Friday, April 05, 2024

Catholic Monarchs and bad laws

Requiem Mass for the late Queen Elizabeth II at St Mary Moorfields, London,
8th October 2022, organised by the Latin Mass Society

Conservatives criticising Queen Elizabeth II for failing to veto the UK's Abortion Act in 1967 has become a depressingly familiar spectacle. I just wish they would do some minimal research on the subject, and at least start their argument with the acknowledgment that British monarchs do not have any such veto. This would save me the trouble of having to point out what is obvious to anyone minimally familiar with British history and politics, and then imagine what a critic would say if he actually knew this.

Today I respond to the pro-life activist Jonathan van Maren. He was writing the European Conservative; my reply has appeared in Crisis.

It begins:

Jonathan Van Maren’s European Conservative article, “Europe’s Pro-life Royals,” raises once again the question of Catholic monarchs and the legalization of abortion.

Van Maren helpfully provides some detail on how King Baudouin of Belgium avoided signing Belgium’s 1990 abortion law, and how Prince Alois of Liechtenstein defeated abortion in Liechtenstein. The courage and determination of these monarchs are an example to us all, and particularly to Catholic statesmen tempted to compromise in their defense of the most vulnerable in society.

They followed quite different strategies, because of the quite different political and constitutional circumstances in which they found themselves. Before we criticize any heads of state for acting as they did, we need to be clear what strategies we think were available in their cases.

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