Will Queen Elizabeth give the pope a warm welcome next year?

October 27, 2009

queenOne can guess what Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams will say to Pope Benedict when the spiritual head of the Anglican Communion travels to the Vatican later this year. The more interesting question might be what  Queen Elizabeth is likely to say when she hosts the pope next year.

(Photo: Queen Elizabeth, 13 June 2009/Luke MacGregor)

The timing of the trips couldn’t be more intriguing, especially the second one. The pope is due to visit Britain in September 2010 and is expected to preside there over the beatification of the late Cardinal John Henry Newman, a famous 19th-century convert from Anglicanism to Catholicism.

The queen is, after all, the Supreme Governor of the Church of England, many of whose flock the pope is seeking to poach with his offer last week allowing Anglicans to convert en masse while keeping many of their traditions. And among her honorifics is “Defender of the Faith.” While that sounds impressive, it pales in comparison to Benedict’s long string of titles including “Vicar of Jesus Christ, Successor of the Prince of the Apostles and Supreme Pontiff of the Universal Church.” But oneupmanship is a British sport, so one never knows how these things can turn out.

It is unclear how many CofE traditionalists, upset at moves to ordain women bishops and the issue of homosexuality, will move over to Rome, but the conservative Anglican group Forward in Faith suggested 12 Church of England bishops may switch – more than a quarter of their total.

It was suggested by the Daily Telegraph newspaper earlier this month, before the Vatican effectively sabotaged decades of dialogue between the two churches, that the pope would receive a warm welcome at Buckingham Palace. “The warmth of her welcome will come as no surprise to the pontiff,” it said.

pope-crozierCiting sources speaking to the Catholic Herald weekly, the Telegraph said the queen has “grown increasingly sympathetic” to the Roman Catholic Church over the years while being “appalled,” along with her son and heir Charles, at developments in the Church of England.

(Photo: Pope Benedict, 11 Oct 2009/Max Rossi)

The Sunday Telegraph in July said the queen had told the heads of a traditional group that she “understood their concerns” about the future of the 77 million-strong global church.

But whether the warmth will stand up to the pope parking his tanks on her lawn, as Ruth Gledhill described it in The Times — especially Buckingham Palace’s lawns — would be astonishing.

As head of her faith she must defend her church, and can do so on an equal footing in both political and spiritual terms, Vicki Woods of the Telegraph wrote. “When Pope John Paul II met the queen on his visit to Britain, he was for once wrong-footed,” she pointed out.  “She spoke to him not as a fellow head of state but as a fellow head of the church: her church. Her faith. Which she defends. He was quite taken aback.”

It is not only her church’s clergy and laity which are up for grabs, but possibly also the buidlings.

And it was Queen Elizabeth I, after all, who so staunchly defended the English Reformation introduced by her father Henry VIII in 1534 in his dispute with Rome over his desire to divorce one wife and marry another.

The queen has already potentially been slighted by her Prime Minister Gordon Brown, who it has been reported in the media, apparently personally invited the pope to visit Britain during a private audience last February.

williams-hand“He should read Carla Powell’s diary in The Spectator,” Woods wrote.  “Gordon Brown says he invited His Holiness, which if true would represent a gross breach of protocol. Only the queen can invite a head of state to Britain.”

(Photo: Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, 11 Feb 2009/Kieran Doherty)

The queen, needless to say, has said even less than her archbishop. The older royals don’t often leave themselves open to be quoted. On one of the rare occasions they have, the late queen mother was reported to have only commented that church services should not last beyond an hour. The archbishop has barely said much more in response to the pope other than he did not see it as “an act of aggression” and that it would not derail dialogue between the two churches.

But when you become the focus of general sympathy, you must know that you have probably been dealt a rum deal.

The fact that the archbishop was only notified two weeks before the pope revealed just how far he was prepared to go in accommodating the Anglo-Catholics must have left him “starting to wonder if he has any friends left,” Gledhill wrote in the Times over the weekend.  “He is like the academic boy at school who no one wants to play with because he doesn’t understand the rules of fisticuffs,” she added.

Many religious figures have been indignant at the way the Vatican has behaved towards Williams, with his predecessor George Carey urging him to protest at its “appalling” injustice.

The Vatican is expected to reveal more details about the offer in the next week or two. The conservative Anglican group Forward in Faith debated the offer in London at the weekend and decided its members would be consulted, with a decision due in late February after the CofE general synod.

threlfall-holmesSome women priests say that timing is cynical, based on emotional blackmail.

“It is beginning to sound like an abusive marriage,” said the pro-women ordination spokeswoman Reverend Miranda Threlfall-Holmes, chaplain at University College, Durham, in northern England. She suggested the disaffected will threaten to leave unless concessions are made on the possible ordination of women bishops, which is due to be discussed at the synod.

