Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Built on the Foundation of the Apostles and Now in Ruins

The Destruction of the Ancient

Church of Assyria in Mosul 

There are no Christians left in Mosul.  For the first time since the days of the Apostles, the city of Mosul in what is today Iraq is devoid of its ancient Christian population.  Built on the foundation laid by the preaching of the Apostles Thomas, (Jude) Thaddeus, and Bartholomew, and—by tradition—visited by the Apostle Simon Peter, it is one of the oldest continuous Christian communities in the world, a direct daughter of the original Church at Jerusalem and certainly as old as the Churches of Rome, Alexandria, Philippi, Corinth, India; centuries older than the Churches of England, Ireland, Germany, or Poland.  Mosul, by the way, contains the site of ancient Babylon (which is referred to in 1 Peter 5:13), though there are other interpretations of what the author of 1 Peter meant by “Babylon” which was also a primitive Christian code word for Rome. 
Ancient Mesopotamia was never part of the Roman Empire and by the fifth century political strife between Constantinople and the Sassanid Empire of Persia, led the Church in the Sassanid world to early establish its independence from any Romano/Byzantine authority.  The Churches had been in communion up until this point and thus the Church of the East had always accepted the Creed of the Council of Nicea which we Catholics (as well as Lutherans and Anglicans) use each Sunday and the Orthodox and Byzantine Rite Catholics use in every Divine Liturgy.  The bonds had been broken however by the time of the Council of Ephesus (431) and the Council of Chalcedon (451) and the Church of the East has never accepted the Caledonian formula that Jesus Christ is One Person with two Natures: a Human Nature likes ours in every respect and a Divine Nature which is in essence identical to the Divine Nature of the Father.  These two natures are inseparably united but not in any way mingled, each retaining the purity of its particular Nature intact.  The Chalcedonian Christians (Catholics, Orthodox, Lutherans, Anglicans) use the Title for the Virgin Mary of Θεοτόκος (Theotokos) loosely meaning “Mother of God” as the theological symbol of this doctrine in as that Mary carried in her womb and gave birth to One Person Who is both God and man. Mary is clearly the mother of the man, Jesus.  In Jesus his Divine Nature is inseparable, though totally distinguishable, from his Human Nature, thus permitting us to say that she who gave birth to the man Jesus also gave birth the Second Person of the Trinity for in him his humanity, while distinct from his Divine Nature, cannot be separated from his Divinity. For Catholics, this is the Gold Standard of Christian Orthodoxy.  For the Ancient Churches of the East there is a reluctance to accept this precise formula because they see in it that somehow the Human Nature is subordinated to the Divine Nature though Ephesus and Chalcedon went to great lengths to make sure that this idea that the one nature absorbs the other is not the case.  The Ecumenical dialogues over the years since Vatican II have helped each side better understand the position of the other and realize that the difference is one of emphasis (the West emphasizing the Divinity of Christ; the East giving more emphasis to his humanity) than of essential difference of faith. 
From Mosul, Baghdad, Tabriz, Maragheh, and other centers this “Assyrian Christianity” (also sometimes referred to as East Syrian Christianity) spread southwards into India and eastwards far into modern China.  This led to the ancient legends of Prester John (John the Priest) and the fabulous wealth of his mystical kingdom.   In the fourteenth century, however, Tamerlane’s Turko/Mongol armies however brutally destroyed the Christian communities of central Asia eventually reducing Assyrian Christianity to the Mesopotamian communities from which it had originally spread.  (The southern communities in India remained and still remain today.  We should take a look at them someday.)  The Patriarchate located itself at Alqosh near Mosul.  At the end of the fifteenth century Patriarch Shimun IV Basidi decreed henceforth Patriarchs must be chosen from his family and this led to a rebellion among many of the bishops.  