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The divorce of King Henry VIII


On the 6th of June 1509, King Henry VIII of England was married by dispensation from Pope Julius II to Catherine of Aragon; widow of Henry’s deceased brother Arthur. Henry was then a good Catholic, Defender of the Faith in reality as well as in name. For eighteen years they lived happily, until Henry supposedly began to have scruples of conscience concerning the validity of his marriage with his brother’s widow. The real cause of Henry’s discontent was, first, that Catherine was childless as far as an heir to the throne was concerned, and second that he was madly in love with Catherine’s maid of honor, Anne Boleyn. Henry applied to Pope Clement VII for an annulment of his marriage and though the loss to the Faith of the entire British Empire was staring him in the face, the Pontiff’s answer was an unwavering “We cannot). His words were an assertion on the Church’s attitude on this matter before and since and always, for no human power can break the Christian marriage bond. This explains the apostasy of England and the existence of the English Church, for the Protestant hierarchy were willing to grant Henry as many divorces as he wanted in return for the privilege on confiscating the property of the outlawed English Catholics.

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