Sunday, December 07, 2008

Catholic Grand Duke of Luxembourg stripped of his law-making power

One of Europe's last royals with political sway is to lose his executive power to veto in the country’s law-making process because of an issue of conscience. Grand Duke Henri of Luxembourg, the last Grand Duke in the world, is refusing to give his consent to the Luxembourg parliament’s Bill which will legalise euthanasia. It is, he asserts, an issue of conscience.

The Grand Duchy of Luxembourg is a constitutional monarchy, and the Grand Duke is its head of state. Prime Minister Jean-Claude Juncker, leader of the country’s Christian Socialist Party, will now propose a change to the constitution to downgrade the role of the Grand Duke to promulgating laws with his signature rather than approving them, giving him a purely ceremonial duty in line with the most other European constitutional monarchies. They are going to remove the term ‘sanction’ from article 34 of the Constitution and replace it with the term ‘promulgate’. The Grand Duke has indicated that he will not stand in the way of any change to the constitution.

By refusing to sign the euthanasia Bill into law, the unelected Catholic Grand Duke has clashed with his elected Catholic Prime Minister, who is of the opinion that the Grande Duke ‘has overstepped his role’. Interestingly, Prime Minister Juncker personally opposes the euthanasia Bill but believes in the supremacy of Parliament. Neither Christian conscience nor the Pope of Rome may interfere with the principle of parliamentary sovereignty. It is an ages-old conflict, and the Prime Minister intends to propose an amendment to the country’s constitution which will reduce the Grand Duke’s role to rubber-stamping parliamentary decisions, instead of deciding whether or not to approve them.

The Grand Duke’s assertion of faith has tipped the tiny nation and founding member of the EU into the worst constitutional crisis in its history. The Luxembourg royal house has tried to block a decision by parliament only once before, when the Grand Duchess Marie-Adelaide refused to sign an education Bill in 1912. She was forced to abdicate in 1919 for fraternising with her German occupiers during the First World War.

Luxembourg’s euthanasia Bill has been controversial since 2001. It will permit patients with ‘grave and incurable’ conditions die at the hands of a doctor if they ask repeatedly to be euthanised and acquire the consent of two doctors and a ‘panel of experts’. Medical and physician groups have opposed the bill, though, and so have many citizens of this traditionally staunchly Roman Catholic nation.

It follows similar laws in the Netherlands and Belgium, where King Baudouin - Henri's uncle - abdicated for a day in 1990 to avoid signing a Belgian abortion law. The current Belgian king, Albert II, has given assent to Belgium's recent euthanasia and homosexual-marriage laws over his private Catholic beliefs.

It is a warning to all those who favour the abolition of the Act of Settlement 1701. Whatever one thinks of Her Majesty the Queen and however one derides the Church of England, the allegiance is undivided. Her Majesty rules with the consent of Parliament and the people, and performs a constitutional role as Head of State and Supreme Governor of the Church of England which is woven into the fabric of the UK’s law-making process. When Her Majesty grants Royal Assent to a parliamentary bill, ‘La Reine le veult' - it is she who wishes it, free of any external interference. One may not always agree with her – and Cranmer does not – but she is Protestant and answerable to God alone for the exercising of her faith and the decisions of her conscience. The power to withhold Assent remains as one of Her Majesty’s reserve powers, and one of the means of ensuring no over-mighty executive rides roughshod over her subjects, of whose liberties and traditions she is guarantor and guardian.

Luxembourg’s Grand Duke has paid the inevitable price for placing his private Christian conviction over his public political duty. His decision is laudable, and one might sometimes wish Her Majesty the Queen might do the same. But the fact the she does not may be laid at the door of Buckingham Palace alone, resting assured that there is no interference from any foreign power. However much one might admire the orthodoxy of the present Pope, like the karma chameleon, popes of varying hues come and go. Were the tension once again to be introduced of papal interference in the country’s law-making process, and questions raised about which master the Queen is serving, it is quite possible and highly likely that she also would be stripped by Parliament of her participation in the legislative process.

Cranmer would find it unacceptable that a Monarch who swore to uphold the Protestant Reformed Religion might occasionally abdicate for a day in order that her Coronation Oath might be systematically undermined. Oaths have a long scriptural tradition going back to Genesis (8:21). They are sworn on pain of divine or preternatural wrath. It is a strange oath indeed which may be sworn upon the Holy Bible in the name of God as a sacred witness to all people for all time, yet occasionally and conveniently set aside purely for political reasons of convenience.


