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Repeal of anti-Catholic legislation

Comment 10th July 2010

I propose that the Act of Settlement 1700 (c.2) is amended to remove the anti-Catholic elements of s.1, amendment of s.2 to remove the ban on Roman Catholics taking the throne (and corresponding amendments of the Coranation Oath to remove the need to uphold the Protestant line) and amendment of s.3 to remove the requirement for the monarch to be in communion with the Church of England.

Why does this matter?

Although the UK is one of the most permissive countries in the world in terms of conscience and belief, there are some ingrained prejudices which remain in both culture and law. Since the Reformation there have been many laws enacted to oppress and restrict the liberties of Roman Catholics in Britain. Thankfully, most of these have been repealed in the 19th Century and have so Catholics are largely treated as equal citizens with those of other faiths. However the Act of Settlement 1700 remains a blantant example of religious bigotry and has real effects on the lives of British citizens. Several members of the royal family has been removed from succession due to the Act or have had to sacrifice important relationships in order to remain in line to the throne. This has included the Queen's own grandson.

While the relationship between the Church of England and the Crown is another matter which would require much more detailed debate, I  believe that the above amendments would be simple to implement and would send the message to Roman Catholics in Britain that the last remnants of discrimination in English history are going to be swept away.

The current surplus of heirs to the throne means that the implications for the Church of England will not take place for many years, and as such this important amendment could be put before Parliament at the earliest possible convenience. Given the Pope's upcoming State Visit, such an amendment would send an important message of further co-operation between the Roman Catholic Church and the Government.

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