Fri 24th Oct 2014 | Last updated: Fri 24th Oct 2014 at 16:48pm

Facebook Logo Twitter Logo RSS Logo
Hot Topics

Latest News

MP says succession Bill is an ‘attack’ on Catholic Church

By on Friday, 25 January 2013

A replica of the Coronation Crown at Sotheby's (Photo: PA)

A replica of the Coronation Crown at Sotheby's (Photo: PA)

A Catholic MP has called the Bill reforming Britain’s succession laws an “attack” on the Catholic Church because it still forbids Catholics from ascending to the throne.

Jacob Rees-Mogg, MP for North East Somerset, said during a debate in the House of Commons that he would like to amend the Bill to allow a Catholic to become monarch.

Mr Rees-Mogg criticised the Bill in both its content and the speed with which it is being processed. He said the Bill was being “done in a rush as if it is counter-terrorism legislation”. He added: “It is an insult to the nation… to our sovereign and indeed to Parliament.”

Throughout the debate, Mr Rees-Mogg voiced concerns about the implications of allowing royal heirs to marry Catholics considering the legislation stopped a Catholic from becoming monarch. He said, in relation to this dilemma: “By amending the statutes, we are saying that all the provisions are modernised, and that the Act of Settlement and all its anti-Catholic provisions are acceptable in a modern world.”

Sir Gerald Howarth MP ended the debate saying: “There is a paradox in the situation in which we find ourselves. The Government are seeking to end part of a discriminatory law, and yet have resurrected rather a lot of hurt.”

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said: “The current law says that our monarch can’t be married to a Catholic. This legal ban doesn’t apply to any other faith.”

He added: “Today we do not support laws which discriminate on either religious or gender grounds. They have no place in modern Britain, and certainly not in our monarchy.”

Mr Clegg proposed the Bill to amend what he termed the “bygone laws” enabling a female first-born heir to be superseded in line to the throne by her younger brothers.

  • Michael

    The monarch is the supreme governor of the Church of England. The king or queen cannot be anything other than an Anglican any more than the Pope, who is also King of the Vatican State, can be anything other than a Roman Catholic (and a man, in that case). If a king were to be married to a catholic it would mean that the queen would need a papal dispensation not to raise the children as Catholics, lest the situation of a Roman Catholic Monarch becoming head of the C of E arise.

  • Cestius

    That’s not strictly true. The monarch can be any religion except Catholic. It would be perfectly possible to have a Catholic monarch again, the job of supreme governor of the CofE could be delegated or the CofE disestablished – depending on the wishes of the members of that church.

  • Cestius

    All power to Mr. Rees-Mogg. You cannot abolish one practice which is now considered discriminatory without getting rid of them all.  It’s high time that the monarch or any of their successors have the right to become Catholic if they wish to do so without having to give up the position.

  • Chris

    The monarch must be in communion with the Church of England; this would exclude such people as Methodists, Quakers, Adventists, Lutherans not part of the Porvoo Communion and Salvation Army members – and Catholics whether they be of Eastern or Latin rite.

  • John McCarthy

    This discrimination against Roman Catholics has gone on for too long. It has no place in modern society.

  • Sparrowhwk

    Why don’t they follow through the logic of all this, and invite the Duke of Bavaria to return as out monarch.

  • Sweetjae

    That is the reason why there is confusion in the first place, a legalized racism still existed in Succession because Monarchy by definition is a civil-government authority while the Head of the Church of England is by nature a church authority.

  • Alan

    It is impossible to get rid of all discrimination in this area.  For example, replacing the “eldest son” with the “eldest child” removes anti-female discrimination (which has not stopped Queens from being monarch for most of the last 175 years), but why the discrimination against second or third children?
    On the Catholic point, if the monarch were allowed to be Catholic it would mean disestablishment of the Church of England, which is fine by me in principle, but I suspect it would use up an enormous amount of legislative time.

  • majorcalamity

    I support this, but only when the C of E is disestablished and we become a wholly secular country. It would also remove the Bishops from the Lords. It could not happen until then for the reasons Michael has stated. I hope it happens soon though for we would be a much better place as a result.

