support for the poor.
Iconoclastic movements led to the destruction of historic Catholic art.
The rise of other radical Protestant movements and efforts to restore
Catholic leadership resulted in civil war and other persecutions, with
effects continuing centuries later.
Catholics in England faced many
legal disabilities up until the 19th century, and are still barred from
marrying the monarch or inheriting the throne.