Tories ready to repeal Act of Succession

Interesting line in the Daily Telegraph’s editorial yesterday, which echoes Michael Howard’s recent statement and argues that banning Catholics from becoming head of state is an anachronism that could and should be reformed.

  • Everything Ulster (formerly Beano)

    I’m all for lifting the ban on marriage to catholics, but what happens to the monarch’s duties as “defender of the faith” or “supreme governor of the Church of England” if a Catholic (or for that matter a member of any other religion or none) was to become the monarch?

    I didn’t realise until reading somewhere yesterday that the ban on Catholics becoming monarch was that their ultimate allegience was to someone outside the United Kingdom, ie the Pope. Which does make some sense when you think about it.

  • smcgiff

    EU (The poster formerly known as Beano),

    I supposed it comes down to a decision of which is more important:- To have a monarch that is head of the COE or the head of the state.

    It would appear the two functions should be decoupled sooner rather than later instead of waiting for the doomsday scenario of a Catholic taking the throne.

  • Davros

    Beano – that why Kennedy had to say that he was an American before he was a Roman Catholic in order to be elected. But times have changed. There wasn’t a lot of attention paid to the attacks on Kerry for his stance on abortion during the last Presidential election.
    Going back to the time of Cromwell, one of the great stumbling blocks for those arguing equality for RCs was that the Pope held the right to set aside Oaths to civil powers. Thus an oath of loyalty , which was taken very seriously in those days , was problematic.

  • Everything Ulster (formerly Beano)

    “I supposed it comes down to a decision of which is more important:- To have a monarch that is head of the COE or the head of the state.”
    I wouldn’t argue that the two should be decoupled being an atheist presbyterian (come on this is NI!).

    That doesn’t answer the question about the loyalty of a catholic lying with a body outside the jurisdiction of the United Kingdom. Admittedly in practice it may make little difference, but what if, for example, Parliament passed a law relaxing the laws an abortion. Whether you disagree with that or not, do you not think a Catholic monarch might be compelled, at least in theory, potentially in pracitce, by the church not to give assent to said bill? (In that spirit, Free Presbyterians should also be barred from positions of high office 😉 )

  • TK1

    Just a little reminder that ‘Defender of the Faith’ was a title awarded to Henry VIII by the Pope when the former was still a Catholic. The fact that it was retained by the monarchy after they broke with the Catholic faith – is yet another case of royalty wanting to have their cake and eat it too.

  • Biffo

    Beano

    “In that spirit, Free Presbyterians should also be barred from positions of high office ;)”

    Yes, but they aren’t, thus illustrating the sectarianism at the heart of the British constitution.

  • Davros

    TK1 – Henry was a Catholic all his life.

  • smcgiff

    ‘Whether you disagree with that or not, do you not think a Catholic monarch might be compelled, at least in theory, potentially in practice, by the church not to give assent to said bill?’

    You’re making a lot of assumptions, EU – Such as a non-Catholic monarch i.e. a COI monarch, would put the state before his own religious beliefs.

    In the modern world, especially in a much vaunted multi-cultural UK, having a head of state as the head of a religious organisation is going to anachronistic.

    In short, I cannot imagine any circumstance where a Catholic monarch would be disadvantaged more so than any other affiliated monarch. For that not to be the case you’d have to think the monarch would put the country before his own faith. And any monarch that would do that can’t have much of a faith in the first place. And if you’d have a Protestant King that would put the state before his faith, then why wouldn’t a Catholic Monarch? Are they more devout? Much easier to decouple the two.

    Signed. A Catholic Atheist. 😉

  • Roger W. Christ XVII

    People who come out with this stuff about the act of succession just don’t get it. The head of state should not be linked with any church or religion at all. In any case the monarchy is a farce and should be dissolved.

  • Davros

    One small difference Seamus – who has the authority to excommunicate a protestant Monarch in the way that, theoretically, the Pope has authority to excommunicate a Roman Catholic Monarch ?

    (p.s. I think the chances of there being a C.O.I. Monarch are in practical terms as remote as there being an Roman Catholic one LOL )

  • Davros

    I agree that the Monarchy is an anachronism Roger, but it works. Think Presidents Bush, Mugabe and Hussein.