  • Guest007

    The Anglican Community would have to be disestablished from the state and also be reorganised amongst themselves in order for this to 100% work, a Catholic cannot become first of all head of their community. Its all good allowing a Catholic to become king/queen….HOWEVER the main issue which needs to be addressed is the situation surrounding the faith of the children…Now according to the Church if a Catholic Christian marries a non-Catholic then the children must always be raised Catholic Christians its a non negotiable area of discussion.

    There have been cases so far where one of the royal family marries a Catholic but then loses their right to succession regarding the throne.

    If the law is properly changed then to allow Catholics to ascend to the throne the Bill must respect and clearly state that if a Catholic marries a non Catholic the children are to be raised Catholic inline with the Church’s teachings and also that the future generations born out of that marriage will not lose their right to inherit the throne.

    To state in any circumstance that a Catholic Christian may willingfully marry someone (ie a member of the Royal Family) outside of the Apostlic Church and then not have the children created out of that marriage raised within her…I am afraid it is impossible to allow not to mention it puts the grace of the Catholic partners soul at risk.

    The Succession Bill must be inline with the Church’s teachings on marriage especially surrounding the rearing of children and must ensure that they do not lose their right to succession. If the Bill meets the Church’s criteria then I am all for it….however if it does not then it is still discriminatory and an insult to our beliefs.

    PS: The reason other religions arent mentioned in the act of succession especially regarding Muslims or Hindus etcc is because prior to 1948 there were no other religons like Islam present in the UK nor where there anybody whose origins originate from the former colonial territories such as the Caribbean or Asia. Large scale immigration from these areas came after 1948.  

    On another note:

    They might want to also address the role of the Prime Minister as well. Although there is no law forbidding a Catholic to become PM even that position is still unsuitable for a Catholic…if any of us were to become PM do you honestly think we are going to be appointing Anglican regional district ministers??? Absolutely not! It is impossible nor do we have the authority to do so.

  • whytheworldisending

    Clause 2(1) of the draft bill is, in practical terms, insignificant, firstly because it is effectively overridden by clause 3(1).

    Clause 2(1) states, “A person is not disqualified from succeeding to the Crown or from possessing it as a result of marrying a person of the Roman Catholic faith,” but clause 3(1) says, “A person who (when the person marries) is one of the 6 persons next in the line of succession to the Crown must obtain the consent of Her Majesty before marrying.”

    .Under clause 3(1), a monarch is at liberty to withold consent on any basis, and so may well decide to negate clause 2(1) by refusing consent for marriage to a Catholic (or of course for marriage to a member of any other faith or none).

    Secondly, if a person succeeding to the Crown has married a Catholic and has in good faith agreed (as required in the case of a Catholic wedding) to bring up any children of theirs in the Catholic faith, then they effectively exclude all of their offspring from succeeding to the Crown.

    Because clause 2(1) is virtually incapable of having any practical effect, it appears to be merely an attempt at window-dressing on the part of the coalition.

    Perhaps the coalition wants to appear even-handed following the rather inept way they have alienated Catholics, Anglican traditionalists, and many Conservatives by trying to force gay marriage proposals through without any proper consultation or regard for Parliament or the views of the majority of the British people.

    Unlike clause 2(1), the coalitions gay marriage proposals would be highly significant in practical terms. Are we to contemplate a future British monarch with a homosexual partner in tow? 2 Queens? Somehow – looking at clause 3(1) again – I don’t think so.  

  • Parasum

    “A Catholic MP has called the Bill reforming Britain’s succession laws an “attack” on the Catholic Church because it still forbids Catholics from ascending to the throne.”

