Coronation of Charles III: A Multi-Religious Ceremony

May 08, 2023

The coronation ceremony of the new King of England was exceptional in many respects. For the first time it will see a Catholic bishop actively attend it by blessing the king. But he will not be alone. An Eastern Orthodox bishop will do the same, as well as female “clergy.”

This is how three women “bishops” participated in the ceremony alongside Justin Welby, the primate of the Anglican Church. Dame Elizabeth Anionwu, a Briton of Irish and Nigerian descent, carried the orb and Baroness Floella Benjamin, of Caribbean origin, was in charge of one of the scepters.

Moderator of the Free Churches, Helen Cameron, presented Charles with the long robe of the Imperial Mantle, and joined fellow Anglicans in the blessing: Stephen Cottrell of York, number three in the Anglican hierarchy, and Justin Welby, Anglican Primate.

The speakers were Nikitas Loulias, a Greek Orthodox bishop, the general secretary of the United Churches, and the Catholic Archbishop of Westminster, Cardinal Vincent Nichols.

We must also add Jewish religious leaders, Sunni and Shia Muslims, Sikhs, Buddhists, Hindus, Jains, Baha'is, and Zoroastrians,  also took part in the coronation. As for the British Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak, a practicing Hindu, he proclaimed the First Reading.

The Defender of the Faith?

Following the publication of the Defense of the Seven Sacraments by Henry VIII, dedicated to Pope Leo X, the latter was awarded the title of Defensor fidei in October 1521, a title which was revoked in the 1530s following the defection of the king and his break with the Church.

This title was again attributed by the English parliament to Edward VI in 1544, but in a completely different sense since “’the’ faith is the Anglican faith, the head of which is the king himself.” If the King of England therefore continues to bear this title, it has therefore completely changed in nature.

What Does Charles III Think?

The title of Defender of the Faith does not seem immune to further distortions. As early as 1994, the future king had expressed his preference to be considered “Defender of Faith” rather than “Defender of the Faith.” The second formula, which is traditional, means: Defender of the faith (historically Catholic, then Anglican). But the first would mean simply Defender of beliefs, because it is an indistinct faith.

Moreover, Charles III clearly indicated that he did not want to renounce this title, but that he wanted to direct it in the direction of “protector of beliefs,” in a United Kingdom that is so multi-religious that the tenant of Downing Street is Hindu while in Scotland the Prime Minister is Muslim.

It should come as no surprise, therefore, that the rite that will take place in Westminster will be dictated by this desire to be “inclusive” at all costs, in line with political correctness.

But in such a ceremony, the participation of a Catholic bishop is painful. No less than the presence of a representative of the pope in the person of Cardinal Parolin. How can we forget that for a century and a half the passage of the nation to Anglicanism was made at the cost of Catholic blood?

And if “religious freedom” today tolerates the faith of the Church, sadly reduced to a belief like any other, how can one not deplore the confusion that this multi-religious ceremony will not fail to reinforce in the minds of many Catholics?

Will this strange syncretism be the mark of the new king? It should be added that the chrism with which the sovereign was anointed was consecrated jointly by the Orthodox Patriarch Theophilos III and the Anglican Archbishop Hosam Naoum in Jerusalem. Charles III reserves a special place for Orthodoxy, because of the Greek (and therefore Orthodox) origins of his father Philip.