Why Catholics are rightfully disbarred from the English crown

The King is the head of the Church of England.  It is not credible that a non-Anglican could fill that role.  If a non-Anglican did ascend to the throne, it would quickly lead to disestablishment.  Erastianism isn’t a good thing, but it does mean a real recognition of Christianity as the official religion of England.  Disestablishment would mean that England would officially become an atheist country like France.

P.S.  Heathen and Muhammadans should also be excluded.

P.P.S. Coleridge’s arguments for the English establishment are really stupid.  He argues that any religion would make an excellent establishment so long as 1) its clergy isn’t celibate and 2) its clergy have no foreign ties.  So a bunch of illiterate Druid cannibals would be just fine with him, presumably.  No, the reason to defend the Church of England isn’t that it’s the best possible arrangement, but that every other likely alternative would be much worse.

11 Responses

  1. The position is different in Scotland, where the Sovereign is not head of the church; indeed, it was the assertion of this claim that, in no small measure, lead to the resistance to, and eventual expulsion of, the House of Stuart.

    Under the Church of Scotland Act 1921 (11 & 12 Geo 5 c 29), “This Church as part of the Universal Church wherein the Lord Jesus Christ has appointed a government in the hands of Church office-bearers, receives from Him, its Divine King and Head, and From Him alone, the right and power subject to no civil authority to legislate, and to adjudicate finally, in all matters of doctrine, worship, government, and discipline in the Church… Recognition by civil authority of the separate and independent government and jurisdiction of this Church in matters spiritual, in whatever manner such recognition be expressed, does not in any way affect the character of this government and jurisdiction as derived from the Divine Head of the Church alone or give to the civil authority any right of interference with the proceedings or judgments of the Church within the sphere of its spiritual government and jurisdiction.”

    It is nonetheless, very much an established church. The Ministers Act 1693 (c 38) provides “Their Majesties with Advice and Consent foresaid Doe Hereby Statute and Ordaine that the Lords of their Majesties Privy Councill and all other Magistrates Judges and Officers of Justice give all due assistance for makeing the Sentences and Censures of the Church and Judicatures thereof to be obeyed or otherways effectuall as accords”

    Its position is secured by the Act of Union with England 1707 (c 7), which provides “That the foresaid True Protestant Religion contained in the above-mentioned Confession of Faith with the form and purity of Worship presently in use within this Church and its Presbyterian Church Government and Discipline that is to say the Government of the Church by Kirk Sessions, Presbytries, Provincial Synods and Generall Assemblies all established by the forsaid Acts of Parliament pursuant to the Claim of Right shall Remain and Continue unalterable and that the said Presbyterian Government shall be the only Government of the Church within the Kingdom of Scotland” and “That this Act of Parliament with the Establishment therein contained shall be held and observed in all time coming as a fundamentall and essentiall Condition of any Treaty or Union to be Concluded betwixt the Two Kingdoms without any Alteration thereof or Derogation thereto in any sort for ever”

    As to the personal religious affiliation of the Sovereign, under the Accession Declaration Act 1910 (10 Edw 7 and 1 Geo 5 c 29) the first official act of the Sovereign is to declare that “I [here insert the name of the Sovereign] do solemnly and sincerely in the presence of God profess, testify, and declare that I am a faithful Protestant, and that I will, according to the true intent of the enactments which secure the Protestant succession to the Throne of my Realm, uphold and maintain the said enactments to the best of my powers according to law.”

  2. The problem today is that the heir to the “Defender of the Faith” title is a degenerate imbecile who is both unable and unwilling to defend the faith. Given that the Archbishop of Canterbury is a liberal cretin who waxes enthusiastically about the inevitability and even the desirability of sharia law, he’s not much of a defender of the faith, either. I am not sure disestablishment of the Anglican Church would be such a bad thing, if it were replaced by a genuine, confident faith.

  3. Given that the office of King in modern Britain is nothing more than a ceremonial anachronism, it hardly matters who occupies it. The current reigning family hasn’t done all that much in the defending of the faith box recently. I doubt a Catholic could do much worse. Further, the leader of the church is the leader of the Christian church and all its followers in Britain, from whatever denomitnation. Catholic, Anglican or Southern Baptist would all be suitable.

    But since I am neither British nor Catholic/Anglican, I don’t have a dog in that fight.

  4. I agree with Tarl, the disestablishment of the Anglican Church might do wonders for saving faith on the island.

  5. The reason Roman-Catholics are barred from the Crown is simple:

    The Roman Church has been for centuries an irreconcilable enemy of the English and related peoples — of their rights to self-determination in spiritual and temporal affairs. This conflict spans the bulk of Second Millennium, since the time of Wycliffe at least. It may be less relevant now than in previous centuries, but it’s still there.

    In a deeper [and areligious] sense, it goes back nearly 2,100 years. In the 1st century BC, Rome transformed into an Empire and began trying gobble-up — universalize, “catholicize”, one could say — all of Europe. The peoples of the north resisted, some successfully and others not as successfully. The English were one of the heirs to the tradition that demanded secure national existences for Europeans rather than a multiracial, multi-continental empire, centered on Rome.

  6. Hello Hail,

    That’s a very interesting idea, that the Reformation was a continuation of barbarian resistance to the Roman Empire. I’m skeptical but intrigued. I suppose to prove it, one would have to establish a sense of continuing identity of both parties throughout.

