Friday, October 28, 2011

Interesting [Catholic] news from the UK

At Good Cheer this past Wednesday, our topic was "Catholicism for Episcopalians" - the last in a great series of "Catholicism for..." talks. Of course, the Episcopal Church is the US branch of the worldwide Anglican Communion, with roots in the Protestant Church of England.

During our question-and-answer period, the topic of English royalty came up. It was mentioned that, since the 1701 Act of Settlement, a prospective heir to the English crown could not be Catholic. English succession law specifically states this. The laws also prohibit a prospective heir to the crown from marrying a Catholic.

Today, Prime Minister David Cameron has announced that he is working to remove this last stipulation, meaning that future heirs to the throne would not be prohibited from marrying a Catholic. Along with it, he wants to remove the rule of primogeniture, which gives preference to males over females in succession to the crown.

Back to the Catholic part, though: All anti-Catholic succession laws won't be repealed with this move. In fact, it has already been clarified that the law which disallows a Catholic from ascending to the throne will not be changed. Which means that if a future heir to the throne marries a Catholic and they raise their child in the Catholic faith, that child would have to make an eventual choice between ascending to the throne or continuing to practice their Catholic faith.

My first reaction is to say that this constraint is wrong and discriminatory. But then, I have to stop and realize that by law, the king or queen of England is the official head of the Church of England - a Protestant church. So if a Catholic could ascend to the throne, how would they handle their position as "head" of a Protestant church?

Today's announcement is certainly a very interesting development. But there is still a long way to go and many unanswered questions.

Our Lady of Walsingham, pray for us.