Anonymous the recusant said...

First we had them using it to spy on our dustbins, email and medical details, then to freeze the Icelandic banks (can you guess what it is yet), then to arrest an opposition MP and now this this , keeping those embarrassing facts secret for which said MP was arrested by using legal procedure designed to curb the rights of terrorist suspects. Got it yet? Yes it’s the friend of dictators everywhere the Counter-Terrorism Act. Not content with being absolutely corrupt with Absolute power, this
slipped under the radar with hardly a murmur from the protectors of our freedom the MSM, in particular the BBC. What this means is that UK police will (once again) be granted the authority to stop the public without the suspicion of any wrongdoing and demand to see identification. If the person refuses they can be subject to fines, imprisonment and medical examinations. This means that under current UK law it is legally just for someone who has not committed any crime to be imprisoned for not producing identification.

7 December 2008 at 10:27  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Is it just me or are you Brits so stupid as to allow a Hitlerian government to dominate your once free people and do nothing about it?
I am shocked! does nobody care? Where is the revolt? I guess you cant do much since they took all your guns as well. The Freemasonic plan is coming together beautifully.


7 December 2008 at 11:18  
Anonymous Henry Quisling said...

Why does Your Grace mention the Pope? What bearing does he have on this issue at all?

7 December 2008 at 12:44  
Blogger len.allan said...

For 1984 read-2008.

7 December 2008 at 12:48  
Blogger Cranmer said...

Mr Quisling,

It is incumbent upon all Catholics to obey the Pope in matters of faith and morality. Their consciences must be seared in accordance with their church's teaching. In case you did not know, the issue of 'Pope or Parliament' has been a cause of more than a little trouble throughout history. You may care to research.

7 December 2008 at 13:15  
Blogger McKenzie said...

The thing is though Cranmer, the Queen is of no power, or at least gives the impression that She will do and say what ever is asked of Her.

So what flaming use is this constitution you mention? Church of England is a huge huge huge joke. It exists up its own arse, which is fine if that is where you feel comfortable, but I know, and I know that God is omnipresent, but not up this particular arse He is not.

7 December 2008 at 13:37  
Blogger len.allan said...

Surely Jesus Christ is the only mediator between man and God?

7 December 2008 at 13:40  
Blogger len.allan said...

Your Grace my question is addressed to you.
Surely the only mediator between man an God is Jesus Christ.
Jesus gave authority to peter, but that authority is given to all christians who recognise Jesus Christ as Lord.

7 December 2008 at 13:43  
Blogger Christian-Jedi-Alliance said...

The Alliance is finding it increasingly difficult to align its self with the Anglican Church. It is betraying the Christian principles of the Force and is straying towards the Dark Side, causing major disturbances. We (when I say we, I speak on a pluralistically singular level) are growing concerned and anxious.

7 December 2008 at 13:45  
Blogger elderflower said...

Your Grace must be aware that if Her Majesty were to withhold assent to any legislation this would begin a constitutional crisis which would result in the end of the monarchy.

At least several of the Catholic monarchs of Europe have made their feelings clear when faced with laws of which they personally disapprove, even if they lack the power to block them. It seems a little ungenerous to assume that their consciences are entirely dependent on the utterances of the present Pope rather than on genuine Christian faith and the wider teachings of the Church, many of which are shared by Protestants

7 December 2008 at 15:12  
Anonymous Henry Quisling said...

I know full well about the issue of "Pope or Parliament", Cranmer. I feel you are being incredibly disingenuous in using the Pope as a metonym for all of the Church's teaching, particularly as the sanctity of life is a generally Christian rather than specifically Catholic teaching.
Elderflower has it spot on here.

7 December 2008 at 16:26  
Blogger Cranmer said...

Mr Quisling,

You fail to understand that successive popes have made opposition to abortion and euthanasia a matter of compulsion, on pain of excommunication.

Of course Christians of all persuasions might support the sanctity of life (as His Grace manifestly does), but his point is that, while Protestants may exercise their own consciences on the matter (as Her Majesty does, for good or ill), Roman Catholics have no such liberty. There is nothing remotely disingenuous about drawing attention to the distinction between the two.