  • smcgiff

    ‘One small difference Seamus – who has the authority to excommunicate a protestant Monarch in the way that, theoretically, the Pope has authority to excommunicate a Roman Catholic Monarch ?
    (p.s. I think the chances of there being a C.O.I. Monarch are in practical terms as remote as there being an Roman Catholic one LOL )’
    It all comes down to faith Davros.
    Excommunicate means to be taken out of the church. The most significant meaning (I think) is that that person cannot go to heaven.
    Now, if a Protestant Monarch is faced with signing something that would conflict with his faith he/she would be excommunicating themselves, Ipso facto.

    BTW, I’m guessing a COI Monarch will sit on the throne before a COI Monarch. What odds would I get? 😉

  • smcgiff

    As Willie Wonka would say, reverse that, ‘BTW, I’m guessing a RC Monarch will sit on the throne before a COI Monarch. What odds would I get? 😉

  • lámh dearg

    After a brief moment of panic at the thought of agreeing with Michael Howard about anything, I realised that Roger has it right, rather than repeal this obvious anachronism we should just get rid of the institution of the monarchy.

    Gosh, I’m a republican!!!

  • smcgiff

    Not sure the .. is required over the A, Red hand. I stand to be corrected – Where’s Maca when you need him!!

  • Everything Ulster (formerly Beano)

    I fully advocate giving the title/responsibility of “Defender of the Faith” to the Archbishop of Canterbury or some similar religious figure.

    My point on the catholic monarch, and I’m playing develi’s advoate here, is that the CoE is not in the same position to influence the monarch against the will of parliament, since (I’m admittedly making a big assumption here) presumably there are laws that coulc be invoked on someone seeking to unduly influence government by exherting coercion? The pope is foreign and therefore subject to no such laws in respect of the UK government.

  • Davros

    Seamus- it would be his or her own decision. There’s the difference. But it’s all irrelevent in the long term 🙂 The Monarchy won’t be around a lot longer and besides, RCs are increasingly adopting protestant attitudes of independence and individuality of conscience.

  • Belfast Gonzo

    Quick question:

    If the Act is repealed, who will loyalists be loyal to?

  • George

    Smcgiff,
    it’s lámh alright.

    On topic,
    this law is ridiculous but I think we’ll see a Catholic British Prime Minister before we see the monarchy dissolved. In other words, not in our lifetime.

  • smcgiff

    ‘RCs are increasingly adopting protestant attitudes of independence and individuality of conscience.’

    They’re becoming Atheists?!?

  • Davros

    They’re becoming Atheists?!?

    LOL!

  • Davros

    Gonzo – all bets would be off if and when there was a Roman Catholic Monarch.

  • lámh dearg

    “but I think we’ll see a Catholic British Prime Minister before we see the monarchy dissolved. In other words, not in our lifetime.”

    Sure Tony’s nearly there, according to the Observer a month or so ago he might officially come out as Catholic after the election

  • smcgiff

    ‘The pope is foreign and therefore subject to no such laws in respect of the UK government.’

    Another quick question – How many Protestants believe condoms are not on sale or in use by RC in the ROI, as both head of state and leader of the government are RC?

  • smcgiff

    ‘he might officially come out as Catholic after the election’

    You mean Roman Catholic? Just stopping the thread from heading off in an entirely unintended direction! 😉

  • Davros

    Seamus – Many of you guys are still dealing with the Unionists of 1913 – there’s a generational lag, a form of inertia…it’s not therefore that surprising that many in my community still have a picture of 1950’s Ireland.

  • smcgiff

    I appreciate that Davros, but ultimately it will be decided by those residing in GB. I hope their perception is somewhat different.

    Although it brings to mind Margaret Thatcher’s response when she was made aware of an Irish Accountant. Her response was along the lines of – they’ve accountants in Ireland?

  • Davros

    Heck Seamus – according to something I read the other day the McCartney sisters were asked if they had CDs in Ireland by Irish Americans LOL

  • smcgiff

    Ah well, I’d expect nothing less from Americans, but I’m hoping for a little more common sense from my UK neighbours. Sure, ye’re practically Irish! 😉

  • Davros

    Sure, ye’re practically Irish! 😉

    While I think of it Seamus , I’m reading this book at the moment – strongly recommended !