In 1552 a group of bishops, dissatisfied with the hereditary patriarchate, elected a rival patriarch in Mar Yohannan Sulaqa.  The patriarch-designate needed to be consecrated bishop by a prelate of his own stature or higher and consequently journeyed to Rome where he reestablished communion between his faction of the Assyrian Church and the Catholic Church and was granted the title of “Patriarch of the Chaldeans” by Julius III.  The Church itself was called the Church of Athura and Mosul.  The communion between Rome and the Chaldeans collapsed in the early seventeenth century but was restored in 1672 by Mar Joseph I.  Meanwhile, various of the Alqosh Patriarchs made overtures about entering the Roman Communion, but other than some doctrinal concords, nothing came of it until 1804. The two patriarchal lines were merged by Pius VIII in 1830.  There is still, however, a patriarchal line not in communion with Rome and headed by Mar Dinkha IV who, because of the instability in Iraq, lives in exile in Chicago from where he administers the Church.  The Patriarchate in union with Rome under Patriarch Louis Raphael I Sako is located currently in Baghdad.
These Christians have suffered terribly ever since the United States invaded Iraq in the Second Gulf War.  As evil as Sadaam Hussein was, he gave protection to religious minorities.  The failure to establish a stable government has increasingly left Christians, Jews, Mandaeans and other religious minorities at the mercy of Islamic extremists.  The internecine violence between the Shia majority and the Sunni minority has been as vicious as any persecution of non-Islamic sects. 
The creation of the Caliphate by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), also known as the Iraqi State of Iraq and the Levant, has raised the terror level for Christians to full alert.  Two weeks ago this self-proclaimed Caliphate ordered all Christians in Mosul to convert to Islam or be put to death.  There have been Christians in Mosul since the days of the Apostles!  Mosul has long been the center of Iraqi Christianity.  A decade ago there were 60,000 Christians in Mosul.  Today there are none!  Ancient Christian Churches have been turned into mosques or burned to ruins.  The fleeing Christian population has been assaulted, beaten, robbed of whatever valuable they were trying to bring out to safety with them.  
I remember having dinner with friends about two weeks before President Bush declared war on the Hussein regime in March 2003.  There were other guests including a couple who are Christian Arabs.  The husband is Egyptian; the wife Lebanese.  Both are Catholics.  Rabid Republicans in every other respect, they lambasted the upcoming war.  “It will destabilize the region.  The human suffering will be immense.  And no one will suffer more than the Christian population of the Mid-East.”  This was at a time when all we heard from the Bush Administration was how evil the Hussein regime was and how we were going to “liberate” the people of Iraq.  How tragically true my companions’ words have come to be.  Pope John Paul sent his emissary, Cardinal Pio Laghi, a personal friend of the Bush family, to beg the administration not to go to war.  He at least was admitted to the Oval Office.  The bishops of President Bush’s own Church, the United Methodist, were refused appointment.  So in the end Halliburton and Vice President Cheney made their money but at the cost of immense human suffering.  There are two Chaldean Catholic Dioceses in the United States—one located in Detroit, the other in San Diego.  Between them there are about 200,000 Catholics.  The Assyrian Church of the East, which is not in communion with the Pope, has three dioceses in the United States but notably fewer adherents.  It is common practice for Chaldean Catholics and Assyrian Christians to share the Eucharist.  The Liturgy of the Church also has an ancient Eucharistic Prayer—far older than the Roman Canon—which has the distinguishing factor of there being no “Words of Institution,” that is the repetition of Jesus’s words at the Last Supper.  We will have to do a posting on that sometime.  In the meantime pray for the Christians of Iraq.  

