By Francis X. Rocca
Religion News Service
(RNS) Future British kings and queens would be permitted to marry Catholics for the first time in more than three centuries under reforms proposed by British Prime Minister David Cameron.
Writing to his fellow heads of government in the British Commonwealth, in a letter published on Wednesday (Oct. 12), Cameron
outlined several proposed amendments to the 1701 Act of Settlement, which bars Catholics and the spouses of Catholics from the British throne.
In his letter, Cameron called the ban on Catholic royal consorts a "historical anomaly" which could not "continue to be justified."
Cameron did not propose lifting the ban on a Catholic becoming the monarch, who also serves by law as the "Supreme Governor" of the Church of England.
The approval of all 16 Commonwealth "realms," whose leaders will meet in Australia later this month, would be necessary for any changes in the law governing royal succession.
Cameron also proposed changing a provision of the law giving priority to male heirs to the throne.
"We espouse gender equality in all other aspects of life," Cameron wrote in his letter, "and it is an anomaly that in the rules relating to the highest public office we continue to enshrine male superiority."