I expect most Canadians (and certainly the Monarchist League) are delighted that Autumn Kelly, an accomplished young Montreal woman, is about to marry into the British Royal Family. It hasn’t happened often. Way back in the sixties, there were rumours about Liberal politician John Turner and Princess Margaret but nothing came of them.
However, there is a dark cloud hovering over this silver lining. Autumn Kelly was baptized and brought up a Roman Catholic. And for a British Royal, in this case Peter Phillips, son of the former Olympic rider, Princess Anne, to marry a Catholic is a no-no.
The stumbling block is the Act of Settlement, passed in 1701, to prevent Stuart Catholics from ascending the throne. According to this law, “papists”, as they are called in the Act, are barred from the throne and so are non-Catholic royalty who marry “papists.”
In this case, if Peter Phillips married Autumn Kelly he would have to give up any right to the throne (he is now tenth in line) or alternatively, Autumn “the papist” would have to give up her religion. Never mind that Phillips can marry a Muslim or a Moonie, he is forbidden from marrying a “papist.”
It would seem this archaic Act of Settlement, with its offensive references to “papists” is the last in a long line of British legislation that views Roman Catholics as second class citizens.
Currently there is a private member’s bill before the British Parliament that would begin the process of overturning this anti-Catholic legislation. To do so would require the consent of all Commonwealth countries including Canada. British Prime Minister Gordon Brown is reported to view the bill favourably.
Do you consider the Act of Settlement bigoted anti-Catholic legislation?
Would you be in favour of legislation to overturn it?
Should Autumn Kelly’s religion be anybody’s business but hers and her fiancee, Peter Phillips?
Is it understandable that I should resent being referred to as a “papist”?
8:00 PM (CNN) – 10th anniversary death of Princess Diana
9:00 pm (CNN) – Fundamentalist Relgions with Christian Armanpour.