    The reason you give for keeping the crown Anglican probably does reflect how the Englishmen who wrote that rule saw things, but it sounds to me more like a reason to get rid of the Anglican Church. It admits that the Church of England is founded on the Satanic principle of self-determination rather than the Christian principle of obedience to God through membership in Christ’s body, the Catholic Church. Freedom is the Devil’s battle cry; Jesus was obedient unto death. For five centuries, the Whiggish love of freedom has eroded the souls of Englishmen. (As I said, I’m intrigued by your idea that it goes back farther.) One does sometimes suspect that Whigs actually worship themselves.

  7. I don’t know if the origin of the Reformation goes all the way back to the Roman Empire, but it certainly can trace its origins to the Investiture Conflict. Let me site some relevant quotes from Wikipedia:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Walk_of_Canossa#Historical_impact

    The meaning in the greater history of Germany and Europe, however, was much more significant. During the Protestant Reformation in the 16th century, Henry IV was exalted as a defender of the rights of both Germans and opponents of the Pope. Many German Lutherans considered him the “first Protestant” and looked to his example for guidance in their struggle against what they saw as a tyrannical and unjust institution.

    Later in German history the event took on a more secular meaning: it came to stand for Germany’s refusal to be subjected to any outside power (although still especially, but not exclusively, the Roman Catholic Church). Otto von Bismarck, during his so-called “Kulturkampf,” assured his countrymen that “We will not go to Canossa – neither in body nor in spirit!” That is, Germany would stand for itself and not abide any outside interference in its politics, religion or culture.

  8. It is, perhaps, significant, that the Reformation was most readily adopted in those areas that were christened late and, perhaps, imperfectly – Scandanavia and the Baltic plain. Prussia and Bohemia lie in the vague frontier area, between the penetration of Western and Eastern missionaries. The stalemate of the Thirty Years War was largely due to the Prussians and the military genius of Gustavus Adolphus of Sweden.

    Belloc certainly saw it as a rebellion of the outer barbarians against the Roman Order and points out that Britain was the only province of the Roman Empire that fell away from the unity of Christendom and Britain had been overrun by barbarians, between the withdrawal of the legions in 410 and Augustine’s mission in 597.

    Henry VIII was essentially a Gallican, rather than a protestant; his revolt against Rome opened the way to Protestant influence, which was able to capitalise on it. In this, he was part of a long tradition, going back at least ot King John. When he told the Papal Legate, Pandulf that “No Italian priest of you all shall have tithe, toll or polling-penny out of England” it was one of the most popular things he ever did.

  9. “The Roman Church has been for centuries an irreconcilable enemy of the English and related peoples — of their rights to self-determination in spiritual and temporal affairs.”

    Given that English “self-determination in spiritual affairs” has resulted in a nation of secular, hedonistic nihilists, it is not self-evident that the loss of this self-determination would be a bad thing.

    “The English were one of the heirs to the tradition that demanded secure national existences for Europeans rather than a multiracial, multi-continental empire, centered on Rome.”

    What is England’s situation today? Do they have a “secure national existence”? No, England is being flooded with foreign immigrants and is giving up its sovereignty to the EU. In short, the nation, as such, is being destroyed and replaced with a multi-racial, transnational stew.

    If the Anglican Church were actually resisting any of the processes you describe, then it would be worthy of remaining in existence. But the Anglican Church is not leading the resistance to the abolition of England, but is in fact facilitating it. Therefore the disestablishment of the Anglican Church would be no great loss.

  10. This is chiefly interesting from the perspective of a Catholic, of course–do we prefer institutionalized Anglicanism to complete “freedom of religion” / institutionalized atheism?

    I don’t think this matters, in the concrete, much at all, for the reasons Tarl describes. Soon the only Anglicans worth much of anything will be centered in Africa; they’ve already broken off from England in many issues, on my–admittedly Catholic, therefore limited–understanding.

    The case seems analogous, however, to some of the cases of academic freedom of which I’ve heard. Wheaton, a protestant US college, fired someone for becoming Catholic. I think someone told me this and expected me to get upset. Really, though–I wish that he hadn’t been fired, but so long as whoever leads Wheaton believes Catholicism to be wrong / dangerous, the rational thing for them to do is to fire a faculty member who converts. For me to try to convince Wheaton to keep the Catholic, while remaining Protestant, would be to try to introduce a false belief about academic freedom into their minds, and thus would not seem to lead them closer to the truth.

    Similarly, so long as the English law recognizes Anglicanism as good and Catholicism as bad, the law forbidding a Catholic to be king makes sense.

    But given that English law is pretty darn secular, and that this specific law isn’t the product of living belief but of dead tradition (and I use the phrase “dead tradition” quite intentionally–whatever positive things animated the tradition seems long gone) I’d probably rather have it be dropped.

  11. Lots of people point out that the Anglican Church isn’t doing much in the way of defending Christian civilization these days, so its disestablishment wouldn’t be much of a loss. Justin points out that it might even reinvigorate Christians in England, presumably because their complacancy would be stripped away. I do see the force of these arguments. They may even be right, but my instinct is never to surrender a hill or beachhead unless we have no choice. The Anglican establishment gives Christians a claim–it’s on the books that England is a Christian country.

    Imagine the next time atheist and Christian morality come into conflict over some new legislation in parliament. The atheists will say they should automatically get their way because it’s wrong to impose Christian morality (and therefore obligatory to impose atheist morality). English Christians could reply, “Why? This is officially a Christian country.” That very claim might lead to disestablishment more quickly than anything else, but at least we’d be fighting over the right thing: under what beliefs should England be organized?

    What will probably happen is that Liberals will end the confessional requirements for the crown, posing as the champions of tolerance for Catholics, but with the ultimate goal of making a more secular state that can persecute believing Catholics all the more savagely.

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