Monday, October 20, 2008
Elizabeth I: Protestant or Catholic?
David Loades in the latest edition of BBC History Magazine has this to say about Elizabeth I: "She was clearly a Protestant theologically; there is no doubt about that at all." However, even though the former professor at the University of Wales, Bangor has written a biography of Elizabeth, one is entitled to question his judgment. Elizabeth herself wrote to the Emperor Frederick "“We and our people-Thanks be to God-follow no novel and strange religions, but that very religion which is ordained by Christ, sanctioned by the primitive and Catholic Church and approved by the consistent mind and voice of the early Fathers." That letter was written 1563 and expressed a view of what the queen intended the English Church to be and teach. In 1571 the canons passed by the Convocations of Canterbury and York and approved by the queen express the same view when it said "See to it that you teach nothing. . .which you would have religiously held and believed by the people, save what is agreeable to the teaching of the Old or New Testament, and what the Catholic fathers and ancient bishops have collected from this self-same doctrine." This doesn't sound like the doctrine of either Zwingli or Calvin. In fact it sounds a good deal more like what the whole Church, East and West, believed and taught for the first five centuries. And, that I believe, was real Catholicism.