The Church of England is the officially established Christian church in England and the Mother Church of the worldwide Anglican Communion. The church considers itself within the tradition of Western Christianity and dates its formal establishment principally to the mission to England by St Augustine of Canterbury in AD 597.
As a result of Augustine's mission, the church in England came under the authority of the Pope. Initially prompted by a dispute over the annulment of the marriage of King Henry VIII to Catherine of Aragon, the Church of England separated from the Roman Catholic Church in 1534 and became the established church by an Act of Parliament in the Act of Supremacy, beginning a series of events known as the English Reformation. During the reign of Queen Mary I and King Philip, the Church was fully restored under Rome in 1555. Papal authority was again explicitly rejected after the accession of Queen Elizabeth I when the Act of Supremacy of 1558 was passed. Catholic and Reformed factions vied for determining the doctrines and worship of the church. This ended with the 1558 Elizabethan settlement, which developed the understanding that the church was to be both Catholic and Reformed:
During the 17th century, political and religious disputes raised the Puritan and Presbyterian faction to control of the church, but this ended with the Restoration. The contemporary Church of England still continues to contain several doctrinal strands, now generally known as Anglo-Catholic and Evangelical. This reflects early divisions. In recent times, tensions between theological conservatives and progressives find expression in debates over women's ordination and homosexuality within the church. The Church of England has ordained women as priests since 1994. A proposed measure which would have allowed the consecration of female bishops was lost by a narrow margin in the General Synod of the Church in 2012.
Since the Reformation, the Church of England has used an English liturgy. The Book of Common Prayer was based on original writings and translations from the Latin services by Thomas Cranmer. This liturgy has been updated and modernised at various times. The church also adopted congregational singing of hymns and psalms.