7 December 2008 at 16:35  
Blogger The last cause said...

I find it odd that the King would use his Constitutional Authority based on his Philosophy/Conscience, then of course, step down and allow the law to be enacted anyway.

While true, the Age of Kings has passed, the age of a Constitution, has not, he was merely doing his duty as he knew it to be, no need to step down for doing so.

7 December 2008 at 16:48  
Blogger elderflower said...

Elderflower is unfortunately too ill-equipped intellectually to argue successfully with anyone who really understands these matters, but has decided to have a go anyway.

Is the Pope in fact any more than the current embodiment of the teaching, custom and tradition of his Church? The threat of excommunication is an empty one, ignored by countless politicians when it suits them, but it underlines a regard for the sanctity of human life which has been discarded by some other churches.

If the Archbishop of Canterbury still had the influence and power enjoyed by, to take examples at random, Archbishop Cranmer or even Laud, he would in effect be the Pope of the Church of England, since Her Majesty effectively delegates her power over the Church to him. This would be disastrous in the hands of some incumbents, but beneficial in others. If the CofE had always had strong, principled and orthodox Archbishops with the power to prevent the dilution and dissipation of the Anglican heritage, it would not be in the mess it is in today. In order to survive a church has to define itself, and although excommunication may be a threat too far, the basic principle is not unreasonable and the Church of England is on the verge of disappearing for lack of it. Freedom of conscience is essential, but there does come a point where, if people have decided that they cannot accept basic Anglican teachings, they have also to admit that, whatever other good things they may be, Anglican is not one of them.

It is certainly true that the Church of Rome is, in relation to England, a foreign, or rather a transnational, power, but that power is no longer a tool in the hands of a despotic regime. It deserves to be regarded as a religious community and not as some sort of terrorist organisation. In any event we are on the same side. Is not every Christian church ultimately answerable not to a temporal ruler but to the King of Kings?

7 December 2008 at 18:00  
Blogger Jules said...

You Grace, do you seriously believe that the Queen would not give her assent to *any* piece of legislation no matter how anti-Christian? She has of course been perfectly prepared to surrender sovereignty to an unelected foreign power (the EU).

To me the constitutional position of the Queen now seems not only pointless but actively dangerous. What is the point of a head of state who cannot or will not veto any legislation under any circumstances?

Give me an elected president any day.

7 December 2008 at 20:55  
Anonymous anon said...

We must make the monarchy more "pro-active". We are heading ever more disasterously towards presidential government.

7 December 2008 at 21:37  
Blogger Ken said...

Bearing in mind the nature and tone of a recent meeting between
President Vaclav Klaus, Czech Republic and EU Parliament President Hans-Gert Pöttering plus a couple of MEPs, will Her Majesty be required to submit to similar treatment in due course?

Perhaps she will need to curtsy in the presence of the President of the EU?

Or perhaps she will maintain her Oath and not submit to foreign princes, etc, inc legislation imposed from outside of Parliament.

If that provokes a constitutional crisis, all well and good because it will sort out which of our political establishment actually like our country. They would have to choose between a political EU or a constitutionally monarchy.

8 December 2008 at 10:01  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"paying the price for placing a private Christian conviction over a public duty" That's one way of looking at it. Cranmer would understand. He was around when one Thomas More (who became the UK lawyer of the millenium,) placed his private Christian neck under the public axe.

10 December 2008 at 06:00  
Blogger Kate said...

The Grand Duke of Luxembourg needs our prayers not criticism. God told us that He will give us the word to speak...
When they take you before synagogues and before rulers and authorities, do not worry about how or what your defense will be or about what you are to say. 12 For the holy Spirit will teach you at that moment what you should say."
Lk 12: 11,12

A Catholic Convert from the U.S.
God Bless Archbishop Cranmer

10 December 2008 at 16:31  
Blogger infernoz said...

The Queen is not a legal monarch she is a Stuart/ Sax Coburg (illegal under Royal law) imposter, who refuse to or is unable to do her duty to uphold the basic rights of the English people (note not British people). A Scottish/German monarch has no right to rule the English!
I also strongly object to any ruling Catholic presence in this country, given it is forbidden in the Magna Carta!

15 December 2008 at 01:07  

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