23 September 2020, The Tablet

Boris Johnson's son baptised Catholic

by Simon Caldwell , CNS

Boris Johnson's son baptised Catholic

Boris Johnson, whose new baby has been baptised Catholic, pictured here with an older son, Milo, pictured in 2018.
Aaron Chown/PA Archive/PA Images

Boris Johnson's infant son, Wifred, has been baptised Catholic, it has been confirmed.

A Catholic priest at Westminster cathedra baptised the prime minister's son at Westminster Cathedral on 12 September.

A statement from the Archdiocese of Westminster confirmed that the baptism of Wilfred Johnson took place.

“We can confirm that Wilfred Johnson was baptised in Westminster Cathedral on September 12, 2020, in a private ceremony, attended by both parents and a small number of guests, in keeping with current (Covid-19) guidelines," said the diocese yesterday.

The government had revealed the baptism of the four-month-old boy to disprove claims in the media that the prime minister had taken time off work to make a social trip in Italy as the UK began to wrestle with a second wave of the coronavirus.

Johnson dismissed the allegations that he had been seen in Perugia that weekend as “completely untrue” with his spokesman inviting the media to “confirm with the priest” that he had attended his son's baptism that day.

The priest who baptised Wilfred was Father Daniel Humphreys, the acting administrator of the cathedral, and he said performed the ceremony in the Lady Chapel. The identity of the godparents has not been revealed.

Johnson's sixth child was born April 29 and baptised Wilfred Lawrie Nicholas, partly after the grandfather of his fiancee, Carrie Symonds. Symonds' grandfather was named Nicholas. In addition, he is named after two doctors, Nicholas Price and Nicholas Hart, who Johnson said had saved his life when he contracted Covid-19 earlier that month.

Johnson separated from Marina Wheeler, his second wife, in 2018 because of his affair with Symonds. Johnson and Wheeler have four children together.  Symonds is the first unmarried partner of a British prime minister to move into Downing Street, the official London residence.

Symonds is a Catholic and Johnson was baptised a Catholic because it was the faith of his mother, Charlotte Johnson Wahl, making him the first baptised Catholic to serve as a British prime minister.

His predecessor, Tony Blair, whose wife, Cherie, is a Catholic, converted to the faith in 2008, only after he had stepped down from office.

Johnson began attending Church of England services while a student at Eton College. Last year he declared that he would “always prioritise protecting religious freedoms and stand up for those facing persecution”.

Just two days after the baptism of his son, Johnson faced criticism from the Catholic Church because of the robust approach to taking Britain out of the European Union by the end of the year, which included a threat to break international law if the EU attempted to introduce tariffs between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK.

Cardinal Jean-Claude Hollerich of Luxembourg, chair of the Commission of the Bishops' Conferences of the European Union, told the German Catholic news agency KNA that Johnson was behaving “like a populist”.

He said: “Such dangerous tendencies can be very damaging to the world order. I hope that the citizens of the EU and the UK will stay friends and not break too much china.”

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