  • George

    lámh dearg,
    I’ll believe Tony Blair crossing over to the Roman Catholic religion when I see it.

    If he did, the British would have to start looking to remove the Catholic Relief Act of 1839 for a start, which makes it illegal for a Roman Catholic to directly or indirectly advise the Sovereign on appointments in the Church of England.

    I’ll gladly wager we won’t see Tony cross over while PM.

  • smcgiff

    ‘While I think of it Seamus , I’m reading this book at the moment – strongly recommended !’

    I’m waiting for the synopsised version, Davros!

    Is that Shaw on the cover? Surely it should have been Wilde. If any Irishman influenced the UK during the Victorian era it was surely the genius (and antics) of Wilde.

  • Davros

    That’s the point of it all Seamus – there was an awful lot more going on than Wilde. Ireland was very, very important and not just because of Parnell’s influence on Gladstone – he held the balance of power.

    Shaw’s on the cover because of his quote :

    ” England had conquered Ireland, so there was nothing for it but to come over and conquer England.”

  • smcgiff

    ‘Ireland was very, very important and not just because of Parnell’s influence on Gladstone’

    Or another way of looking at it. How many of those from Ireland with influence in the UK were Catholic?

  • maca

    “Where’s Maca when you need him!!”

    Sick in bed.
    George is right, nó “Lámh Dearg Ulaidh”

    I think Roger is right in his 10:52 AM, the first part anyway.

  • Davros

    Read the book Seamus 🙂

    p.s. isn’t the position that Irish is Irish regardless of religion ?

  • smcgiff

    I’ve no doubt you knew that the point I was getting (perhaps unfairly in a civilised conversation) was that you were far better off being a Protestant in Ireland during Victorian times than Catholic.

    Not that I’m suggesting there was no such thing as poor Protestants, but it was this imbalance of power and influence that lead to the actions that eventually lead to the Irish Free State.

  • Davros

    On that we’ll have to disagree Seamus 🙂

    Interestingly enough as recently as 2002 the GAA was claiming that only those backing it’s Gaelic 32 county package are Irish.

    Nap time in a few minutes.

  • Everything Ulster (formerly Beano)

    I would have to read up on my history to confirm, but wasn’t the problem the perception that you were better off being an Anglican than an ‘other’, rather than the protestant/catholic divide?

  • caml

    ISTR the last time a Catholic monarch tried to impose his will on Parliament, Parliament sacked
    him and got some Dutch bloke in to open hospital wings and so on. The monarch is a figurehead, which is why the monarchy has survived so long.

  • smcgiff

    ‘you were better off being an Anglican than an ‘other’, rather than the protestant/catholic divide?’

    That’s it EU, lets all gang up on the Anglicans! 😉

    ‘Interestingly enough as recently as 2002 the GAA was claiming that only those backing it’s Gaelic 32 county package are Irish.’

    Sure, isn’t only because of the success of river dance that ye want to be Irish! 😉

  • Davros

    Is riverdance Irish ? God help us all if that’s the case 😉

    ( No nibbles at the GAA – I must be losing my touch! )

  • Christopher Stalford

    This is clearly part of a strategy by the Tories to woo the 6 million RC voters on the mainland, away from the Labour Party. Personally, I have never understood why Catholics so heavily went for Labour, when their moral/religous compass points so heavily in a more conservative direction.

    If a Tory government (aye, right!) is formed after the next general election, will Mr. Howard (who I happen to think would be a great PM) make this a top priority? Not likely.

  • smcgiff

    Agreed, Christopher.

    Mr Howard has nothing to loose and is throwing every conceivable policy he can think of at the electorate, hoping some will stick.

    But, now that we have your attention, what say you on the issue raised?

  • alex s

    Would having a Catholic king or queen make much difference?

  • alex s

    Everything Ulster, I was under the impression that it was Prince Charle’s intention to be declared ‘Defender of All Faiths’ a position more appropiate in what is a multi-cultural society.

