Dust up in UK over anti-Catholic legislation

From CNA:

Royal row breaks out in UK over anti-Catholic legislation

London, England, Apr 25, 2011 / 05:02 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- In the week of the Royal Wedding, a centuries-old law banning British monarchs from becoming or marrying a Catholic is sparking an international row in the United Kingdom.

London’s Daily Telegraph reported on April 25 that plans to abolish the 1701 Act of Settlement have been ditched because of “significant objections” from the Church of England. [How many former Anglicans were received into the Catholic Church in the last few week?]

Now the First Minister of Scotland, Alex Salmond, has written to the British Government asking for urgent clarification.

“I recently wrote to the Prime Minister (David Cameron) calling for the abolition of all discrimination contained in the Act of Settlement, including its blatant discrimination towards Catholics, which is completely unacceptable in a modern society. [The Last Acceptable Prejudice.] I am deeply concerned at these reports that this much-needed and long overdue reform has been shelved by the UK Government,” Salmond wrote.

There is no similar prohibition on the British royal family marrying members of other faiths such as Islam or Judaism, or those who are agnostic or athiest. Anglicanism is still the state religion in England and the monarch is called the “Supreme Governor” of the Anglican faith.

A spokesman for the British Government told the Telegraph, that the government “accepts there are provisions (in the Act) which could be discriminatory.”

However, [You knew there would be a “however”…] he added, the process of amending the law is “a complex and difficult matter that requires careful and thoughtful consideration” because it effects [or affects] succession to England’s throne. [Oh yes… that has to be thought through.]

A Church of England spokesman expressed similar concerns. He said that the anti-Catholic prohibition “inevitably” looks outdated. [“But …”,… hear it coming?]

But if the prohibition were removed the difficulty would still remain that establishment requires the monarch to join in communion with the Church of England as its Supreme Governor and that is not something that a Roman Catholic would be able to do consistently with the current rules of that Church,” the spokesman told The Telegraph. [How many Anglicans became Catholic in the last few weeks?  I still don’t have numbers.]

The Act was originally passed to prevent the descendants of the Catholic King James II from ascending the throne. He was deposed in the 1688 “glorious revolution” by supporters of the Protestant William and Mary.  Mary was the eldest Protestant daughter of James II and was married to William of Orange, who later became William III.

In recent years, the Act has effected [affected, perhaps] several members of the British royal family.

In 2001, Lord Nicholas Winsdor, the youngest son of the Duke and Duchess of Kent, permanently forfeited his right to the royal succession by converting to Catholicism.

In 2008, Autumn Kelly, the Canadian fiancee of the Queen’s grandson Peter Philips, converted from Catholicism to Anglicanism, [not good] thus preserving her husband’s chances of becoming king.

The present heir to the British throne, Prince William, will marry Kate Middleton on April 29 at a Anglican service in London’s Westminster Abbey.

The Last Acceptable Prejudice.

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57 Responses to Dust up in UK over anti-Catholic legislation

  1. MikeJ9919 says:

    The issue that is hinted at but never directly addressed in this article is that those other religions have similar rules about raising children. Judaism has at least a cultural assumption that children be raised in the faith, and it’s my understanding that Islam has a religious requirement that children be raised in the faith. So the whole “Catholics are different because children have to be raised Catholic” argument is nothing more than a strawman.

  2. JMody says:

    This is wonderful — it is a chance for England to be seen for what it is. A chance for Anglicanism to make a last stand or be effectively swept away. A chance for a Prince to make a statement like few others ever get to make. Yes indeed, we live in interesting times. I wonder what old Ian Paisley is saying about all this.

    And obviously we should go back and read again what Islam thinks about other religions in public, or maintaining their property, or building new churches …

    And obviously we should go back and read how the English and their North American colonists treated Catholics in the 17th and 18th centuries. All interesting stuff …

  3. shane says:

    This won’t happen, at least not without disestablishment. The (purely titular) British monarch is ex officio Supreme Governor of the Church of England. It would be inappropriate for that role to be undertaken by a Catholic.

    Under the Statute of Westminster changes to the royal succession require the consent of all the Commonwealth realms. Canada and Australia would naturally oppose repealing the Act of Settlement because of the can of worms it would open regarding Quebec (in the former) and the republican debate (in the latter).

  4. anilwang says:

    > “But if the prohibition were removed the difficulty would still remain that establishment requires
    > the monarch to join in communion with the Church of England as its Supreme Governor and that
    > is not something that a Roman Catholic would be able to do consistently with the current rules of
    > that Church,”

    This is actually correct. Oddly enough, it’s possible to be an Atheist or a Muslim or a Buddhist and still be in the Anglican Communion (google finds more than a few examples of each) since the Anglican confession is ambiguous enough to embrace many contradictory viewpoints (e.g. almost-Catholic and almost-Presbyterian). This much ambiguity is no end of concern to orthodox Christians of both almost-Catholic and almost-Presbyterian stripes, but there’s nothing that can be done since tolerance is considered a key virtue of Anglicanism that when push comes to shove, even the bulk of orthodox Anglicans won’t give up even if it embraces heresy.

    All that’s requires for an Atheist or (likely Sufi) Muslim or Buddhist to be Anglican is to embrace other Anglican positions as equally valid. These groups can do so, but a true Catholic cannot, unless you believe Cafeteria Catholics are true Catholics. But even if you hold this belief, Cafeteria Catholics would not not issue converting to Anglicanism.

    I personally don’t see it a prejudice. If the Pope has to be Catholic, why can’t the head of the Anglican Church be required to be Anglican? The key problem is the establishment clause itself which makes Anglicanism the official state religion and gives the Prime Minister a hand in shaping Anglican theology. This not only hurts other faiths, it hurts Anglicanism itself.

  5. teevor says:

    As others have pointed out, the reasons given by the CofE are absurd because a devout Muslim or Jew could legally ascend to the Throne but a Catholic cannot.
    The elephant in the room is the absurdity of an Established Church in modern secular England. It’s not as if this is a recent conundrum: over a hundred years ago they were putting Anglo-Catholics in Prison for putting candles on the Altar, and they knew it was ridiculous then.
    Today, you have some MPs threatening application of Human Rights legislation to the CofE in order to force through women bishops, on the grounds that the Church is a part of the state.
    The Church is going to have to make the decision sooner or later:
    Does it consider itself a living part of Apostolic tradition, or a Crown office?
    Until this matter is resolved, bishops will continue to play both sides of the fence, pretending to be constitutional law experts when it suits them; other times assuming the mantle of spiritual authority.
    The Anglican establishment knows the fragility of their position, and that’s why they continue to make a point of treating the Catholic hierarchy like the “Italian mission to the Irish”

  6. shane says:

    Andrew Lilico points out:

    http://conservativehome.blogs.com/platform/2011/04/women-heirs-fine-no-problem-catholic-heirsif-we-must-but-with-consequences.html

    […]My only objection to this is that it doesn’t go far enough, and making the correct degree of reform would render this irrelevant. Contrary to popular opinion, we don’t have a hereditary monarchy in the UK. We have a selective monarchy, with Parliament choosing who is monarch. And that is not merely some vague theoretical point never enacted in practice.