    ## How is it an attack on Catholics ? If the present law is not “an attack on Catholics”, how can the Bill be ? Talk about self-indulgent nonsense…

  • Parasum

    “Monarchy by definition is a civil-government authority”

    ## Monarchy is religious – Christian monarchy as much as any: most of all, in fact. Monarchy has been religious ever since the Sumerians.  Whether the monarch is a living god (as in Pharaonic Egypt), or the vicar of a god (as in Assyria), or the chosen of a god (as in Babylon), or a Jewish king, or a divine Caesar, or a Christian Roman Emperor in West or East, or a Roman Pope, or a Christian King or Emperor, or a Chinese or Japanese Emperor, kingship has been sacred & divine & numinous. Among the Hittites,”he became a god” is a sure sign that a deceased ruler is being described. Monarchy is as sacred as it has ever been – that it is imagined to be secular, does not change this; unless we are to adopt the (wholly unChristian) notion that Christ the Everlasting King has been dethroned. Kings rule by Him, because Christian kingship is a tyrannical usurpation of power if it is not a reflection of His Kingship. If the Queen is a queen at all, her monarchy must by definition be a sharing in His.

    The Queen’s office as ruler, being sacred & theologically significant, makes her a sacred person in her dealings with the Church of England. It is her royal “fullness of power” in all causes, both spiritual & temporal alike, that enables the clergy to function as such; even though she is a member of the laity. Because she rules “by the grace of God”, it is her business, as a subject of Christ the King, to protect and foster the good of the Church of which she is, not the Head – Christ Alone is “the Head of [His] Body…the Church” – but the earthly governor.  If she is not Christ’s vicar & servant, set by Christ in authority over the Church of England to  exercise His authority in & over it, her Coronation was a meaningless waste of time.

  • Marvin & Rhia

    Thanks to King Henry VIII who made himself “Head” of the Church in England. Before King Henry VIII, everyone was a Catholic.

  • Declan

    The Monarch isn’t an Anglican when she is in Scotland….

  • teigitur

    Correct, she attends the C of S. Which is much further away from the Anglican Church than the RCC. Whatever direction you care to look in.

  • Alban

    Given that we’re all supposed to be equal in God’s sight, does it not again show that religion and politics is a toxic mix, both capable individually of destroying friendships and potential marriage in the immutable sense of the word amongst humans.

  • Stephen

    But even if such children were raised as Catholics, they would be perfectly free to convert to Anglicanism in adulthood, should they so wish.

  • whytheworldisending

    Alan pointed out that the succession rules discriminate – against second and third children – on the basis of their age. That raises an interesting general point. Don’t the succession rules discrimnate against virtually everybody on the basis of their socio-economic status? The coalition are opening such a collection of pandora’s boxes, that I think the Catholicism debate is a smoke screen. The so-called progressive liberals have become bored with undermining Christianity and traditional morality (Maybe that’s turned out to be too easy for them and they want a real challenge). Clegg is continuing what Tony Blair started. The Bill is a sideways swipe at the institution of the British Monarchy. That is more divisive that Europe and Gay mariage put together. Where have all the Conservatives gone?

  • Nick

    If it is an attack on Catholics because they cannot ascend the throne, is there not an equal attack on Anglicans because they cannot become head of the Vatican and Catholic church?!

  • Nick

    The majority of the British people are in favour of gay marriage – the latest poll by COMRES shows 60% support. In any case, minority rights have never been a majority issue!

  • Nick

    Majorcalamity I couldn’t agree with you more. France is a secular country and yet its regarded as one of the most civilised on earth. – People seem to forget that. Disestablishment doesn’t seem to have done them any harm and the French seem very happy as a nation. Why is it here people seem to think that disestablishment is such an awful thing!

  • Nick

    This discrimination against gay people has gone on for far too long – it has no place in modern society.

  • Nick

    One looks forward to the day we have a Gay King married to their husband.

  • Francis Benedict

    I don’t think this is an attack on Catholics; any person in the land can marry a Catholic or become a Catholic – even a king or queen (so long as they abdicate). Surely then, this law is discriminatory against the royal family alone. As a Catholic man I’m not worried that I cannot marry a princess, precisely because, I can. Alas, she will have to rethink her regal future entirely! 

