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(LifeSiteNews) – In 1850, my namesake John Henry Cardinal Newman published the following, terrifying and striking words:

“The Catholic Church holds it better for the sun and moon to drop from heaven, for the earth to fail, and for all the many millions on it to die of starvation in extremest agony, as far as temporal affliction goes, than that one soul, I will not say, should be lost, but should commit one single venial sin, should tell one wilful untruth, or should steal one poor farthing without excuse.”

That published text was from a lecture on the topic of certain difficulties which Anglicans felt about becoming Catholics. He repeated this same text again in his famous biography in 1864.

So that’s three times he made this statement. Let’s make sure we understand what it means. The Catholic Church holds it better that all these terrible things would happen, rather than just one person committing one willful venial sin.

That’s how evil sin is – even just venial sin. And this text from Cardinal Newman is perhaps just a more vivid way of saying shorter phrases we all know: “The ends don’t justify the means,” or “We can’t do evil that good may come”.

I’m going to say some things today which are going to be very unpopular.

Here in Canada, we think of our leader as Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. He is the leader of the government, a position which we influence by voting.

But in fact, the monarch is still Queen Elizabeth II, the Queen of the United Kingdom.

You might know – certainly our friends in England can’t miss it with all the Union Flags everywhere – that this weekend she is celebrating the Platinum Jubilee – 70 years – of her coronation.

There are a lot of celebrations going on. Queen Elizabeth is held up almost as a heroine, one of the few remaining world figures who will name Our Lord Jesus Christ.

Now, many think of the Queen as if she is a figurehead. And in a certain sense, she is: she does not directly (at least openly) engage in any decisions about the politics or life of our country, or any of the Commonwealth countries, or even in England and the UK. If she wields any influence, it’s all behind the scenes.

But actually there’s a lot more going on here. There’s some complex history and law which we won’t go into here, which make Canada’s situation a bit different to how it is in the U.K. – but there are definitely points of comparison.

The United Kingdom is not a republic like the United States. It’s a constitutional monarchy – and so are we in many senses. What this means is that the Crown has drawn back the exercise of its powers, and in practice allowed the machinery of government to function as if it were a democracy.

It’s something that looks and acts like a separation of powers, but in fact they’re all working in the name of the crown – in the name of Her Majesty the Queen. In theory, she could end this arrangement and start ruling like a proper monarch at any time.

But I’m telling you this to make clear that nothing is made law by the UK Houses of Parliament or by Boris Johnson’s government. These bodies hash out the bill, and then it is presented to her for Royal Assent, at which point it becomes law. In Canada, bills receive Royal Assent in the Queen’s name from other officials like the Governor General or his deputies.

By convention, the Queen never refuses royal assent. For the last several centuries this has been very rare across the remaining monarchies of the world. The reason is obvious: if this happened, the appearance and façade of a democracy would disappear, and an unelected, hereditary leader would be interfering in the decisions of an elected body.

I’m not saying that’s good or bad: it’s just what it is.

But let’s be clear about what that means. It means that when bills are presented to Queen Elizabeth, they do not become law until she gives them her assent. She has the power to prevent them becoming law, albeit with the massive constitutional crisis that that would cause. Realpolitik means that these laws will find some other, non-constitutional way in through a revolution.

She also has another power which she can exercise at any time. That is the power to abdicate.

If you’re starting to feel uncomfortable, it’s about to get worse.

In 1967, Queen Elizabeth II was presented with what became the Abortion Act. As the name suggests, this is the Act which made abortion legal in a wide set of situations up to 28 weeks gestation. As a result of this Act, England are set to have their 10-millionth abortion this year.

Ten million unborn babies murdered thanks to abortion – which only became legal because of the royal assent given to that Act in 1967. And there’s no sign of that stopping.

Would Roe v. Wade, in 1973, have been possible without Queen Elizabeth’s royal assent to the Abortion Act?

I want you to imagine, just for a moment, being Queen Elizabeth. Don’t think about the constitutional crisis, don’t think about the media or anything like that. It’s just you, your royal seal, and this law.

Could you give this law your assent?


