- In the week of the Royal Wedding, a centuries-old law banning British monarchs from becoming or marrying a Catholic is sparking an international row in the United Kingdom.
London’s Daily Telegraph reported on April 25 that plans to abolish the 1701 Act of Settlement have been ditched because of "significant objections" from the Church of England.
Now the First Minister of Scotland, Alex Salmond, has written to the British Government asking for urgent clarification.
"I recently wrote to the Prime Minister (David Cameron) calling for the abolition of all discrimination contained in the Act of Settlement, including its blatant discrimination towards Catholics, which is completely unacceptable in a modern society. I am deeply concerned at these reports that this much-needed and long overdue reform has been shelved by the UK Government," Salmond wrote.
There is no similar prohibition on the British royal family marrying members of other faiths such as Islam or Judaism, or those who are agnostic or athiest. Anglicanism is still the state religion in England and the monarch is called the "Supreme Governor" of the Anglican faith.
A spokesman for the British Government told the Telegraph, that the government “accepts there are provisions (in the Act) which could be discriminatory."
However, he added, the process of amending the law is “a complex and difficult matter that requires careful and thoughtful consideration” because it effects succession to England’s throne.
A Church of England spokesman expressed similar concerns. He said that the anti-Catholic prohibition “inevitably” looks outdated.
“But if the prohibition were removed the difficulty would still remain that establishment requires the monarch to join in communion with the Church of England as its Supreme Governor and that is not something that a Roman Catholic would be able to do consistently with the current rules of that Church,” the spokesman told The Telegraph.
The Act was originally passed to prevent the descendants of the Catholic King James II from ascending the throne. He was deposed in the 1688 "glorious revolution" by supporters of the Protestant William and Mary. Mary was the eldest Protestant daughter of James II and was married to William of Orange, who later became William III.
In recent years, the Act has effected several members of the British royal family.
In 2001, Lord Nicholas Winsdor, the youngest son of the Duke and Duchess of Kent, permanently forfeited his right to the royal succession by converting to Catholicism.
In 2008, Autumn Kelly, the Canadian fiancee of the Queen's grandson Peter Philips, converted from Catholicism to Anglicanism, thus preserving her husband's chances of becoming king.
The present heir to the British throne, Prince William, will marry Kate Middleton on April 29 at a Anglican service in London's Westminster Abbey.
BBC television news showed police in plain clothes stopping people in the street and herding them on to buses to be taken away for questioning.
The crackdown was intended to prevent members of the Shouwang house church holding an open-air service as they have tried to do since their eviction from the building they had previously used as a church.
The Shouwang evangelical church in the northwestern district of Haidian is one of Beijing’s biggest underground churches with more than 1,000 adherents, according to Damian Grammaticus, the BBC’s Beijing correspondent.
There are 20 million worshippers at officially approved Christian churches in China, he said, but about 50 million underground.
The US based ChinaAid group, which monitors religious persecution in the country, said that as on the previous two Sundays police were waiting at the church’s designated outdoor meeting site in Zhongguancun.
Some church members were able to assemble in small groups in nearby restaurants, where they held impromptu services.
“We are deeply disappointed that the Chinese authorities chose to disrupt peaceful worshippers who were simply celebrating Easter today,” ChinaAid founder and president Pastor Bob Fu said in a statement.
Shouwang’s leaders, including its founder, Pastor Jin Tianming, have not been allowed out of their homes for more than two weeks, ChinaAid said. Also detained were the Shouwang choir, reputedly the best of the Beijing house church choirs. The choir had been practicing for months for the Easter celebration.
ALL AFRICA REPORT: Over two thousand catholic faithful of Nossa Senhora Aparecida Parish celebrated Saturday, here, the resurrection of Jesus Christ, in a mission cherished with songs, thanks giving among others.
The mass, celebrated by priest Francisco Lumuangano, reflected on the benefits that death and resurrection of Jesus Christ brought to Humanity.
As part of Easter spirit, Francisco Lumuangano, urged the religious community to avoid depending on problems of the past, but instead to count on sacrifice that Jesus made as rescue of new life.The catholic preacher urged also the faithful to forgive one another and accept a person as they are, without segregation and discrimination.
A statue of Pope John Paul II greets students in a hall at the Catholic elementary school named after the late Polish pontiff in Wilmington, Del. (CNS/Don Blake, The Dialog)
-- Pope John Paul II High School in Lacey, Wash., will celebrate the May 1 beatification of the late pope with a prayer service and the showing of a video that celebrates his life and what he means to the school.
Across the country, in Lecanto, Fla., a Catholic grade school bearing his name also plans to show videos about his "life history and his personal story" and to celebrate a memorial Mass, said principal Lou Whitaker.
"He was such an inspirational leader. He will most likely go down in history as one of the most influential people in modern history," she said in a telephone interview with Catholic News Service.
There are currently 32 grade schools and high schools in the United States named for Pope John Paul. A 33rd school -- a regional elementary school -- will open in the Detroit Archdiocese in the fall.
