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Magna Carta, Langton, and the see of Rome

by
22 August 2014

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From Mr Robert Ian Williams

Sir, - I find it amazing that an Anglican, the Revd Dr Robin Griffith-Jones (Comment, 8 August), writes of the significance of the Magna Carta phrase "Let the English Church be free" as a hallmark of ecclesiastical independence.

The freedom that was won at Runnymede was the freedom of the Catholic Church in England to be free from royal interference in its relationship with the Holy See. Indeed, for several years before the signing, the whole realm had been placed under an inderdict, so pressurising King John to settle with the Church. An ill-informed pope, having brought King John to heel, subsequently nullified Magna Carta, but that in itself shows how powerful the Church was.

The principal author of Magna Carta was in fact Archbishop Langton, a most devoted son of the papacy, who was absolved by the pope when he garnered the full facts. Owing to Langton's persistence, it was during the reign of King Henry III that the importance of Magna Carta was again recognised.

Sadly, at the Reformation, the Crown reneged on Magna Carta and created a Church subservient to the King in Parliament.

ROBERT IAN WILLIAMS
Y Garreg Lwyd, Whitchurch Road
Bangor Is Y Coed LL13 0BB

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