The Guardian said the act was outdated and could be in breach of Britain's obligations under European human rights law. But the paper's call was not universally welcomed by Catholics. A spokesman for Archbishop Cormac Murphy-O'Connor of Westminster told the paper: "Changing the Act of Settlement would raise wider constitutional issues that would need careful thought and wide consultation."
John Wilkins, editor of The
Tablet, a London-based Catholic weekly magazine, said in an interview with The Guardian: "There is a clear infringement of religious liberty. I think the act is a real anachronism and frankly insulting. I am sure Prince Charles thinks so too.
That does not mean I support getting rid of the
monarchy. There is a fear that this is the thread which, when pulled, unravels the whole constitution."
Ann Widdecombe, a leading Member of Parliament in the
opposition Conservative Party and a convert to Catholicism, said repeal would be inappropriate as long as the sovereign was also supreme governor of the Church of England. "The sovereign
can't be anything but a member of the Church of England until it is disestablished -- and that would remove the last fig leaf of any claim to be a Christian
country," she said.
Another Catholic convert, Charles Moore, editor of
Daily Telegraph newspaper in London, said: "I would be prepared to see the Act of Settlement reformed. I think a Catholic or a Jew or a Muslim could in fact be supreme governor of the Church of England. It is not a theological role, it is a question of a balance of power in politics."
The Guardian said that the Act of Settlement violates article 9 of the European Convention on Human Rights,
the right to freedom of though, conscience, and religion.
"In addition," the paper said, "it breaches
article 1 of protocol 1, the right to peaceful enjoyment of possessions -- in this case the banned descendants' place in the line of succession -- and article 14, banning discrimination in relation to any convention right."
backed a call to abolish the act in December 1999 and will soon be debating the issue again.