The Other I

January 8, 2013

Not so simple after all

Filed under: The English — theotheri @ 9:49 pm

The UK government recently announced that it was bringing forth legislation to make the first-born of the reigning monarch the next in line to become monarch whether the child is a boy or girl.  There is some rush to get the legislation passed because Kate is pregnant and so the child would be in line to take the throne after Prince William.

The announcement didn’t cause much stir because mostly people approve.  Queen Elizabeth II has shown that a woman can do an admirable job as monarch.

There are also plans to permit a monarch to be married to a Roman Catholic, something which has been forbidden since the time of Queen Elizabeth I.  Prince Charles, however, has pointed out that the government did not consult the royal family about this legislation, and has overlooked some potentially important issues.

What would happen, for instance, if the reigning monarch married a Catholic who insisted, according to the law of the Roman Catholic church, that their children be raised as Catholics.   The likelihood is that within a generation a Catholic would be sitting on the throne of England.

That may not seem any more traumatic than the election of the Catholic John F Kennedy felt to many Americans.  But the American president is not the official head of the Anglican Church.  The king or queen of England is.

The government has said that if such an event took place, they would discuss it with the Vatican.

I’m afraid I agree with Prince Charles that this is an incredibly naive position to take, which is simply asking for trouble.  The feeling runs deep among many Britons that they are not Roman Catholics and do not want to be under the authority of Rome .



  1. I think the mistake is to have a monarch as the Head of the Church of England. From a Scottish perspective that is even more random than having the head of the church being the Pope.
    From my end, Christ is head of the church – like what it says in the bible.
    There was a famous conversation between the monarch and Andrew Melville hundreds of years ago about how the monarch was not in charge of the church in Scotland – just a member like everyone else. Here’s the quote:
    “I tell you, sir,” said Andrew Melville on that occasion, “there are two kings and two kingdoms in Scotland. There is Christ Jesus the King, and his kingdom the Kirk, whose subject James VI. is, and of whose kingdom not a king, nor a lord, nor a head, but a member.
    Having Christ as head of the church should technically solve any issues.
    But the Church of Scotland is finding other ways to cause problems for itself.


    Comment by sanstorm — January 9, 2013 @ 9:45 am | Reply

    • Thank you for your input. I think you are as engaged with this question as I am, which is always something I treasure.

      I am all in favor of not having anyone but Christ as the head of the church. But as several centuries of religious wars in Europe demonstrated, that creates problems of its own. Because not everybody hears the same thing when they are listening to what Christ and the Bible is saying to each of us. Yet people are convinced that what they are hearing is the Truth, and therefore they believe they have a god-given mission to impose that truth on everyone else. Take the issue of women priests and bishops today, or abortion, or capital punishment, or even birth control and premarital sex and adultery, not to mention war.

      The Roman Catholic church has tried to solve the problem by declaring that the pope is infallible. It’s a solution which I find impossible to accept because I do not believe there is a human being on earth who is never wrong about the mystery of God’s will. But it is an attempt to solve the problem that arises with individual consciences reaching sometimes diametrically-opposed conclusions which they believe are the word of God.

      Unfortunately, this problem is not confined to Christianity. Muslims today are fighting each other in the mideast to the death. Communists killed millions of people simply because they disagreed with them, and so have Buddhists. Nor does either your country or mine have clean hands. We have bombed, shot, tortured, and imprisoned people simply because they do not agree with principles we hold sacred.

      Accepting Christ as the sole head of the church might technically solve the problem of our disagreements, but it doesn’t solve it in reality.

      I’d love to hear your further thoughts on this in due course. But I do appreciate that life has a way of making rather more urgent demands.

      Thank you again. Terry


      Comment by Terry Sissons — January 9, 2013 @ 3:33 pm | Reply

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