Quae Sunt Dei

The King’s majesty hath the chief power in this Realm of England, and other of his Dominions, unto whom the chief Government of all Estates of this Realm, whether they be Ecclesiastical or Civil, in all causes doth appertain, and is not, nor ought to be, subject to any foreign jurisdiction … We give not to our Princes the ministering either of God’s Word, or of the Sacraments … but that only prerogative, which we see to have been given always to all Godly Princes in holy Scriptures by God himself; that is, that they should rule all estates and degrees committed to their charge by God, whether they be Ecclesiastical or Temporal, and restrain with the civil sword the stubborn and evildoer … The Bishop of Rome hath no jurisdiction in this Realm of England.

Article XXXVII.

But we would say a word more on the history of this anomaly. The origin of the Anglican jurisdiction, like the origin of the Anglican order, was the accident of Queen Elizabeth’s illegitimacy. Cardinal Pole had, in Queen Mary’s reign, absolved the nation from schism and heresy, and restored it to the communion of the Church. But Queen Elizabeth, compelled by her illegitimacy, tore the nation once more from Catholic unity; risking her own soul, and the souls of her subjects, in order that she might reign forty years. So reluctant was the nation to return to schism, that a packed parliament could only secure a small majority of three in favor of the apostate oath of royal supremacy; all the bishops, the universities, the whole body of Catholic clergy, and all the laity who dared to speak their mind, protesting against the hideous impiety. Thus it was by act of parliament alone that the ancient faith, the ancient hierarchy, the ancient liturgy were swept away, and the present doctrines, rites, and ceremonies of the new Church were established as parliamentarily sound. It is just here that jurisdiction and holy order seem to contend for the mastery in confusion. Six of Elizabeth’s theologians being consulted as to the validity of the new orders, gave it as their opinion that “in a case of such urgent necessity the queen possessed the power of supplying every defect through the plenitude of her ecclesiastical authority as head of the Church.” In other words, these Protestant theologians maintained the perfectly original theory that true jurisdiction being wanting for the new order, a false jurisdiction must be pronounced true. The new order, they said, is certainly equivocal; we admit that it is not in the least like Catholic order; but, as we have thrown over the pontiff’s jurisdiction, which could alone decide the question authoritatively, one alternative alone remains to us: we must affirm that the queen’s jurisdiction is more divine than the pontiff’s jurisdiction; so that the queen can henceforth teach the pontiff, rebuke the pontiff, even anathematize him, “in the plenitude of her ecclesiastical authority as head of the Church.” And if it be replied, “Yes, this was the attitude of Elizabeth, but so far only as the Church of England was concerned,” our answer is: You first create a new national church, in the teeth of the opposition of the whole nation, episcopal, sacerdotal, and lay—excepting only the small crowd of powerful worldlings who had become enriched by the spoils of the Catholic Church—and having done this, you say that the new jurisdiction remained as restricted as the new church. This may be perfectly true as a political fact, but it is none the less an apostacy and an absurdity. It is an apostacy because you make the fount of all spiritual jurisdiction to be insular, civil, and lay; and it is an absurdity because you affirm of the lesser that it can rule, and ought to rule, the greater. You take from God the things which are God’s, and you give them to any turbulent Caesar. You make a civil and a lay power to sit in judgment on a divine sacrament (for not even Henry VIII., before or after his excommunication, denied that holy order was a divine sacrament), and you give to an island queen the power to “supply all deficiencies in the acts done by them” (her bishops), “or in the person or state, or faculty of any of them; such being the necessity of the case and the urgency of the time”; a power which never was claimed by any pontiff, and which every pontiff would have repudiated as an impiety. Thus you invert every process of common sense. You admit that it must belong to a divinely appointed jurisdiction to decide on faith, worship, and holy order, and yet affirm that it belongs to a queen or to a parliament to create that same divine jurisdiction whenever the “urgency of the time or the necessity of the case” seems to call for such spasmodic creation. “Render therefore unto Caesar the things that are God’s” is the new Anglican reading of the divine command. To pontifically define what is divine jurisdiction, and then to more than pontifically create it, was that Anglican assumption which accompanied the creation of a new church, a new faith, a new religion. Well might Montalembert say: “The Church of England was one of the most awful forms of sin and pride that has ever appeared in the world.” All other forms of heresy had been based on the assumption that divine authority had misinterpreted a divine truth; but Elizabethanism was based on the assumption that the civil power could create divine authority, and could then license this divine authority to teach whatever truths were most agreeable to its tastes or its ease.

A. F. Marshall, B. A. (Oxon.), The Correlation of Order and Jurisdiction, The American Catholic Quarterly Review, Vol. XX. April, 1895. No. 78.

Author: Christian Clay Columba Campbell

Christian Clay Columba Campbell is a Roman Catholic of the Anglican Use. As Senior Warden of the Cathedral of the Incarnation (Orlando, FL), he organised the process by which the parish accepted the Apostolic Constitution Anglicanorum coetibus, petitioning to join the Catholic Church. The Anglican Cathedral is now the Church of the Incarnation in the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter. Personal queries should be directed to me at eccentricbliss dot com.

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