Guy Crouchback: Catholic Monarch? Not as trojan horse

13 Nov 2008

By therecord

In Murder in the Cathedral T. S. Eliot had St Thomas A’Beckett warn against doing “the right deed for the wrong reason.”
I remembered this when reading (Record, October 1) of the British Guardian newspaper and lawyer Geoffrey Robinson campaigning to abolish the legal exclusion of Catholics from the British throne.
This would be the “right deed.” I think even few Protestants would argue that excluding Catholics from the throne can be justified now.
It arose from political controversies long irrelevant. Problems might come from the fact that the Monarch is the Head of the Church of England, but British genius has found a way around such conundrums before (At present the Queen apparently changes denomination and becomes a Presbyterian when she crosses the border into Scotland).
It should not be impossible to arrange a settlement whereby the Anglican church remained the Established church, if that is what England wants. The statute barring Catholics is the Act of Settlement of 1701.
Britain does not have a written Constitution, and this Act has no more or less force than any other British Act and can be amended or repealed, though there is a complication in that according to the Statute of Westminster the British Dominions must also agree. A number of members of the Royal Family have in modern times either been received into the Catholic Church or have married Catholics.
The argument that a Catholic sovereign would be subservient to Rome, if it was ever plausible, has also long been irrelevant. No-one raises it about the Catholic soverigns of Europe.
Threats to Britain’s national identity and independence  today come not from Rome or Spain but from Brussels.
The British nobleman responsible for the Coronation and other great ceremonies of State, the Duke of Norfolk, the Earl Marshal of England, is a Catholic.
Former Prime Minister, Tony Blair, on whose advice, when Prime Minister, the Monarch was bound to Act (setting aside the interesting question of the Monarch’s Reserve Powers), has recently become a Catholic too, even if, some people think, a dubious one.
However, I suspect that the real motives of the Guardian and Geoffrey Robinson have less to do with sympathy for Catholicism than with dislike of both Christianity and Monarchy.
The Guardian’s world-view is progressive, atheistic, in favour of abortion, euthanasia and every other trendy cause a Christian monarch should oppose.
It has as one of its leading and most typical columnists the hard-line atheist Polly Toynbee, who has campaigned to have church schools closed, and claimed that they are: “socially divisive anyway.” Robinson, whose wife writes prolific chick-lit and soft porn, quite extraordinarily for a high-profile human rights lawyer appeared to warmly approve the judicial murder of King Charles I (who, incidentally, was as friendly to Catholicism as he could be in the aftermath of the Spanish Armada and the Gunpowder Plot, and whose son, the future Charles II, was given refuge in Catholic France and was a deathbed convert).
The agenda from these quarters seems not that the monarch might be a Catholic, but that the monarch might not be Christian, and ultimately not exist.
The prohibition on a Catholic monarch should be removed, but this should not be used as a Trojan horse for a further attack on Britain’s Christian identity. To quote the Chief Rabbi of England and the Commonwealth, Dr Jonathan Sacks:
“A State ought not to dismantle its culture, its history, the things which give it strength and stability … Britain should wish to see its traditions sustained rather than merged into an amorphous mixture …”