Possibility of Special Clause Exempting Catholics
Prefacing his address to the Catholic Citizens' Parliament, at St. Anne's Settlement Hall on Monday evening, with a brief explanation of the various clauses of the Marriage Bill presented in the House tif Commons last November, Dr. W. J. O'Donovan 0.B.E., pleaded with members to come forward immediately and arouse public opinion strongly enough to prevent the passing of this " easy divorce " measure, Even if marriage is to be treated by the State merely as a contract, Dr, O'Donovan contended that even property contracts were made for as long as nine hundred and ninety-nine years, and then were difficult to break: but this Bill would make the contract between living beings at the sanest and most intelligent period of their lives easily breakable when they were older, less good, and more easily tempted.
The Bill. he went on, is not to apply to Scotland or Northern Ireland, and he suggested that in the same way a clause could he added in which it could he made non-applicable in the case of those married in the Catholic. Church.
" Thus we hope that our traditional contract could be left to us and that the law would remain to help us to keep it. It should not be difficult in this way to administer the law for Catholics in the spirit in which they accept it."
With the Standing Committee
Because there was no organised opposition in the House. the .Bill has already passed into the hands of the Standing Committee. At the first reading there was only one Catholic member present, and he was one of the tellers and so could not vote. By the time the measure comes up before the House again at the end of the session it will be necessary that opposition he organised. and we must lose no time in making the Party Whips acquainted with our definite opinion.
" Leave the members free to do as they please, and the Bill will pass through." was Dr. O'Donovan's firm belief. He assured his audience again and again that unless public feeling is aroused in this interval, there is no hope that the progress of the Bill could be arrested. Members, he said, will always listen to the advice of their Whips and there is still plenty of time to represent our opinion.
Once passed through the House of Commons, the Bill enters the House of Lords, and it would be too much to expect the few Catholic peers to kill the Bill then, it being quite impossible for them to obstruct the will of the majority.
If this Bill is to die, Dr. O'Donovan said, Catholic Action must go ahead immediately, and protest meetings, such as the one attended at the Catholic Citizens' Parliament, must be organised all over the country.