  • Biffo

    “I was under the impression that it was Prince Charle’s intention to be declared ‘Defender of All Faiths’ a position more appropiate in what is a multi-cultural society.”

    How’s that appropriate? What has religion to do with culture?

  • Everything Ulster (formerly Beano)

    Hadn’t heard that Alex, interesting approach, although I think you could leave out the ‘all’ it just sounds a little too PC.

    Davros, my point wasn’t to gang up on the anglicans, just that you don’t hear us ‘dissenters’ whinging about it 100 years later 😉

    The thing about the act of succession, which Howard rightly pointed out, he’d have to consult with lots of commonwealth countries before changing it, so while he’s in favour of change, he’s only effectively promised to “look into it”.

    Maybe having a Catholic Queen would be a good thing from an NI point of view? If for no other reason than “loyalists” would find themselves in an interesting position 😉

  • Biffo

    Christopher Stalford

    “Personally, I have never understood why Catholics so heavily went for Labour, when their moral/religous compass points so heavily in a more conservative direction.”

    It’s simple, their socio-economic compass pointed heavily to Labour.

  • smcgiff

    ‘Would having a Catholic king or queen make much difference?’

    Very much so. It may also make a difference to Catholics! 😉

  • Biffo
  • Biffo

    “Very much so. It may also make a difference to Catholics! ;-)”

    Thinking about it I don’t think it would make the slightest difference to anybody.

    Except the minority of religious nutcases who fret about the constitutional implications of this kind of thing, in which case it would cause them to re-evaluate their whole lives and all that they hold true and dear.

    But for normal people what difference would it make? I’ve no idea.

    What difference would it make for catholics? Bugger all probably, except maybe school-leavers, it would be a new job opportunity that they wouldn’t have previously considered.

  • Biffo

    That’s the problem with the monarchy, it’s 100% protestant (and 92% unionist).

    Or put it another way, catholics are 50,000,000 times more unlikely to be king or queen and nationalist have even less chance.

    It’s time this kind of blatant sectarian discrimination was brought to an end. So much for a multi-cultural society.

    Maybe it’s an issue that could be addressed when the GFA is re-negotiated.

    Also, keep in mind, the best kings were all catholics, people like Alfred the Great, William the Conquerer and Richard the Lionheart. They don’t make them like that anymore!

  • smcgiff

    ‘They don’t make them like that anymore!’

    What – Gay? 😉

  • Davros

    Best comment I’ve seen in a long time 🙂

    “The best kings were all catholics, people like Alfred the Great, William the Conquerer and Richard the Lionheart.”

    I don’t know a lot about Alfred, but the other two ?

  • caml

    I don’t know a lot about Alfred, but the other two ?

    William the Conquerer and Richard the Lionheart were both Catholics; hardly surprising given that the Reformation didn’t get under way until 400 years later.

  • Keith M

    A small step in the right direction. As a (real) republican, I think that the whole idea of power gained through birthright is anacronistic, however the the direct linking of church and state as is the case in the UK is outdated and plainly discriminatory.

  • Davros

    William the Conquerer and Richard the Lionheart were both Catholics; hardly surprising given that the Reformation didn’t get under way until 400 years later.

    Setting aside the obvious point that the British Royal Family are still Catholic, I was assuming that Biffo was taking the P. Although possibly not.

    Richard ? Are you really saying that his behaviour towards Muslims was OK in your eyes because he was RC and they were “only Muslims” ?
    Don’t you see anything wrong with that attitude considering the (one-sided) whinging about Protestants treating RCs badly because they were “only RCs” ?

    William ? How was his invasion of what is England
    OK compared to the later invasions of Ireland ?

    Double standards here LOL God help us if these people ever end up in charge of policing we’ll have a police force that makes B-Specials and Black and Tans look like Mary Poppins, DP Moran is alive and well.

  • Davros

    Bump 🙂

  • Roger W. Christ XVII

    “Think Presidents Bush, Mugabe and Hussein.”

    Think Napoleon or Henry 8th. That’s not a terribly good argument. Hitler and Gordon Brown are/were both known as “Chancellor”.

