Boris Johnson has reportedly married Carrie Symonds today at Westminster Cathedral in a ceremony planned in strict secrecy, according to newspapers.
The pair are said to have exchanged vows in front of a small group of close friends and family, the Mail on Sunday and The Sun newspaper have reported.
The ceremony had been planned for six months and a handful of church officials were involved in the preparation, according to the Sun.
The 30 guests invited, the maximum number under current lockdown restrictions, are said to have only been informed at the last minute.
It comes just days after reports said the prime minister and Symonds were said to have sent save-the-date cards to family and friends for an event on 30 July 2022.
The newspaper also reported that, shortly after 1.30pm, staff at the cathedral told visitors to evacuate as the building was going into lockdown.
A limousine transporting Symonds, 33, arrived into the piazza outside the main west door.
The couple’s year-old son Wilfred is believed to have attended the nuptials along with two official witnesses.
The ceremony was reportedly carried out by Father Daniel Humphreys who had baptised Wilfred last year.
One witness told the newspaper: “It was closed for about half an hour and they all came out after.
“It’s not very often we have weddings here, and when they came out they were all bundled into a car.”
Northern Ireland first minister Arlene Foster tweeted her congratulations to the couple.
A Downing Street spokesperson would not comment on the reports when asked by the Guardian.
However, Father Paul Gargaro, parish priest of Saint Patrick’s, Anderston, had this to say on social media:
30 May at 12:24 ·
At Mass this morning some parishioners were asking about the Prime Minister’s wedding, and since I’m head of the Scottish Catholic Tribunal, which deals with marriage nullities to allow divorcees to marry again, they asked me to post something on here.
It’s important to remember that we don’t know all the details, and so any comment must be a bit speculative, but roughly speaking the situation seems to be as follows (the canon law is a bit simplified as well):
Boris was baptised a Catholic (his mother was Catholic). All Catholics are obliged to get married in the Catholic Church (subject to some exceptions). Whilst at Eton he became an Anglican, although I don’t know to what extent he has ever practised in either denomination, but whilst becoming an Anglican is a serious sin for a Catholic it does not remove the obligation to marry in the Church.
(Between 1983 and 2009 a “formal” defection from the faith did remove the obligation. If Boris became an Anglican after 1983 he might have fallen into this category, but only if his bishop formally received his defection. If he became an Anglican before 1983, or if he never formally notified his bishop, then he would still be bound by the obligation to marry in Church. Almost nobody ever formally notified the bishop, so its unlikely Boris did).
Since he was bound by the obligation to marry in the Catholic Church, and since his previous weddings were not in the Catholic Church, these weddings would be invalid for “lack of canonical form” and he would be free to marry.
Lack of Canonical Form cases, cases where a Catholic did not marry in Church, are usually just dealt with by the parish priest examining the paperwork – they do not need to go to the Tribunal and so there is no long process involved.
It is important to be clear that this was not some special treatment for Boris – countless people will get married in Church this year despite being divorced because their previous marriages were outside the Church – and if someone is free to marry, the priest is obliged to marry them, even if they are a public figure. Hopefully the priest preparing Boris and Carrie for marriage had proper marriage preparation for them – his treatment of women and fidelity does seem to leave a lot to be desired and would require a lot of serious discussion, with the priest and between the couple themselves. Let’s be sure to pray for them that they can have a life-long union founded on love of God and each other.
Lack of Canonical Form is one type of marriage nullity; there are many others, and the Tribunal, and your parish priest, are always available to discuss with divorced people how we can look at your previous marriage(s) to see if they were invalid and if you might be free to marry in the Church.
Father Gargaro was ordained from St Michael’s, Dumbarton, and served for a time as an assistant priest at St Margaret’s, Clydebank. He is now parish priest of St Patrick’s, Anderston.