SUNDAY
March 4, 2001
volume 12, no. 63

Catholic Clergy No Longer Barred From Parliament



    LONDON, Mar. 2, 01 (CWNews.com) - Members of Parliament last night voted in favor of a bill which will allow Catholic priests to sit in the House of Commons.

    The Removal of Clergy Disqualification Bill aims to reverse a 200-year-old law that prevents some serving and former ministers of religion from becoming MPs. Although Catholic canon law forbids priests from taking up political positions, British law had also barred former priests from sitting in Westminster.

    However, Tory MP, Ann Widdecombe, herself a Catholic argued that it was wrong for serving ministers of religion to become MPs as this would cause a conflict of interest between "God and Caesar." Catholic convert John Gummer added that the issue was problematic because MPs would be making a statement in English law about what he described as an ecclesiastical matter. Gummer said that being a priest was the "highest demand" and to do something other than that like becoming an MP was "odd."

    Andrew Stunell, a Liberal Democrat, said the folly of the current restrictions on clergy entering politics was that it was "keeping good people out of the House."

    "It ought to be an offense to us that in this day and age we do have religious discrimination built into our legislation," he said.


March 4, 2001
volume 12, no. 63
News from the Universal Church
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