(Photo: Rev. Miranda Threlfall-Holmes)

The Vatican made moves 17 years ago to attract Anglicans when the ordination of women priests was being discussed.  “They could say we will leave unless you do this and that,” she  said.

What do you think? Will Queen Elizabeth surprise Pope Benedict and defend the faith, as she did with Pope John Paul? Or will diplomacy prevail?

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What else can be said about this situation? This is what happens when any “Church” (in this case, COE/Anglican/Episcopalian) gets away from “the simplicity that is Christ” (2 Corinthians 11:3-4) and communicating “another Jesus, another Gospel, another Spirit” that doesn’t conform to Scripture. In this case, the COE/Anglican/Episcopalian problems arising from a perversion of the proper role of man and woman. The Roman Catholics aren’t innocent either, with their celibacy rule. I foresee major problems ahead, not just for this Catholic/Anglican issue, but for the entire Christianity.

Posted by Concerned Person | Report as abusive

When it comes to nationalistic Gods as in God and Country and God Bless the Queen I should imagine that Great Britain comes our much better than the Pope’s little country. Trying to speak for all countries with your own set of laws and rules and high birth rates begins to impinge on the secular values needed for a multi religious world.

Posted by wildthing | Report as abusive

Queen should kick pope back to his vatican. She should also take away his luxuries and send him riding on donkey/ mule. How come this pope has more money and luxuries than Queen, without even working?

Posted by Subject | Report as abusive

Subject, that’s an interesting comment. How do you know who has more money? What are your estimates for the total wealth of the queen and the pope?

Posted by Tom Heneghan | Report as abusive

“The more interesting question might be what Queen Elizabeth is likely to say when she hosts the pope next year.”– “And what do you do?”Sorry, but I just couldn’t resist it…..

Posted by Ian Kemmish | Report as abusive

What “church” exactly will the Queen defend? The title “Defender of the Faith” was granted to her predecessor by the Pope for defending Catholicism. And let’s not forget – the pre-eminent Anglican see of Canterbury itself was established by Augustine, himself sent as a missionary to England by Pope Gregory I. The notion that the current Pope is in any way “parking his tanks” on English lawns is absurd – it’d be more correct to say that His Holiness is opening the doors for a “Welcome Home” party.

Posted by James | Report as abusive

Tom, there were some analysis done http://www.chick.com/reading/books/153/1 53_10.aspThe religious torch bearers of all religion are the biggest fraudsters and the pope leads the pack. Religious torch bearers promote activities which lead to riots, genocide.

Posted by Subject | Report as abusive

This article’s slant against the Catholic Church, and the way it misrepresents her, is regrettable. To correct two points: 1) Dr Williams has known this decision was coming for at least two years 2) The RCs aren’t poaching Anglicans but offering those who wish to leave a lifeboat from a sinking ship. It’s an act of mercy not one of political expediency. On the subject of the Queen, the CoE is not the institution it was in 1982.

Posted by Catholicroots | Report as abusive

Subject, I asked about serious numbers, not unsubstantiated charges from some anti-Catholic pamphlet. Did you notice that this website describes itself as “publishing cartoon gospel tracts and equipping Christians for evangelism for over 40 years”? And the next chapter in this series from the cartoon publisher rambles on about a purported Vatican plan to take over the United States? This is a solid analysis? I’m ready to look at any serious figures and accept any convincing evidence about the Vatican’s wealth, but this doesn’t make it. Just because it’s out there on the internet doesn’t make it right.

Posted by Tom Heneghan | Report as abusive

No probs. http://www.time.com/time/magazine/articl e/0,9171,833509,00.htmlUS $ 15 billon estimated to be in 1965. 100% tax evader who preaches about distribution of wealth to others. Adding some inflation and current value of money, it should come to around US $ 150 billion in today’s terms.Queen is merely around US $ 650 million dollars.

Posted by Subject | Report as abusive

Do you have something more current than a 1965 estimate? Would anyone trust a company that stated its worth in 1965 terms and said to do the math for the intervening period? Or a country that gave its 1965 census figure and said to estimate its current population from there?

Posted by Tom Heneghan | Report as abusive

Who cares..? The queen of England is an irrelevant relic of former times when dictators ruled, and belongs to an empirical lineage of world beaters and overlords that should not retain the slightest respect from modern democratic society.The very idea of a family being of royal blood and set apart from ordinary human beings is a primitive and insulting charade that has no place in the modern world.

Posted by brian | Report as abusive

Subject,From the Time article you cited, it seems the Church practises exactly what it preaches: “Dividends help pay for Vatican expenses and charities such as assisting 1,500,000 children and providing some measure of food and clothing to 7,000,000 needy Italians.” And to label the Vatican as a “tax evader” is misleading: no sovereign government owes tax to another.

