Monday 30th May 2016

Home » Featured Today » Currently Reading:

A Book Review… Henry VIII’s Catholic Polemic Revisited

July 5, 2014 Featured Today No Comments
henry8

By FRANCIS PHILLIPS

Henry VIII: Defence of the Seven Sacraments. Edited and supplemented by Raymond de Souza; St. Gabriel Communications International. $33.00, including postage and handling; order from Sacred Heart Institute, Inc., P.O. Box 41, Winona, MN 55987.

Raymond de Souza, founder of St. Gabriel Communications, has set himself a high-minded goal in publishing this book: to help to restore the Catholic faith in England, tragically lost at the Reformation 450 years ago. For this purpose he has issued a handsome new millennium edition of this historic work to make it more available to a new readership, lay as well as academic.
De Souza rightly sees the Reformation as the first major blow in the weakening of Christianity in Europe. Describing himself in his precise formula as “Brazilian by birth, Catholic by grace, Australian by choice,” he has dedicated this labor of love to Queen Elizabeth II as a respectful reminder to a Protestant Queen of the part played by the Catholic faith in the long history of her country.
It is certainly a very worthwhile goal. Those who have studied the Tudor period might know of Henry VIII’s learning, his command of Latin, and his keen interest in theological matters, but it is unlikely that they will have read the work he produced with the assistance of his friend, Sir Thomas More, when at the height of his powers and popularity.
For his pains he was given the title “Fidei Defensor” by Pope Leo X, a title that has passed down to every English monarch since that time. Since Henry’s break with the authority of Rome the phrase has acquired a melancholy and ironic ring.
The “Faith” Henry was defending in 1521 was the Catholic faith; any other school of faith in the Western Church would then have been unthinkable; yet by 1536, when the court painter Hans Holbein painted his celebrated portrait of the King, a portrait reproduced by de Souza on the front cover of this edition, the ancient communion between Rome and England, begun at the time of Pope Gregory the Great, had been violently broken, a tragic circumstance that has had enormous repercussions for the later history of England.
Thus it is impossible to read Henry’s powerful polemic against Martin Luther, instigator of the Reformation, without a retrospective understanding of its context: why it was written, what its significance was in its time, and why the “Defence” fell into obscurity in subsequent centuries.
The work has rightly been described by the eminent Catholic Tudor historian, Professor J.J. Scarisbrick, as: “One of the most successful pieces of Catholic polemics produced by the first generation of anti-Protestant writers.” To make it more accessible, de Souza has simplified the syntax of the original and has added over 100 quotations from the Catechism to illustrate the orthodoxy of Henry’s theological arguments.
He has also included the King’s Letter of May 21, 1521 to Leo X in which Henry had stated: “No duty is more incumbent on a Catholic sovereign than to preserve and increase the Christian faith and religion…and to transmit them preserved thus inviolate to posterity, by his example in preventing them from being destroyed by an assailant of the Faith.”
The “assailant” was Luther who had just issued his own attack on the sacraments, and in his address to the reader Henry issues his own challenge in response: “In this little book I hope I have clearly demonstrated how absurdly and impiously Luther has handled the Holy Sacraments.”
It is clear to anyone who reads the polemic that it is this “impiety” that has scandalized the Catholic King: how shocking that anyone would try to change the truths of faith handed down by God Himself to His Church.
In an age of religious relativism that we inhabit today it is hard to understand the very real horror of heresy that Henry in 1521 would have experienced as a matter of course. Highly educated as a Renaissance prince, with a depth of classical and theological understanding that today is almost unknown in a layman let alone a monarch, he was determined to demonstrate to Pope Leo X his loyalty, knowledge of, and love for his faith. Henry demolished his opponent by his appeals to Scripture, Tradition, the Church fathers, and the “sensus fidelium” of his countrymen.
He constantly shows his loyalty to the Magisterium, as for instance when he observes over the question of indulgences, “I do not doubt that we may agree with the Pope’s judgement and the custom observed by the Saints….”
On papal supremacy — the reason for Henry’s later break with Rome — the King writes, “It is certain that by the unanimous consent of all nations, it is forbidden to change or move the things which have been immovable for a long time.” On Transubstantiation he writes, “It is certain that the faithful, for over a thousand years past, believed the substance of bread and wine to be truly changed into the Body and Blood of Jesus.”
The King continues, examining each sacrament in turn, showing how Luther has broken with the constant tradition and unchanging teaching of the Church from earliest times. He is clear that Luther and his followers “erect to themselves a new Church, compacted of vicious and impious persons.” He asks the question, “Why does he raise himself against the Bishop of Rome?” and confesses that he is “much amazed at the way Luther dares to cry out that…the Mass is no sacrifice or offering.”

