SCOTLAND – Scottish police are investigating an incident that involved the assault of a Catholic priest and his parishioners. Father Tom White was meeting with parishioners after Mass when a large Orange parade passed by the church. The incident occurred in front of Saint Alphonsus parish in the Barras area of the city.
According to Crux, the Orange Order is a Protestant fraternal order based primarily in Northern Ireland, but with a strong presence in Scotland. “It organizes marches in July to commemorate the victory of the Dutch-born Protestant King William of Orange, who defeated the army of the deposed Catholic King James II to secure the thrones of England, Ireland and Scotland at the Battle of the Boyne in Ireland on July 1, 1690,” Charles Collins reported.
The annual ‘Twelfth of July’ parade draws 4,500 parade marchers annually. The parade normally occurs on the first Saturday in July.
Since the incident, the Archdiocese of Glasgow issued a statement on social media confirming the attack on Father White.
“Yesterday evening after vigil Mass at St Alphonsus, Canon Tom White was meeting and greeting parishioners. An Orange march approached,” the statement reads. “Police – who had been guarding the church – were called away to deal with another nearby incident leaving the priest and parishioners defenseless. Canon White and parishioners were subject to vile abuse.”
The statement goes on to describe the crowds spitting on his face. “He [Father White] was then further insulted and lunged at by a man carrying a pole before police arrived to restore some kind of order.”
The Archdiocese of Glasgow ended with questions for Police Scotland and the Glasgow City Council. “What kind of society is it that allows ministers of religion and church goers to be intimidated and attacked by a group which has a long history of fomenting fear and anxiety on city streets,” they asked. “Why is the Orange Order still allowed to schedule its intimidating parades on streets containing Catholic Churches at times when people are trying to get in and out for Mass?”
Police Scotland also commented on the incident. “Police Scotland were made aware that a priest at the Barras was assaulted outside his church around 4:20 pm this afternoon,” a spokesperson said. “The parade was passing the church at the time, however the assault was not believed to be carried out by someone taking part. Details have still to be confirmed. Inquiries into the assault, which we believe to be minor in nature, are at a very early stage.”
Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon asked the public to let police continue the investigation. However, he also condemned the incident as unacceptable.
First, we must let @policescotland do its job. However, behaviour like this – hate crime of any kind – is simply unacceptable, and we will always consider what more we must do to eradicate it. In the meantime, my respect to Canon White and @ArchdiocGlasgow for speaking out. https://t.co/vkOlF2ldkr
— Nicola Sturgeon (@NicolaSturgeon) July 8, 2018