    As recently as the previous monarch – the Queen’s father – Parliament preferred someone else (George VI) instead of the hereditary heir (Edward VIII). That’s not particularly odd for the English crown. Other famous examples of non-hereditary monarchs include Stephen, Henry IV, Henry VII, Jane Grey, William III, George I, and that is before we get into more complicated cases like James I/VI.[…]

    But since, for the constitutional monarchy to survive, it needs to be more activist – as I argued back in 2002 – and selection would empower the monarch to be more activist, I have for some time argued that the monarch should be chosen by the Upper Chamber – a House of Selectors. Obviously sex would be no bar to such selection.

    Having a Catholic Monarch, as David Cameron indicated he favoured in his Today programme interview, is obviously a much greater step. Since the Monarch is, as matters stand, the Supreme Governor of the Church of England, Catholics must, by definition, be banned from the Monarchy (for much the same reason that Protestants are banned from being Pope). So Cameron’s proposal that Catholics be permitted to be British monarchs is, straightforwardly, the proposal for disestablishment of the Church of England.

    Since I am a fan of establishment, you might therefore assume I would oppose permitting Catholic Monarchs. And indeed I would like to oppose that. But unfortunately (a) a series of court cases and Acts of Parliament have already established that Christianity is no longer the state religion; and (b) I see no appetite in the British Establishment to reverse this.[…]

    Given that Christianity in general and Protestant religion in particular have now been dethroned in the British constitution, it makes little sense for them to remain on the physical throne itself. Indeed, by doing so we pretend that we haven’t already disestablished, that our constitution and law is not already actively hostile to Christianity in general and Biblical Protestant religion in particular. Better to be clear, now. Then we can move forward. We might even be more queasy about oppressing Christians if they did not seem like the folks in charge.

  7. FarNorthPriest says:

    Could an English Monarch conceivably convert to Catholicism, and state that he is no longer the supreme governor of the Anglican Church, but still King of England? It all seems a little confusing because you would think the Archbishop of Canterbury is the vivible head of the Anglican Church? But then again, Bishops ought to be in communion with St. Peter; so really the whole protestant movement has upset the shole apple cart, it seems.

  8. FarNorthPriest says:

    Sorry… should have previewed: Whole…

  9. MikeM says:

    I’m not sure there’s a good way for this to end. Would the hit the C of E might take from having a Catholic in the line-of-succession for its headship (even if it’s mostly symbolic headship) be worthwhile if opened the doors for atheists to take over even more ground in a country that’s teetering on loosing its semblance of an identity that’s at least Christian?

  10. Prof. Basto says:

    They will have to amend the laws of succession anyway because there is public opposition nowadays to the norm of Common Law according to which, in the same degree, a male takes preference over a female, regardless of age. So, there are public calls for the “male preference cognatic primogeniture” system – in which sons have preference in the succession over elder daughters – to be replaced by an “absolute cognatic primogeniture” system like Sweden’s, in which the eldest offspring has precedence in the order of sucession regardless of gender.

    The pressure to make this legal change in the rules of succession can die out if the change is not made until the birth of Prince William’s first child, provided that the said child be a boy. If however a girl is born as the first child of this Royal Marriage, pressure will increase to have the law changed. The pressure will reach its heights should a younger boy be born after a firstborn girl. (It was in this scenario that Sweden adopted its current rules, so as to restore the female heir to her position, by adopting gender-blind rules)

    So, when this gender rule is finally changed (something desired by modern culture, a trendy change), the whole complex procedure of altering the Law of Succession with unanimous consent across all Commonweatlth Realms will be set in motion. After all, any change effected by Parliament in the current rules of succession (that are partly set in statute and are partly the product of Common Law), needs this unanimous consent under the 1931 Statute of Westminster .

    So, when the process is set in motion across the Realms to change the gender rules, there will be NO EXCUSE for not including a reppeal of the anti-Catholic provisions of the Act of Settlement in the same legislative package. The same bill could address both topics. Since the norms of succession will be changed anyway, there is no reason for the reppeal of the anti-Catholic limitations of the Act of Settlement not to take place at that time.

  11. acp39 says:

    I see nothing objectively wrong with a country limiting succession based on religion. Of course, it is unacceptable when it is done by Protestants to perpetuate a dynasty of usurpers.

    Does anyone know what Spain does? I doubt they would allow a member of the royal family to marry a Catholic. Historically the non-Catholic spouses of Spanish kings always converted to Catholicism as far as I know. By pushing the British monarchy (which is essentially a lost cause) to repeal this law we might be pushed into a corner where we would need to, for the sake of consistency, concede that the Spanish monarchs should remove similar laws.

  12. Joan A. says:

    A Catholic may not simply “convert” to Anglicanism, she must renounce her faith. In the case of a person like Autumn (is that a Catholic name?!) or Kate Middleton (above) would I suppose involve a formal visit to her Catholic bishop, before she would be considered by the Catholic Church as non-Catholic (otherwise she is merely “not practicing” or “fallen away”). A few years ago the papers were full of the “controversy” of supposedly Catholic Kate Middleton marrying the Prince. Now no one mentions it and she is presumed Anglican. Was she Catholic, did she renounce her Faith, did so do so formally to her Bishop, and how/when was she accepted into the Anglican Church? The Royal Family is going to want to be sure there is no “vestige” of Catholicism in a person, and I would imagine that visit (a very quiet one) to the Catholic Bishop would be extremely important to be sure the bride is not Catholic any more. I was always taught you are Catholic until you die, if you are baptized Catholic, even if you do not practice, UNLESS you FORMALLY renounce your Faith to the Bishop, not merely stop going to Mass.

  13. steve jones says:

    It’s unclear in the UK that Catholics would want disestablishment. We are accorded a degree of protection from the status quo which would immediately disappear in a totally secular state. The issue is more for the C of E who might conclude that they can have a greater impact in our society using anti-descrimination legislation than by remaining part of the establishment.

    Women’s ordination has probably slowed down the move to disestablishment. Ordained C of E women are doing very nicely in the present set up as, working part-time, they get a free house and a decent salary to supplement their partner’s income.

  14. Seraphic Spouse says:

    Big fat deal. I am a Roman Catholic living in the UK, and no-one I know could give two hoots that Catholics can’t be monarch or married to the monarch. We have real problems. For example, faithful Catholics may have intense difficulty adopting children now because we object to homosexual sexual acts. And let’s not even go into the sectarian (football and Orange Order) violence in Scotland. Or the way at least a few security guards showed contempt for Catholics and the Catholic faith during the papal Mass in Glasgow.

