Papacy, Monarchy – embody intangible realities

Last Friday night we were forced to make agonizing choices – which TV programme? The netball, the rugby or The Wedding? Issues implied by one of the topics merit our serious attention.

Any debate on the British Monarchy is like a debate on the Church – in many ways they are similar. Neither has democratic roots or way of acting. Superficially, they seem prime material for renovation and reform. And yet, their non-democratic way of acting is in part due to the belief that the moral and social values that both institutions represent are too important to be left to the majority to decide.

Papacy, Monarchy, both stand for realities that cannot be seen or touched  –  invisible, intangible realities like truth, goodness and beauty. Both symbolize a world and way of acting that is better than the one we experience every day.

They exist not for the rich, but for the common people. One thinks of the endless service commitments that both are expected to fulfil. The Queen is not asked to open Country Shows and Parliament because she is rich, but because of what she symbolizes and represents.

So when the Church, be it Anglican or Catholic, or the Monarchy, pass through a bad period, everyone is hurt. Institutions which have a symbolic, non-political value exist to support people in their struggles. If they show a lack of integrity and persist in wrong-doing, everyone suffers. In both institutions this has been happening.

So Friday night’s wedding struck such a huge chord because it carried within it the hope of a new start . In a world overrun by individualism the Monarchy stands for deep and important human values. Millions of people were watching and participating, not just to see the dresses or pageantry, but because they hope that Wiliam’s and Catherine’s marriage will last, and that they, two thoroughly good young people, can be role models for our millions of thoroughly good young people who sorely lack role models at the moment. Role models in a modern way, but with time-honoured and timeless values.

“As the Father sent me, so I am sending you.” (Gospel for 2nd Sunday of Easter).

Mike Mahoney


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