DOWN AND CONNOR PRIEST ENTERS CIVIL PARTNERSHIP ???
This Blog was informed today that a serving Down and Connor priest has entered into a Civil Partnership with his long time lover who also happens to be a Catholic teacher!
The priest providing the information has provided the Blog with information on previous occasions and in each case his reports were later proven to be true and accurate.
The Civil Partnership ceremony is reported to have taken place in recent times in a County Antrim registry office in the presence of the civil registrar.
The Blog has been provided with both the name of the priest and his partner. However, due to lack of documentary evidence and the evidence of others those names will not, at this stage, be published.
The priest in question is known as been actively "gay" among many of his fellow priests.
This further development comes in the wake of a series of scandals and stories that seem to suggest that in practical terms, at least, Down and Connor no longer requires celibacy as a requirement from priests.
Clerical circles are awash with stories of priest of the diocese who are sexually active with both women and men.
Priests regularly discuss their colleagues who have virtually live in female and male partners. Some of these relationships have been in existence for years and indeed decades.
As far as we know however only one priest has, to date, attempted to contract civil partnership with another man. A Croydon priest had a civil partnership with a Pakistani man to keep him in the UK. He was suspended and later welcomed back. However in this case the motive was to help an immigrant rather than marry a lover.
CANON LAW AND A PRIEST'S MARRIAGE:
Canon Law (the Catholic Church law) forbids its priests to EVEN ATTEMPT MARRIAGE.
As far as the Church is concerned a priest cannot validly marry and any marriage he attempts to have would be regarded by the Church as always being INVALID.
Of course Civil Partnerships are not Marriages. They are simply recognised in civil law as giving couples many of the rights of marriage.
However in Ireland and in many other countries same sex couples can now celebrate full marriages.
If it is true that a D&C priest has contracted a Civil Partnership it would of course not be recognised by the Church.
However, I suppose, it could be a way a priest wanting to commit to a man could do so and not be guilty of breaking Canon Law.
However I cannot see most Catholic bishops being happy with one of his priests being in a Civil Partnership.
In Down and Connor Bishop Noel Treanor seems to tolerate a lot from priests.
But could he really tolerate a priest having a Civil Partner?
Time will tell.
We will update readers on further developments.