    Autumn Kelly was quite clearly very badly catechised and, obviously, a bad Catholic. However, she was brought up in Quebec, so she probably wasn’t given much of a Catholic education. Other Catholics have married into the Royal Family without becoming apostates.

  15. Seraphic Spouse says:

    Oh, and one constitutional nightmare is that if they repeal the Act of Succession, there will suddenly be people with a better hereditary claim on the Throne than these descendents of George I. When fishing around for a Protestant monarch, Parliament skipped over the 53 Catholics in the line of succession. It would be quite the legal nightmare to adjust that now.

  16. AMERICANS JUST DON’T UNDERSTAND that the Queen is basically the last Christian in politics, and that the people clamouring for the removal of this ‘anti-Catholic’ over here rule are disestablishmentarians who want to see the (already vastly decreasing) influence of the Anglican communion totally gone. Pray for the Queen’s conversion, not for legislation that will do more harm than good.

  17. Marianna says:

    I agree with Seraphic Spouse and a-catholic-reader on this. Interestingly, one of the louder voices calling for the anti-Catholic succession law to be changed, is that of the virulently pro-abortion (now thankfully ex-)MP Evan Harris. Such people really want to remove any official status for Christianity in the UK at all, and this is just one step in that direction.

    A few bishops here have spoken out against these laws, but I’ve never met an “ordinary” Catholic who cares.

    As for Autumn Kelly, her husband never had (barring some apocalyptic event) any chance of becoming monarch, so her conversion was absurd. She cannot have been a convinced Catholic to start with.

  18. Alex P says:

    I’m a Catholic in the UK, and I’ve yet to meet an orthodox Catholic who wants to see the law changed. With an Established church we always have the defence that- officially- the UK is *not* a secular country, but a Christian one. When they seek to discriminate against Christians the response should be ‘As a subject of Her Majesty the Queen I defend the right to practise Christian values in the public sphere, just as She practises Her faith publicly and openly’. Any move away from the ‘discriminatory’ Act of Settlement would only end in disestablishment of the CofE, and hence a move towards a secular State. A vacuum would get created which, how things are going, would eventually get filled by the Islamic religion, a worse case scenario than the current set-up.

  19. Andrew says:

    Selective prejudice requires long explanations.

  20. Gladiatrix says:

    There is much more detailed explanation of the problems surrounding changing the Act of Succession on the Archbishop Cranmer blog, excerpt here:

    As the Government contemplates a multi-faith House of Lords, they retreat on the Act of Settlement
    While His Grace foresaw that 2011 would be a year of constitutional reform, he also knew it would be devilishly difficult, if not impossible. House of Lords reform and the Church-State relationship are not minor matters: they are not within the gift of David Cameron to lay at the feet of Nick Clegg for the trivial pursuit of reinforcing his reputation or bolstering the Coalition. It is not for the Prime Minister to offer the Act of Settlement to his Deputy in some murky quid-pro-quo for the loss of the AV referendum.

    We read that the Prime Minister is considering a multi-faith House of Lords. Of course, it is Nick Clegg who is responsible for constitutional reform, but His Grace is quite certain that neither of these men actual grasps the issues or understands the complexities. The Lib Dem leader appears to believe that overseeing historic changes to the Lords will compensate for the disappointment his party will feel if his proposal to change the electoral system is rejected in the referendum on May 5. And it would be neat, coming precisely 100 years since the Parliament Act by which the Liberal Government ended the power of the House of Lords to block the annual budget. The timing and symbolism are not lost on either the Prime Minister or Mr Clegg.

    But both are lost on the theo-political significance of reform.

    Currently 26 Anglican bishops have seats in the Lords. The proposal is that these should be reduced and space made for other Christian denominations, in particular for Roman Catholic bishops. These would be joined by religious representatives of Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism and Sikhism.

    While some may observe that the House of Lords already has its self-appointed khalifa of all things Islamic, there is the thorny issue of denominational diversity within these minority faiths. Would the voice of Islam in the Lords be Sunni, Shi’a or Sufi? Should there be one of each? And what of the Ahmadiyyans? Who defines them as a sect? Where is the central Islamic authority to determine orthodoxy? Should the Sikh representative be a ‘proper’ Sikh – that is a turban-wearing, kirpan-carrying follower of the panth? Or one who takes a more relaxed view of the 5 Ks? Hinduism also has no central doctrinal authority: should their representatives in the House of Lords be adherents of Vaishnavism, Shaivism, Shaktism or Smartism? Or all four? And for the Jews? The Chief Rabbi? But he does not speak on behalf all Jews. The successors to the Pharisses, Sadduccees, and Essenes are Orthodox, Reform, Conservative, Hasidism, and Kabbalah. Should Christian denominations be restricted to Trinitarians? What of the Jehovah’s Witnesses?

    You see the problem. What the Prime Minister and his Deputy perceive to be a magnanimous act of spiritual modernity is fraught with infinite complexity: for this to be ‘fair’, the House of Lords Appointments Commission would need to be constituted of representatives from every faith also, in order that it is not seen to be a ‘hideously white’ group of Christians imposing their patronising and superficial interpretations of religious orthodoxy upon minorities. And that is not a trivial issue: the incorporation of other faiths into the House of Lords is predicated upon the State’s recognition and definition of the religious orthodoxy of each religion: essentially, they would all need to become ‘established’ to some extent. For if religious representaives were to be democratically elected, Lord Ahmed could easily be replaced by the likes of Abu Hamza, and then we would be praying for the restoration of the 26 Anglican bishops.

    The Lords Spiritual are Anglican for a reason: they (and they alone) represent to government the via media of the nation and sustain the canopy of constitutional Christianity. There may indeed be strong arguments that our legislature might also benefit from the wisdom of leaders of Baptist, Roman Catholic, Methodist and black-led congregations. Religious adherence is actually a far better measure of diversity than skin colour, with which politicians on all sides appear to be obsessed.

    But, as His Grace has previously observed, there is no logical end to the eradication of ‘discrimination’ in Parliament. Yet it is a superficial obsession, for it is no more difficult for an Anglican bishop to represent Muslims or Hindus than it is for an able-bodied MP to represent the disabled. One does not need to be homosexual to advocate equality and justice; and one does not need to be an alcoholic single-mother on welfare to speak against poverty and the causes of family breakdown.

    There are, of course, already Roman Catholic, Muslim, Jewish and Hindu peers in the House of Lords. The Chief Rabbi Jonathan Sacks is a life peer, as is the Chairman of the Conservative Party, Baroness Warsi, a Muslim. But only a religious leader is appointed to advocate specifically on behalf their religion: there is no sense in which Baroness Warsi is the religio-political equivalent of the Chief Rabbi.

    If one were to constitute the House of Commons in proportion to the religious make-up of the nation (excluding the agnostics, atheists and undeclared) it ought to contain 17 Muslims, 6 Hindus, 4 Sikhs, 3 Jews, 2 Buddhists, 465 Christians and 6 Jedi Knights (2001 census figures). With a House of Lords now significantly larger than the Commons, His Grace will leave his readers and communicants to do the math for proportionate religious representation (or wait for the 2011 census figures).

