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To The Editor, Tower and Town, 19 January 2017

Dear Sir

Letter: Breaking From Rome

It is little wonder the Rev Heather Cooper benefited from her retreat at Lindisfarne. I have been fortunate to enjoy the peace there and Iona, and Glendalough - all on the track of the Celtic missionaries. All lovely places to be, even when alone, but never lonely. The Gospel taken to Ireland in 432 by Patrick, returning from a time in slavery, spread rapidly throughout Ireland. Monastic learning developed such that Glendalough was rated as the first university west of Prague. Columba left Ireland to found Iona in 563 from whence Aiden in 635 went to found Lindisfarne and convert Northumbria. Use of the vernacular had made a start - only to be doomed for centuries

From Canterbury after his arrival in 597, Augustine's teachings under the direction of Rome led eventually to the encounter of the those with Ionian and Roman versions of practices and beliefs. As Rev Cooper says, Rome won the day at the Synod of Whitby, in 664. All of those missionaries were canonised, and sadly their foundations sacked by Vikings in the 700s. Nevertheless, rebuilt, used and worshipped in for centuries they all hold an aura of sanctity we can feel today whether seen as ruins, partial ruins or full mediaeval splendour.

For the next 900 years, Roman Catholicism reigned supreme in the British lles with its cathedrals vying with castles to awe with its power. Gradually Rome strengthened its influence; similarly, in Europe and by involvement in the choice of some kings, and then expecting all to come there for anointment by the Pope to confirm their succession. lt took Thomas Cromwell to encourage Henry VIII that in a sovereign state the monarch should have no rival within his state. The schism of 1534 led to freer scientific thinking, translations of the Bible and Prayer Book in safety, and led the way to the Age of Enlightenment both in England and other protesting areas of Europe. That, our first Brexit from Rome, has been an unquestionable success and we have certainly not been lonely!

ln 1973 we joined the EEC (confirmed by referendum in 1975, known as the Common Market) which renamed itself the EC and then 1993 morphed into the EU. This our second Brexit from Rome (the Treaty of), for us to boldly leave the EU, may yet I suggest, also have profound effects on continental Europe and beyond. Interestingly a speech of Mrs May's, had echoes of Cromwell: to state that Brexit would make us "a fully-independent, sovereign country, a country that is no longer part of a political union with supranational institutions that can override national parliaments and courts". We shall not be lonely. While there may then only be 27 countries left in the EU, there will be at least 168 outside it.

Richard Shaw

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