Fury at pop video 'sex on the altar' in Belfast catholic church
Good Shepherd parishioners shell-shocked by X-rated DJ Wilkinson clip filmed on altar of chapel
Published 23/06/2014 | 14:00
Furious parishioners have spoken of their horror after discovering a raunchy music video was filmed in their Belfast church.
The video for London DJ Wilkinson's song Half Light depicts a young couple – played by Irish actors Joanna Nixon and Diarmuid Noyes – simulating a sex scene on the altar of Good Shepherd Catholic Church on south Belfast's Ormeau Road.
Most parishioners the Belfast Telegraph spoke to after Mass yesterday were shell-shocked.
Claire McKnight (19) said it was a "disgrace" and everyone involved should be ashamed of themselves.
"It's terrible... I don't even know what to say, I'm so shocked. To do that on the altar is horrific," she added.
A fellow parishioner said: "Well, hopefully the Church has learnt its lesson and won't allow things like this to happen again."
Peter Scullion jnr, who was on his way into the chapel for a family Christening, described the behaviour as "disgusting".
"This is a chapel, a house of God. Music videos shouldn't be allowed to be filmed in it, especially not filth like that," he said.
"Some might argue it is art – but at whose expense? It shows a complete lack of respect."
However, another man in the Christening party added: "I'm not particularly religious. It doesn't really shock or bother me. Worse things have gone on in the Church."
The video shows the pair – portraying a Catholic and a Protestant – meeting on a night out in a club and enjoying a drink and drug-fuelled evening together.
The pair take in some of the sights of Belfast while drink-driving and having a hedonistic dance-off atop a mountain.
The man then carries the girl over his shoulder into the chapel where he proceeds to quench his thirst by drinking from the holy water font before blessing himself.
The pair then jump and slide across the pews before stripping off and having 'sex' on the altar. Local director Aoife McArdle was given permission to film in the church, but local priests Father Patrick McKenna and Father Robert Fullerton were horrified when they viewed the video's content and successfully got the illicit scenes removed.
Celebrating Mass on Sunday, Fr Fullerton waited until the end of the service to mention the incident and read out a section of a statement put out by the Down and Connor diocese.
The priests have both declined to comment further on the incident, but a Press officer for the diocese said the video had caused "most grievous distress" to it.
The statement from the Church said: "The behaviour in the video was a desecration of the church and caused most grievous distress to the parish priest."
Down and Connor diocese added: "If viewed by the parishioners, it would cause severe hurt and distress to the wider parish community.
"For these reasons, to protect the church and its parishioners, the Diocese of Down and Connor immediately brought these concerns to the attention of the distributors and creators of the material."
The diocese said it had not granted permission for a scene of that nature to be filmed in the place of worship.
"No permission was either sought or granted to film the interior of the parish church within the context of any conduct or activities that were not relating to prayer or homage and in accordance with the sanctity of the church," it said.
Neither the video director Ms McArdle nor Mark Wilkinson responded to attempts by the Belfast Telegraph to contact them yesterday.
Mark Wilkinson, aka Wilkinson, is a London-based drum and bass music producer and DJ.
His single Half Light reached number 25 in the UK Charts after its June 1 release. He is perhaps best known for his single Afterglow, which reached number 8 in 2013. The DJ has also produced music for top names such as Wretch 32 and Katy B. It is unclear why the video was shot in Northern Ireland, but the gritty street scenes are reminiscent of pop star Rihanna's We Found Love music video which was mostly filmed in the New Lodge area of Belfast. That video also created controversy.