NOVEMBER 1554: CARDINAL POLE AS PAPAL LEGATE RECONCILES ENGLAND TO ROME
The Cardinal presented his case to the assembled politicians and clergy as would a physician to his colleagues. The root cause of the once happily Catholic kingdom’s problems, he stated, had been King Henry VIII’s concupiscence. The King’s personal rejection of Papal authority and subsequent breach with Rome had plunged England into a state of schism, which had led to heresy and disobedience to the Church which had resulted in scandals, troubles and misfortunes. Pole reassured his audience however, that as the pope and the Apostolic See loved the kingdom, he had come to ameliorate and to palliate. As the kingdom’s ills could only be cured if it once again acknowledged the pope as Supreme Teacher and Pastor of the Church, it was imperative that the lawmakers who had defied the pope and denied him his primacy, repeal each and every anti-Papal statute forthwith.
The following day, a delegation comprising both Houses and led by Bishop Gardiner, presented Philip and Mary with a humble petition in which its members declared their sorrow, repenting at the schism, and their disobedience. They begged they could once again be, be received into the unity of the Church. Finally, they not only promised to repeal the anti-Catholic Acts passed during the previous reign, but they also expressed the fervent hope that their King and Queen would intercede on their behalf to absolve them of their collective sin. Thus, on November 30, the feast day of Saint Andrew, Cardinal Pole formally absolved the two Houses of Parliament from the guilt of schism and heresy.
Silence descended upon the great hall as all three hundred men sank to their knees and listened as the cardinal pronounced the solemn words of the formal absolution in Latin. And then, slowly making the sign of the cross over the assembly, Pole finally restored those present ‘to the communion of the holy church in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Ghost.’ Upon being given absolution, the entire hall spontaneously erupted with a resounding Amen! The entire assembly then accompanied the King and Queen to the chapel where they sang the Te Deum, whilst the kingdom’s swiftest horses and strongest riders were despatched to Rome whereupon Pope Julius ordered that public processions be held to rejoice at England’s return to the fold.
Author's Biography: This is a guest post written by Dr. Bella d'Abrera. Bella Wyborn d’Abrera, who is based in London, is a graduate of Monash
University in Melbourne. She completed her Masters degree at the
University of St. Andrews, and was awarded a Doctorate of Philosophy by
the University of Cambridge in 2003. She is also the author of ‘A King with a Pope in His Belly’ and ‘Papists, Spaniards & Other Strangers.’