Priest demands to know how Boris Johnson and Carrie Symonds could wed

Priest demands to know how Boris Johnson and Carrie Symonds could wed at Westminster Cathedral when he has to tell practising Catholics that a second marriage in church is not allowed

  • Mr Johnson was baptised a Catholic but converted to Anglicanism when at Eton
  • He and Ms Symonds exchanged vows at Westminster Cathedral on Saturday
  • Neither of the PM’s previous two marriages are recognised by Catholic church
  • They did not take place in Roman Catholic settings and so did not ‘count’
  • But Catholic priest Father Mark Drew took to Twitter to vent his frustration
  • Questioned why PM’s union was allowed but ‘faithful’ Catholics cannot re-marry 

A priest last night demanded to know how twice divorced Boris Johnson was able to marry his fiancé Carrie Symonds, whilst he has to tell ‘practising Catholics’ who are divorced that they cannot re-marry in the Church.

Mr Johnson, who was baptised a Catholic but converted to Anglicanism while at private school Eton, wed Ms Symonds yesterday in a secret ceremony.

The couple exchanged vows in Catholic Westminster Cathedral in front of a handful of close friends and family. 

Whilst Mr Johnson has previously been married twice, neither ceremonies were Catholic unions, meaning they were not recognised by church law. 

It meant that, in the eyes of the Roman Catholic church, Mr Johnson’s marriage yesterday was his first. 

However, Roman Catholics who are divorced would not be allowed to re-marry in the church. 

After the marriage news emerged last night, Catholic priest Father Mark Drew took to Twitter to vent his frustration. 

He demanded to know why the ‘twice divorced’ PM was allowed to marry in the Roman Catholic church, even though he has to tell faithful divorced parishioners that it is ‘not possible’ for them to have a second marriage.   

A priest last night demanded to know how twice-divorced Boris Johnson was able to marry his fiancé Carrie Symonds, whilst he has to tell ‘practising Catholics’ who are divorced that they cannot re-marry in the Church

After the marriage news emerged last night, Catholic priest Father Mark Drew took to Twitter to vent his frustration

Mr Johnson was baptised a Catholic, according to his mother’s wishes.

He then shifted to Anglicanism when he was at school and was later Confirmed in the Church of England. 

Confirmation refers to the ceremony where a Christian affirms the promises which were made on their behalf when they were baptised as a child or baby.   

Father Drew was critical of Mr Johnson’s third marriage being allowed

Mr Johnson was first married to Allegra Mostyn-Owen in 1987, when he was just 23.

Their marriage came to an end in 1993 when it emerged Mr Johnson was having an affair with childhood friend Marina Wheeler. The pair married the same year. 

They then separated in 2018 and their divorce was finalised after Mr Johnson became Prime Minister in 2019.

Speaking yesterday after news of his third wedding emerged, Catholic author and broadcaster Catherine Pepinster said the Catholic faith does not allow divorcees to be married in its churches.

However, because Mr Johnson’s other marriages were ‘in non-Catholic settings’, the Church did not recognise them. 

‘As far as the Church is concerned, this is his first marriage,’ she said. ‘The others don’t need to be annulled.’ 

A Westminster Cathedral spokesperson told the Sunday Times: ‘On Saturday 29 May, the wedding of Carrie Symonds and Boris Johnson took place in Westminster Cathedral. 

‘The bride and groom are both parishioners of the Westminster Cathedral parish and baptised Catholics. 

Mr Johnson, 56, exchanged vows with Ms Symonds, 33, in Catholic Westminster Cathedral (pictured) in front of a handful of close friends and family – becoming the first Prime Minister to marry in office since Lord Liverpool married Mary Chester in 1822

‘All necessary steps were taken, in both church and civil law, and all formalities completed before the wedding.’   

However, furious Father Drew, who has previously ministered at Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Hornsea, Yorkshire, questioned why the marriage was allowed.

He asked on Twitter: ‘Can anyone explain to me how ‘Boris’ Johnson, who left the Catholic Church while at Eaton [sic] and is twice divorced, can be married at Westminster Cathedral, while I have to tell practicing Catholics in good faith who want a second marriage in Church that it’s not possible?’  

Others on social media also questioned why Mr Johnson was allowed to marry in the Roman Catholic church

But another expert in Roman Catholic church law echoed the view of Ms Pepinster.

Matt Chinery, an ecclesiastical and canon lawyer, told Times Radio on Sunday: ‘There is a requirement if you are a Roman Catholic that you must have your wedding overseen by a Roman Catholic priest or deacon.’

He explained that any other form of marriage ‘is not valid unless you had previous permission from your bishop to marry outside of the Catholic church’.

Boris Johnson was baptised as a Catholic, but was confirmed as an Anglican as a teenager.

Mr Chinery explained: ‘What I think has happened here is that the Catholic church has looked at Boris Johnson’s first two marriages (and) seen that he’s a Roman Catholic by baptism.

‘They’ve looked at that, said ‘you are a Catholic because you were baptised Catholic, your first two weddings weren’t in a Catholic church overseen by a Catholic minister therefore the Roman Catholic church does not recognise those two marriages as valid’.”

He added: ‘So in the eyes of the Catholic church Boris Johnson woke up last week as somebody who wasn’t married and had never been married and so was free to marry in the cathedral this weekend.’

A No10 spokesman said: ‘The Prime Minister and Ms Symonds were married yesterday afternoon in a small ceremony at Westminster Cathedral. 

‘The couple will celebrate their wedding with family and friends next summer.’ 

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