    Whoever (if anyone) is advising David Cameron and Nick Clegg on these matters is simply not up to the job. Removal of any Anglican bishops would necessitate the repeal of the 1533 and 1534 Acts governing their appointment, the abolition of the homage oath, some alteration to the Coronstion Oath Act and the repeal of the relevant parts of the various bishopric Acts limiting appointment maxima. Is there time for primary legislation to achieve all this? Further, they have omitted to observe that Roman Catholic ‘Clerics are forbidden to assume public offices which entail a participation in the exercise of civil power’ (Canon 285:3). Yet, as one senior Conservative said: “It is inconceivable that we continue with a faith element to the Lords without Catholic bishops being represented.”

    And neither have the politicians reckoned on the wholesale rejection by the Church of England of plans to reform the Act of Settlement 1701.

    Contrary to popular belief, the Monarch is not free to be any religion or marry into any religion except the Roman Catholic one. For the Act of Settlement requires the Monarch and his or her consort to be ‘in communion with’ the Church of England. While His Grace could write more than a few pages on the meaning of ‘koinonia’ in this context, it must be noted that it is not only Roman Catholics who are prohibited by their own Magisterium from taking bread and wine in Anglican churches: Jews and Muslims would also find this unacceptable, and so adherents to many other faiths bar themselves from being ‘in communion with’ the state Church.

    The Act of Settlement was forged during an era of intolerable foreign interference in the governance of England. Like Magna Carta, it is a foundational treaty between the Monarch and his/her subjects which defines our liberties and asserts our sovereign independence from all foreign princes and potentates. Its provisions are ‘for ever’: our forebears made sure it was watertight. If, indeed, Parliament once again permits the Monarch to be or marry a Roman Catholic, what will they do with the clause which states: ‘in all and every such case and cases the people of these realms shall be and are thereby absolved of their allegiance’.

    According to The Telegraph, the Church of England has flexed its puny muscles and found a few teeth. We read: ‘…the plan to abolish the Act of Settlement was quietly shelved after the Church raised significant objections centring on the British sovereign’s dual role as Supreme Governor.

    ‘Church leaders expressed concern that if a future heir to the throne married a Roman Catholic, their children would be required by canon law to be brought up in that faith. This would result in the constitutionally problematic situation whereby the Supreme Governor of the Church of England was a Roman Catholic, and so ultimately answerable to a separate sovereign leader, the Pope, and the Vatican.

    ‘…Mr Clegg was initially attracted to the idea of repealing the Act but is said to have been persuaded that the difficulties raised by the Anglican Church were insurmountable.

    ‘…A spokesman for the Anglican Church said that although the Act of Succession appeared “anomalous” in the modern world, while the Church of England remained the established religion, the monarch and Supreme Governor could not owe a higher loyalty elsewhere.

    ‘He went on: “The prohibition on those in the line of succession marrying Roman Catholics derives from an earlier age and inevitably looks anomalous, not least when there is no prohibition on marriage to those of other faiths or none. But if the prohibition were removed the difficulty would still remain that establishment requires the monarch to join in communion with the Church of England as its Supreme Governor and that is not something that a Roman Catholic would be able to do consistently with the current rules of that church.”’

    So offensive and outrageous is this that Alex Salmond has demanded an explanation from the Government. But it is only what His Grace has been saying for many years, and has frequently been called an ‘anti-Catholic bigot’ for doing so. Now it appears that the Church of England is full of anti-Catholic bigots.

    Or perhaps they simply desire to sustain their liberties, customs and traditions.

    His Grace would like to end with just one question for reflection and consideration: Why, at a time when the Government is downgrading religion in education and diminishing its status in the school curriculum, are they intent on enhancing it in Parliament and embedding it within the nation’s politics?

  21. BobP says:

    Perhaps I’ve misinterpreted ecumenism in principle. Can’t we still be of separate Catholic and non-Catholic denominations and still be “brothers”? I never thought actual conversion of individuals to one side or the other was the primary goal. As I’m sure that there are many ex-Catholics now attending Anglican services, it seems each side is now trying to outscore the other in conversions. It’s unfortunate that it has come to this.

  22. Gladiatrix says:

    Archbishop Cranmer also wrote this a few days ago:

    Demands to reform the Monarchy are nothing to do with equality

    It has become a very wide bandwagon with limitless carriages, and virtually everyone is jumping aboard. And if you’re not, you’re either mediaeval or bigoted, or both. And so politicians of all persuasions, prelates of all complexions and even the Queen herself apparently favour reform.

    One should hold the last one very loosely, for ‘talking to Buckingham Palace’ and ‘advisers tell contacts who tell journalists’ are not quite the same as being invited for tea and cake at Windsor Castle to hear it straight from Her Majesty’s mouth.

    Once again, the Act of Settlement 1701 is in the firing line: not this time primarily because of its ‘anti-Catholic bigotry’, but because of sexist primogeniture: the right, by law or custom, of the firstborn male to inherit the throne. Since the monarch is no longer a military protector, testosterone is incidental. And since also the mystical fusion of priests with kings is long gone, there are no sacred instruments which females are forbidden to touch.

    Nick Clegg rather foolishly insists that reform is now of the upmost priority because Prince William and Catherine Middleton may soon have a baby, and the reform must be in place before he or she is born.

    Why?

    Their firstborn immediately becomes third in line to the throne whether the child is male or female: it is only the advent of the second-born which creates an issue, and that event must be at least a couple of years off being ‘pressing’. And even then, it’s only an issue of the firstborn is a girl: if the couple have a boy first, the whole discussion can be kicked into the long grass for another generation.

    But it’s not only Nick Clegg: David Cameron is now aboard, and so is ConservativeHome.

    And so is Daniel Hannan.

    This is not a ride on the latest Harry Potter theme park: it is foundational constitutional stuff. It is bizarre indeed that Burkean Conservatives should be queuing to support these reforms which are nothing to do with ‘equality’ and everything to do with secularism and (eventually) republicanism. Of course (pace Dr Evan Harris) these destinations will be denied. But it is interesting indeed that ‘Human Rights’ are invoked and the issue is presented as one of injustice. Discrimination against Roman Catholics in the laws of marriage is indeed contrary to Article 14 of the ECHR, which prohibits discrimination on the grounds of religion, in conjunction with Article 12, which provides a right for men and women to marry. It is also arguably contrary to the freedom of religion of Roman Catholics protected by Article 9. In relation to male primogeniture in the law of inheritance, it is contrary to Article 14 in conjunction with Article 1 Protocol 1.113.

