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The Church of England is the state church of England and the mother church of the Anglican Communion. Combining Catholic and Protestant traditions, the Church of England rejects the authority of the Pope, but is led by the Archbishops of Caterbury and York.

As there is history of an organized church in England by the 4rd century, Christianity probably found its way to England in the 2nd century, and perhaps earlier. At that point, of course, it was part of the one, larger Christian church. The English church separated from the larger body in the 16th century.

Henry Tudor ascended to the throne at the age of seventeen, upon the death of his father, Henry VII, becoming King Henry VIII. Through his arranged marriage to Catherine of Aragon, Henry sired one boy, named Henry, but he died seven weeks later. Catherine had two other sons, but they were stillborn. In 1516, she gave birth to Mary, who lived. Henry wanted a male heir.

Henry sought a divorce from Catherine, a request that Pope Clement VII was unwilling to grant. He persuaded Parliament to enact a statute denying the pope jurisdiction over the Church of England. He was not the first to do this, as other English kings had exercised supreme authority over other ecclesiastical matters.

Thus, the Church of England became independent of the Roman Catholic Church. The king then forced the appointment of Thomas Cranmer as the archbishop of Canterbury, the most powerful church office in England. Cranmer then granted an annulment of the marriage between Henry and Catherine.

In subsequent years, Henry VIII went through a series of marriages in the hope of fathering a male child. Anne Boleyn gave birth to a daughter, Elizabeth; then Jane Seymour gave birth to a son, Edward. She died two weeks later, but Henry had a male heir.

Edward VII became king at the age of eight. Due to his age, his uncle, Edward Seymour, guided his decisions, moving the Church of England in a Protestant direction. Thomas Cranmer's, The Book of Common Prayer was made mandatory.

Edward died before reaching the age of majority, and his older sister, Mary, took the throne. In her fanatical efforts to return the Church to its Catholic roots, she became known as Bloody Mary. Among her victims was Thomas Cranmer, who was burned at the stake.

Following her death in five years, Elizabeth I ascended to the throne. She took the Church to a middle way, between Catholicism and Protestantism, which satified the majority.

Today, the Church of England and the larger Anglican Church is often known as the Middle Way. The Church of England teaches that Scripture reveals what people need to know about salvation, but that Scripture must be interpreted according to tradition and through human reason. The basis of its liturgy is The Book of Common Prayer.

It is catholic because it views itself as part of the universal Church in unbroken continuity with the Apostolic church. The Apostles' Creed, the Nicene Creed, and the Athanasian Creed are affirmed by the Church of England. However, members of the Church of England are free to accept or reject the Mariology of Roman Catholicism, and the principles of the Protestant Reformation are affirmed in its teaching that Scripture is the final arbiter in all matters of doctrine.

While embracing some of the themes of the Protestant Reformation, the Church of England maintains Catholic traditions that are not considered to be contrary to Scripture.

The Church of England is episcopal, meaning that its government is ruled by bishops. Like Catholicism, its organizational structure consists of bishops, priests, and deacons.

The Church of Scotland separated from the Church of England in 1869, and the Church in Wales separated in 1920, and are autonomous bodies within the Anglican Communion. Today, the national church of Scotland is Presbyterian, but the Scottish Episcopal Church is in the Anglican Communion. Besides England, the Church of England has jurisdication over the Isle of Man, the Channel Islands, and a few parishes in Wales that voted to remain with the Church of England. Expatriate European congregations have become the Diocese of Gibraltar in Europe. The Church of England does not have jurisdiction over the Episcopal Church, but both are in the Anglican Communion.

Although the Church of England is the national church of England, it does not receive financial support from the government.

Topics related to the Church of England are appropriate for this category. However, sites representing local congregations or parishes should be listed in the appropriate Local & Global category.

 

 

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