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Thought for the week by The Rev Alan Morris, Holy Angels Church
2:04pm Friday 8th June 2012 in Thought for the week
THE Christian faith of the English sovereign has played an important part in the life of the nation.
In the 9th century, Alfred, King of Wessex, defeated the pagan Danes, securing Christianity in England.
St Edward the Confessor became king of all England in 1042 and concerned himself generally with religious matters and the building of Westminster Abbey.
In 1066, William the Conqueror replaced the Saxon hierarchy and abbots with Norman appointees, linking the English Church securely to mainland Europe. In the early 16th century, against the background of the Protestant Reformation in Europe, the young King Henry VIII, wrote a treatise In Defence of the Seven Sacraments, in recognition of which, Pope Leo X bestowed on Henry, the title Defender of the Faith. Sadly, the king’s desire to have his marriage to his first wife annulled ultimately took the majority of Christians in England into schism from Rome. With Elizabeth I, the state became doctrinally Protestant, as she took the title Supreme Governor of the Church of England.
In our own day, Elizabeth II, has spoken openly of her own Christian faith, prays daily and attends church every week. How a royal Christian example may be exercised in a multi-ethnic and religiously plural Britain, is a matter of national debate, not least in the Anglican Church itself. A sovereign who explicitly sets herself the task of defending the rights of all her subjects to the lawful expression of their faith, while openly cherishing her own Christian faith inheritance, will play a vital role in fostering openness and tolerance. Such a sovereign indeed deserves our grateful thanks and gives us cause to sing God save the Queen.