Would it not be better to face the consequences of a constitutional crisis than give your free assent to such an abomination?

Or would it not be better to abdicate?

Let’s move on. What else happened in 1967?

Well, in 1967, Queen Elizabeth gave her royal assent to what became the Sexual Offences Act. This legalized homosexual activity.

In 2013, Queen Elizabeth consummated the work begun by this act by giving her royal assent to the bill which introduced homosexual “marriage” into law in England and Wales.

The combination of these laws with other provisions of law means that children are being taught about these things in schools, and small businesses like bed and breakfasts and bakers are being penalized for not being “equal” enough.

And again, this happened because of the royal assent given by Queen Elizabeth.

What else can we talk about? How about the royal assent to the 2008 law that allows scientists to make human/animal hybrids for stem cell research?

What about all the royal assent for all the different divorce laws over the last 70 years?  In 1969, the royal assent radically liberalized divorce in England and Wales, and further laws – all with royal assent – liberalized things further over the following decades.


Last of all let’s recall the last few years. England seems to have been one of the better places to be under the COVID madness, but nonetheless, the Queen gave royal assent to laws which allowed tyrannical government by ministers, along with everything we remember so well: allowing the government to lock everyone in their homes, restrict freedom of movement, close businesses, detain those suspected of COVID, close schools, and so on. All of this happened because the Queen gave Royal Assent. 

Do you think that Queen Elizabeth will refuse royal assent to a bill mandating vaccines for her subjects? Or a social credit system? Or a one-child policy?

Or anything?

Now, perhaps she thinks she has good reasons for this. Perhaps she thinks that it is better to retain her position and constitutional peace, because in that way she can work some greater good, or at least prevent further evils.

Let’s not kid ourselves with the idea that it could be better to assent so as to keep one’s position, so as to continue exercising a good influence. 10,000,000 dead babies is bad enough. How much is your good influence behind the scenes worth in the face of 10,000,000 dead babies, and counting?

And if the cost of maintaining some higher good is 10,000,000 dead babies, all these immoral laws and the toleration of absolute tyranny under COVID… what exactly is being conserved or preserved here?

I don’t say this in judgment: I don’t know the state of her soul, and I wish her good in this life and in the next. But we’re talking about the facts here.

Others might say that these laws would have gone through with or without her assent: that not only would she cause a crisis, but also she would be unable to stop them.

This is irrelevant. Let’s deal with what’s real, not with fictional or counter-factual scenarios. These terrible, immoral “laws” (because an unjust law is no law) were passed with her assent. She has chosen to cooperate with them. It’s nonsense to say she had no choice, even if the crushing pressures and reality of her situation are unknown to mere subjects.

We can have compassion on her state even whilst being real. To paraphrase St. Thomas More in the film A Man For All Seasons: “Your Majesty, it profits a man nothing to give his soul for the whole world… but for the Crown!”

And that’s what’s interesting here, even if we don’t know the state of her soul: not the legal consequences of her assent, but Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth herself; and what she has done to herself by all these compromises and assent given to evil through her reign.

So this jubilee weekend, if you’re benefitting from holidays, enjoy them. But be aware of what you’re celebrating, and more than anything – for we have a duty in piety to pray for our rulers – pray for the Queen.

The John-Henry Westen Show is available by video on the show’s YouTube channel and right here on my LifeSite blog.

You can send me feedback, or ideas for show topics by emailing [email protected].

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John-Henry is the co-founder, CEO and editor-in-chief of He and his wife Dianne have eight children and they live in the Ottawa Valley in Ontario, Canada.

He has spoken at conferences and retreats, and appeared on radio and television throughout the world. John-Henry founded the Rome Life Forum, an annual strategy meeting for life, faith and family leaders worldwide. He is a board member of the John Paul II Academy for Human Life and the Family. He is a consultant to Canada’s largest pro-life organization Campaign Life Coalition, and serves on the executive of the Ontario branch of the organization. He has run three times for political office in the province of Ontario representing the Family Coalition Party.

John-Henry earned an MA from the University of Toronto in School and Child Clinical Psychology and an Honours BA from York University in Psychology.