Monday 17 April 2023

Defender of Faiths?

Rumour has it that the printing of the “Order of Service” sheets for the Coronation is delayed because of a dispute between King Charles and the church authorities as to whether he should swear the traditional oath, to be “Defender of the Faith” or, as he apparently prefers, ”Defender of Faiths.” If that is the case I’m on Charles’s side in this. The title “Defender of the Faith” was granted by Pope Leo X to Henry VIII in 1521. Although it was probably never intended to be hereditary it is still applied to current monarchs, and it is still found in its Latin abbreviation Fid. Def. or F.D. on our coinage (I had to check and it is). Henry VIII received the title became he had written a “pamphlet” defending the Roman Catholic interpretation of Christianity against the teaching of the “heretic” Martin Luther and what later became known as Protestantism. However, when England decided to adopt our own interpretation of Christianity as expressed by the Church of England, the monarchy, as its titular "Supreme Governor," presumably decided that the continued use of the title would bolster its legitimacy in that role. Charles is to be crowned king of a (small “l”) liberal democracy. There’s an element of inconsistency in that sentence, but that’s a subject for another debate. What is relevant to this issue is that a liberal democracy guarantees several freedoms: of speech, of assembly and . . . freedom of religion. We all have the freedom do, think and express whatever we like, provided we do not interfere with the freedom of others. In these multicultural and multireligious (and no religion) days it is no longer appropriate for the monarch to swear to defend only the C of E interpretation of Christianity, or even Christianity itself. Swearing to defend all faiths, or not to have a faith, subject to the restriction of not interfering with the liberty of others to do the same, is the appropriate position for the titular head of a liberal democracy

1 comment:

  1. Correct.I would say Guardians of all faiths and non to reflect todays society.I do think the country has moved on since Henry's time.