A Catholic priest has revealed that he was pressured into hosting a wedding service inside his church during the covid-19 lockdown. According to the Archbishop of Cardiff George Stack, Father Sebastian Jones was put "under a lot of pressure" to perform the prohibited service and eventually "caved in."
After pictures of the event emerged on Facebook showing several people posing for photographs inside the church, Archbishop of Cardiff George Stack confirmed that a wedding service had taken place at St Alban-on-the-Moors in Splott, Cardiff, on Tuesday 12th May. Weddings and Christenings were both banned in Wales following the imposition of coronavirus restrictions on 23rd March.
Archbishop Stack added :
"When I say he was pressured, he felt pressured. He was concerned. Worried about the girl's health and safety. All that.
"Now I know it has happened I'm very shocked and upset.
"I share, in a way, the priest's dilemma but it was not the right thing to do, to succumb to that pressure."
Stack added that he had spoken to the priest in question and that the matter was under investigation:
"I think it could be a disciplinary matter but the priest would put forward his defence of course," he said.
"Whether his defence was: 'I was under extreme pressure' or 'I was worried about the health and wellbeing of this girl'."
The priest in question has yet to comment on the situation directly, although his supervisor, Father Ignatius Harrison, said Jones "has been diligent in his pastoral care during his time in the parish."
Harrison added: "In these uncertain times of covid-19 Christian clergy across the country as reported in national newspapers have responded to unforeseen urgent pastoral situations that confronted them, including a much-publicised wedding at St Thomas's Hospital in London.
"Covid-19 has brought additional pressure and has required a particular pastoral response.
"Pope Francis has often exhorted the clergy to accompany and support the people they minister to with compassion and sensitivity."
A Cardiff council spokesman added that no official notice was provided for the wedding, noting:
"For a wedding to be legal, notice of the wedding must be given at least 28 days in advance.
"New notices of marriage are not currently being accepted due to Covid-19 and notice has not been given for this wedding."
Police are reportedly investigating reports of a "wedding party" happening on the same day as the ceremony at an address in the St Julians area of Newport.
A local neighbour said:
"I heard noise from about 10pm. It was quite loud. I'm not sure who called the police but they were there at about 11.30pm or 12am.
"The music stopped but after the police left it just kept starting up again. It was loud enough in my house a few hundred yards away from it."
Gwent Police Insp Martin Cawley said: "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.
"Officers from my neighbourhood policing team are continuing to look into the matter as new information becomes available."