Recent days have seen a plethora of coverage of attempts to remove what, if the coverage is to be believed, is the discriminaton that most hurts and offends Catholics in the UK. I refer to the private members bill, defeated on Friday in the House of Commons, and to Prime Minister Gordon Brown's discussions with the Queen, about changing the law to allow the monarch to marry a Roman Catholic. The BBC news report of these events is here.
The MP who proposed the private members bill, Dr Evan Harris, is in other respects not a friend of Catholic teaching. His own website reports his efforts to make access to abortion easier, his support for making assisted suicide easier (also here), and it also suggests an anti-religious intent to his private members bill.
But are ordinary Catholics really bothered by the thought that the King or Queen of England would have to forfeit their right to the crown if they were to marry a Roman Catholic?
Frankly, I don't think they can be bovvered. What ever.
It is a discrimination, if one wants to use the term, that affects fewer Catholics than one can count on the fingers of one hand. And, should the monarch's husband or wife be a Catholic, it would have the potential only to embarrass other Catholics if it were to lead to public compromises of Catholic teaching.
There are much more real instances of indirect discrimination against Catholics that do affect a significant number:
1. Can a Catholic, faithful to the teaching of the Church, get a job as a year head in a state school, where they will be expected to manage a sex education programme that promotes contraception and, at best, remains indifferent to abortion, where they will be complicit in the referral of girls from the school for abortion?
2. Can Catholics, faithful to the teaching of the Church, progress in the fields of obstetrics and gynaecology in the NHS?
3. How do Catholic GPs, nurses and midwives fare when, after child birth, it is expected that they will offer advice to their patients on methods of contraception?
4. How do Catholic nurses and doctors fare with regard to the care of patients living out the last days of their lives under regimes such as the Liverpool Care Pathway, which do not make adequate provision for nutrition and hydration?
These are real discriminations that affect ordinary Catholics in their every day lives. I wonder what Dr Evan Harris wants to do about these?
Not unrelated to this question is the article "Conscience coercion: from Sacred to Curious" by Elizabeth Lev over at ZENIT.
UPDATE: see the partial re-post and comments at Fr Ray's blog.