Scornful Epithets

In support of his argument Henry shows his erudition, citing Saints Cyril, Jerome, Gregory of Nyssa, Ambrose, and Augustine among other sources. This raises the question, not easily answered, of how much research in support of his arguments did he receive from Sir Thomas More? More, whom the King loved and admired, was the foremost scholar of his day, as well as a public servant, devout Catholic, devoted family man, and secret ascetic.
Also, according to the strenuous language employed in polemics at the time, More was not afraid to use scornful epithets in his own published writings combating heresy. Possibly his influence is behind Henry’s invective and his various descriptions of Luther as “this hideous monster,” this “infernal wolf,” “this worse than sacrilegious caitiff,” and “this most impertinent babbler.”
Such phrases show the King’s recognition that attacks on the magisterial teaching of the Church could not be tolerated, in case they caused unrest among the populace and thus faction and rebellion — the permanent nightmare of all historical monarchs.
Henry’s words on marriage make particularly ironic reading in the light of his own later adultery: “Marriage makes wedlock honourable, and by grace does not only keep the bed undefiled from adultery but also washes away the stains of lust.”
As he states in his Postface against Luther, neither reason, Scripture, custom or laws, as well as divine authority give credence to the heretical opinions of “this sooty wicket of hell.”
More was to be executed in 1535 for opposing the King’s challenge to papal authority; he was canonized in 1935. The famous Holbein portraits of the two men, reproduced here, show their differences: Henry, who in 1521 embodied “all the gifts of grace and nature,” faces the viewer in 1536 with a small, cruel mouth and cold eyes; More, shown in half-profile, has sensitive, intelligent features and a deeply reflective gaze.
De Souza includes several appendices which throw light on the Church’s place in human history, such as the words of Pope Leo XIII, St. John Bosco, and the influential Brazilian layman Plinio Correa de Oliveira. His book is a worthwhile and thought-provoking project.

+    +    +

(Francis Phillips is a book reviewer for the Catholic Herald in the United Kingdom.)

Share Button

2016 The Wanderer Printing Co.

34% of “Pro-Choice” Women Who See This Viral Video Turn Against Abortion

A new four-minute viral video is causing over a third — 34 percent — of “pro-choice” women surveyed to view abortion “less favorably.” And 28 percent of pro-choice women who watched the video stated there should be more restrictions on…Continue Reading

‘Biblically wrong’: Oklahoma lawmakers urge Obama’s impeachment over transgender bathrooms

Lawmakers in Oklahoma have introduced legislation calling for President Barack Obama to be impeached because of his administration’s support for transgender bathrooms. Another bill calls for a declaration of emergency in the state. In a measure called Senate Concurrent Resolution…Continue Reading

Oklahoma legislature passes bill making it a felony to perform abortions

Lawmakers in Oklahoma approved a bill Thursday that would make performing abortions a felony and revoke the medical licenses of most physicians who assist in such procedures. This sweeping measure, which opponents described as unconstitutional and unprecedented, now heads to…Continue Reading

Unanimous Win for Little Sisters of the Poor at Supreme Court

WASHINGTON, D.C. –Today the U.S. Supreme Court unanimously ruled that the government cannot fine the Little Sisters of the Poor.  The Supreme Court vacated the lower court rulings against the Little Sisters, accepting the government’s admission that it could meet…Continue Reading

Conservatives outraged over Obama transgender directive to public schools

The Obama administration’s directive Friday that every public school provide transgender access — or face the loss of federal funds — drew swift and strong condemnation from conservatives, with one public official blasting it as presidential “blackmail.” The administration’s directive…Continue Reading

Pro-Life Leaders Decry Scandals, Urge Catholic Colleges to Reject Culture of Death

Concerned by recent high-profile events at Catholic colleges featuring pro-abortion leaders — including Planned Parenthood’s Cecile Richards, Bill Clinton, Wendy Davis and Vice President Joe Biden — 31 Catholic and pro-life leaders joined a statement urging Catholic colleges to “stand firm…Continue Reading

ACLU launches campaign to strip Catholic hospitals of federal funds

NEW YORK, May 9, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) – Catholic hospitals across the U.S. are “withholding emergency care” and denying “essential health services,” the ACLU is alleging in a new campaign. They also inflict harm on “transgender and gender-non-conforming patients” “when seeking…Continue Reading

Harvard Law Professor Says Pro-Life Christians Should be Treated Like Nazis

Every day, it seems, the United States is becoming a more hostile environment for people with pro-life and conservative positions. Abortion activists constantly challenge pro-life laws, stall abortion industry investigations, force religious objectors to pay for abortions and attack life-affirming…Continue Reading

Obama plans new push for transgender rights in schools

The divisive and politically combustible issue of bathroom access for transgender individuals is about to become further inflamed, as the Obama administration is expected in coming weeks to aggressively reinforce its position that transgender student rights are fully protected under…Continue Reading

