In response to my last post, I have a message from a correspondent called Viator Catholicus, who says:
"It is lamentable that you are so protective of the Queen of England on a site devoted to 'Roman Christendom'.
Of course, she is a figurehead with no power. But, then, what purpose does she serve? Should she not at least assert some moral authority?
Can she not refuse to sign the abortion bill to avoid any appearance of cooperation? You also made some points about the illegitimacy of Revolution.
However, the pope can certainly call for Revolution against a regime which he by his authority declares unlawful. By the way, was not the legitimate English monarch overthrown in 1688 by a the invasion of a Dutch king in alliance with certain English traitors?"
The last two questions seem to me perfectly good and fair ones and I shall try to answer them later.
Sorry to say, however, the Queen-related question is precisely an example of the very kind of parroting and re-parroting about which I complained in my previous post.
It is also self-contradictory. How can one say "the Queen has no power" and then, in the same post, say she should exercise her (non-existent!) power to refuse to sign legislation?
One cannot have it both ways.
I have VERY FULLY answered the Queen-related questions numerous times over.
How is asking and re-asking and re-re-asking and re-re-re-asking the same question that has been answered several times over, helping to resolve the issue or even explain an alternative position?
If anyone disagrees with my answers, ah, well, that's quite another thing. But then they must tell me WHY they disagree and WHAT their REASONS are.
Simply repeating the question that has already been answered several times over just looks, I'm afraid, like mindless barracking - even of the "4 legs good, 2 legs bad" variety that George Orwell lampoons so effectively in Animal Farm.
I can but say to Viator: go and read my earlier replies to people who have asked the self-same question. They can be found under "comments" at the end of each post.
In short, no, the Queen is not just a figurehead and, no, she is not devoid of all power. She has very limited but still very important power to act against a rogue government (e.g. one that banned elections) or, perhaps, to resolve a deadlock that the courts did not otherwise have the jurisdiction to resolve.
I am open to persuasion that I am wrong about that or have got the law wrong but challengers will need to point to some counter-authorities since this is the view accepted by, for example, Erskine-May on Parliamentary Procedure.
These are vitally important powers protecting us from tyranny and dictatorship. But they are very limited, "port of last resort" powers.
If this is right, then the Queen simply does not have the power to refuse other legislation. If she tried to do so she would be acting illegally and when a head of state acts illegally this is called a coup d'etat or palace revolution.
In Roman Catholic theology no-one has the right to instigate a revolution or rebellion against a superior, unless the same has been legitimately and lawfully authorised by someone more superior still.
Now the Queen is not above the law or the Constitution. The law and the Constitution are above her and she must obey them both.
As the late Lord Denning, former Master of the Rolls and former Lord of Appeal in Ordinary, put it "Be ye never so high, the law is above you".
One may not like that situation and may prefer that she be a Monarch in the old mould with much wider powers but that is not our current Constitution.
And neither we, nor the Queen, have the right to overthrow that Constitution by unilateral illegal acts or a coup d'etat.
She could not, therefore, "refuse to sign the Abortion Bill just to avoid any appearance of co-operation". If she did so she would be overthrowing the Constitution and would thereby be sinning. And one may not do evil that good may come of it, as St Paul says (Rom 3:8).
We may use legitimate constitutional means to change the Constitution such as campaigning for a change but we cannot use illegitimate, unconstitutional means. That is sin.
It is Roman Catholic teaching that Catholics may not rebel against their superiors and overthrow their legitimate governance, even if that governance is oppressive or immoral.
Some Catholics have got it into their heads that Catholic teaching permits such rebellion. It does not.
The reasoning is simple enough: a subject does not have the right to sit in judgment upon his superior, for if he did have, then there would be no authority at all since any subject could, at any time, aver that the authority was being exercised oppressively and so overthrow it at his own discretion.
In short, that would be an anarchist's charter.
As I have now said, I think, 3 times this is all very clearly explained in De Regimine Principum (On the Rule of Kings) by St Thomas Aquinas, citing proper authorities.
I am open to persuasion that the Queen DOES still have more residual prerogative powers than I have stated but, to be persuasive, I think it would be necessary to point to some recognised legal or constitutional authority that says so e.g. Erskine-May on Parliamentary Procedure or Dicey or perhaps Professor Vernon Bogdanor of Oxford or, of course, some decision of the higher courts.
To answer the remainder of Viator's questions, which I believe are good and fair ones, I say this: yes, the Pope, if it can still be said that he is superior to the Queen, could authorise her overthrow or that of the Constitution.
But does he still have that superior power?
I rather fear that he does not. If any superior power now exists it might exist in international law but I suspect not in the Pope. Indeed, the Pope claims no such power any more.
I am open to persuasion on that point, however.
As for the Dutch invasion yes, that was certainly illegitimate, indeed, a very good example of an unjust rebellion against a legitimate and lawful authority - treason or treachery, in short.
That new government was illegal and could legitimately be opposed and overthrown by anyone, not least Catholics. That, indeed, is what Jacobites tried to do by the Jacobite uprisings of 1715 and 1745, which were legitimate uprisings against an usurped authority and undertaken with the aim of restoring the legitimate king and constitution.
Such a restoration is expressly permitted by Catholic teaching since the subject is not judging its own legitimate government for the very simple reason that the government is not legitimate since it usurped power, itself, by a revolution. An usurped power has already judged itself, just as a robber has put himself in the wrong and may then be lawfully apprehended, preferably by the Police but, if necessary, by any citizen.
The Jacobite uprisings failed, sadly.
Eventually, the Jacobite pretenders ceased to press their claim and the Cardinal Duke of York eventually transferred the royal heirlooms to King George III.
For the other reasons why the Jacobite claims can no longer be seriously pressed, albeit their memory and principles ought still to be honoured and upheld, see my earlier and first post on the subject, To Lochaber No More...
This being so, from the time of King George III, the Hanoverians became the legitimate British royal dynasty. Moreover, the popes began to recognise them from around that time.
For this reason, among others, the American Revolution of 1776 was also an illegitimate one. It did not seek to restore the legitimate Stuart dynasty but, instead, basing themselves upon heterodox Protestant and secularist ideas, subjects of the King expressly claimed to sit in judgment on their lawful superior, the King himself, just as Cromwell had earlier illegally done.
Such rebellions are expressly forbidden by Catholic teaching.
However, once again, the legitimate dynasty ceased to press its claims to rule America and against the American revolutionary government, so that, eventually, that government, too, gained legitimacy and, after a time, it would have been disproportionate, and therefore a sin, to rebel or make war against it.
So much is no more than Roman Catholic teaching on the subject of just or unjust war and just or unjust uprising.
In the same way that a just war is no violence, so a just uprising is no rebellion. Rebellion and violence are sins. Legitimate restoration by proper, reasonable and proportionate force is neither violence nor rebellion but, as its name implies, a just and lawful restoring of the true and legitimate constitution - a bit like the Police apprehending a terrorist by minimum and proportionate force.
This is our faith.