Scotland

Catholic church leader criticises royal succession rule

Cardinal Keith O'Brien
Cardinal Keith O'Brien claims the Act of Settlement enshrines religious bigotry

The leader of the Catholic Church in Scotland has called for a 310 year-old law banning Catholics from taking the throne to be repealed.

Cardinal Keith O'Brien said the Act of Settlement of 1701 was hampering efforts to curb sectarianism.

His comments came after First Minister Alex Salmond described sectarianism as a parasite in the game of football.

Cardinal O'Brien claimed the law amounted to sectarianism as much as chanting bigoted songs on the terraces.

Despite widespread education campaigns, supporters of the two main Glasgow clubs, Celtic and Rangers are regularly accused of singing bigoted songs.

Both clubs condemn bigoted singing - but while the European body UEFA has sanctioned Rangers three times, the Scottish football authorities have yet to take any action.

Prime Minister David Cameron has said that "in principle" he supports reforming the law on royal succession to allow first-born female heirs to take the throne and remove the ban on Catholics becoming king or queen or marrying the heir to the throne.

However, he said the decision would have to be approved by all Commonwealth countries.

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