Friday, 3 August 2007

The Last Acceptable Prejudice

In an age when political correctness is enforced by a bewildering list of new laws, it has become blatantly clear once again that anti-Catholicism is the last acceptable prejudice in this country. It seems absurd that same sex couples can have the same rights as married couples and that unmarried couples who have been together for over two years may soon be able to go through a sort of 'divorce' if they split up and yet Catholicism still remains an impediment to the Royal Succession.

Peter Philips, the Queen's oldest grandson and tenth in line to the throne, has announced his engagement to a Canadian Catholic called Autumn Kelly - not the most Catholic of baptismal names, perhaps, but Mrs Kelly has said that her daughter's proud to be Catholic and therefore unlikely to change her Faith. Hence Mr Philips (who has no royal title) may be required to renounce his right to the throne due to the 1701 Act of Succession.

Of course, Mr Philips is not the first modern royal to be affected by this law - Prince Michael of Kent renounced his right to succession on marrying the Catholic Marie-Christine Agnes Hedwig Ida von Reibnitz, as did two children of the Duke and Duchess of Kent: the Lord St Albans (when he married a Catholic, Sylvana Palma Tomaselli) and Lord Nicholas Windsor (after his 2001 conversion).

Some readers might think this a techinicality but it reminds us that Catholicism is the only religion explicitly discriminated against in UK law. Both the Cardinals of Westminster and St Andrews and Edinburgh have repeatedly criticised the lingering constitutional anti-Catholicism, and the convert MP John Gummer has said: 'it is inhuman in the 21st century for anyone to demand this'. Whether or not Gordon Brown agrees, time will tell.



Anonymous Anonymous said...

These Catholic people shouldn't renounce their claims to anything that is denied them solely on the grounds of their religion. English institutionalized bigotry, supported by English popular bigotry, may deprive them of their rightful claims but nothing forces them to renounce anything.

2:46 am  
Blogger Phil said...

It's my experience that when one digs below the surface of our British 'society', just a little, then a fear (and possibly even hatred) of Catholicism emerges. Even fellow Christians carry this seed and it is often reflected in a misunderstanding of the Sacrament of Reconcilliation and our understanding of the priesthood.

10:30 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The eldest son of the Duke of Kent is given the courtesy title Earl of St. Andrews not Lord St. Albans. Also, when it is a courtesy title the word "the" is not used, because the actual title is not held by courtesy holder.

PS, I don't always agree with your blog, but I really like it. Good for you.

2:15 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Since these rules were originally instituted for political reasons (to avoid Vatican interference in English affairs), it would seem they could be changed today without much controversy. Religion is pretty obviously not as much of a driving influence in Europe as it once was. If a Dutch bishop can now advocate calling God by the name "Allah", allowing Catholics into the English succession seems like a trivial political change today. I am definitely not an expert nor am I English, so perhaps I don't understand other reasons why this rule would still be in place. Perhaps emotions resulting from the Irish troubles kept this rule around longer than it would have existed otherwise?

6:37 pm  

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