Tuesday, 26 January 2010

Myths about Catholics and the Monarchy

There has recently been a report published by the Joint Parliamentary Human Rights Committee dealing with the fact that a Catholic cannot be Monarch and I will do a separate Blog on that subject however I will deal here with two myths that constantly resurrect themselves whenever this subject rears its head

MYTH ONE: A Catholic cannot be Prime Minister

There is absolutely NO legal restriction on a Catholic being Prime Minister. Tony Blair helped to give the myth credibility by waiting until he left Number 10 before he became a Catholic but that was his decision and was not because there was any legal problem. Anyway he is now (apparently) a Catholic however I notice that since his conversion he has taken the opportunity to put the Pope right on a few questions of Christian Theology which does tend to make me wonder if he misunderstood Catholic teaching on Papal Infallibility and thought it referred to Prime Ministerial infallibility

MYTH TWO: Changing the Act of Settlement would depose Queen Elizabeth

The purpose of the
Act of Settlement of 1701 was to allow the Royal succession to leapfrog over the next in line to the throne who were Catholics and descended from the Stuart monarchs. It is therefore often suggested that if the Act of Succession was changed this would meant that the Royal Succession would revert to the Stuart line and Prince Franz of Bavaria would become King in place of Queen Elizabeth 2nd. This suggestion is false because of a basic principle of law that the repeal or changing of a statute does not affect the legality of what has happened previously. For example if the law of Inheritance was to be changed that would not affect the property rights of those who inherited under the earlier law. Similarly changing the Act of Settlement would not affect the position of Queen Elizabeth or the rights of Prince Charles or Prince William to succeed her

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