    But the Head of State is the Monarch, and the Monarch is Supreme Governor of the Church of England, and the Supreme Governor of the Church of England may not be a Roman Catholic or married to one. That is the Constitution of the United Kingdom (along with Antigua & Barbuda, Australia, The Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Canada, Grenada, Jamaica, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Saint Kitts & Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent & the Grenadines, Solomon Islands and Tuvalu). To insist that the Supreme Governor of the Church of England must be in communion with the Church of England is as sensible as insisting that the Pope must be Roman Catholic. Is the Act of Settlement really more offensively discriminatory than Article 1125 of Roman Catholic Canon Law? Is not discrimination inherent in the very concept of religious adherence?

    Dr Evan Harris despises the Church of England and appears to criticise it at every turn. Doubtless he knows what he’s doing to further his atheist-humanist-secularist-gay agenda. But those Conservatives who demand reform apparently do not. They fail to realise that the matter does not only concern the Act of Settlement 1701, but a number of other acts, including the Bill of Rights (1688), the Coronation Oaths Act (1688), the Crown in Parliament Act (1689), the Act of Union (1707), and the Royal Marriages Act (1772). And it is the Act of Union (1707) which ought to be of primary concern to Unionist Conservatives.

    The Act of Settlement was passed by the old English parliament, which ceased to exist in 1707. The Act was also arguably incompetent, since the English parliament could not unilaterally decide on the British Regal Union of 1603-1707. The Scottish parliament recognised this fact, and deliberately countered the Act of Settlement with a Scottish settlement Act – the Act of Security of 1704. The Act of Settlement 1701 was superseded by the Treaty of Union 1707, which, in Article 2, also prohibits Roman Catholics ascending the throne of the United Kingdom. The Treaty of Union 1707 is the founding charter of the United Kingdom. Tamper with this, and the Union is imperilled.

    This is why successive prime ministers of the United Kingdom and Unionist Scottish secretaries of state have no intention of ending the ban on the Monarch either being a Roman Catholic or married to one, and why they are quite happy to let historically-ignorant and politically-ill-informed people like Dr Evan Harris continue harping on about the Act of Settlement 1701.

    David Cameron is right to point out that reform will take years: it is a spider’s web, can of worms, knot of vipers and a house of cards all rolled into one. It may even prove a Gordian Knot. The unintended consequences will make House of Lords reform seem like a walk in the park, because the reform will, as sure as night follows day, lead to disestablishment and a secular republic.

    If this were about equality, it ought to be observed that it is not only Roman Catholics who are discriminated against, but those who are born out of wedlock. Such children are no longer referred to as bastards, and even ‘illegitimate’ would fall foul of the PC police. In an era in which marriage is falling out of fashion and more than half of children are born every year to unmarried or single parents, why should the state perpetuate the absurd, ‘old fashioned’ belief that children born out of wedlock are ‘second-class citizens’, incapable of inheriting?

    As ever, Shakespeare considered the point, and Edmund reasons:

    Thou, nature, art my goddess; to thy law
    My services are bound. Wherefore should I
    Stand in the plague of custom, and permit
    The curiosity of nations to deprive me,
    For that I am some twelve or fourteen moon-shines
    Lag of a brother? Why bastard? wherefore base?
    When my dimensions are as well compact,
    My mind as generous, and my shape as true,
    As honest madam’s issue? Why brand they us
    With base? with baseness? bastardy? base, base?
    Who, in the lusty stealth of nature, take
    More composition and fierce quality
    Than doth, within a dull, stale, tired bed,
    Go to the creating a whole tribe of fops,
    Got ‘tween asleep and wake? Well, then,
    Legitimate Edgar, I must have your land:
    Our father’s love is to the bastard Edmund
    As to the legitimate: fine word,–legitimate!
    Well, my legitimate, if this letter speed,
    And my invention thrive, Edmund the base
    Shall top the legitimate. I grow; I prosper:
    Now, gods, stand up for bastards!

    So, to all who favour reform of ‘old fashioned’ attitudes, why stop at Roman Catholics and women? Doesn’t equality equally demand that you ‘stand up for bastards’?

  23. Peter from Jersey says:

    Seraphic Spouse is right.
    The idea of changing the Act of Settlement was introduced recently by Gordon Brown in the hope of winning Catholic votes. Cardinal O’Brien saw through that.
    Readers please note that it is unhelpful to refer to the throne of England. The name of the country is the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. This one country (comprising various nations) shares a sovereign with a number of other countries and jurisdictions so it would be complicated to get all to change in step.

  24. Gail F says:

    I am not British but I would be very wary of changes to the laws of succession. It seems to this American to be a way to make the royal family (and religion) irrelevant once and for all. Right now in England you’ve had courts say that Jews are not allowed to consider children of Jewish mothers “more Jewish” than children of Jewish fathers — although they DO — and that people who will not teach that homosexual living arrangements are equal in all ways to marriage cannot adopt or even foster children. In that case, making it a law that anyone who believes anything can be the head of the Church of England makes perfect sense! As far as primogeniture goes, once you start messing around with that you might as well chuck the whole royalty thing. I have no doubt many people would love that, but it’s a sneaky way of getting rid of it.

  25. Andrew says:

    Selective prejudice require veeeery looooong explanations.

  26. RichardT says:

    Two comments from an English Catholic:

    First, while the Monarch remains Supreme Governor of the church of England, and the church of England remains out of communion with Rome, it would be a nonsense to have a Catholic monarch. Even ignoring the deeper ideas of ‘communion’, it would be ridiculous for an ecclesial body that takes communion services seriously to have a head who cannot participate in them.

    Second, what good Catholic cares which of the Hannovarian usurpers is on the throne? Our true Catholic monarchs are the exiled House of Stuart.

  27. Titus says:

    This one country (comprising various nations) shares a sovereign with a number of other countries and jurisdictions so it would be complicated to get all to change in step.

    This is why amending the Act of Settlement is actually more complicated than amending ordinary laws: the monarch actually reigns over a whole collection of countries (not only in the UK, but all the Commonwealth nations) by virtue of the individual laws of those separate countries. So every commonwealth nation would have to adopt the same amendments, or the crown and the commonwealth would get all muddled. Of course, it might be interesting for, e.g., the Bahamas or whatnot to have its own king. And nobody really wants to raise the question of amending the Act of Settlement because then all the die-hard republicans will come out of the woodwork and agitated for abolition of the monarchy altogether.

    Be that as it may, it’s something of a canard to say that the Anglican establishment makes the Act of Settlement irrelevant. The Anglican establishment is nothing but the product of an act of parliament. It can be undone or modified by act of parliament. So long as one’s talking about amending laws anyways, that’s a dodge.

  28. Jordanes says:

    “The Act was originally passed to prevent the descendants of the Catholic King James II from ascending the throne.”

    No, the primary reason was to make clear that no Catholic would ever be allowed to be monarch again (it was James VII & II’s Catholicism that was the primary reason he was illegally deposed and replaced with usurpers). If it was just to exclude James II’s descendants, then his daughter Mary and son-in-law William would not have been brought in to take his place, and the Act would have stipulated that James II’s descendants were ineligible to inherit the throne. But instead it says that Catholics are excluded.

