Is it possible to be both an English citizen and a Catholic?


This never occurred to me until just now: isn’t a requirement of English citizenship to submit to the authority of the Sovereign, who is also the Head of the Church of England?

Therefore, isn’t being both English and Catholic a contradiction, that is, either you are one or the other, but impossible to be both?

I suspect that I am wrong, as I have never read any of the Anglo-Catholic writers of the 20th century bring this up, but it is, for now, at least, an intriguing question.


Christian citizens of the Roman Empire often had to be subject to pagan sovereigns. You are required to obey your ruler unless they command something repugnant to the Divine Law or natural law.


Well, as a Catholic, wouldn’t you consider submitting to a Christian authority (that is, a RELIGIOUS Christian authority) other than your local Catholic bishop “repugnant”?


Not at all. UK Citizens of another faith other than CofE swear secular allegiance to the Queen or Sovereign as their rightful ruler on Earth, not as the head of their Church. As far as I know only CofE adherents are required to swear loyalty to the Sovereign as head of the Church. circa:

Mat 1:16-25

16 And they sent to him their disciples with the Herodians, saying: Master, we know that thou art a true speaker, and teachest the way of God in truth, neither carest thou for any man: for thou dost not regard the person of men. 17 Tell us therefore what dost thou think, is it lawful to give tribute to Caesar, or not? 18 But Jesus knowing their wickedness, said: Why do you tempt me, ye hypocrites? 19 Shew me the coin of the tribute. And they offered him a penny. 20 And Jesus saith to them: Whose image and inscription is this?
16 “The Herodians”… That is, some that belonged to Herod, and that joined with him in standing up for the necessity of paying tribute to Caesar, that is, to the Roman emperor. Some are of opinion that there was a sect among the Jews called Herodians, from their maintaining that Herod was the Messias.
21 They say to him: Caesar’s. Then he saith to them: Render therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s; and to God, the things that are God’s. 22 And hearing this they wondered, and leaving him, went their ways. 23 That day there came to him the Sadducees, who say there is no resurrection; and asked him, 24 Saying: Master, Moses said: If a man die having no son, his brother shall marry his wife, and raise up issue to his brother. 25 Now there were with us seven brethren: and the first having married a wife, died; and not having issue, left his wife to his brother.


Oh, so there’s an “out”?


The pagan emperors were also usually religious leaders (in fact they often claimed to be gods). If Christians could obey them in good conscience, then I think the English can obey the Queen. Again, you have to submit to whatever your government commands thatis not contrary to divine or natural law. Just because they personally believe false things or even command some false things, doesn’t mean you can disregard whatever good or neutral commands they make.


I agree, but my question: is it possible to only swear allegiance to the Queen as a secular ruler, and not a religious one? What is in the “contract” to be an English citizen?


Since the fastest growing religion in England would appear to be (God help us!) Islam, I would imagine that there is no religious test whatever…


Slightly off thread but whilst Islam may be the fastest growing religion (though hopefully not) it appears that due to imigrant population numbers, Catholicism may soon be the most popular faith in the UK.


I pray that may be so. The popularity of Islam (& other faiths that deny Christ) is a puzzle & a great sadness to me…


Hi Catholic,

All the oaths against Catholicity were repealed between 1867 and 1910 by laws that were signed by the sovereign. See

The idea of the sovereign as Head of the Church is now meaningless and empty. If a direct heir to the throne were to convert to Catholicism, you would see a repeal of that law within a month, and it might not even make the headlines.



There is no such thing as an English citizen. Its a British citizen.


To be technical it’s UK citizen. Great Britain is the name of the island which includes the constituent countries of England, Scotland and Wales. The UK includes England, Scotland, wales and five counties of Northern Ireland.


We were subjects until a few years ago. Now the official term is “British citizen”. Blair and New Labour and the EU and all that.


Yes. We are required by the Church to obey Queen Elizabeth and her government in so far as their legitimate authority extends - in levying taxes, providing public goods and services, regulating nuisances and so forth. However we may not recognise her as governor (not head) of the Church in England, and we may not obey her laws on divorce, homosexuality, abortion, incitement to religious hatred or other issues when they require us to act contrary to the teachings of the Church.


As an English person I have never had to make any pledges of alliegance to the queen and would not be required to.

She is only a figure head and has no real political power in practice as she knows that if she did she would probably lose her position to the will of the democracy.

The only time a religion and an oath involves the queen is when a person takes priested into the Church of England.

Since she is the Head of the church then they pledge to her as a leader.

Though I do know of one Vicar at least who did not wish to do this. I think he had to in the endbecause of the position of the state and legalities in the wording of the seremony but it is meaningless in the practical sense as the church functions without the monarch… especially as I believe Prince Charles is an atheist and wishes to become defender of faiths rather than defender of THE faith (CofE).

If the queen ever asked anything of those minsters it would be a matter of personal concience for them whether they chose to obey her.

Again her position is as a figurehead and she leaves well alone.



Oh she has power. No bill gets signed into law without her seal. She’s head of the military. She’s head of the commonwealth. She can dissolve parliament. She’s the one who represents the United Kingdom outside of the UK. She appoints governorships in British dependencies, etc. etc.


1. England =/= Britain: Scots, Welsh, & Northern Irish (i.e. in the six counties in the NW of Ireland) are all British - but they are by no manner of means English. England is the large slice of territory in the island of Great Britain between the River Tweed (to the north) & Wales (to the south-west).

  1. There are Anglicans in Scotland, Wales, & Ireland (include the Republic of Ireland); they are called Episcopalians, but are as much members of the Anglican Communion as Anglicans in England (the only part of the British Isles where the Anglican is still the established Church).

  2. The established Church in Scotland is the Presbyterian Church of Scotland, which is Reformed, not Anglican. IIRC, the Monarch is a member of both - but, is Governor only of the C of E, not of the C of S; because the Reformed Churches acknowledge no governor or head whatever but Jesus Christ and Him alone. Which is probably why the Moderator of the C of S is elected annually.

  3. Other Churches are not established by law as national Churches. Those which are Protestant have the same freedoms, rights & responsibilities as anyone else, whatever their religion or lack of it: including that of exercising their own discipline - so all Churches in which ecclesiastical courts, representative bodies, & such like assemblies play a part, are free to use them.

The Crown has legal rights over Catholics insofar as they are subject to it; it does not take cognisance of matters which concern the CC’s internal affairs. Catholics who commit bigamy are answerable to the Crown, as bigamy is an offence against the law of the land, & that law it is that inflicts civil penalties - but the CC, not the Crown or the C of E, imposes any spiritual penalties.

IOW - it is no more impossible to be a British subject in the UK & to be Catholic, than to be a Sikh, an atheist, an Orthodox Christian, or an Anglican :slight_smile:


There are six counties in Northern Ireland. Also, according to the website of the Home Office of the United Kingdom, the term British Citizenship is perfectly acceptable. In part I think because British Citizenship is not limited to those in the United Kingdom but also to the remaining territories of the British Empire.



she has all of these things on paper, but knows that since britain is a democrcy it would be suicide to ever use these powers. She would never undemocratically dissolve a parliament that we had elected democratically. She has never to my kowledge ever refused to sign a seal of law…she’s more like the formal stamp rather than any working cog in the machine.

Though I’d personally like to see all possibility of any future royal trying to exert any political influence above their station as an undemocratically elected head. Though the fact that she’s not elected means her advice privately does extend beyond political boundaries and give the figurehead a stability of sorts.


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