A priest has defied Church Law and married with the full intention of continuing his ministry as a priest. Fr Adrian Hastings, the writer and theologian. was married by an Anglican clergyman in the chapel of the College of the Ascension at Selly Oak, Birmingham on March 31. His bride was Ann Spence, a lecturer in the Social Studies Department at Selly Oak Colleges.
According to Canon Law, his marriage means that he is automatically suspended from the priesthood.
This week he explained that for obvious personal reasons he chose not to make any formal announcement of his marriage. It
was a private occasion. he said, but he did not intend that it should remain a secret.
There were about 60 people at the marriage service, including Fr Hastings' mother, close relatives and friends among whom were at least two Catholic priests.
Fr Hastings had known Miss Spence for about six years. They met while he was working at Selly Oak Colleges. He is 50 years old and she is 39. He now lectures at Aberdeen 1 lniversity in the Religious Studies Department. and his wife will join him next month at the end of the academic year.
1,ast year Fr Hastings wrote in a hook called "In Filial Disobedience" that the Latin Church's insistence on celibacy had a devastating effect on the pastoral care of Christians in man) parts of the world.
He did not attack celibacy itself, hut the law which imposed it on priests. He said it did a "grave disservice to the Church".
latter he said that the position he had adopted in the book was "not merely theoretical or just a paper thing. The natural Implication and appropriate follow-through is to marry."
He said he could break the celibacy law without an sense of failure of fidelity to Cod. He added that he also felt a personal need to marry and had wanted to for many years, though he had no precise plans at the time to do so. He told the Catholic Herald this week that his plans to marry were made some fime after his
book was published. lie explained that he was giving 14 itness to a principle which would he of no effect unless it became knovvn.
Many Catholics would be disappointed or shocked by the news of his decision and action, he said; hut he hoped that his disobedience could be wen as significant without being truculent.
He said he sadly accepted that many Catholics would not be able to accept the validity of his marriage in the eyes of the Church.
Fr Hastings is a priest of N1asaka diocese in Vganda, where he was ordained in 1955, hut no he works in the diocese of Bishop Mario Conti of Aberdeen. Bishop Conti had no comment to make on the marriage.
The controversial priest is not engaged in any pastoral work in the diocese. and said that he did not say Mass in public at the moment.
A canon lawyer, commenting on Fr Hastings' marriage, said that it meant automatic suspension from the priesthood. "This means he may not say lass, hear confessions, preach or perform any other sacramental duties.
"If he does so it is a matter of sin. If anyone knowing that he is suspended receives a sacrament from his hands it Is invalid except in cases of extreme emergency."
Children lead the way in a procession to crown a statue of Our Lady at the Carmelite Church, Our Lady of Mount Carmel and St Simon Stock, Kensington, London W8 last Sunday.
The statue has been specially restored by the Italian artist and sculptor Professor Velia Rinaldi, who has been honoured by two Popes for her work. It will now be used every year in the May celebrations in honour of Our Lady.
Earlier this month the Carmelites celebrated the feast of St Simon Stock.