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Six Articles of Faith
Formally titled "An Act Abolishing Diversity in Opinions",
the Act of Six Articles
reinforced existing heresy laws and reasserted traditional
Catholic doctrine as the basis of faith for the English Church.
The Act was passed by Parliament in June of 1539.
|Many Protestants called it "the bloody whip with six strings". It represented a political defeat for Thomas Cromwell,, Thomas Cranmer and many other reformers. Without mentioning the word, the first article affirmed Transubstantiation, the Catholic doctrine of the Eucharist. The remaining five articles similarly upheld Catholic positions. Below is a list of the six articles. It is an abbreviated form of the document. It remained Henry's policy towards reforms until his death|
First, that in the most blessed Sacrament of the Altar, by the strength and efficacy of Christ's mighty word, it being spoken by the priest, is present really, under the form of bread and wine, the natural body and blood of Our Saviour Jesu Christ, conceived of the Virgin Mary, and that after the consecration there remaineth no substance of bread and wine, nor any other substance but the substance of Christ, God and man;
2. The reasonableness of withholding of the cup from the laity during communion
Secondly, that communion in both kinds is not necessary ad salutem, by the law of God, to all persons; and that it is to be believed, and not doubted of, but that in the flesh, under the form of the bread, is the very blood; and with the blood, under the form of the wine, is the very flesh; as well apart, as though they were both together.
3. Clerical celibacy
Thirdly, that priests after the order of priesthood received, as afore, may not marry, by the law of God.
4. Observance of vows of Chastity
Fourthly, that vows of chastity or widowhood, by man or woman made to God advisedly, ought to be observed by the law of God; and that it exempts them from other liberties of Christian people, which without that they might enjoy.
5. Permission for private masses
Fifthly, that it is meet and necessary that private masses be continued and admitted in this the King's English Church and Congregation, as whereby good Christian people, ordering themselves accordingly, do receive both godly and goodly consolations and benefits; and it is agreeable also to God's law.
6. The importance of auricular confession
Sixthly, that auricular confession is expedient and necessary to be retained and continued, used and frequented in the Church of God:. . . It is therefore ordained and enacted.. . .
And be it further enacted... that if any person or persons... contemn or contemptuously refuse, deny, or abstain to be confessed at the time commonly accustomed within this realm and Church of England, or contemn or contemptuously refuse, deny, or abstain to receive the holy and blessed sacrament above said at the time commonly used and accustomed for the same, that then every such offender.. shall suffer such, imprisonment and make such fine and ransom to the King our Sovereign Lord and his heirs as by his Highness or by his or their Council shall be ordered and adjudged in that behalf; And if any such offender ... do eftsoons... refuse... to be confessed or to be communicate... that then every such offence shall be deemed and adjudged felony, and the offender... shall suffer pains of death and lose and forfeit all his... goods, lands, and tenements, as in cases of felon
Penalties under the act ranged from imprisonment and fine to death. However, its severity was reduced by an act of 1540, which retained the death penalty only for denial of transubstantiation (Anne Askew), and a further act limited its arbitrariness. The Catholic emphasis of the doctrine commended in the articles is not matched by the ecclesiastical reforms Henry undertook in the following years, such as the enforcement of the necessity of the English Bible and the insistence upon the abolition of all shrines, both in 1541. After Henry's death the articles were repealed by his son, Edward VI.
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