Sunday, March 30, 2008

Religion and Politics in the United Kingdom

There is a proposal before the British Parliament to abolish the Act of Settlement of 1701 that prevents any Catholic from ascending the throne or marrying a Catholic (read the article here). The topic of the Act of Settlement comes up often in monarchist circles, especially in those with a large number of Catholics.

At face value the Act of Settlement is an anti-Catholic law that restricts the rights of individuals who are in the line of royal succession to either convert to the one true Faith or from marrying a member of the one true Faith. It is a law based in political realities that are not now extant (i.e. the very influential nature of the Church in the political world), and at face vale seems rather bigoted and antiquated. It is, however, not that clear cut.

As I stated in my post on my ideal monarchy, my idea of a Catholic monarchy would be Catholic only, i.e. only Catholics would be able to ascend the throne, and no monarch or heir to the throne would be able to marry a non-Catholic. But I go even further than that. I make the stipulation that any member of the royal family who leaves the Catholic Church or marries a non-Catholic would be stripped of all royal titles and privileges. This is, admittedly, a biased piece of "law" against all non-Catholics. My reasoning for this is that I want a Catholic monarchy in perpetuity, not a monarchy that could lose it's Catholic identity due to the heretical influences of a non-Catholic monarch or non-Catholic in-law within the royal family. So while I do not agree with the anti-Catholic restrictions in the Act of Settlement, I certainly understand why those restrictions are there. The British monarchy is--unfortunately--a Protestant one, and it is entirely understandable that the powers that be within Britain want to keep it that way.

It is uncertain whether or not this proposal will go anywhere in Parliament. If I remember correctly, a similar proposal was before Parliament a few years ago and failed. There are also varying political implications with the abolition of the Act of Settlement (as described in the aforementioned article) that may complicate its repeal. Regardless of what happens the reality remains thus: if any heir to the British Crown sincerely wants to convert to Catholicism or marry a Catholic, he must make the decision whether his faith or lover means more to him than his crown. If such were or ever becomes the case in the British royal family, I hope that that member would choose his faith over his crown.