On Catholic News Service today, there is a story about events unfolding in the English Parliament. By way of background, the current laws of succession bar a Catholic from ascending to the throne of England, and additionally, prevent any children born of a union between an Anglican and a Catholic to be in the line of succession. Anyone in a line of succession is forbidden to marry a Catholic else they forfeit their right in the line. Why? Primarily because the Church insists, and has always insisted that children must be raised Catholic, even those brought up in the unfortunate situation of a mixed marriage.
England, committed to her schism and many heresies, still maintains an ardent desire to prevent any possibility of a Catholic monarch. As such, preventing mixed marriages with Catholics (note – the prohibition does not extend to other religions), is a must. As a side note, it is strange to see so many who rail against the SSPX’s defense of traditional teaching against religious liberty, raise not even a whimper concerning the anti-Catholic laws still in force in what was once Merry Old England.
Now, to the crux of today’s story. Since at least the time of the former Prime Minister, Tony Blair, there has been a concerted effort to change two aspects of the law regarding :
1. Male primogeniture – the change here would allow eldest daughters to inherit the throne even if there are younger brothers; something not allowed under current law.
2. Provisions regarding Catholics- the change here would allow members of the royal family to marry a Catholic without losing their place in the line of succession. It is obviously with the second point we are concerned.
Now, it is obviously an injustice to exclude Catholics from any participation in the line of succession, and practically, it has caused the apostasy of more than one now-member of the royal family. To remedy this would be, no matter how seemingly small, the correction of a grave injustice, and in that we could only rejoice.
But the problem is that too many members of Parliament see a great danger here. Enter Lord Wallace of Tankerness, speaking on behalf of the government after a meeting with Monsignor Marcus Stock, general secretary to the Bishops Conference of England and Wales. Lord Wallace explained that the discussions with Monsignor Stock, and the particular statements given by him, were made on behalf of Archbishop Vincent Nichols, “as president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales.” So, he’s speaking officially here. And what does he say?
That the “view taken by the Catholic Church in England and Wales is that, in the instance of mixed marriages, the approach of the Catholic Church is pastoral.” To further clarify his disturbing comments, he stated that, “In this context the Catholic Church expects Catholic spouses to sincerely undertake to do all that they can to raise children in the Catholic Church,” he continued. “Where it has not been possible for the child of a mixed marriage to be brought up as a Catholic, the Catholic parent does not fall subject to the censure of canon law.”
The clear implication, taken up and understood immediately by Catholic News Service is that, “Church leaders have told the British government that members of the royal family who marry Catholics under recently passed legislation will not be obliged to bring up their children in the Catholic faith.”
So, instead of a stirring defense of Catholic principles, instead of a denunciation of the injustice under which English Catholics have suffered for so many years, instead of an attempt to convert all of Parliament, the Queen, and the entirety of the English realm, we have a betrayal. Don’t worry, we hear Archbishop Nichols seem to say. We won’t really push the Catholic thing that hard if you’ll just let us in the club.
With a paraphrase of St. Thomas More in A Man for All Seasons: Archbishop Nichols, what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and lose his soul…but for England and Wales?
Is it any wonder that no one takes the Church’s doctrinal or moral claims seriously? With prelates like these, who needs enemies?
(Hat-tip to Rorate Caeli)
(Source: Catholic News Service)
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