Autumn Kelly renounces Roman Catholicism
So Cranmer is surprised but nonetheless delighted that Miss Kelly has decided to renounce her Roman Catholic faith in order that Mr Phillips may retain his place in the succession. And she has not only renounced her faith, but has converted to Anglicanism.
This has not gone down well in certain quarters, with some expressing their sorrow that she has betrayed ‘the blood of martyrs’.
The issue, of course, is the Act of Settlement 1701 which forbids British monarchs and their heirs and successors from being, becoming or marrying a Roman Catholic. Actually, it is not that they may not do so, for that would be a breach of their human rights; it is simply that they may not do so and accede to the Throne, which is not a human right.
Miss Kelly was baptised into the Roman Catholic Church in 1978, and marriage to Mr Phillips, who is now 11th in line to the throne, would have meant him surrendering his place. But Miss Kelly has been taking instruction from the Dean of Windsor, and has now been received into the Church of England.
But Cranmer is more than a little puzzled by this.
He is admiring that Miss Kelly evidently loves her fiancé so much that she is prepared to renounce the faith into which she was born. But why would Mr Phillips consider being 11th in line to the Throne a position worth retaining? Does he have some foreknowledge of a calamity which will befall all the senior royals, leaving Parliament with no choice but to appoint him king? The chances of him acceding to the Throne are negligible, not to say zero, and so nothing would have been lost by his continuing in the Anglican tradition and she in the Roman Catholic. One might think that Miss Kelly would have insisted that he accept her as she is or not at all.
Perhaps it does not say much for Mr Phillips that he is prepared to make his wife change her religion simply in order that he may retain his relatively obscure place in the line of succession. And neither does it say much for Miss Kelly that she is prepared to renounce her faith in order that she may acquire a little royal privilege.
Is not faith more important than royal status?
Unless, of course, her faith meant absolutely nothing to her? Or she had been having doubts about papal infallibility and transubstantiation for some considerable time? Or perhaps, understanding the importance of British tradition, she has simply decided to love, honour, and obey?
One may be baptised into the Roman Catholic Church as baby, but it is manifestly a decision of the parents and although the sacrament may be considered efficacious, it does not make one anything. Autumn Kelly is now expressing her free will on the matter and has decided to join the Church of England which is both Catholic and Reformed - a most enlightened fusion.
Cranmer welcomes her warmly into the Church of England, which has its own blood (and ashes) of martyrs. God bless her.