Given the phenomenon known as the High Church can it really be said that the Reformation led to complete independence from the Bishop of Rome? How much influence does Rome still have in the Anglican Church?

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    Yes, many Protestants are totally independent of Rome. But the Anglican Communion is not. I think the question needs more clarity and more focus.
    – Nigel J
    Commented Mar 12 at 19:26
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    @Nigel J The Anglican communion, as such, has no dependence upon Rome. If some individuals are influenced by more Catholic ways of thinking, that is not the same thing. Commented Mar 14 at 11:28
  • @StephenDisraeli I was actually being somewhat charitable, above. The real, up to the minute, reality is that there is, within the Anglican 'communion', total freedom to follow whatever the individual wishes to follow. There is scant regard for the 39 and little real adherence to the contents of the bible. Something is developing, but what it is - is not yet clear.
    – Nigel J
    Commented Mar 14 at 23:04
  • @Nigel J What you describe is not the same thing as "dependence on Rome", which is the topic being discussed. Commented Mar 14 at 23:24
  • @StephenDisraeli In amongst the wide spectrum of independent thinking, yes, there are some within the Anglican Communion who are - very much indeed - enamoured of, and totally under, that influence.
    – Nigel J
    Commented Mar 15 at 0:11

2 Answers 2


In short, the primary independence (schism) was political, backed by secular powers (i.e. popular support), achieved through legal and parliamentary moves by enacting the 3 Acts between 1532 and 1534, culminating in the 1534 Act of Supremacy declaring King Henry VIII and his successors as the Supreme Head of the Church of England, replacing the pope. See my other answer for details.

As to the ecclesiastical independence, it was achieved through designating the Archbishop of Canterbury to perform the roles that the Bishop of Rome used to do in ecclesiastical matters, including liturgies, doctrines, and church government.

Initially, all practices were retained (except the allegiance to the Bishop of Rome), but gradually the Church of England began to modify doctrines, liturgies, prayers, hymns, etc. to adopt more and more Protestant principles over time. Later, the Low church faction also began to exert influence; some even fled England (like the Puritans). But the unity of the Church of England was preserved through the Thirty-nine Articles (finalized in 1571) and by later allowing several liturgical preferences so that the High Church and the Low Church can coexist.

So, YES, the Reformation led to complete independence from the Bishop of Rome. Subsequent to the schism the Catholic Church and the Anglican Church go separate ways, no longer influencing each other, politically and ecclesiastically (except for the brief period when Queen Mary I reigned England between 1553-1558). The things that the High Church wished to retain, they do so voluntarily.

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    This account needs to be tweaked a little, historically. Firstly, the 39 Articles technically identified the C of E as Calvinist. We were even represented at the Synod of Dort. Archbishop Laud reined the Protestant tendancy back somewhat. But the High Church side of the C of E did not really take off before the 19th Century Oxford Movement, which took that element in the liturgy more seriously and also wanted more indepenedence from the state. And individuals on that side have frequently been tempted to shift across to Rome altogether, as Newman himself did. Commented Mar 14 at 10:12

The question doesn't really make sense, as, per the premise, one might as well ask how much independence Protestants really have from the teachings of Christ.

A more useful way to view the question is to say that Protestants are not bound to Rome. That is, they are free to either reject or accept whatever comes out of the Roman Catholic hierarchy according to whether they judge such things to be right and/or beneficial.

This should be contrasted against churches still within the body of Roman Catholicism which would be subject to economic and/or theological sanctions should they wish to go against the authority. (Of course, it should also be pointed out that Protestants have, in effect, voluntarily embraced such sanctions.)

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