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Happy 40th Anniversary to the Philadelphia 11

July 29, 1974: The Ordination of
the Philadelphia 11

I was listening to the radio the other day as I was driving and came across Maureen Fiedler’s Interfaith Voices, a program that I always enjoy.  Dr. Fiedler (aka Sister Maureen Fiedler IBVM) had a special program commemorating “The Philadelphia 11.”  Forty years ago today, July 29th 1974, eleven women deacons in the Protestant Episcopal Church in the USA presented themselves to Bishops Daniel N. Corrigan, Robert L. DeWitt, and Edward R. Welles and were ordained as priests in the Episcopal Church.  The eleven women—the first women priests in the Episcopal Church (though not in the Anglican Communion) were the Reverends Merrill Bittner, Alla Bozarth-Campell (don’t Episcopalians have wonderful names?), Alison Cheek, Emily Hewitt, Carter Heyward, Suzanne Hiatt, Marie Moorefield.  Jeannette Piccard, Betty Schiess, Katrina Swanson, and Nancy Wittig.  Katrina Swanson is the daughter of the late Bishop Welles, one of the ordaining bishops. 
There was nothing in the canon law of the Episcopal Church to prevent the ordination of women as priests, but the General Convention of the Church in 1970 and again in 1973 failed to approve motions authorizing such ordinations. Surprisingly it was not the House of Bishops that had objected, but the House of Delegates comprised of lay and lower clergy representatives.   In search of good pastures, shepherds are often ready to move faster and further than their flocks whose vision is limited by their narrow experience—a reason why we often call those who cannot (or will not) think critically “sheep.”  There was a day in the history of the Catholic Church in the United States when we had Shepherds like Richard Cushing, John McNicholas OP, Frank Haas, James Gibbons, John Dearden, Albert Meyer, Paul Hallinan, Bernard Topel, Bernard Sheil, to name a few.  (To be honest, I can’t think of many more.)  Heck, our first Bishop, Archbishop John Carroll, was even pushing for Mass and the Sacraments in English almost two hundred years before the Church finally came ‘round.  But back to the Episcopalians. 
Confronted with the fact that there were now eleven women on whom hands hand been laid and the Holy Spirit invoked, the Bishops of the Episcopal Church had to devise a protocol to confront the new situation.  At first they were inclined to declare the ordinations invalid in as that the (Protestant Episcopal) Church had not called these deacons to ordination.  The sacrament of Orders is not some arbitrary thing that a bishop can do at will.  At least in the Reformed Theology—and in fact, (though more in theory than in practice) in Roman Catholic theology—it is the Church that calls the candidate to the ministry and the Bishop is acting not on his own behalf, but as the head of a Church that has called the candidate.  In the ordination service—the Roman Catholic Ordination Rite as well as most other ceremonials—the assent of the gathered faithful is asked for by the ordaining bishop.  Given that there had been no such call, save from the assembled congregation that morning in Philadelphia, and given that the (Protestant Episcopal) Church had in fact refused to call women to the priesthood, and complicated by the fact that each of the three ordaining bishops were not the head of any (local) Church in whose name they could be acting, but all retired, foes of the ordination of women claimed that the ordinations were invalid.  But then Bishop Arthur Vogel, considered to be the best theologian among the Episcopal Bishops (a group not known in general for intellectual prowess), got up and presented a counter-argument: the women had been ordained by duly consecrated bishops and according to the official rites of the Church.  The ordinations were therefor valid.  The whole matter was replete with irony.  Bishop Vogel was a somewhat extreme High Churchman, not one who would be expected to argue for the ordination of women.  His argument, befitting a prelate educated at Nashotah House (a seminary that would cause the SSPX astonished confusion for its Tridentine Anglicanism) was pure Catholic Theology.  You have a valid minister; you have a valid rite; you must presume valid intention unless there is clear intention otherwise.  (As there was nothing in the canon law of the Protestant Episcopal Church) preventing the ordination of women, you also had a valid candidate.)  In the end the ordinations were ruled valid but the women were asked not to exercise priestly ministry until such time as the General Convention recognized women’s ordination which they did in 1976—a significant year for several reasons. 
