18:02 GMT24 June 2021
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    The British Prime Minister tied the knot for the third time in an intimate Westminster Cathedral ceremony on Saturday attended only by 30 close ones as per COVID rules. Children from his previous marriage to Marina Wheeler were reportedly absent from the secret outing.

    Boris Johnson and Carrie Symonds exchanged vows at Westminster Cathedral on Saturday, leaving many Catholics bewildered over why the prime minister, who is twice divorced and had converted to Anglicanism during his school years, was able to get married in a Catholic church.

    “I thought the Catholic Church didn’t recognise divorce? How comes the mant [sic] times divorced Johnson was allowed to marry in a Catholic cathedral?” was one of the most common reactions to the news on social media.

    Warrington’s assistant priest Father Mark Drew asked on Twitter whether “anyone” could explain to him “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 practising Catholics in good faith who want a second marriage in Church that it’s not possible?”

    Father Paul Butler, the rector of St. Paul’s in Deptford, echoed this surprise, sarcastically saying in a tweet that there is “always one canon law for the rich and one for the poor”.

    Many also remained outraged that the prime minister was given much more privileges than the same-sex couples who are not allowed to get married in the church.

    The prime minister, who is said to have renounced his Catholic faith for Anglicanism while studying at Eton, first got hitched in 1987, when marrying his Oxford University sweetheart Allegra Mostyn-Owen. Six years later and just 12 days into his divorce, he married his childhood friend Marina Wheeler, who was already pregnant with their first child.

    Many have shared concerns on Twitter that the British prime minister probably had to annul his previous marriages to be allowed to re-marry according to Catholic canon, as his previous wives were still alive and well. But Catholic author Catherine Pepinster pointed out that this should not be necessarily the case, as Johnson’s previous ceremonies were not carried out in Catholic settings and thus were not recognised by the Church.

    “As far as the Church is concerned, this is his first marriage. They don’t need to be annulled. They didn’t happen, according to Roman Catholic law,” Pepinster explained.

    Papal biographer Austen Ivereigh seems to agree – Johnson’s previous spouses were not Catholic, unlike Symonds, and the weddings they had were not Catholic:

    “Boris’s two previous marriages (probably) lacked canonical form, that is, are not recognised in Catholic law. So he (probably) didn’t need an annulment. When the canonical form of marriage has not been observed and the marriage was not later validated in the Church, a simple administrative process is used to declare such marriages invalid in church.”

    Boris and Carrie Johnson are seen in the garden of 10 Downing Street, after their wedding, in London, Britain May 29, 2021. Picture taken May 29, 2021. Rebecca Fulton/Pool via REUTERS     TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
    © REUTERS / POOL
    Boris and Carrie Johnson are seen in the garden of 10 Downing Street, after their wedding, in London, Britain May 29, 2021. Picture taken May 29, 2021. Rebecca Fulton/Pool via REUTERS TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY

    Johnson and Symonds, formerly the Conservative Party head of communications, announced their engagement last year, while the bride was already pregnant with their son Wilfred Lawrie Nicholas Johnson. He was born in April 2020, few months after Johnson and Wheeler had managed to reach a financial statement around their divorce, which was finalised in November the same year.

    The newly-weds had invited only 30 guests to their secret ceremony, which was reportedly carried out by Father Daniel Humphreys. Even Downing Street’s senior aides were not briefed about the proceeding in advance, sources told BBC. The wedding became the first one for a sitting British prime minister in 199 years.

    Tags:
    Roman Catholic, Catholicism, Carrie Symonds, Boris Johnson, United Kingdom
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