  • Tridentinus

    King James II was a Catholic King of England who was also Supreme Governor of the Church of England and tolerated by the establishment of the time. Naturally among Protestants this was not welcome although quite legal. It was only when James had a son, ‘the Old Pretender’ who would be brought up a Catholic that Protestants became aware that the Monarchy could become permanently Catholic again via true Succession. James and his successors, were largely supported by the Tories, the God, King and Country party. He was opposed by the Whigs, the forerunners of the Liberal party who were the ‘nouveaux riches’ of the era and who obviously felt that a Catholic Monarch threatened their wealth and their independence from a moral code..
    At the birth of James’s heir these magnates invited William, Prince of Orange, the son-in-law of James on account of his marriage to James’s  Protestant daughter Mary by his first marriage to invade England and take the Crown by force. William dutifully complied, invaded England and James fled London with his family.
    So desperate were his enemies that they even fabricated a conspiracy that said that James’s new-born son by his second wife, Mary of Modena was not in fact his son but an imposter smuggled into the Royal bedchamber in a warming pan in order to secure a Catholic succession.
    When William sailed down the Thames with his small army, James’s much larger standing army would have won the day. However, several Protestant officers and supporters abandoned their King at the last moment and James declined to confront his son-in-law. William of Orange allowed him to flee to his cousin Louis XIV in France.
    William convened a Convention Parliament
    to decide how to handle James’s flight. While the Parliament refused to
    depose him, they declared that James, having fled to France and dropped
    the Great Seal into the Thames, had effectively abdicated the throne, and that the throne had thereby become vacant. To fill this vacancy, James’s daughter Mary was declared Queen; she was
    to rule jointly with her husband William, who would be king. The Parliament of Scotland on 11 April 1689 declared James to have forfeited the throne.
     The English Parliament passed a Bill of Rights
    that denounced James for abusing his power. The Bill also declared that henceforth, no Roman Catholic was permitted
    to ascend the English throne, nor could any English monarch marry a
    Roman Catholic.
    The Act of Settlement 1701 settled the Succsession to the Englsh and Scottish Crowns upon the Electress Sophia granddaughter of James I and and her Protestant descendants who had not married a Roman Catholic and those who had married a Roman Catholic, were barred from ascending the throne “for ever”. That is the Law as it stands.
    In order for the Bill to pass it will have to address the challenge that it discriminates against Roman Catholics. The argument that a Roman Catholic cannot be the Supreme Governor of the C of E is spurious as James II was just that and is still recognised as such. The legislation could also be challenged in the ECtHR.
    The title Supreme Governor of the C of E is titular and is actually exercised by the Prime Minister in Parliament, many of whose members are Roman Catholics, under the Queen regardless of whether he is a member of the C of E or not, it could even be put into a Commission into which so many of her Majesty’s powers have been delegated.
    As a Catholic, I couldn’t care less about whether a Catholic can be Monarch or not as it highly unlikely that any future monarchs in my life time or in the future after that will be Catholics or even be recognisable as Christians. It is probably best to maintain the status quo.
    It is ironic that the LibDems (today’s Whigs) should be in the forefront of those trying to reverse this legislation.

  • Tridentinus

    I agree with you absolutely, where have thet gone?

  • whytheworldisending

    They are probably afraid to disagree with Cameron, who is afraid to lose power by disagreeing with Clegg. Both of them seem prepared to do anything to hold onto power. Its blackmail, and the nation is paying the price. This is too important for Cameron to be allowed to give in to the blackmailer’s demands. Conservative MP’s should do their duty and unseat the pair of them.

  • whytheworldisending

    Even Henry VIII would be horrified to see the CofE condoning sodomy.

  • whytheworldisending

    Imagine if clause 2(1) said that a person could become monarch even if they married a black person. Would that be OK? Of course not. Even though there is no express prohibition on a black person succeeding to the Crown, it would still cause offence to many people. Now imagine there IS an express prohibition on black people succeeding to the Crown. Does that make it less offensive or more offensive?

