The number of Catholic weddings in England and Wales has fallen dramatically in the last 25 years, according to new figures obtained from the Office of National Statistics (ONS) by the Daily Mail.

In 2015, the most recent year for which statistics have been recorded, there were 7,001 Catholic weddings – less than a third of the figure for 1990.

The decline is even steeper than for Anglican weddings in England and Wales, which have halved over the same period, from 115,000 to 46,000.

Stephen Bullivant, professor of theology and sociology of religion at St Mary’s University, Twickenham, and consulting editor of the Catholic Herald, suggested aesthetic reasons might partly explain why Catholic weddings have declined more sharply than Anglican ones.

“Many couples who legitimately could get married in an Anglican church see a gorgeous little medieval affair that will look splendid in the photos,” he said. A nominal Catholic, on the other hand, “might look at the local church and think ‘this isn’t the prettiest of venues’ ”.

He also suggested that couples seeking to wed in an Anglican church would face fewer requirements. “I expect higher proportions of couples would be barred from a Catholic wedding than from an Anglican church,” he said.

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