Fidei Defensor – A Letter to King Charles IIIeditor
Below, my letter to King Charles III, which you will find self-explanatory.
His Majesty King Charles III,
London SW1A 1AA
I write with concerns about your pledge – widely publicised across the internet – to protect the multiple faiths of a diverse Britain “no less diligently” than Christianity in your new role as head of the Church of England.
As you will know, your inherited title, Defender of the Faith (Fidei Defensor), was conferred on King Henry VIII by Pope Leo X by means of a papal bull, in recognition of the King’s defence of the Catholic religion, specifically the seven sacraments, against the attacks of the dissident priest Martin Luther. There was, of course, no “Church of England” at that time – and, in any case, Henry’s ambition was not to launch a new Church but to be accepted as head of the Church in England – that is, he sought to replace the Pope as head of the only Church in existence, the Catholic Church. As a Catholic myself, I believe it is important to remind you, respectfully, of the origin and nature of this designation obliging the monarch to defend the authentic Christian religion, which, in the nature of things, excludes the public defence of opposing religious claims.
In the light of your pledge to non-Christians, therefore, it is timeous to reflect on the fact that the resultant split in Christendom following Henry’s defiance of the Pope’s authority, together with Luther’s apostasy, means that we now have widespread religious confusion. We see people who are members of thousands of Protestant denominations, all claiming to be Christians while differing from one another in beliefs. They have separated themselves from the Church founded by Christ and thus, predictably, having slipped their moorings, they are now drowning in a sea of confusion.
Add to that, Sir, the confusion caused by your pledge to non-Christian religions to protect their beliefs, as if their man-made religions could possibly be on an equal footing with that established by Christ the King – the King of Kings, and Lord of Lords. From the spiritual confusion of the Reformation era, then, we have moved into spiritual, religious, and moral chaos, with the error, now widespread, that one religion is as good as another. How can this be the case when they contradict what God has revealed to us through Christ His Son, that He is the Way, the Truth and the Life? It cannot be charitable, surely, to conceal the truth that Christ is necessary for salvation. We have moved, perhaps inevitably, from the error of believing that one “Church” is as good as another, to believing that one religion is as good as another. Pagan or Christian, it really doesn’t matter, is the attitude now abroad.
Henry VIII has already gone to his judgment; standing before the terrible Judgment Seat of God, he has been held accountable for his role in leading souls out of the Church founded by Christ. Each of us, whether our station in life be lofty or lowly, must also account for our efforts, or the lack thereof, to defend and spread the truths of the authentic Christian Faith. We must show diligence, certainly, for the well-being of those who are not Christians. As individuals, they must enjoy our respect, but we risk offending God, and may suffer the loss of our own soul – and the souls of others under our influence – if we give public support to their false religions and erroneous beliefs.
St Thomas More, credited with assisting King Henry VIII in writing the pamphlet that won him the title Defender of the Faith, poses a key question: “What does it avail to know that there is a God, which you not only believe by Faith, but also know by reason: what does it avail that you know Him if you think little of Him?”
Your Majesty, my prayers – for what they are worth – are with you as you begin your reign, and I extend my sincere sympathy on the loss of your mother. I have been praying for the repose of her soul. May she rest in peace.