Church of England Archbishops want Christians to repent for the Reformation

First of all let’s check we know what repent means…

REPENT – to turn from sin and dedicate yourself to changing your life for the better

Now let’s check that we know that the Reformation was…

THE REFORMATION – attempts to reform the Catholic Church and the development of Protestant Churches in western Europe. The Reformation began in 1517 when a German monk called Martin Luther protested about the Catholic Church. His followers became known as Protestants. Many people and governments adopted the new Protestant ideas, while others remained faithful to the Catholic Church. This led to a split in the Church.

If we are just considering England you might know about Henry VIII who split the English Church away from the Pope. This was really an argument about the succession and power and not a move towards Protestantism. Henry remained a Catholic to the end of his life. You then have Edward VI who was a Protestant. Then it was Mary I who tried to restore the Catholic Church. After that it was Elizabeth I who at first tried to follow a ‘middle way’ in religion, but later began to persecute Catholics and by the end of her reign England was a Protestant country. Moving on to James I who was tolerant towards the Catholics, but introduced strict anti-Catholic laws after the Gunpowder Plot.

But back to our original story, the current Archbishops of Canterbury and York have said that Christians should repent their sins for the death and destruction the Reformation caused. They proclaimed people should be sorry for “the lasting damage done five centuries ago to the unity of the Church, in defiance of the clear command of Jesus Christ to unity in love”.


In 2012 an article in the Daily Telegraph said that the Reformation should stop being looked at simply as a religious change but more as a cultural calamity (nightmare) for the destruction of libraries, music and art. The YouTube Crash Course in World History gives you a 15 minute quick fire review of the Reformation, whereas this rap about Martin Luther gives you an even quicker though harder to decipher run down of the story! Horrible Histories is tricky to find on YouTube but Rowan Atkinson sings as Henry VIII which refers briefly to the Reformation.


3 thoughts on “Church of England Archbishops want Christians to repent for the Reformation

  1. I suggest you “fact check” what the Archbishops actually said, rather than rely on the newspapers’ misrepresentation. Their statement can be found at:
    It’s a good read. Including the challenge that “Remembering the Reformation should also lead us to repent of our part in perpetuating divisions” alongside “Remembering the Reformation should bring us back to what the Reformers wanted to put at the centre of every person’s life, which is a simple trust in Jesus Christ.”


    • I’ve read the articles and they aren’t too different to the summary I wrote for students studying religion at secondary school. It is really interesting for our students because we learn about the Reformation in Year 8 Religious Studies and learn about repentance in the new AQA GCSE. Thank you for the links!


      • My point is that your headline “Church of England Archbishops want Christians to repent for the Reformation” is extremely misleading. Is that what the archbishops said? Hardly!


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