The Catholic situation is somewhat different.  First, we have no women deacons.  There is a strong movement to ordain women as deacons—there were deaconesses for the first six centuries or so of the Church—and their duties corresponded to the duties of the male deacons though their ministry was directed towards women and the needs of women.  There are two reasons why we do not ordain women to the diaconate.  It would shake the growing rapport with the Orthodox Churches of the East (Greek, Russian, Syrian) as well as the other ancient Churches (Copts, Assyrians, Armenians), none of whom yet ordain women.  (Though the subject of admitting women to the diaconate is coming up for discussion in some of the Orthodox Churches.) The second reason—perhaps a bit more “on the ground” as it were, is that the diaconate is the firewall to insuring we don’t ordain women to the priesthood.  As the Episcopalians discovered that July day forty years ago: if they are already deacons, get a bishop to go along and they can move quickly and surreptitiously into the priesthood before you can stop it. 
The Catholic situation is somewhat different also in as that Catholic Church Law specifically declares that a valid candidate for ordination must be male.  There is therefore, under the current law, no way that the “Church” can call a woman to ordination. It simply would not be valid even with a validly ordained bishop following the prescribed rites.  So when we hear that several women were “ordained” on a boat on the Rhine River or in someone’s back yard in Maine, the only “Church” that called them is the community gathered at that time and in that place.  Unlike the typical ordination service in which the assembled congregation is representative of the larger Church, such assemblies are not representative of the Catholic Church.  The women ordained may be priests, but they are not Catholic priests.  The Catholic Church has not called them to priesthood. 
A tricky situation would be if a Bishop who was Ordinary of Local Church (in other words, a Bishop who heads a diocese) ordained a woman; that Bishop has a right to act on behalf of and in the name of the Church which he heads.  But for him to ordain a woman would take him—and his Church—out of the Roman Communion.  So again, perhaps the newly ordained would be a priest—but not a Catholic Priest. 
There is the case of Ludmila Javorová, a Czech woman who claims to have been secretly ordained to the priesthood in December of 1970 by Bishop Felix Maria Davídek.  Davídek himself had been secretly consecrated Bishop in 1967 during the period of Communist persecution of the Church in Czechoslovakia.  Allegedly Bishop Davídek secretly ordained a number of women as they would not be suspected of being priests and would thus have more mobility during what was one of the most virulent persecutions of the Church in the 20th century.  Javorová’s disclosure that she had been ordained triggered Pope Saint John Paul II to write his 1994 Apostolic Letter, Ordinatio Sacerdotalis in which he teaches that it is by Divine Law, not human law, that the priesthood is given only to men and that therefore this law is immutable and that consequently the ordination of a woman is ipso facto invalid because the candidate is inherently ineligible.  Sounds pretty final doesn’t it?
There is still some argument about the theological soundness of the Pope’s Letter and there is still some (though not as much perhaps as twenty years ago) clamor among Catholics in the developed World for the ordination of women.  Now let me make it very clear.  I am not disagreeing with the teachings of Pope John Paul or of the Church itself.  I am not writing theologically.  I am not equipped to do so.   I am writing as a historian and only in that capacity.  And as a historian I know that I will not see the ordination of women even if I live another generation. (Of course, there was a day when I was told that I would never see Mass in English, but that is beside the point.)  No one reading this post is ever going to see the ordination of women in the Catholic Church.  Neither—probably—will your children.  But the trajectory of history makes the ordination of women in the Catholic Church inevitable.  I know, Pope Saint John Paul said that it can’t—by Divine Law—happen.  I know, I know.  Pope Boniface VIII said that no one who was not subject to the Roman Pontiff could be saved.  Pope Pius XI condemned the Ecumenical Movement.  Pope Pius IX said that it was theologically erroneous (and most seriously so) to believe or teach that : The Roman Pontiff can, and ought to, reconcile himself, and come to terms with progress, liberalism and modern civilization.  “Things change, Kundun!”  I am not advocating change but two centuries down the line Catholics will look at the arguments about the ordination of women and wonder “what were they thinking with all the problems of the 20th century and they were arguing over that?”  A millennium down the line and the arguments will be as obtuse as the arguments over Homooúsios or Homoiousia though of infinite less consequence then or now.  So happy anniversary to the Philadelphia 11.  We’d jump in the pool with you to celebrate but seem to have forgotten our bathing suit.  And since there are now ladies in the pool, skinny dipping is not an option.  Well, it may be for you Episcopalians, but we Roman Catholics are still a bit priggish, aren’t we?  