    As others have observed, to change this immoral, invalid law would entail disestablishment of the skeleton Church of England, but that would harm no one and might even revitalise the Anglican religion — but it should be done even if it breathes further life into Anglicanism.

  29. stpetric says:

    I agree that on some level the Act of Settlement is discriminatory, and that there should be some way to amend it. However, I also agree with a number of previous post-ers who note the incoherence of having a monarch who is temporal head of the Church of England yet is not an Anglican!

    It seems to me this is one of the last remnants of the early medieval notion of cuius regio, eius religio–which led, interestingly, to the conversion of much of Europe!

  30. Peggy R says:

    I am gaining in sympathy for the idea of preserving monarchies in Europe. [I don’t think we Americans can go back that way.] I’d like to see the UK monarchy be strong and relevant again. From what I read about William, I am hopeful. In the meantime, I’d love to see Her Majesty whacking Rowan Williams over the head with one of her handbags for allowing the decline of the Church of England. I’d like to see a monarch stand up for Christianity in Britain. [I’d like to see the monarchy stand for SOMETHING. Give it value to the people.] Maybe a strong monarch with traditional Christian views could see the need for unity with Rome down the line.

    I find it odd that it does not pose a problem that a royal could marry a Muslim or non-Christian. That’s an even greater threat today that the old law did not contemplate. I think it makes sense that the monarch, who is the titular head of the CofE be in communion with it. It should not be a prohibition just on Roman Catholics.

  31. Random Walk says:

    Heh – so they’re still miffed over that whole Guy Fawkes thing, then?

  32. Supertradmum says:

    I have been at Buckfast Abbey for two weeks, having the great pleasure of attending the Confirmation of twelve members of the Ordinariate and seeing Father David Silk con-celebrating with the monks.

    In addition, the discussion at tea with many Catholics here has been the fact that the English Catholics are convinced that the objections of the Anglican Church to the Act of Settlement is the last death gasp of the Established Church. The English Catholics with whom I have discussed this are convinced the law will not be changed at all, despite Cameron’s efforts, as the monarchy and the C of E have too much to lose in a change of law. In other words, this is yet another power struggle. Sadly, the majority here think the law will be on the books for many years to come, and only the disestablishment of the C of E will change this status. The last acceptable prejudice is simply part of a huge power struggle for the continued existence of the national church.

  33. Legisperitus says:

    “The current rules of that Church?” Is it merely a temporary anomaly of Canon Law that prevents a Catholic from being Supreme Governor of a schismatic and heretical sect calling itself a national church?

  34. Jack Hughes says:

    Peggy R

    You do not want temporal hereditary monarchies!! It leads to privilige by birth, the death of meritocracy and a culture (amongst Christians) where it is considered a sin to try and better your lot in life. What we really need is a Iranian style system (albiet modified for Catholic use).

    Oh and by the way history shows that this sort of situation leads to the nobility taking control of the Church (becoming priests, Bishops etc) and using it to protect their own social interest, this leads to the Priesthood being considered something only for boys who come from ‘noble’ families (the thinking of St John Bosco’s brother) In the last Centuary only 1 Pope (St Pius X) came from a working class family, Pius XII, the Borgia’s etc. A far cry from the illiterate fisherman who was the innaugral occupent.

  35. AnAmericanMother says:

    [How many former Anglicans were received into the Catholic Church in the last few week?]

    – we’ll never, ever know if the Anglicans’ record-keeping is like the Episcopalians’. Once you get on the rolls, you never, ever, EVER get off. It’s worse than the Plain Truth magazine. We tried for four years to get off the rolls of ECUSA here after we converted . . . they simply refuse to remove you and continue to count you. It’s how they keep their numbers up. We did figure out a way to get it done — you have to find a sympathetic rector who will enroll you in his parish and then just quietly drop your name, but we gave it up as not worth the trouble – it would have forced us to continue to be involved in the denomination for quite some time.

    It is such a joke here that people who are actually trying to count heads don’t use membership any more – they use something called “average Sunday attendance” but of course that’s totally dependent upon honest/accurate reporting.

    Supertradmum:

    Are they still keeping bees in a big way at Buckfast Abbey? I have Brother Adam’s book and it’s very helpful, even though the American South is much too hot and humid for the Buckfast hybrid. We just use Italians here – it’s on my mind because we just installed a new hive here.

  36. samgr says:

    If I remember correctly, the Stuart heir to the throne of the United Kingdom is the gentleman who would be King of Bavaria, if Bavaria had a monarch.

  37. Athelstan says:

    Hello Seraphic Spouse,

    Oh, and one constitutional nightmare is that if they repeal the Act of Succession, there will suddenly be people with a better hereditary claim on the Throne than these descendents of George I. When fishing around for a Protestant monarch, Parliament skipped over the 53 Catholics in the line of succession. It would be quite the legal nightmare to adjust that now.

    That’s true. As I understand it, the present Duke of Bavaria, Franz Bonaventura, would theoretically have a much better claim, at least if male cognate primogeniture were also repealed, which we assume it would be. Franz is the present heir general to the Stuart claim to the British throne.

    But however much popular enthusiasm for the House of Windsor has cooled, I don’t think there’s much appetite for replacing it with another bunch of German dynasts. I think the British public would sooner abolish the monarchy than get involved in another dynastic scrum. That’s likely even more true in Scotland, where republican sentiment seems to be stronger. It might be a different story if there were a full blooded Scottish Stuart left, but there has not been one of those in many centuries.

  38. Centristian says:

    “But if the prohibition were removed the difficulty would still remain that establishment requires the monarch to join in communion with the Church of England as its Supreme Governor and that is not something that a Roman Catholic would be able to do consistently with the current rules of that Church,”

    And yet, interestingly, two Roman Catholics–Charles II (who converted on his deathbed) and James II & VII (who was already a Roman Catholic when he ascended the throne)–have already held the style “Supreme Governor of the Church of England”. One Roman Catholic–Queen Mary I–was styled “Supreme Head of the Church of England” from 1553 until the first Act of Supremacy was repealed in 1555. Apparently, then, it isn’t quite impossible for a Roman Catholic to become (and continue to be) the royal figure nominally in charge of the establishment Church of England without being in Communion with it. The situation represents a very bizarre monster, granted, but not an impossibility.

    I often wonder how subjects of the Crown in a realm with a large Roman Catholic population–Canada, for example–feel about the fact that their Head of State may not ever be a Roman Catholic. How would the average Canadian of 2011, I wonder, if confronted with the issue, respond to the fact that the Canadian Head of State may not be a Roman Catholic and must be the supreme governor of the Church of England (not of the Church of Canada, or even of the Commonwealth, or even of the United Kingdom, but of England)?