Cardinal Burke: Notre Dame is Wrong

Notre Dame’s Great Scandal: Honoring Vice President Biden By Thomas McKenna, President of Catholic Action for Faith and Family: The University of Notre Dame has announced that they intend to confer the Laetare Medal, an honor given to Catholics “in…Continue Reading

DoJ to North Carolina: You Have Until Monday to Reverse Bathroom Bill

North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory received a letter from the Department of Justice that gives him until Monday to reverse his state’s controversial bathroom bill, reports The Hill. The DoJ said the law is in violation of the federal Civil…Continue Reading

Lavender Graduations Harmful to Students at Catholic Colleges

At least eight Catholic colleges across the country are hosting “lavender graduations” this spring — many of them as part of an annual campus tradition — to celebrate and honor students with same-sex attraction (SSA) or who identify as lesbian,…Continue Reading

Newsmax

Untitled 5 Untitled 2

Attention Readers:

  Welcome to our new website. Readers who are familiar with The Wanderer know we have been providing Catholic news and orthodox commentary for over 145 years in our weekly print edition. Now we are introducing the online daily version of our print journal.


  Our daily version offers only some of what we publish weekly in print. To take advantage of everything The Wanderer publishes, we encourage you to su
bscribe to our flagship weekly print edition, which is mailed every Friday or, if you want to view it in its entirety online, you can subscribe to the E-edition, which is a replica of the print edition.
 
  Our daily edition includes: a selection of material from recent issues of our print edition, news stories updated daily from renowned news sources, access to archives from The Wanderer from the past 10 years, available at a minimum charge (this will be expanded as time goes on). Also: regularly updated features where we go back in time and highlight various columns and news items covered in The Wanderer over the past 145 years. And: a comments section in which your remarks are encouraged, both good and bad, including suggestions.
 
  We encourage you to become a daily visitor to our site. If you appreciate our site, tell your friends. As Catholics we must band together to rediscover our faith and share it with the world if we are to effectively counter a society whose moral culture seems to have no boundaries and a government whose rapidly extending reach threatens to extinguish the rights of people of faith to practice their religion (witness the HHS mandate). Now more than ever, vehicles like The Wanderer are needed for clarification and guidance on the issues of the day.

Catholic, conservative, orthodox, and loyal to the Magisterium have been this journal’s hallmarks for five generations. God willing, our message will continue well into this century and beyond.

Joseph Matt
President, The Wanderer Printing Co.

Untitled 1

Enter Comments Below

This Weeks Comments And Letters . . .

Commentary

This Weeks Comments And Letters . . .      

Today . . .

">Ronald Reagan . . . Memorial Day Address

Planned Parenthood sponsors bill to make it illegal to record and post undercover footage

A bill making its way through the California State Assembly, sponsored by Planned Parenthood, seeks to make it a crime to publish conversations with certain health care providers, notably those associated with abortion facilities. California has already squashed the rights of pro-life pregnancy centers, demanding they offer abortion as an option to their clients, despite their pro-life mission. Now, Planned Parenthood and CA Assemblyman Jimmy Gomez think it’s a fine idea to prosecute someone from posting a “photo…Continue Reading

South Carolina governor signs ban on abortion for babies who feel pain

CHARLESTON, May 26, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) – South Carolina has joined 13 other states that forbid abortions to be performed on unborn children capable of feeling pain. As expected, Governor Nikki Haley, a Republican, signed the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act on Wednesday. The law restricts abortion to the first 19 weeks of pregnancy. “South Carolina took a courageous stand to protect women’s health and safety in limiting abortion at a point at which the risks…Continue Reading

Pope Francis: Perseverance in prayer needed, but not “magic wand”

pope908

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Wednesday said “prayer is not a magic wand.” He was speaking during his weekly General Audience in St. Peter’s Square. The Pope was discussing the Parable of the Unjust Judge – also known as the Parable of the Persistent Widow – from the Gospel of Luke. In the parable, the persistence of a widow forces the unjust judge to grant her request for justice, “so that she will not eventually…Continue Reading

Catholic College Presidents Hopeful for Resolution in HHS Mandate Challenge

The presidents of two Catholic colleges involved in the U.S.Supreme Court challenges to the HHS mandate applauded the Court’s recent decision to vacate all lower court rulings and expressed their hope that a positive resolution for religious freedom would soon be reached. “I am pleased that Supreme Court has offered us a way forward which doesn’t require us to participate in the provision of the services which

Excluded From Arizona House . . . Racial Healing Meet Has To Find Another Location, Loses Audience

By DEXTER DUGGAN MESA, Ariz. — The chairman of an Arizona Tea Party group introduced a representative of Black Lives Matter Arizona at a racial-healing conference here, saying, “Black lives matter, and of course we agree that all lives matter,” but blacks are unique in U.S. history as “a people who have endured chattel slavery.”…Continue Reading