  • Davros

    “Think Napoleon or Henry 8th.”

    Neither in my lifetime Roger me old mate 😉
    The shinners have you trapped in that 800 year timewarp LOL

  • Rethinking Unionism

    Lets nail this nonsense that somehow Catholics have an additional allegiance to a foreign power. That might have had some efficacy when the Vatican controlled various papal states centuries ago, but is irrelevant now.The truth is that any Christian has an overarching obligation to his conscience whatever the laws of a state may require. We get into more interesting territory when one talks of what constitutes a properly formed conscience, but the distinction between (orthodox) Catholics Anglicans and Presbyterians is meaningless in modern Britain where the monarch is a figurehead. The ban should go immediately and without equivocation.

  • Davros

    “Lets nail this nonsense that somehow Catholics have an additional allegiance to a foreign power. “

    Who was arguing that point ?

  • Jimmy Sands

    The idea of having an equal opportunities policy for the monarchy sounds to me like something out of Monty Python and the Holy Grail. Are there people who genuinely hope that repeal of the Act of Settlement might open up new career options for them? Is anyone’s most pressing concern the hypothetical possibilty of marrying into the Von Battenburg family? If you want all citizens to be eligible for Head of State then what you want is a Republic. Whatever arguments there may be for monarchy, fairness is never going to be one of them.

  • Davros

    “If you want all citizens to be eligible for Head of State then what you want is a Republic.”

    And even then, not every citizen is necessarily eligible … President Arnie ?

  • factfinder

    It would be nice if Britain became a democracy and its citizens were allowed to vote for whover they liked as Head of state and also Prime Minister. At the moment the cabinet but not PM can be of any religion or none, the reason for this lame excuse is that PM appoints COE bishops
    (if that happened in ROI it would be laughed at).
    Edward Heath removed the ban on catholics(by act of Parliamont) so Lord St John could enter the cabinet circa 1972.

  • factfinder

    As for the so called idea that Catholcs(I presume you mean Roman as opposed to COE Catholics) are aligned to a foreign power(I presume this the ‘Pope’ . The Vatican is not exactly a nation with an army waiting at the gates to let the ‘papists’ invade england. How come no other nation(ie France,Italy and spain have no problem with this foreign power.

  • Davros

    In my lifetime JFK had to make a statement in order to become electable as President of the USA… That rather damages your point does it not factfinder ?
    Plenty of other countries have had problems with the Vatican over the years.

  • factfinder

    Plenty of other countries have had problems with plenty of other countries over the years never mind any particular religion or grouping. When was the last time(domestic politics aside) have the Vatican interfered with any state,ie ask for it to be overrun by catholics or invaded by some catholic state. Centuries! I’m sure.

    As for the USA, isn’t it a state run by so called W.A.S.P.S. who got their constitution from English colonialists during a time of religious intolerance(by everyone).

  • Davros

    You implied that no other countries have had problems in the recent past …. the ROI has had problems, the USA and Various eastern Bloc states had problems. Whether you or I approve of the states involved or how they were founded is neither here nor there. There were ( were being the operative word) good reasons for the act of succession. The Sainted Wolfe Tone loathed “the Church” and it’s political machinations. It’s time it was done away with – but we should acknowledge that because it’s wrong now doesn’t mean it was wrong in the past.

  • Davros

    “isn’t it a state run by so called W.A.S.P.S.”

    Evidently not or JFK wouldn’t have been elected .

  • factfinder

    JFK did not last long(he was murdered by fellow countymen) and the establishment with a sigh of relief are back in office.

    ‘the ROI has had problems, the USA and Various eastern Bloc states had problems’

    What problems? I did not see the Vatican army threaten these superpowers with nuclear weapons or terrorism or whatever.

  • Davros

    What problems?

    Interference in Internal and International affairs. Most recently the attempt to do some arm-twisting on the abortion issue in the USA. How about we discuss events in Central Europe during WW II ?

  • Davros

    Anyhow goodnight and God bless- this new baccie has some kick. Black “Irish” Rope – wow, makes Capstan Full Strength ciggies look tame LOL

  • factfinder

    No wonder there is a hole in your brain. lol