Among other U.S. institutions named for the late pontiff are John Paul the Great Catholic University in San Diego; the Pontifical John Paul II Institute for Studies on Marriage and Family at The Catholic University of America in Washington, and the Pope John Paul II Cultural Center, also in Washington. The center, currently up for sale and open only by appointment, has several events planned to mark the beatification.
Pope Benedict XVI will celebrate the beatification Mass in St. Peter's Square. Estimates for how many people will attend the liturgy range from 300,000 to 1.5 million.
In Louisville, Ky., Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz will celebrate Mass at John Paul II Academy the same day as the Mass in Rome, said principal Lynn Wilt. The special Mass will feature student choirs from three schools.
But the school has been celebrating the life of the late pontiff for a number of weeks leading up to his beatification, and "and we will continue doing so for a while afterward," Wilt told CNS. "We have also been featuring videos about John Paul II.
"John Paul II is so important to us as a school because he put such an emphasis on the youth and bringing our faith to our everyday life. Faith is the central part of daily life and he really stressed that," she said.
Principal Susan Vadas of Pope John Paul II Catholic School in Wilmington, Del., called the pope "such an ideal role model for living the Christian life. We have taken his example and we try to instill that in our students." This school, too, planned a special Mass.
At John Paul II Catholic High School in Terre Haute, Ind., "we'll remember him: his life, story and influence. He was so loved. When we started our school in 2000, we would use a lot off his homilies for our Masses," said principal Sandy McBroom.
"We will continue to use them after his beatification and through the life of the school," she said.
Pope John Paul II High School in Hendersonville, Tenn., will mark the beatification with an art exhibit at the school as well as a spring choral concert and a Mass May 1 that is open to the whole Nashville Diocese.
Catholic schools in the diocese were asked to send a delegation of five to 10 teachers and students to represent their school at the Mass, which will be celebrated in the school's courtyard.
EVANGELIST, PATRON SAINT OF VENICE
Feast: April 25
St Mark was of Jewish extraction. The style of his gospel abounding with Hebrewisms shows that he was by birth a Jew, and that the Hebrew language was more natural to him than the Greek. His acts say he was of Cyrenaica, and Bede from them adds, of the race of Aaron. Papias, quoted by Eusebius, St. Austin, Theodoret, and Bede say he was converted by the apostles after Christ's resurrection. St. Irenaeus calls him the disciple and interpreter of St. Peter, and, according to Origen and St. Jerome, he is the same Mark whom St. Peter calls his son. By his office of interpreter to St. Peter, some understood that St. Mark was the author of the style of his epistles; others, that he was employed as a translator into Greek or Latin of what the apostle had written in his own tongue, as occasion might require it. St. Jerome and some others take him to be the same with that John, surnamed Mark, son to the sister of St. Barnabas; but it is generally believed they were different persons, and that the latter was with St. Paul in the East at the same time that the Evangelist was at Rome or at Alexandria. According to Papias, and St. Clement of Alexandria, he wrote his gospel at the request of the Romans; who, as they relate, desired to have that committed to writing which St. Peter had taught them by word of mouth. Mark, to whom this request was made, did accordingly set himself to recollect what he had by long conversation learned from St. Peter; for it is affirmed by some that he had never seen our Saviour in the flesh. St. Peter rejoiced at the affection of the faithful; and having revised the work, approved of it, and authorized it to be read in the religious assemblies of the faithful. Hence it might be that, as we learn from Tertullian,6 some attributed this gospel to St. Peter himself. Many judge, by comparing the two gospels, that St. Mark abridged that of St. Matthew; for he relates the same things, and often uses the same words; but he adds several particular circumstances and changes the order of the narration, in which he agrees with St. Luke and St. John. He relates two histories not mentioned by St. Matthew, namely, that of the widow giving two mites, and that of Christ's appearing to the two disciples going to Emmaus. St. Austin calls him the Abridger of St. Matthew. But Ceillier and some others think nothing clearly proves that he made use of St. Matthew's gospel. This evangelist is concise in his narrations, and writes with a most pleasing simplicity and elegance. St. Chrysostom9 admires the humility of St. Peter (we may add also of his disciple St. Mark) when he observes that his evangelist makes no mention of the high commendations which Christ gave that apostle on his making that explicit confession of his being the Son of God; neither does he mention his walking on the water; but gives at full length the history of St. Peter's denying his Master, with all its circumstances. He wrote his gospel in Italy, and in all appearance before the year of Christ 49.
|Matthew 28: 8 - 15|
|8||So they departed quickly from the tomb with fear and great joy, and ran to tell his disciples.|
|9||And behold, Jesus met them and said, "Hail!" And they came up and took hold of his feet and worshiped him.|
|10||Then Jesus said to them, "Do not be afraid; go and tell my brethren to go to Galilee, and there they will see me."|
|11||While they were going, behold, some of the guard went into the city and told the chief priests all that had taken place.|
|12||And when they had assembled with the elders and taken counsel, they gave a sum of money to the soldiers|
|13||and said, "Tell people, `His disciples came by night and stole him away while we were asleep.'|
|14||And if this comes to the governor's ears, we will satisfy him and keep you out of trouble."|
|15||So they took the money and did as they were directed; and this story has been spread among the Jews to this day.|