Anger as priest pressured to celebrate lock-down wedding

A priest felt pressured into holding a wedding at his Welsh Catholic church during the coronavirus lockdown.

Father Sebastian Jones performed the ceremony on May 12, after the parents ‘insisted that it take place immediately’.

Wedding ceremonies and christenings were banned in Wales when lockdown began on March 23.

The Archbishop of Cardiff George Stack confirmed the priest felt pressured to perform the banned service and “caved in”.

He said he was “shocked and upset” that the incident occurred and the matter is under investigation by the church.

Stack also said he feels sympathy for the priest, who had to deal with a “very difficult pastoral situation”.

During lockdown, all social events including weddings, baptisms, and other ceremonies, except for funerals, were stopped.

Catholic churches within all 22 dioceses of England and Wales were directed to close and not to carry out wedding services in line with UK and Welsh Government guidance.

Stack is sending guidance to other churches in the diocese stressing such weddings must not happen again during the lockdown.

He added: “When you’re presented with a crisis situation [such as Jones faced], in a way you’re under a lot of pressure internally and externally”.

“It shouldn’t have happened in strict accordance with the law, but when you’re dealing with a kind of turmoil-ridden situation, it’s very difficult to resolve”.

The Cardiff Council has also spoken out about the wedding, saying it wasn’t legal because notice wasn’t given.

“For a wedding to be legal, notice of the wedding must be given at least 28 days in advance,” he said.

“New notices of marriage are not currently being accepted due to Covid-19 and notice has not been given for this wedding”.

The lockdown-breaking wedding became public knowledge after images were shared on Facebook showing at least ten people, including children, in what seems to be the Cardiff church.

A Facebook live video also showed guests offering their congratulations to the happy couple and dancing.

One man is even heard saying: ‘F*** the coronavirus. It won’t stop us having a party.’

Gwent Police have confirmed officers were called to the wedding party about 10pm that evening in response to complaints about a disturbance.

They are continuing to investigate and will take action if rules on gatherings and social distancing have been broken.

“We are now aware of the individuals who reside at or on the property and we will take appropriate and proportionate action if officers determine that a breach has occurred,” a Police statement said.

“Officers … are continuing to look into the matter as new information becomes available”.


Additional reading

News category: World.

Tags: , , ,