Anti-Catholic Laws Have To Go

Posted By: October 17, 2005

Anti-Catholic Laws Have To Go

Irish News. Thursday, October 13, 2005

I APPRECIATE the letter of M O’B, Belfast 9 (October 11)
that stated “I can assure Father Sean McManus the only date
loyalists care about or know is 1690. They have never heard
of any law or act passed in 1701″.

But I am not ‘assured’ as the facts prove otherwise. The
anti-Catholic section of the Act of Settlement 1701 – which
mandates that only Protestant heirs can succeed to the
British throne – has always been of deep importance to the
Protestants/unionists/Orangemen of Northern Ireland.

Dr Paisley, for instance, is on record as stressing that
his allegiance is not just to the British monarch but also
to “Protestant succession to the British throne”.

Furthermore, in 1980 – before Prince Charles married
Princess Diana – there was speculation that he might marry
a Catholic.

An Orange delegation from Northern Ireland went to London
to protest: “The row broke out over the week-end when
militant Protestants demanded that Prince Charles be barred
from succeeding Queen Elizabeth as sovereign if he marries
a Roman Catholic. The Protestants said they had raised the
matter with the government and insisted that Prime Minister
Margaret Thatcher promised them that Charles would have to
renounce his right to the throne if he marries Marie-Astrid
or any other Catholic.

We pointed out that we were most anxious that only a
Protestant would succeed and Mr. Atkins (then secretary of
state for Northern Ireland) gave us a guarantee that the
present government would never revoke the Act of Settlement
– which would mean a constitutional change in parliament to
allow a Catholic to become either Queen or King”
(‘Protestants object to Charles ruling with Catholic wife’.
Washington Star. Monday July 7 1980).

I should also point out to M O’B that it is a mistake to
make such a false distinction between ‘1690 and 1701’.

The Act of Settlement was passed following the revolution
of 1688 that unseated Britain’s last Catholic monarch,
James II – thereby giving ‘constitutional’, sectarian and
anti-Catholic shape to the ‘Glorious Revolution’.

Back in 1980, the Irish National Caucus launched a campaign
to expose the intrinsically sectarian and discriminatory
nature of the Act of Settlement.

Our point was that – while it may not mean much to the
average English person – it meant a lot to the Orangemen as
it provided the ideological and ‘constitutional’
underpinnings of their anti-Catholic bigotry.

Since that time we are glad to see that there has been a
huge rise in consciousness on this matter.

Now repealing the anti-Catholic section of the act is
supported by the Guardian newspaper, 72 MPs and 35 peers,
Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor of England and Cardinal
O’Brien of Scotland.

Cicero once said: “Fundamentum iustitiae est fides” (the
foundation of justice is good faith).

I call on Protestants/unionists/Orangemen to show their
good faith and join the Irish National Caucus in calling
for the abolition of the anti-Catholic section of the Act
of Settlement.

Father Sean Mc Manus
Irish National Caucus
P.O. Box 15128
Capitol Hill
Washington, D.C. 20003-0849