LETTER : Ludicrous legacy of Henry VIII

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The Independent Online
Sir: I am at a loss to understand why the Rev Peter Hawkins finds it curious that Tony Wright MP, should "ridicule the Church of England's position on remarriage after divorce" (Letters, 21 July). The stance taken by the Church of England is one which invites ridicule from those of us who look for just a little logic in an argument.

While Mr Hawkins is careful to draw a distinction between the (Roman) Catholic Church in England and the established Church of England, reference to Henry VIII in the context of the present debate over a possible remarriage of the Prince of Wales is far from ludicrous.

Mr Hawkins would do well to remember that the title Defender of the Faith was bestowed on Henry VIII by the Pope in Rome, for his defence of the doctrines of the Roman Catholic Church against the "heresies" of Martin Luther - many of which now inform the beliefs of the mainstream "Protestant" churches including the Church of England.

The Doctrine of Papal Supremacy, central to the Faith, brought to England by St Augustine, was ably defended by Henry VIII until adherence to it became personally and politically inconvenient.

I find it more than a little curious that 500 years after Henry VIII's act of political expediency the church, monarchy and Parliament in this country can find themselves tied in knots debating the fitness or otherwise of the heir apparent to inherit a title which must have lost any meaning at the point when the Church of England came into being.

Accepting for the purpose of this argument that the title retained any form or substance following the excommunication, or death, of its original holder, there can be nothing inconsistent in any of his heirs or successors following his example and accepting it on the basis that it is short for "Defender of those tenets of the Faith that I may, from time to time, find it convenient to uphold".

ROSEMARY WATSON

Walsham le Willows,

Suffolk

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