Succession to the Crown Bill — Third Reading

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 3:15 pm on 22nd April 2013.

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Photo of The Bishop of Guildford The Bishop of Guildford Bishop 3:15 pm, 22nd April 2013

My Lords, the noble Lord, Lord Cormack, has made generous and kind reference to my contribution on Report and I do not intend to labour and repeat the detailed comments that I made to the House on my understanding both of Roman Catholic canon law and realistic pastoral practice in the case of mixed marriages. I thought afterwards that here was a Church of England bishop getting up with the temerity to talk about what the Roman Catholic Church teaches and does. Therefore, I thought that I had better write to Archbishop Vincent Nichols and ask whether my contribution, as recorded in Hansard, was the case.

I have a letter in my hand from Marcus Stock, general secretary of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of England and Wales, on behalf of the Archbishop. Speaking in that capacity, as well as in a Westminster capacity, Marcus Stock gives me full permission to share this letter with the noble and learned Lord the Minister. I have indeed done that; he may wish to make reference to it himself, and to earlier conversations with the Cabinet Office. That will presumably come out a little later.

I simply say that the exposition of what I understand to be Roman Catholic official teaching in canon law, and the pastoral and flexible practice in terms of the Roman Catholic rules over the upbringing of children in mixed marriages is completely confirmed in the letter that I have received. It was also his clear indication that this should be passed on to the Minister, which I have done. So I will not take up more of your Lordships' time but say simply that what I said on Report is indeed the case in terms of Roman Catholic law and practice. I believe that should give some assurance with regard to the important matter raised by the noble Lord, Lord Cormack.