A Catholic priest in Cardiff, Wales is said to be in hot water after marrying a couple and baptizing an infant when his church, by law, wasn’t allowed to be open due to the pandemic.
Father Sebastian Jones, parish priest of St. Alban on the Moors in Splott, Cardiff, conducted the wedding of a couple belonging to the Irish Travelers — an ethnic minority group with numbers estimated between 5,000–15,000 souls currently based in his parish.
Local media reported that the wedding took place on May 12 during the lockdown when Welsh regulations permitted locals to leave their home only to shop for basic necessities, for exercise on their own or with family, for a medical need, to provide care or to help a vulnerable person and to travel to and from work where it was necessary and could not be done from home.
Jones would do it again, he wrote to his irate archbishop in a letter that reveals the size of his martyrdom complex:
“As a priest, I must put the salvation of souls above every other consideration, even my own peace of mind and risk from infection. If the supreme law of the Church is the salvation of souls, then I have broken no law that I can suffer for eternally.”
Oh please. It’s not just about him, it’s also about the people he could infect if he catches the virus due to insufficient caution. Jones cares about “souls”; normal people care more about staying alive. It should be noted that only 6.7 percent of the Welsh population is Catholic — but Jones is happy to risk endangering the other 93.3 percent too, including the one third who aren’t even religious, if it means he can keep performing his holier-than-thou heroics.
The priest says his only focus is the Church and its teachings. The secular world is of no overriding concern to him, and the corona-lockdown ordered by the Welsh government can’t be valid when Catholics have urgent religious needs, he argues:
“The Catholic Church alone and not the state has competence in these spiritual matters. The present confusion arises from the notion that every institution is subject to the state. The Church has always vehemently rejected such a violation of her liberty.”
But what on earth was so urgent about the wedding and the baptism anyway? Aren’t events like that usually scheduled weeks, months ahead of time? Yes, but Travelers are special. A colleague of Jones, the priest John Chadwick, put in a good word for him in a letter to the archbishop, citing
“… circumstances where delayed marriage has caused female suicide, including the rape of engaged women, leading them to be cast aside by the grooms’ families unless urgent mediation, counseling and marital blessings are forthcoming. … [Travelers] request weddings with little notice expressly to protect the virtue of their youngsters in their effort to avoid ‘the occasion of sin,’” he noted.
So in Traveler culture, Chadwick tells us, betrothed couples will go off and have intercourse whether a priest has married them or not — but if there’s been no priestly blessing, then the sex is easily viewed as rape, and the young woman has at that point been so dishonored that everyone will ostracize her, possibly leading her to kill herself. Wow. That’s almost Islamist in its fucked-up-ness.
Perhaps priests ministering to a clientele with that mindset feel a sincere calling; but it could also be a matter of “beggars can’t be choosers,” seeing as Catholicism and related faiths have been on a precipitous decline in the British Isles for years now.
As for the illegal emergency baptism, Jones is wholly convinced he did the right thing despite the fact that no social distancing can be properly observed during that ritual.
“[T]o refuse the request for baptism in families where they have buried infants would require a steeliness of heart that I do not possess. I could not refuse a request to baptize an infant when the parents made an urgent appeal, especially when there is so much fear around.”
The priest claims that “every reasonable effort was taken for public health and safety,” but in a photo of the wedding found on Facebook, no one is wearing face masks, including Jones; and everyone appears to stand in fairly close proximity, with the puffed-up padre at the center.
(Screenshot via YouTube)