Monday, July 28, 2014

Foundations of the Anglican Church LXXX

Archbishop of Canterbury
Matthew Parker

Elizabeth came to the throne November  17th 1558.  Her sister, Mary I, had died that morning only to be followed later in the day by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Reginald Pole.  Mary was buried with full Catholic Rites at Westminster Abbey on December 14.  At Christmas the new Queen instructed the Bishop of Carlisle—who was celebrating Christmas Mass in the Chapel Royal at Saint James—to eliminate the elevation of the Host and Chalice at the consecration.  This was the first public sign that Elizabeth was planning to discontinue the Catholic restoration begun by Mary.  The Bishop, Owen Oglethorpe, refused her order and elevated the Sacrament, and the Queen stormed out.  The following month Elizabeth was crowned with the traditional Catholic ceremonial except that she once again instructed Bishop Oglethorpe—the only one of the English Bishops who would agree to officiate at the Coronation—not to elevate the Host and Chalice.  Once again he did.  Once again she stormed out.  In April Parliament restored the Protestant Rites—with slight revisions to the 1552 Prayer book—and passed an act of Uniformity.  The Bishops of England and Wales, with only the exception of Anthony Kitchin of Llandaff, refused to return to the Protestant liturgy and were deposed of their sees.  Eamon Duffy, the most distinguished living historian of the English Reformation, said of Kitchen that he was a “timeserver who would doubtless have become a Hindu if required, provided he was allowed to hold on to the See of Llandaff.”  It is important to read Kitchin correctly, however; he may have been without much spine; but he was a man of principle.  He opposed the election of Mathew Parker as Archbishop of Canterbury and refused to participate in his consecration precisely because of Parker’s convinced Protestantism. 
Matthew Parker seems to have been a “shirt-tail relative” of Thomas Cranmer. Like Cranmer he was a Cambridge man.  And like Cranmer he was given in his Cambridge years (the 1520’s) to the new religious ideas coming out of Germany. He was ordained priest according to Catholic rites in 1527 and appointed a chaplain to Anne Boleyn.  Before her execution, Anne asked him to take particular care of the infant Elizabeth.  Despite his ties to Anne, Parker remained in the royal favor; in 1537 he was appointed a chaplain to Henry VIII and rewarded with a series of ecclesiastical benefices that guaranteed him a comfortable living.  In the ecclesiastical politics of the court, his ties to Cranmer and friendship with Hugh Latimer put him strongly in the Reformed court and at enmity with Stephen Gardiner and others of the Orthodox faction.  Upon the accession of Edward VI but even before clerical marriage was legalized by Parliament and Convocation (the assembly of Bishops), Parker married Margaret Harlestone from a comfortable Norfolk family. 
In many ways Parker typified the new Anglican clergy.  He was educated, sophisticated, even somewhat worldly.  He led a comfortable domestic life with wife and children—and servants to care for them.  He was a scholar and an intellectual; there was nothing of the pious priest about him.  This new-style divine was a consecrated layman, intellectual and refined, more at home in the company of gentlemen than of pious souls. 
Under Mary, of course, Parker lost it all.  Being married—and principled enough not to have his wife “put away” as did many Marian returnees to the Catholic faith, Parker lost all his benefices and was severely reduced financially.  Nevertheless the situation was never so bad that unlike many of co-religionists he felt no need to flee England and was able to live peacefully—if obscurely—through Mary’s reign. 
The accession of Elizabeth favored him politically but it did take away his tranquility.
When the Bishops of England and Wales—excepting, of course, Andrew Kitchin—refused the Act of Uniformity restoring the Protestant liturgy and were deposed for so doing, Elizabeth was given the opportunity to build a new Church to her liking.  Fourteen sees—all but Kitchin’s Llandaff—were declared vacant.  Elizabeth could pick the entire bench of bishops to her liking.  But first the See of Canterbury had to be filled as it was the Primate’s prerogative to consecrate the new bishops. Elizabeth was determined to have Parker—her mother’s favorite chaplain—as the new Archbishop.  Parker wanted no part of it.  And why should he?  He foresaw the difficulties—more clearly than Elizabeth—in restoring Protestantism.  As a moderate  himself he could see the two wings—the Catholic and the Puritan—that would be fighting for control of the future of the Church in England and he did not want to be in the middle.  Moreover, while the Queen was very attached to him she was not pleased that he was married.  Elizabeth, never herself to marry, was not in favor of married clergy and she showed it by taking out her displeasure on clergy wives and Margaret Parker in particular.  After a royal visit to the Parker’s at Lambeth, the London residence of the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Queen said to Lady Parker: “How should I address you: for Madam I may not call you; mistress I should be ashamed to call you.”  What a bitch!