    Now granted, no Canadians of any religion are eligible to become the Head of State of Canada, so it makes little practical difference that Catholic Canadians are specifically excluded from their nation’s throne by law, however it would seem to me that it should strike Catholic Canadians that, beyond the practical irrelevance of it all, there is a matter of principle that needs to be confronted, here. Not only for Catholic Canadians, in fact, but all Canadians who are not members of the Church of England (not the Anglican Church of Canada, but the Church of England, which means almost all Canadians, if not all Canadians).

    I know and understand all the historical reasons and constitutional entanglements that have caused and which continue to cause Roman Catholics to be excluded from the succession (which is not to say that I agree with any of it). I don’t mean to say that those aren’t all relevant things that must naturally be taken into account (more than taken into account, of course, but which actually dictate the matter, in fact). I only mean to point out that the person who wears the British Crown also necessarily wears the crowns of many other countries (countries that aren’t Protestant and in which the Church of England is not established).

    It would be interesting, to me, to view all of this from the perspective of a subject of the Crown for whom all that entagled British history and British constitutional law is totally and completely irrelevant. A modern day Canadian, for example, or an Australian, or a citizen of the Bahamas. What should the reaction be, to continue with my original example, of a modern Canadian (particularly a Catholic one, but not necessarily a Catholic one) to the fact that Canada’s Head of State must necessarily be Supreme Governor of the Church of England, and cannot be a person who is a Roman Catholic?

    Should a modern Canadian, I wonder, when contemplating the constraints that his own Canadian constitution puts on inheritance of the position of Head of State of Canada, care about the Act of Settlement or the Act of Union or the cultural and religious complications that would arise in the UK if Catholics were legally permitted to inherit the throne?

    How the British confront this issue is, of course, an interesting question. But I think the even more interesting question is that of how the issue is to be confronted by those millions of subjects of Elizabeth II who are not British, at all, and have no connection to all of Britain’s historical religious baggage.

  39. Maria says:

    Without wishing to insult Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II or any other member of her family, I have never, ever seen the need to have a royal family at all.

    Christ is The Head of His Church.

  40. shane says:

    samgr, even if the Act of Settlement was abolished, Parliament would still choose the monarch. It could be argued that Britain has been a republic implicitly since the Glorious Revolution. (In many ways the French Revolution was just an attempt to transplant the British constitution onto France. Montesquieu and Voltaire were rabid Anglophiles and became Freemasons in London.)

  41. shane says:

    Monarchs in Britain have been ‘Supreme Governor’ (not Head) of the Church of England since the Elizabethean Settlement. From WWI until Vatican II (‘Dignitatis Humanae’ was widely interpreted as a repudiation of the old confessional state system), to my knowledge all the main confessional/semi-confessional Catholic states in western Europe were or became republics: Italy, Austria (under Dollfuss), Portugal, Spain (legally a kingless kingdom under Franco), Vichy France (under Petain), Ireland, West Germany (under Adaneur).

  42. Don in BC says:

    As one of those Canadian Catholics whose queen is Queen Elizabeth, I really don’t care that the monarch cannot be a Catholic (interesting how the Brits and others seem to think that only Roman Catholics are Catholics. I assume they’ve never heard of Ukrainian Catholics, Maronite Catholics etc., all of whom are in full communion with the See of Peter). If the monarch is to also be the Head of the Church of England, how could they be a Catholic (or an Orthodox for that matter)? It may all be moot anyways, as in the 1990’s Canada changed the oath of allegiance to specifically mention Queen Elizabeth – it used to simply use the phrase “sovereign and successors” or “monarch and successors” or some such phrasing – thus leading to much debate that after Elizabeth’s death that we’d drop the House of Windsor as our royal family. As it stands now, the Governor General is the head of state for all intents and purposes anyways. The GG “rules but does not govern” and the Queen of Canada doesn’t even have that much going for her. Queen Elizabeth is a good monarch, and it’s such a shame that neither her children nor grandchildren seem to be able to summon her regal bearing nor her Christian faith.

  43. RichardT says:

    samgr – yes, the Duke of Bavaria.

    But he has no sons, so once he dies, the Bavarian titles (not that they are operational at the moment) will go to (I think) his brother, since German titles cannot pass to women. But the English Crown can, so his daughter will be the Stuart heir.

    She is married to the Crown Prince of Liechtenstein, who is fabulously wealthy and the closest thing to an absolute monarch left in Europe. In time, if he lives longer than his parents, her son will be both Crown Prince of Liechtenstein and Stuart heir to England etc. – an interesting combination.

  44. Peggy R says:

    Jack Hughes,

    I do think that the monarchies in Europe ought to be Christian. I would not want to do away with economic (or political or religious) liberty or socio-economic mobility. I would like a monarchy to stand for something for its country, its heritage and culture. Some tradition-minded Catholics believe that a Catholic monarchy is THE appropriate form of governance in a Catholic nation. I’m not sure I’m there yet.

    Funny thing is, I’ve been arguing the past week at Mark Shea’s blog against folks who are up in arms about “capitalism” because some people are greedy and materialist. I don’t know what they have in mind instead–feudalism? I don’t agree w/feudalism at all. I have pointed out that we have socio-economic mobility under market-based economies and so forth. I am giving up trying to get through to these folks.

  45. Jordanes says:

    Richard T said: “But he has no sons, so once he dies, the Bavarian titles (not that they are operational at the moment) will go to (I think) his brother, since German titles cannot pass to women. But the English Crown can, so his daughter will be the Stuart heir.”

    Franz, Duke of Bavaria, of the ancient Wittelsbach family, known among Jacobites as HRH King Francis II of England, Scotland, Ireland, and France, is childless. His heir is his younger brother Max, Duke in Bavaria, who has five daughters. The eldest daughter, his heiress, is Sophie, wife of Alois, Hereditary Prince of Liechtenstein. Their children are Joseph Wenzel, Marie Caroline, Georg, and Nickolaus. As stated, after the death of Franz, the legitimate or “Jacobite” succession to the English and Scottish thrones will pass to Franz’s younger brother Max and through him to his heirs.

  46. Gail F says:

    Jack Hughes: Are you for real? An Iranian style system? Arguing that monarchies tend to lead to wealthy and aristocratic people in charge of both church and state? Any style government tends to lead to whoever is considered important (whether it’s by bloodlines, wealth, intellectual accomplishment, etc.) in charge of both church and state. There is no perfect system and human beings find a way to screw up everything. The European monarchies led to both some of the best and some of the worst rulers and bishops. I think you are poking fun.

  47. Jack Hughes says:

    Gail F I’m serious

    My thinking is that is that we would have a supreme leader (who would be appointed by the Holy Father with the power to veto ungodly laws and would have direct control of forign policy, the army etc. The Bishops Conference would have the power to prevent ungodly men from running for elected office and to strike down any ungodly decisions of the Supreme Court, a unimicerial Parliment and a directly elected President to manage internal affairs.

