Thursday, November 3, 2011

More on the New British Succession

I reported the news Saturday: the Commonwealth accepted new rules of succesion for the British monarchy. I also mentioned that allowing the monarch or heir to marry a Catholic was opposed earlier this year by the Church of England (and some believed Queen Elizabeth II herself)--I did not mention that many Catholics had actually been opposed to this change, and still are.

On the one hand, the Archbishop of Westminster commented that "while the Church of England is the established Church," it is "not unreasonable to expect the head of the Church of England should be an Anglican."

. . . The question being asked by some today is what religion the children of an Anglican-Catholic royal wedding would be raised in? The Catholic Church’s Code of Canon Law (Canon 1125) only permits a mixed marriage where the Catholic party makes "a sincere promise to do all in his or her power in order that all the children be baptized and brought up in the Catholic Church."

Archbishop Nichols said such a scenario "would be a very difficult situation indeed," but stressed that he did not "think we should try to pre-judge" it because "it’s not even a practical possibility at the moment; it’s a theoretical possibility."

He told BBC News that the Catholic Church’s practice of "sitting down with Catholics who are marrying outside of the Catholic community and trying to see how the marriage will develop" was "actually quite subtle" and "quite advanced."

He explained that if and when the hypothetical case ever arose, the Church would talk to the Catholic party "about the duty and expectation of the Catholic to give their best endeavors within the unity and harmony of the marriage to bring up their children Catholic."

But Archbishop Nichols added that having that discussion "does not guarantee that the children in every mixed marriage are brought up Catholic."

He explained that no guarantees can be given because the non-Catholic party "is not required to give any explicit undertaking about what they will do," while the Catholic party is only expected to do "their best."
Read the rest here.

On the other hand, Father Alexander Lucie-Smith in The Catholic Herald is utterly opposed, noting that this change will lead to the secularization of the monarchy:

Again, on the religious question: at present the monarchy is a professedly Anglican institution, as it has been since the time of William and Mary and Queen Anne. That settlement was arrived at with great difficulty, to put it mildly. The sadly unsuccessful risings of 1715 and 1745 would have changed that settlement, but they failed. But what they failed to achieve David Cameron now intends to do by means of parliamentary legislation. But I do not think the consequences of this action have been considered. Had the patriots of 1715 or 1745 been successful, we would have had a Catholic monarchy, perhaps. Cameron’s reforms will give us a monarchy that is Anglican purely by default, but which might in future generations be Catholic, Hindu or Baptist; but which will most likely be none of the above. In other words, by removing the religious qualification, Cameron is effectively opening the monarchy up to secularisation. And why? Because he wants to abolish the last legal disqualification under which Catholic suffer? There is no evidence of that. Rather it seems to be a largely meaningless piece of political posturing, a desire to look ‘modern’. But this is one piece of political vanity for which future generations may pay a high price.

The British constitution is the great work of time: an organic whole that has grown slowly over the centuries, and as such susceptible to be damaged by ill-thought out changes that are not in continuity with the past. Mr Cameron, please leave it alone!

I admit to great sympathy with Father's view--but I also think the Christian aspects of the British Monarchy right now are only valid because of Elizabeth II herself, which exposes another problem. She has been a decent and hard-working Christian monarch, but she has been able to do nothing to stem the tide of secularization that has taken place in the United Kingdom thus far. She does not have the power and authority her predecessor of that name had to name bishops and enforce discipline. Elizabeth II may have the titles of Defender of the Faith and Supreme Head of the Church of England, but she has no opportunity to exercise any authority.

William Oddie posts his opinion here.

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