|ROWAN WILLIAMS the CHURCH OF ENGLAND'S ARCHBISHOP OF CANTERBURY|
WHOSE PURPOSES DOES IT SERVE NOW?
The Royal Apparatus
When we consider the evolution of the Monarchy in the United Kingdom, we see that certain structures came to serve it's purposes with varying degrees of force and effect. These include the Parliament, the Judiciary, the Armed Forces, the Civil Service and last to birth in immediately serving the Royal purposes, was the Church of England, in the time of the Royal Monster Henry VIII.
Now, in time, the Parliament was to gain ascendancy over the Monarchy in reality, even if the legal fiction of the majority in parliament forming His/Her Majesty's Government has been preserved. Similarly, the Parliament has effective power over the Judiciary, the Armed Forces, the Civil Service and, in the final analysis, the Church of England. But in this last case, the Monarch has preserved a unique relationship with His/Her creature the Church of England. For the Monarch remains the Head of the Church of England and in view of this fact the Parliament has passed Laws that make it impossible for a Catholic to become the Monarch, or for the monarch to marry a Catholic, or for the heir to the throne to be, or marry, a Catholic.
The Church of England is therefore a unique piece of the Royal Apparatus. It was created by the Monarch Henry VIII for his purposes alone, for his convenience and to achieve his will. It was not created to do God's Will, but the King's.
Looking at it to-day, it seems entirely superfluous to the requirements of the Royal will, but
remains simply a burden and an embarrassment and making the Monarchy at odds with 25% its subjects. Of course, the Church of England itself is, from its point of view, in a contrary position. It can be easily shown that it benefits immensely from the Royal association. Indeed without it, and the formal Establishment as the State Church that it brings, the Church of England would be a very much deflated balloon.
Re-consideration of its situation came into the spotlight once again recently, when the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge were to be married. The activists for equal rights for women, felt bound to raise the question of the succession. At present, the Heir to the Throne is the next surviving male in the line of succession, and these folk argued that it ought to be the next surviving male or female in the line of succession.
This suggestion, raised the concerns of those interested in civil rights generally, and not just women's rights. They promptly highlighted the abuse of the rights of Catholics in regard to the Monarchy, and were not slow to point out that this was a disadvantage NOT shared by Jews, Muslims or Buddhists or anyone else, and that it is patently absurd. Most folk seemed to agree, but the lawyers and politicians were quick to point out that to change the Status Quo would not be simple - it is a matter not only affecting the United Kingdom, but also most Commonwealth countries, and even certain States/Provinces of Commonwealth Countries: e.g. The State of Queensland where there is legislation making the Monarch, Monarch of the State in His/Her own right.
It seems that there was tacit agreement that the whole civil rights issue related to the Monarchy needed to be addressed. But, for the moment, there does not seem to be the political will or energy to grasp the nettle.
In the meantime the Church of England continues its steady disintegration, structurally, morally and ethically. There are currently moves to ensure that it will recognize clerics in same sex "marriages" and even "ordain" them as Bishops in its structure. This will only serve to induce even more orthodox Anglicans to swim the Tiber using the Ordinariate option. In addition, it will strengthen the American, Canadian, and Australian Ordinariate movements.