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Foundations of the Anglican Church LXXVIX

Coronation Portrait of
Elizabeth I
One of the first challenges Elizabeth had to meet was what to do with the Church.  She could not keep it in the Catholic communion—as far as the Pope was concerned she was illegitimate and therefore had no legal right to the throne.  Moreover, while far less religious than either her brother Edward (Protestant) or her sister Mary (Catholic), Elizabeth was by far the best educated theologically of the three.  She was also the most open minded and inclined to tolerance.  Elizabeth was both natively intelligent (which her sister and  brother were not) and had the open and critical mind of the serious student.  Her education had been overseen by Archbishop Cranmer and he made sure to indoctrinate her in Protestant thought, but she was no narrow evangelical like her brother. 

Elizabeth proceeded with caution.  She made guarantees that she did not want to trouble the consciences of any of her subjects.  Mary was buried in Westminster Abbey with full Catholic rites on December 14.  Just eleven days later, however, she instructed  Owen Oglethorpe. the Bishop of Carlisle who was offering Christmas Mass in the Chapel Royal at Saint James Palace that he was not to elevate the Host or Chalice at the consecration.  She had yet demanded no other changes in the Latin Mass, but the Elevation of the Host and Chalice, which emphasizes Transubstantiation, was more than the Protestant Elizabeth would suffer even in the short run.  Elizabeth stormed out of the chapel.  Nevertheless, as Oglethorpe was the only bishop who would agree to officiate at her coronation on January 15th following the Queen gave him a second chance.  Again the Queen instructed him not to elevate the Host and Chalice; again he did; again the Queen stormed out—of her own coronation Mass.  Little by little that year of 1559 Elizabeth moved to re-introduce Protestantism.  Oglethorpe and the other Marian bishops were deprived of their sees for their unwillingness to support the Queen’s religious policies.  The monks were evicted from Westminster Abbey and other religious establishments were closed down, becoming “collegiate” churches with a college of canons and a dean.  In April Parliament passed a new Act of Uniformity which abolished the Mass and replaced the Catholic Liturgy with a new Book of Common Prayer. The 1559 Prayer Book was a slightly—but significantly—revised version of Cranmer’s 1552  book.  Clergy who would not implement the rite were removed from their benefices.  Fourteen Bishops in England and Wales were deprived of their sees.  Most were arrested for a period of time but then allowed to retire to house arrest in private life where they privately practiced the Catholic faith without interference.  An exception was Edmund Bonner, Bishop of London who refused the oath of supremacy and was confined to the Marshalsea Prison until this death ten years later.  The Extreme Protestant Party clamored for the execution of Bonner and the other bishops, but Elizabeth was not inclined to make martyrs.  Nicholas Heath, deposed Archbishop of York, also refused both the Act of Uniformity and the Act of Supremacy but assured Elizabeth of his loyalty in matters secular.  He was allowed to retire to his estates in Surrey where Elizabeth visited him several times.  Cuthbert Tunstall, deposed bishop of Durham, was put under the custody of the New Archbishop of Canterbury, Matthew Parker, at Lambeth Palace.  He died there eleven weeks later.

Just about six weeks after Elizabeth’s accession to the throne, Giovanni Angelo Medici was elected Pope as Pius IV.  The papacy had been vacant from the death of Paul IV four months earlier.  Pius did not want to aggravate the plight of English Catholics and so he was silent in the face of Elizabeth’s return of the Church of England to Protestant doctrine and liturgy.  Pius also was not unlike the present Pope as he eschewed much of the pomp and splendor that had traditionally gone with the Papal Court.  He was characterized by Giorgio Vasari for his “stinginess of living, dullness of dress, and simplicity in so many things.”  In the sixteenth century Pope were not admired for toning down the Renaissance excess.  He also made some serious concessions to preserve the unity of the Church in the face of the Reformation.  He permitted the restoration of the chalice to the faithful in Austria and Bohemia where there had long been agitation for this reform.  There are those historians who admire Pius for his policies; and there are those who do not.  His English strategy worked in so far as there were no Catholic executed in England for their faith until after Pius’s successor, Saint Pius V, excommunicated Elizabeth and declared her subjects both free from her authority and duty-bound to overthrow her reign.  But that is for another time. 