  • Lee

    I am afraid to say that whytheworldisending has hit the nail right on the head. This has nothing to do with allowing Catholics to ascend to the throne, but everything to do with killing a load of birds with one-stone. Jacob Rees-Mogg is to be commended for hine stand. However, unless he is seriously amiss to what this hideous Government is trying to do in undermining Monarchy in general and turning it into a charade like Sweden or even Belgium, he would do well to think before he does !

  • scary goat

     LOL.  Good point.  This is the problem with all this discrimination stuff.  It ends up setting everyone against everyone else.  MY rights!  It’s never ending and just gets sillier and sillier. As for whoever taught women that it’s their right to choose to kill their unborn child….well…

    Give me good old fashioned Catholic “dignity of each human person” any day.  At least it makes sense.

  • scary goat

     Well, sort of, yes.  Except the English monarchy was originally Catholic and the C of E broke with the Church which is the Body of Christ under Henry VIII. 

  • scary goat

     Indeed.  One is most amused.

  • Patrickhowes

    He is a marvellous Catholic and MP who is not afraid to stand up for what he dearly beleives.He was involved in standing up for Catholic thinking with regards to non catholic practises going on at a private London Catholic hospital.God Bless Him once again for fighting the catholic cause 

  • Inquisator

    I would only imagine among Anglo-catholics!

  • Christina Halasz

    Who leaves a crown sitting on its ermine fur trim like that?!

  • whytheworldisending

    The only poll on the COMRES website about it is one showing that most gay people don’t support gay marriage.

  • whytheworldisending

    Religion forms attitudes and values, friends share attitudes and values, and politics is people trying to protect what they – rightly or wrongly – value. Hard to see how they can be unmixed.

  • Dcruz

    I am sure one day a muslim will be part of the Monarchy of England..The present Monarchy ( royal family ) are also freemasons.

  • James

    An interesting reaction to the Bill. However, I do not think it is an attack on the Catholic Church, nor do I think the law should be changed to allow a Catholic become the monarch.  If the monarch is the head of the Anglican communion, then it is fair enough that he or she should be an Anglican.  However, I think the law regarding marriage should be an either/or: it is either changed to allow the monarch or future monach marry anyone – Catholic, Buddhist, Hindu, Mormon etc, or it should be changed so that the future monarch may only marry an Anglican.  In Spain the monarch may only marry a Catholic – Queen Sophie was Greek Orthodox and had to convert to marry King Juan Carlos.  If the UK should go down that road I would not have a problem with that.  

  • drj81

    Are gay people banned from becoming a monarch? 

  • Paullynch

    drj81 – no, sure isn’t the current monarch a queen…….

  • Nick

    One is pleased one is amused – but I was being serious.

  • Nick

    “Give me good old fashioned Catholic “dignity of each human person” any day.”
    Ah the human dignity to marry the person one loves would that be? 

  • Nick

    Hardly blackmail when they’ve been democratically elected.But perhaps you want a general election and a Labour government?
    They’ll probably force the churches to conduct same sex marriages.Heads I win, Tails you lose…

  • Nick

    Ah all equal in God’s sight, but not equal enough to marry the person we love!
    But soon – very very soon.

  • Nick

    “Even though there is no express prohibition on a black person succeeding to the Crown, it would still cause offence to many people.” – Only if they’re prejudiced. So it hardly counts. 

  • Nick

    They are not being forced through….
    There has been consultation….
    There is full regard for Parliament – they’re the ones voting on it….
    The majority of the British people support it – latest COMRES poll….

    “Are we to contemplate a future British monarch with a homosexual partner in tow?” – Yes why not. And you forgot about the adopted children. 

  • Nick

    You clearly haven’t looked very hard, there’s 18 polls on the COMRES website about equal marriage.

    And I’ve never said most gay people do support equal marriage – I agree they don’t – that’s the whole point – most people pushing for equal marriage are straight!!! Not the ‘homosexual lobby’ as you guys like to make out.

    But I notice you don’t pick up on the fact that in a civilised society, minority rights isn’t a majority issue!! If we had to rely on the majority for minority rights, we’d still be in the dark ages.
    Oops I forgot – you’re the Catholic church – you are in the dark ages!