SUBMITTED BY A READER
THE SAFETY OF PRIESTS AND RELIGIOUS.
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.