Meaning of Anglican Church

What is Anglican Church:

The Anglican Church is a Christian denomination officially established in England since the 16th century. It currently brings together the so-called “Anglican Communion”, the group of Anglican churches scattered around the world, which respond to the spiritual leadership of the Archbishopric of Canterbury.

The word anglican literally means ‘of England’. For that reason, this institution is also called Church of England.


Symbol of the Anglican Church.

The expansion of the Anglican charism beyond its borders has also made it possible to speak of Anglicanism. Anglicanism it would refer to those religious communities that base their form of worship and experience of faith on the style or charism of the Church of England. For these communities, the primacy of the Anglican Church represents only moral and spiritual leadership.

Due to its historical process, the Anglican Church has many elements in common with the Catholic Church, since its separation was due to political rather than theological causes.

Origin of the Anglican Church

The Anglican Church had its birth in a political decision of King Henry VIII (1491-1547), second monarch of the Tudor house.

Two aspects will be key. On the one hand, discontent with authoritarianism and the interference of the primacy of Rome in the political affairs of the English State, whose antecedents date back to the 13th and 14th centuries. On the other, the pressure that Henry VIII had on himself to give a son to the crown.

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At that time, it was believed that the male or female gender was granted by women, so that Catherine of Aragon, legitimate wife of Henry VIII, was attributed the inability to give a healthy male child to the crown.

Henry VIII had fallen in love with his wife’s lady-in-waiting, Anne Boleyn who, to consummate the relationship, imposed on the monarch the condition of being taken as his wife and queen. Seeing in it the opportunity to obtain a legitimate heir, the king asked the Vatican for the annulment of the ecclesiastical marriage with Catherine of Aragon.

The refusal of the papacy, based on doctrinal arguments, was received as a new attempt at political interference. Consequently, through the enactment of the Act of Supremacy in 1534, Henry VIII decided to declare himself the highest authority of the Church in England, which allowed him to annul his marriage and marry Boleyn.

The separation of the Anglican Church occurred parallel to the Protestant Reformation. However, Henry VIII did not approach this doctrine at any time and, in fact, fought it. This confirms the eminently political nature of the monarch’s decision.

Henry VIII never managed to obtain a male child from his formal unions. Upon his death, power will pass into the hands of his daughters. Queen Mary Tudor (1517-1558), daughter of Catherine of Aragon, restored Catholicism within the kingdom. When she assumed power from her half-sister Elizabeth I (1533-1603), daughter of Anne Boleyn, the Anglican Church came into force again, this time definitively.

See also:

  • Schism.
  • Catholic Church.
  • Protestant Reformation.
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Characteristics of the Anglican Church

Some of the doctrinal characteristics of the Anglican Church are the following:

  • Foundation in the Holy Scripture (Old and New Testament) as a way of salvation.
  • Assessment of the apostolic tradition: acceptance of the Nicene creed and the apostles’ creed.
  • Practice of the 7 sacraments: baptism, penance (general, not private), Eucharist, confirmation, marriage, religious order and anointing of the sick.
  • Episcopate adapted to the reality of each country where it is represented.

Some of these elements are shared with the Catholic faith, with which Anglicanism also has in common respect for the Virgin Mary as the mother of God, the calendar of saints, religious orders for men and women, and most of the liturgy and its symbols (clothing and objects).

Some sectors of the Anglican Church have allowed themselves a approach to Protestantism. This is visible in the adoption of the charismatic preaching models of Pentecostal Protestantism in some communities. Others, however, maintain the traditional liturgy.

See also: Christianity.

Difference between the Anglican Church and the Catholic Church

The major difference between the Church of England and the Catholic Church results from the Anglican objection to the vertical and centralized model of the Roman papacy, which contrasts with the decentralized Church of England.

Anglicanism, more inclined to the active participation of the laity, has incorporated some significant transformations that have further separated it from Catholicism.

At the same time, by the very nature of its structure, these transformations have not been accepted by all its communities, and are still subject to much internal opposition.

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The most significant changes are:

  • Elimination of compulsory priestly celibacy (accepted throughout Anglicanism);
  • Admission of female priesthood (only accepted in the more liberal dioceses);
  • Admission of gay marriage (only accepted in the more liberal dioceses).