Gay couple in church baptism snub

Lesbian couple Susan Field and Jean Jones (pictured) aren't allowed to have thier daughter Lily-Faith Baptised at Church on the same day as their same sex wedding.
Lesbian couple Susan Field and Jean Jones (pictured) aren't allowed to have thier daughter Lily-Faith Baptised at Church on the same day as their same sex wedding.

A same-sex couple from Chorley have spoken of their upset after their baptism hopes for their daughter were left in tatters.

Susan Field and Jean Jones of Bolton Road, Abbey Village, wanted to have 18-month-old Lily-Faith accepted into the Roman Catholic Church.

But they said they were initially rejected from Brindle St Joseph’s RC Church in Chapel Fold, Hoghton, because they are in a same-sex relationship, and then were refused the ceremony they had hoped for at St Joseph’s RC Church in Withnell, because Susan is not the baby’s birth mother.

The pair also wanted to have six people named as godparents for Lily-Faith, including her biological donor father and his female partner, another gay couple consisting of a woman and a man who was previously a woman, and a heterosexual couple.

But they said the church ruled that request out because none of them are Catholic, and told them they could only have two godparents.

Susan, 32, said: “All my family are Catholic so Jean, who is the birth mother, agreed with me that our child should be part of my religion.

“But they said, because I’m not on the birth certificate, I can’t be part of the ceremony. I want to be part of Lily’s baptism and I can’t.

“They are saying it can go ahead, but she has to have Catholic godparents, which we haven’t got. It’s very sad, especially in this day and age. We have been so upset about it.”

The Archdiocese of Liverpool said that it was standard practice that only two godparents could be named as such in the register, no matter how many godparents actually attended the ceremony.

It said Brindle St Joseph’s RC Church was not the correct church for the pair to attend because they lived in a different parish, and the Rev Peter Crowther had no recollection of telling Susan she could not be part of the ceremony.

But it admitted it had told the pair they could not come to the church in their ceremonial dresses, after they planned to undergo a civil wedding ceremony at Chorley Register Office earlier in the day.

Susan has been in a relationship with Jean, 33, for almost three years. The couple first approached Brindle St Joseph’s.

Susan said the priest told them ‘how can you want your daughter to be Catholic when we’re going to teach her that your relationship is wrong?’

“He said this isn’t your local church and told us to go to Withnell”, she added.

She said when they arrived at St Joseph’s in Bury Lane, Father Peter Crowther said he was expecting them because they had been the topic of discussion at a monthly priests’ meeting, and would have to speak to Archbishop Patrick Kelly about their requests.

Susan, a student, said: “We wanted to get married, then go to the church for the baptism, but they said we couldn’t go near the church in our wedding dresses. We know we can’t be married in a church, but we could have had nice photos taken in the grounds.”

Susan said they had been left with no choice but to make alternative arrangements.

She said: “We’ve now decided to go for a naming ceremony instead at the registry office, and have a do afterwards. It’s not what we wanted for Lily, or our family.

“We are both her legal guardians, but the Catholic Church does not look at it like that because we’re in a same-sex relationship.”

In a statement issued by the Archdiocese on his behalf, Father Crowther said: “Having sought the advice of Archbishop Kelly regarding the request for baptism of Lily-Faith Hope Field-Jones, it was agreed that the little girl be baptised on July 29.

“In accordance with our normal Catholic practice, I requested that one of the godparents chosen should be a practising Catholic, and pointed out that only two names would be entered as godparents in the register.

“The couple requested they be allowed to come to church in the clothes they would be wearing for their civil ceremony on the same day. I declined this request as I felt it inappropriate, after discussion they agreed with me.

“If the form is returned in the near future, there is no reason why the baptism should not take place as agreed.”