The Queen is to make an address to clergy at the Headquarters of the Church of England later this month, in her capacity as its Supreme Governor.
Her Majesty, accompanied by Prince Philip, will meet hundreds of bishops, deans and other religious leaders during a service at Westminster Abbey on November 24 to mark the latest inauguration of the Church’s legislative body, the General Synod.
The Queen, herself a devout Christian, will then make her address to the assembled congregation during a short ceremony at the Church’s headquarters, Church House. As Sovereign, she appoints archbishops, bishops and deans of cathedrals on the advice of the Prime Minister.
Her speech will come at a challenging time for religious leaders. The Synod was recently shaken by research suggesting four in 10 British adults do not believe Jesus was a “real person who actually lived” and only 19 per cent of non-believers wanted to know more after speaking to a practising Christian.
The Synod’s Secretary General William Fittall, said that some forms of outreach by those hoping convert others should be recognised as “counterproductive”.
The bleak findings, which were commissioned privately by the Church of England and a collection of other Christian groups, were “greeted with disbelief” according to The Bishop of Bristol and will, no doubt, be cause of discussion and debate later this month.
The Synod, established in its current form in 1970, deals with all matters relating to the Church and its associated institutions. Made up of 467 members, it meets two or three times each year for four to five days. Each session is officially opened by the Monarch and presided over by the Archbishops of Canterbury and York as joint presidents.
This month’s inauguration will see the Preacher to the Papal Household, Father Raniero Cantalamessa, deliver the sermon. A senior cleric, Cantalamessa is the only individual allowed to preach to the Pope and has served three Pontiffs since appointed in 1980. His own speech comes as Pope Francis faces continuing pressure following a leaked Vatican document earlier this month.
The document is reported to have formed part of two new books, claiming senior figures in the Catholic Church are opposed to Pope Francis’s reform process and do not always live a modest lifestyle. Concerns also continue to circulate over the Pope’s wellbeing, following two recent falls during religious services.