Monday, 30 March 2009

Sort out the reformation for me, would you, Sir Humphrey

Last Friday saw the debate in the House of Commons on the "Royal Marriages and Succession to the Crown (Prevention of Discrimination) Bill" which would modify the 1701 Act of Settlement by allowing royal claimants to marry a Catholic without forfeiting their claim to the throne.

In fact, as Joseph has pointed out on Catholic Commentary, there are far more pressing cases of indirect discrimination against Catholics in Britain today (see: Real sources of anti-Catholic discrimination) but it is always amusing to read MPs attempting to pronounce on religious matters (- arguably at least as funny as reading priests or Bishops trying to pronounce on political or economic matters.)

Jack Straw, the Lord Chancellor, and Secretary of State for Justice seemed rather to be winging it as regards the contents of the Bill since Evan Harris had to point out to him that it concerned those who are allowed to marry into the line of succession, not those who might actually inherit the throne - who would still need to be members of the Church of England.

Nevertheless, the Chancellor was exercised over the matter of intercommunion, saying:
It is still the case, for instance, that those who are in the Catholic Church are told that they are not in communion with the Anglican Church—although I have seen that. The reverse is also the case: according to the Catholic Church, it is not possible for me as an Anglican to take holy communion in a Catholic church. That would also need to be sorted out.
(Source: Hansard)
I am currently reading Fr Thurston's book "Surprising Mystics" in which he examines some extraordinary cases of clairvoyance, bilocation, levitation, and preternatural powers. I rather think that the learned Jesuit would classify a report of "seeing" someone to be simultaneously in communion with both the Catholic Church and the Church of England as one of those "hysterical" phenomena to be rejected by sober historians.

Be that as it may, the great problem of the English reformation must be close to a solution if the Lord Chancellor has decided that it needs to be "sorted out." Perhaps ARCIC could be given a new lease of life by being made a Royal Commission?

H/T My Heart was Restless
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