Posted by James | Report as abusive

Why Vatican never appointed a cardinal for Great Britain ?

Posted by Mario | Report as abusive

Never? There have been many. At least four are alive now — Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor (retired archbishop of London), Cardinal Keith O’Brien (archbishop of Edinburgh), Cardinal Sean Brady (archbishop of Armagh) and Cardinal Cahal Daly (retired archbishop of Armagh).

Posted by Tom Heneghan | Report as abusive

Sorry to be pedantic, but Northern Ireland isn’t part of Great Britain.

Posted by RN | Report as abusive

JamesSo it is actually a king vs queen meeting. Queen should take appropriate care as King of vatican makes visit to Great Britain.

Posted by Subject | Report as abusive

RN, tks, I dashed off that response and I stand corrected. But that still leaves two cardinals for Mario! :-)

Posted by Tom Heneghan | Report as abusive

Subject,Yes, it would be a meeting between two heads of state (I’m not entirely sure why that would be such a contentious point). And the Queen should take appropriate care at all times. I fail to see, however, why Her Majesty should suspend the rules of international diplomacy for this or any other state visit.

Posted by James | Report as abusive

subject,Your reducing the argument only to matters of money proves you are a cynic.

Posted by Peter K | Report as abusive

Tony Blair should be the translator for their meeting: Who else can mediate like this confused man,being a former anglican converted to catholicism as a middle aged man- farse and deception all the way folks.

Posted by skeptic | Report as abusive

“…Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor (the retired archbishop of London)….”Tom,Cardinal Murphy-O’Connor is the retired archbishop of Westminster, not London. The Eccclesiastical Titles aof 1851 (which favors the Established Anglican Church) denies legal existence to territorial Catholic sees. That is, no Catholic diocese can have the same name as an Anglican diocese even though (according to recusant Catholics) those dioceses have been borrowed.For that reason, there is no Catholic bishop of London, only an Anglican. It’s would be illegal for Catholics to have one. Such is life for Catholics in England.

Posted by james | Report as abusive

skeptic,Tony Blair is doing an excellent job at Yale University. He is very well liked!

Posted by bellowser | Report as abusive

The meeting will be a profound gesture of example to those concerned in the matters of importance in spiritual leadership. It is certain to be a most gracious and productive meeting so far as these matters are concerned.

Posted by James Reginald Harris, Jr | Report as abusive

skeptic,Come on, now, Tony Blair might not be as brilliant as Evelyn Waugh or G.K.Chesterton, former Anglicans converted to Catholicism, but he is quite bright. I attended one of his talks and found him facinating, as did my colleagues. He is quite sharp!

Posted by bellowser | Report as abusive

Come on, skeptic, Tony Blair might not be Evelyn Waugh or G. K. Chesterton, former Anglicans converted to Catholicism, but he is quite bright. I attended one of his talks and was very impressed — as were my colleagues. He is excellent speaker and quite sharp.

Posted by bellowser | Report as abusive

Of course the meeting is against the Laws of Britain [1701 Settlements ACT] which does 3 things:(a) forbids any catholic from taking the throne of Great Britain(b) forbids “Protestant Monarchs” that have been crowned and then backslides and has communion or anything to do with the Roman Catholic Faith and or the Pope!and finally(c) it allows Citizens of these realms to be absolved of their allegiances with such a [backslidden]monarch..this of course includes paying taxes as they are collected by Her Majesty’s inland Revenue!http://www.statutelaw.gov.uk/con tent.aspx?activeTextDocId=1565208.(a)And it was thereby further enacted That all and every Person and Persons that then were or afterwards should be reconciled to or shall hold Communion with the See or Church of Rome or should professe the Popish Religion or marry a Papist should be excluded and are by that Act made for ever [X1incapable] to inherit possess(b)or enjoy the Crown and Government of this Realm and Ireland and the Dominions thereunto belonging or any part of the same or to have use or exercise any regall Power Authority or Jurisdiction within the same(c)And in all and every such Case and Cases the People of these Realms shall be and are thereby absolved of their Allegiance And that the said Crown andThe Queen from what I have researched on the internet has already forfeited her Crown as given in the above law by meeting with the Pope in the 80s there may be earlier records, anyway now there is an Embassy in the Vatican and in 2005 she had HOLY COMMUNION at Vespers in the main Catholic church in Westminster. ALL these acts of course disqualifies her see (b) from the Crown and affords Citizens the ability to absolve their allegiances from her.Yes I hear ya we are in an age of anti-discrimination Britain –not quite as NO NON CATHOLIC MONARCH gave the ROYAL ASSENT and the Prime Minister – Blair or Brown NEVER repealed it by following a Statue of Westminster – the Houses of Parliament cannot just undo it has to go round the commonwealth… .I say bring on the Royal Prince William! Although my MP favours a Republic!

Posted by Liz | Report as abusive