Cardinal: Reform of anti-Catholic act a step in right direction
Cardinal Keith O’Brien hopes today’s announcement that British monarchs will be allowed to marry Catholics will ultimately lead to the repeal of the Act of Settlement
Cardinal Keith O’Brien, Britain’s most senior Catholic clergyman, has given a cautious welcome to news of reforms to the anti-Catholic Act of Settlement.
Prime Minister David Cameron and other Commonwealth leaders agreed to remove the ban on British monarchs marrying Catholics during a meeting in Perth, Australia, today. There will be no change, however, to the law barring Catholics from becoming monarch.
While the developments fall short of a full repeal of the anti-Catholic legislation, Cardinal O’Brien said the announcement was a positive step in the right direction.
“I welcome the statement from the Prime Minster indicating that his Government together with all of the Commonwealth heads of Government intend to reform the Act of Settlement,” he said. “I am pleased to note that the process of change, which I hope will lead to repeal of the Act has started and I look forward to studying the detail of the proposed reforms and their implications in due course.”
The Commonwealth leaders also agreed female members of Royal family should be given equality with male heirs in the rules governing succession to the throne. Previously younger brothers took precedence over female offspring of royalty in the line of succession. The British Prime Minister announced the changes, saying the old rules were no longer suitable.
“The idea a future monarch can marry someone of any faith except a Catholic, this way of thinking is at odds with the modern countries that we have become,” he said. “Attitudes have changed fundamentally over the centuries and some of the out-dated rules—like some of the rules of succession—just don’t make sense to us any more.”
The legislatures of the Commonwealth countries where the Queen is still head of state will now pass laws ratifying the changes.