Havana: The Potemkin Village Of The 21st Century

By ALBERTO MARTINEZ PIEDRA According to the media, it is often heard that many Americans are interested in traveling to Cuba because, as relations between the jewel of the Caribbean and the United States warm, they “want to see the island before it changes.” And they make this statement with a certain degree of optimism.…Continue Reading

Rocky Homilies

By DEACON JAMES H. TONER (Editor’s Note: Deacon James H. Toner, Ph.D., serves at Our Lady of Grace Catholic Church in Greensboro, N.C.) + + + The Holy Father’s admonition in Amoris Laetitia that priests must understand that the moral law should not be thrown at people as if it were so many stones (n.…Continue Reading

Restoring The Sacred… A Procession To The Ends Of The Earth

By JAMES MONTI Several weeks ago, after attending the Easter Vigil at a nearby seminary, and the emptied chapel had fallen silent, I began to hear the sound of the sacring bell being rung in the sacristy. Puzzled by this, I wondered whether the seminarians were perhaps trying to repair the bell. But then from…Continue Reading

Is Scarborough Shoal Worth A War?

By PATRICK J. BUCHANAN If China begins to reclaim and militarize Scarborough Shoal, says Philippines President Benigno S. Aquino III, America must fight. Should we back down, says Aquino, the United States will lose “its moral ascendancy, and also the confidence of one of its allies.” And what is Scarborough Shoal? A cluster of rocks…Continue Reading

Advertisement

Our Catholic Faith (Section B of print edition)

A Leaven In The World… Look To Our Father In Heaven

By FR. KEVIN M. CUSICK Everyone has made a wrong decision at some point in his or her life, and everyone can speak about the suffering or pain caused by bad decisions. What, on the other hand, about the suffering or pain that is caused by doing the right thing? How often can we say that we suffered personally and…Continue Reading

The Marvel Of The Catholic Church Miracles And The Saints

By RAYMOND DE SOUZA, KM Part 2 “And as you go, preach, saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand’.” “Heal the sick, raise the dead, and cleanse the lepers, cast out demons” (Matt. 10:7-8). It is evident that our Lord Jesus Christ gave to His disciples the power to perform miracles, and many of them did just that. Not…Continue Reading

The Church’s Liturgy — Who Celebrates?

By DON FIER There is an ancient Latin saying in the Church that eloquently expresses what her members believe of the efficacy of the sacraments and their relationship to faith: lex orandi, lex credendi (“the law of prayer is the law of faith”). Each of the seven sacraments, as we saw last week, can be classified in various categories. Yet…Continue Reading

Catholic Replies

Q. My husband and I are wondering when to say the “Amen” after the Lord’s prayer is prayed during Mass. I believe “Amen” should be said after we say “deliver us from evil.” — J.W., Georgia. A. Although it is correct to say “Amen” at the end of the Our Father while saying it outside of Mass, for example, while…Continue Reading

God’s Prophet

By FR. ROBERT ALTIER Tenth Sunday In Ordinary Time (YR C) Readings: 1 Kings 17:17-24 Gal. 1:11-14a, 15a, c, 16a, 17, 19 Luke 7:11-17 In the first reading today we hear about the death of the son of a widow with whom the Prophet Elijah stayed when he was passing through that region. The woman had been very good to…Continue Reading

Catholic Heroes . . . St. Augustine Of Canterbury

By CAROLE BRESLIN A Celtic cross erected in 1884 marks the spot in Ebbsfleet, Thanet, East Kent, where St. Augustine of Canterbury is said to have landed in 597. While some form of Christianity in England may be traced back to the times of the Roman occupation, it did not become a strong presence until the arrival of St. Augustine,…Continue Reading

Catholic Heroes . . . St. Crispin Of Viterbo

By CAROLE BRESLIN In March 1986, Pope John Paul II visited the Basilica of Our Lady of the Vine (Oak) located in Tuscany, Italy, to proclaim our Lady patroness of the Diocese of Viterbo. The tradition of visiting the image of Our Lady of the Oak began 600 years ago in 1417 when Mastro Baptist Magnano Iuzzante commissioned an image…Continue Reading

COMPLETE 3 PART Interview With Cardinal Burke . . . Insights On The State Of The Church In The Aftermath Of The Ordinary Synod On The Family

Cburke3

By DON FIER Part 1 (Editor’s Note: His Eminence Raymond Leo Cardinal Burke, Patron of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta, recently traveled from Rome to the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe in La Crosse, Wis., a magnificent place of worship which he founded and dedicated. (His Eminence graciously granted an extensive interview to The Wanderer during which he…Continue Reading