Key dates in Britain's history of Catholicism

1527-40: Henry VIII breaks with Rome, first over the issue of his marriage to Catherine of Aragon; subsequently he dissolves the monasteries and shares the spoils among supporters. A Catholic rising in 1536 (the Pilgrimage of Grace) was bloodily suppressed. But Henry also burns Protestants, such as William Tyndale, the first translator of the Bible.

1556: Henry's Protestant Archbishop, Thomas Cranmer, author of most of the Book of Common Prayer, burned at the stake by Henry's Catholic daughter Queen Mary, along with bishops Hugh Latimer and Nicholas Ridley.

1570: Edict against Elizabeth I by Pope Pius V, who excommunicates her and all who obey her.

1605: Gunpowder plot in which disaffected Catholics attempt to blow up Houses of Parliament.

1649: Execution of Charles I, an Anglican of Catholic leanings, inaugurates a period of extreme Protestantism in the country.

1688: James II, a Catholic, forced to flee and is replaced by the Dutch Protestant William III and his English queen Mary. The subsequent settlement confirms England (and conquered Ireland) as countries in which full citizenship requires membership of Church of England.

1829: Catholic emancipation, brought about by the stresses and strains of Ireland, destroys settlement of 1688. During 19th century more and more privileges withdrawn from Church of England.

1833: John Henry Newman launches Tractarian (Anglo-Catholic) movement, which seeks to reinterpret the Church of England as essentially Catholic.

1845: Newman converts to Rome, to the consternation of his Anglican followers, and is later made a Cardinal.

1896: Vatican declares Anglican priestly orders 'utterly null and void', in response to inquiry from Anglican followers of Newman.

1961-65: The second Vatican Council concedes two of the principal demands of the 16th-century Reformation: a liturgy in English and communion in both kinds for the laity. The decree on ecumenism makes special mention of the Church of England.

1982: Pope John Paul II visits Canterbury and prays alongside Archbishop Robert Runcie. Relations between the two churches seem closer than ever.

1992: Church of England decides in favour of women priests: Vatican describes them as 'grave obstacle to unity'; Anglican opponents start negotiating for special terms for entry to the RC church.

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