    As for my point about social mobility and my asserstion that under a feudal system that the ‘nobility’ tend to monopolise the priesthood I remember reading an article on the Spanish inquisition (by the SSPX) noting that in Spain the majority of the Priests and Bishops came from the nobility. 500 years ago Fr Z would never have been ordained and unless my parents had put me in a monastary at a young age then I wouldn’t have any hope of being ordained.

  48. AJP says:

    Strictly speaking, if Prince William becomes king then there will be a Stuart on the throne again. Diana Spencer was descended from Charles II, via his mistress Nell Gwynn. Obviously that’s not the *legitimate* line of succession . . . but a Stuart is still a Stuart.

  49. RichardT says:

    Jordanes – whoops, you’re quite right; I missed out a step.

    But the interesting thing for the future is the union of the Stuart line with Liechtenstein, the closest thing remaining in Europe to a proper monarchy. The current Crown Prince won a referendum in 2003 to increase his powers, a wonderful reversal of modernism.

    I don’t know if it was coincidence or deliberate, but the eldest son of Princess Sophia was born in London – I think the first Jacobite heir born in the British Isles since the ‘Old Pretender’.

  50. Jordanes says:

    AJP said: Strictly speaking, if Prince William becomes king then there will be a Stuart on the throne again. Diana Spencer was descended from Charles II, via his mistress Nell Gwynn. Obviously that’s not the *legitimate* line of succession . . . but a Stuart is still a Stuart.

    If descent from the Stewarts, whether legitimate or illegitimate, makes one a Stewart, then except for William of Orange there has always been a “Stewart” on the throne since 1603.

    In fact there has not been a Stewart on the throne since the death of Anne (de facto line) or Henry IX (de jure line). Dynastically the Royal Stewarts are extinct. For the question of succession, the only importance one’s Stewart descent has is if it is a descent that bestows a right to inherit the crown. William, son of Elizabeth, is descended from the Stewarts many, many, many, many times over, but for the purposes of the 1701 Act of Succession, the only one of his Stewart descents that counts is the one from James VI & I’s daughter Elizabeth, ancestress of the Hanoverian dynasty and thence to the Saxe-Coburg-Gotha/Windsor line and now the Battenberg/Mountbatten/Windsor line.

  51. Will Elliott says:

    Jordanes brings up what I was going to make about the other key point of the Act of Settlement of 1701: only heirs of the body of Sophia of Hanover (mother of George I; daughter of Elizabeth of Scotland; granddaughter of James VI&I) who are non-Catholic and who are not married to Catholics are eligible for the throne of UK and the 15 other Commonwealth Realms. Even if all 16 realms agreed to eliminate the anti-Papist provisions of the Act of Settlement, the issue of descent from Sophia would still eliminate the Stuarts from any claims.

  52. catholicmidwest says:

    “In 2008, Autumn Kelly, the Canadian fiancee of the Queen’s grandson Peter Philips, converted from Catholicism to Anglicanism, [not good] thus preserving her husband’s chances of becoming king.”

    Not good for her soul, but perhaps a sign that she fits into that seriously berserk family. Sad what power and money can do to some people. Even the prospect of it can make people do strange things.

  53. Geoffrey says:

    Fascinating discussion! As a Catholic, I would love for the law to be changed and for a Roman Catholic to one day succeed to the throne. As a monarchist, I shudder at the thought of any action that could risk destabilizing the monarchy.

    It seems to me that while the law specifically prohibits Roman Catholics from succeeding to the throne, so too does it bar all non-Anglicans, thought not by name. Let us pretend that someone in line to the throne was indeed a Muslim. They could never succeed to the throne because a Muslim could never be head of the Church of England. Islam would not tolerate it, and neither would Anglicanism.

    In all honesty and realism, if the desire is to keep the monarch as head of the Church of England, then the law should be changed to say that only an Anglican can succeed to the throne, thereby removing the obvious anti-Catholic language. This is the language of the old Russian succession laws: members of the imperial family could only marry Russian Orthodox Christians, as the Tsar of All Russia was also head of the Russian Orthodox Church (there was no Patriarch of Moscow in those days). The trick is in the language.

  54. Josephus Muris Saliensis says:

    Catholics, especially those who value traditional values, should oppose any change to the Act of Settlement. Believe me, once you open up this subject it will become a can of worms. Every lobby-group will jump on the bandwagon – change to primogeniture, loss of the Christian character of the monarchy and coronation, same-sex consorts, the list is endless. This restriction on a Catholic is theoretical in the present circumstances, to say the least. Leave Well Alone.

  55. Centristian says:

    “My thinking is that is that we would have a supreme leader (who would be appointed by the Holy Father with the power to veto ungodly laws and would have direct control of forign policy, the army etc. The Bishops Conference would have the power to prevent ungodly men from running for elected office and to strike down any ungodly decisions of the Supreme Court, a unimicerial Parliment and a directly elected President to manage internal affairs.”

    Wow.

    I have a few questions pertaining to this very interesting system of government you’ve devised (which I suppose would be called a “Popeocracy”):

    1. Could we have a “Dear Leader” instead of a “Supreme Leader”? For one thing, if the pope can override the Supreme Leader’s decrees, then he really isn’t all that “supreme”, is he?

    2. Actually, since the “Supreme” Leader enjoys no supremacy at all and is just a puppet of the pope, can’t we just save tax dollars and eliminate his office altogether, allowing the pope to be our supreme pontiff and our supreme leader? If the bishop of Rome has time to ponder and to decide what our country’s laws may not be, surely he can just as easily decide what they may be.

    3. Since the pope is a foreigner it only makes sense that he should conduct our foreign policy. No question there.

    4. While the Bishops’ Conference is monitoring all of our political candidates (the point of political candidates in a papally-run autocracy escaping me) to make sure they are not ungodly, who gets to make sure that the bishops are not ungodly? Also, with all that reviewing of politicians and Supreme (there’s that word rendered meaningless, again) Court opinions that our bishops will be belaboured with, who will be responsible for shepherding the bishops’ dioceses?

    5. Will this still be a good system of government when Benedict XVI isn’t pope any longer? Will it still be a good system of government if this pope dies and is replaced by a pope we don’t like? What about if we get a debauched pope who has lovers and children (Alexander VI)?, or if we get a pope who thinks railroads are evil and seeks to ban them (Gregory XVI)? What if we have a counter-traditionalist pope who likes vernacular liturgy, liberal bishops, and modern popular art, music, and culture (Paul VI – John Paul II)? Still a good system with those sorts of popes?

  56. Jack Hughes says:

    I simply state that my system is better than being ruled by a bunch of inbred germans (germans of course generally being nice people) who eat, sleep, swear, fornicate and live in fabulous houses and send their children to elite schools at the public’s expense whilst doing no work at all i.e. an ineffible case of welfare fraud.

    These people then have the audacity to state that God put them there and that we shouldn’t question our betters.

    At least POTUS and VPOTUS actually have to work and take tough decisions from time to time even if they both are incompotent.