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Foundations of the Anglican Church LXXVIII

Well, let’s talk about Elizabeth.  Mary died on the morning of November 17, 1558 and Elizabeth became Queen with no opposition.  She was at her primary residence, Hatfield House in Hertfordshire, just less than 25 miles north of London, where she and her brother, Edward VI, had spent much of their childhood.  The Accession Council came to inform her of her new position and pledge their loyalty.
Mary had not only turned the Church back to its medieval status, though admittedly without most of the monasteries.  She reversed the policies of her father and brother who drew their counsel primarily from the newly ennobled laity and filled key government posts with clergy.  Her Secretary of State was John Boxall who was dean of Peterborough, Norwich, and Windsor.  Nicholas Heath, Archbishop of York, was Lord Chancellor.  Lay members of her Council, such as her secretary Sir John Bourne, were invariably Roman Catholics—though some such as William Paulet, the Lord Treasurer, went with whichever religious wind was prevailing at the moment.  William Paget, Lord Keeper of the Privy Seal, was another committed Catholic who served Mary.  One member of the Council who was missing to greet the new Queen was the Archbishop of Canterbury, Cardinal Reginald Pole.  He died at Lambeth Palace, the London Residence of the Archbishops of Canterbury, only twelve hours after Mary.
When Elizabeth looked at the Council she have realized that so much and so many would have to go if she were to bring England into the path she would set for it.  Polite to her guests—unlike the other Tudors, she was always gracious—she determined at once to choose her own advisors and dismiss those who had served her sister.  The clergy were, within a year or two, deprived of both royal and ecclesiastical office and remanded to custody—usually a fairly gentle custody—most eventually be released and returned to very private lives.  The laity who remained loyal to their Catholic faith likewise lost their places on the Council and at Court, though not usually their peerages and place in the House of Lords.  By and large it was a gentle reshuffling of the deck as Elizabeth replaced Mary’s Catholic ascendency with a Protestant Council of her own choosing.  Elizabeth was to have a much smaller Council than her sister, but it was comprised of men chosen for their competence (and at least nominally Protestant faith) and she was to entrust them with far greater responsibility than any of her predecessors. Sir William Cecil was her chief advisor.  His son, Sir Robert Cecil along with Sir Francis Walsingham and Robert Devereaux, Earl of Essex were the second tier.  Sir William Bacon, Sir Francis Bacon, and Sir William Knollys were other important advisors.  She did not appoint any of her bishops, even her new Archbishop of Canterbury to her Council or to key government posts, remarkable innovation only because the Archbishop of Canterbury had always served as one of the Privy Councillors. 
Elizabeth’s first aim was to restore the independence of the English Church from Roman authority.  She was aided by the fact that the Primatial See, the Archbishopric of Canterbury, was vacant due to the death of Cardinal Pole.  She would be able to choose her new Archbishop.  But this proved to be a more difficult challenge than one would think.  Elizabeth had her man in Matthew Parker, but he was not interested in the post.  Parker had been a much beloved chaplain to Anne Boleyn, Elizabeth’s mother, and despite his being married (Elizabeth did not like a married clergy, one of her “Catholic quirks”) insisted on him as Archbishop.  A second problem was getting the requisite three bishops to consecrate him as Mary’s bishops were, to a man, convinced Catholics who, many having betrayed the Church once under Henry, saw that a break with Rome inevitably led towards a Protestant doctrine and practice they were unwilling to stomach again.  While the bishops had failed miserably to resist her father in his break with Rome, Elizabeth’s bishops—some of whom had been among her father’s lackeys—stood their ground.  It would not, however, stop the royal policy of an independent and Protestant Anglican Church.