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.


radical royalist said...

The Act of Settlement is law not only in the United Kingdom, but also in all Commonwealth countries that enjoy having the Queen as head of state. Therefore, changing the Act of Settlement in the UK is not sufficient. 16 other parliaments have to pass the changed law as well. Can you imagine, how the republicans in, let's say the Australian Parliament will rejoice when the motion will be presented before them?

Anonymous said...

Bigotry is evil. We need democracy not facism.

Nick said...

Radical Royalist: just one of the many problems with abolishing the Act, as alluded to in the article I linked.

Dirty European Socialist: your comment is laughable. If you want democracy, then you're on the wrong blog. While I consider the Act to be anti-Catholic, I do not consider it facist.

Anonymous said...

I couldn't agree more with your latest entry.

One more point if I may. Fascism, like communism and socialism, is the spawn of Liberalism. It is of the left.

Three cheers for the Old Order!

Viva Christo Rey!


Anonymous said...

Here's a report on the issue from today's Religion Report

ignatius masayuki said...

I think in this troubled time subjugated by the relentless waves of secularism and liberalism we should consider us a little bit fortunate to be able to see the application of the act of settlement and other similar act in all monarchies across the world. Although from catholic point of view this act is very anti catholic, but still it reaffirm the sacred relation between altar and throne. By the way, one of the most unique forms of this sacred relation can be found in Japan; for more detail explanation I have posted this link.

valkyrie said...

I found your site because of the thread concerning your admiration for the old German Empire and the Prussian Royal Family. I know you explained you preference for German over Austrian monarchy as a genetic predisposition but I find it hard to understand how in your model of an ideal monarchy you stipulate firmly that the monarch must be Catholic, this dooms your monarch to a position fraught with conflict from the beginning.

Surely you must see from your own research that Catholic monarchs are hidebound by their alliegence to Rome, the Pope being a figure to whom the Catholic Church decrees all catholics must bow and obey. This can only cause conflict for a monarch called upon to ratify bills passed by a parliament or council which are not in line with catholic dogma or policy. Abortion, same-sex marriage and rights, euthenasia are but a small sample of current issues on which different parliaments around the world are currently debating and in some cases legistating, all ideas opposed by the Catholic Church. Will your monarch defer to the wishes of Rome when it comes to ratification of acts passed in the democratic process? I know your ideal monarchy is partially autocratic, but even an autocrat must recognise the public will if they wish to keep their throne, those who have not in the past have all been consigned to the history books, Catholic and Protestant.

In protestant monarchies the King or Queen may well be, as in the case of Elizabeth II, ''Defender of the Faith'', yet this role never interferes with the democratic process. Protestantism on the whole is far more enlightened and liberal, is open to change and adapting to the needs of modern society. We see this in the ordination of women and in some protestant churches, a move which mirror the progress of the societies in which these churches are based. Protestant monarchs do not have to adhere to the strictures of a cabal of old and blinkered men who have no idea of the needs of a modern pluralist society. A protestant monarch stands alone and is not seen to be compromised like the Catholic ruler.

Clearly Juan Carlos of Spain operates as a Catholic Monarch in a democratic state. Spain legalised same-sex marriage in 2005 and the bill was opposed by the Catholic Church from the Pope down. Juan-Carlos ratified the bill as his role is purely that of a figurehead, he answers only to the Spanish parliament and people, as such he does not fit into your model of Catholic monarch.

Whilst I've spoken in general terms and about monarchs and religion it is clear that that any modern Catholic monarch, like Juan-Carlos, must operate outside the infulence of Rome and cannot hope to succeed unless they are free from the Pope's clutches and answer to no one but their people. I defintely think a Protestant is preferable to a Catholic monarch, that said I would gladly have a Catholic King or Queen over a republic any day.

Anonymous said...

Britain's monarchy may be Protestant in the "not in communion with the Pope" sense, but High Church Anglicanism is half way between in many senses, especially after the Anglo-Catholic Oxford Movement. Thus as soon as the Liberal faction inside the CoE push their weight about too much, many High Anglicans leave to join the Catholic Church. Lets not forget some Traditionalist Catholics are not in communion, but their Catholic spirit should not be entirely dismissed.

I too can understand why a Roman Catholic may not become monarch under the current situation. If the CoE is ever to return to the CC it has to come from the religious orders, not on the whim of a monarch's personal stance. There should be no reason why a monarch can't marry a Roman Catholic though, that should be changed.

Realistically the monarchy nowadays has had much of their power leeched from them, so even if the monarch was married to a Catholic, its not like it used to be with Charles I and Henrietta Maria. It would be highly unlikely that said consort could exact significant influence over the CoE, which was the Whiggish "worry"/reason that law was put in.

Nick said...


I am a Catholic, and want a Catholic monarchy. While I'd rather be the subject of a Protestant monarch over a Catholic president or prime minister, I prefer Catholics as monarchs. And yes, a true Catholic, either elected official or monarch must submit to Rome.