Are martyrs of 500 years ago really a burning issue for Welby? Archbishop is ridiculed as he plans to express his remorse over those burned for their beliefs during the Reformation
Posted By: January 17, 2017
• The Archbishop of Canterbury is expected to voice his remorse this week
By Jonathan Petre for The Mail on Sunday, January 14, 2017
Even though Henry VIII’s war with the Pope began 500 years ago, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, is expected to express his remorse this week
It was one of the bloodiest periods in English history, with thousands brutally put to death, often burned at the stake for their religious beliefs in the Reformation.
But even though Henry VIII’s war with the Pope began 500 years ago, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, is expected to express his remorse this week.
The move was ridiculed by former Conservative Minister Ann Widdecombe, an Anglican who converted to Catholicism.
‘These gestures are pointless. The Archbishop has not put anyone to death, as far as I know,’ she said.
‘Modern Christians are not responsible for what happened in the Reformation.
‘You might as well expect the Italians to apologize for Pontius Pilate.’
The Most Rev Welby is drawing up a joint statement with the Archbishop of York, John Sentamu, which is expected to call for repentance for the excesses of the period.
The initiative, which will stress the need to heal divisions, comes a month before the Church of England’s ‘Parliament’, the General Synod, debates the anniversary.
Dramatized: Damian Lewis as King Henry VIII and Claire Foy as Anne Boleyn, who he had beheaded, in the BBC’s award-winning Wolf Hall
The Rev Andrew Atherstone, a member of the Synod and the Faith and Order Commission, said the Reformation remained ‘deeply embedded in our national psyche’ as the context for events such as the Spanish Armada and the Gunpowder Plot.
He said: ‘As the Church of England prepares to celebrate the Reformation, it should also repent of the violence and brutality it sometimes committed in God’s name.’
But critics questioned whether such regret so many centuries after the events had any value.
The Reformation is not even a required subject for the National Curriculum.
The move was ridiculed by former Conservative Minister Ann Widdecombe, an Anglican who converted to Catholicism