The constitution was changed by that very Augustine. The Church in England before him was not in communion with Rome.

The Catholic Answers

Your statement is erroneous, and in any case you cannot claim that the present Church of England has any connection with the Church which was in England prior to the coming of St. Augustine. Let us put it this way. There are two sets of Bishops in England to-day. There are the Bishops of the Church of England, and the Bishops of the Roman Catholic Church—if you like such a phrase. The Anglican Bishops are not subject to the Pope—the Catholic Bishops are. Now in the year 1500—we need not go back to the pre-Augustine Church, though the same thing was true then—there was but one set of Bishops in England. Which of the two sets of Bishops now corresponds with the one set of Bishops then? If we can solve that, we shall be able to find the intruder. Without dwelling upon probable traditions concerning the sending of missionaries by Pope Eleutherius about the year 170 A.D., it is certain that the very first elements of Christianity came to England from the Continent, where all true Christians were subject to the Pope. In 314 A.D., English Bishops were present at the Council of Aries, in Gaul. This was over 200 years before St. Augustine set foot in England. Now every Bishop of the Council of Aries was in communion with Rome. The Council was held under authority from Pope Sylvester, who sent his legates, and who received from the assembled Bishops this greeting, “In the unity of our mother the Catholic Church, we salute thee, most glorious Pope, with the reverence due.” No Anglican Bishops to-day would be invited to sit in Council with the Bishops of Italy, Spain, France, Africa, Germany, and other regions, as those early English Bishops did at the Council of Aries. Something has gone wrong somewhere! In 596 Pope Gregory sent St. Augustine to England, giving him authority over all the Bishops already in England. They must all have been Roman Catholics for the Bishop of Rome to use such words as these: “We give you no authority over the Bishops of Gaul. But as for all the Bishops of Britain, we commit them to your care, that the unlearned may be taught, the weak strengthened by persuasion, the perverse corrected by authority. “In 735 the Venerable Bede wrote, “The Pope bears pontifical power over the whole world.” St. Anselm of Canterbury wrote, in the 11th century, “It is certain that he who does not obey the Roman Pontiff is disobedient to the Apostle Peter, nor is he of that flock given to Peter by God.” In 1154 a member of the Church in England at that time was elected Pope. His name was Nicholas Breakspeare. You cannot imagine a member of the Anglican Hierarchy to-day being elected Pope! In 1170 St. Thomas, Archbishop of Canterbury, wrote, “Who doubts that the Roman Church is the head of all Churches, and the source of doctrine.” In 1208, Stephen Langton, Archbishop of Canterbury, wrote, “Pope Alexander, possessing plenitude of power, gave back this Archbishopric to Thomas independently of the royal assent.” This was the one set of Bishops in England before the reformation, and the Catholic Bishops in England to-day are their corresponding Bishops. Where were the Anglican Bishops before the reformation? They did not exist. Or take this simple reasoning. St. Thomas More was beheaded because he refused to give up the old religion. Then whatever religion he was clinging to, was the old religion. But he was clinging to what you would call the Roman Catholic religion, refusing the oath of supremacy which Henry VIII. claimed over the new Church of his own creation. If this new Church of England was the same as the old Church in England, St. Thomas More was a fool indeed to lose his life. Yet he was an exceedingly good and wise man.

Radio Replies Volume 1 by Rev. Dr. Leslie Rumble MSC and Rev. Charles Mortimer Carty