The tragic and senseless murder of the MP for Southend West, Sir David Amess, in what appears to be a terrorist-related attack is truly shocking. The late politician was a devout Roman Catholic, who was murdered while holding a surgery for his constituents at Belfairs Methodist Church in Leigh-on-Sea.

One MP has described the level of abuse hurled at MPs and their parliamentary aides as an “epidemic”. In what could be described as a portent of his own death, Sir David Amess, wrote recently that an attack on a politician “could happen to any of us”. This is not surprising when you read that a former parliamentary adviser who worked for Yvette Cooper, MP, says she received around 50 death threats each week. In a response to his killing, the UK Home Secretary, Priti Patel, MP, has ordered an urgent review of the security of MPs.

On June 11, 2002, a man armed with two rifles entered Conception Abbey, a Benedictine monastery in Missouri killing two monks and seriously injuring two others before killing himself.

Following the publication of “The Murphy Report” in 2009 into clerical misconduct of the Archdiocese of Dublin, just after “The Ryan Report” priests reported that they had been subject to verbal harassment/intimidation in public and some reported they had been spat upon.

In America, following similar public scandals, priests also reported similar levels of public harassment. And, some Orthodox clergy have been confused for Roman Catholic clergy and were the subject of harassment and abuse from members of the public who enraged at Roman Catholic clergy.

In an article in the Wall Street Journal reported earlier this year, following revelations of further clerical scandals that in Canada “four Catholic churches and an Anglican church were burned to the ground, the first churches to be set ablaze or vandalized to begin a summer of such desecration. Suspicious fires then broke out across the country. In all, at least 56 churches have been set aflame or vandalized, according to the True North Centre, which is mapping attacks on churches”.

On October 11, The Los Angeles Times, reported that a charge located on the edge of Chinatown in LA was defaced with “with anti-colonial slogans on Monday in an act of vandalism that police are investigating as a hate crime”. And, this seems to be continuation of similar acts of vandalism of churches in California.

So for today’s blog, I am asking priests and religious who read this blog to comment on their own personal safety.

Have they ever been physically assaulted?

Have they been injured and/or received an injury that was so severe it required immediate medical attention including hospitalisation?

Have they ever been threatened with violence?

Was the threat of violence a one-off occasion and/or part of an on-going campaign of harassment/intimidation?

Do priests/religious need to have self-defence training?

Should a priest/religious carry a can of pepper spray for their personal safety?

Is it conceivable that a person who is so enraged by the historical failings of the church could contemplate murdering a priest in revenge, and act accordingly?

Are these realities that are contemplated by clergy/religious on a daily basis?

Should all presbyteries have CCTV installed to ensure both the security of the property and the safety of clergy and those who work/volunteer within the parish?

Our readers of the blog aware of any initiatives that have “ecclesiastical approval” that have at their core the health and safety and personal security of priests/religious?

I would be interested to read additional comments and observations that I have not included in the blog, because this is a wide-ranging and complex issue.


I have been verbally attacked on the streets of Dublin.

I have been spat upon and struck on one or two occasions by drunks at a Traveller wedding.

When I came to Larne in 1984 two gunmen came to shoot me at my home. Thankfully I was out.

The following day the police arrived with bulletproof glass and a Walthar automatic pistol.

Thankfully I have never had to use it.

With all the abuse and corruption I think that there is an increased danger to priests.

Thats why many of them dont wear clerical collars.




I am not a fan of Archbishop Roche, who will probably be made a cardinal by Pope Francis at the next consistory. As the Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, when he gives a lecture about the liturgy, we should reflect and engage with what he has to say even if we vehemently disagree. When he was the Ordinary of the Diocese of Leeds, he displayed a sustained hostility to the Traditional Latin Mass (TLM) that was unacceptable. As a diocesan bishop, Roche (who is very personable one-to-one) did not show pastoral solicitude; nor, did he exercise ecclesiastical discretion. 

I take a pragmatic view about the TLM, if people wish to attend this form of the liturgy, let them, because, they are not doing any harm. However, they cannot be permitted to create a church within a church; their deficient ecclesiology cannot be given institutional credence. But, is also the case that people attend the TLM because they are in dismay at the state of the church, e.g., ex-Cardinal McCarrick and the never-ending tsunami of scandals involving sexual and financial misconduct.

A great number of (but not all) people who are diehard supporters of the TLM are driven by the misguided nostalgia to “recreate” a perfect church that has never existed. These people would do well to remember there has never been a golden age of the church.  They seem to forget that Liturgy is a participation in the salvific work of Christ. The celebration of the Eucharist as per the pre-Vatican II Missal has become a spectacle for those who wish to fetishise liturgical vestments on websites such as:

It is also begetting the dangerous groupthink that priests who celebrate the TLM are beyond reproach and they can do no wrong. Church Militant, which is becoming increasingly Trumpian have eloquently shown that the evil of priests sexually abusing children is also an entrenched problem within the SSPX. 

Increasingly, I have found this observation to be true where you have priests wearing lace in the church in the morning — you have the same priests wearing leather in the evening at chemsex parties. 

The TLM will not “save” the church. It will not lead to an influx of vocations. Its supporters would do well to bear in mind that there are twenty-three Eastern Churches sui iuris in full communion with Rome that have distinct but equally legitimate liturgical traditions, ie, the Alexandrian, Armenian, Byzantine, East Syriac, and West Syriac Rites. Also, these churches have their own problems. And, they have corrupt and abusive clergy.

Those who take a traditional/conservative worldview about liturgy are rightly concerned with the unacceptable and erroneous view that Vatican II gave clerics a licence to recreate the church and by extension the liturgy in their own image and likeness. The unsympathetic modifications to churches and cathedrals were often misguided, ill-conceived, and driven by petty ecclesiastical politics. A point acknowledged by Cardinal Ratzinger when he was Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.


It is important that we differentiate between Tradition and Traditionalists when it comes to liturgy. The two bishops that are heroes for traditionalists are Cardinal Burke and Bishop Athanasius Schneider. The former seems to becoming a conspiracy theorist and the latter is concerned by what he considers of the evil of taking communion in the hand. 


Liturgical disputes are as old as the church itself. Nothing ever changes, and the sooner we accept that and make peace with ecclesiastical reality the better. 


When I was ordained in 1976 I started celebrating and loving the Paul VI Mass.


It is the Mass I still use and I have never used Benedict’s missal.

I like all 4 eucharistic prayers.

II and III are useful as not being too long.

I love IV as it lays out the history of God’s dealings with man.

I agree with our correspondent today that the Latin Mass on its own if fine. But it is not fine when it becomes a rallying point for the right-wingers.

I have NEVER celebrated Mass in Latin and would need a lot of tutoring to do so.