Let it be known from the outset that I don’t watch Neighbours, and it was something of a trial to have it playing in a background window as I battled through a pile of marriage-related paperwork this afternoon.

I resolutely endured bad television however, in the name of research. It all sprang from this message, which appeared on my Facebook wall:

For those among my readers who don’t watch Neighbours (well done!), I’ll get you up to speed.

Vanessa’s mother Francesca — a good ol’ Italian traditionalist — is upset because Vanessa is unwed and pregnant. Francesca threatens to disinherit Vanessa, unless she marries Lucas, the child’s father. Vanessa doesn’t love Lucas — it was a one night stand — but she is falling in love with Rhys, who unbeknownst to her is contemplating a marriage proposal. Lucas, meanwhile, initially rejected mother and child, but he has has since fallen in love with Vanessa, but lacks the courage to tell her.

(Side-note: Can you bear it? My fingers are bleeding, just from typing this stuff!)

The hapless Fr Corrigan — who is, apparently, the parish priest of Erinsborough — is first mentioned in the scene starting at 5:33:

I call Fr Corrigan hapless because, just for starters, he is willing to assist at a shot gun wedding. If I’m preparing a pregnant couple for marriage, and they decided to marry only after they became pregnant, I would insist the couple wait until after the child was born! We should never make major decisions in the wake of unexpected events. Moreover, in the discernment of spirits, an impatient sense of urgency is worthy of suspicion. The Holy Spirit sows peace and patience, even in the midst of urgency.

But much worse, before even meeting with the couple, Fr Corrigan says he “might be able to fit them into the side chapel in the next few weeks!” Perhaps the parish priest of Erinsborough doesn’t know his legal obligations to the Commonwealth. The associate priest of Hamilton does:

Section 42 of the Marriage Act 1961 requires the parties to an intended marriage to give the authorised celebrant at least one month’s written notice prior to the solemnisation of the marriage. This notice is known as the Notice of Intended Marriage.

Fr Corrigan gets another mention in the following scene starting at 13:34, wherein he forever loses my respect:

After repeated contact with the bride’s mother, but not even a phone conversation with the bride and groom, Fr Corrigan has their wedding booked in “at the end of the month.”

Now I have no problems marrying a couple who are not in love each other. Freely exchanged consent, not romance, is the indispensable requirement in marriage. Romantic love helps, but it can come or go — and often does. History is full of arranged marriages which started out loveless, but became great romances. And I can only presume “the spark” dies out in many conventional marriages which remain steadfast, and which may again become passionately romantic later.

So I would not refuse to marry Vanessa and Lucas simply because Vanessa doesn’t love Lucas. I would refuse to marry them because Lucas isn’t honest with Vanessa, and Vanessa has not presented herself freely and without reservation. Their marriage is built on lies and coercion, which automatically invalidates it.

But apart from all that, I would never agree to marry a couple whom I haven’t even met! Maybe TV-land Fr Corrigan has other things on his plate, but really, there’s no excuse for that sort of naivety. Maybe he should learn to manage his time better. And maybe he needs to become more alert to the ways of the world.

Occasionally tuning into a soap opera like Neighbours might help.