A priest was spat upon and several of his parishioners subjected to “vile abuse” after a Protestant march went past their church in Glasgow.
Canon Tom White had just finished celebrating the Saturday evening Mass at St Alphonsus church when the Orange parade approached.
The Archdiocese of Glasgow says Canon White and his parishioners left defenceless after police who had been guarding the church were called away to deal with another incident.
“Canon White and parishioners were subjected to vile abuse … ‘Fenian bastard’ being the most typical,” the archdiocese said in a statement.
“The priest was spat upon. Spittle landed on the back of his head. He wiped it away. Another mouthful of thick spittle was spat into his eye socket. Again he wiped it away leaving his hand full of the vile liquid.
“He was then further insulted and lunged at by a man carrying a pole before police arrived to restore some kind of order.”
The Orange Order is a Protestant group primarily based in Northern Ireland and Scotland. It holds marches in July to commemorate the victory of Protestant King William of Orange over Catholic King James II at the Battle of the Boyne.
The Archdiocese of Glasgow posed two questions for the police and the 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?
“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?”
The Orange marches have a long history of sectarian clashes, especially in Northern Ireland.
Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon tweeted after the incident:
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
In March this year, a Scottish government report showed that Catholics are the victims of 57 per cent of all religiously aggravated hate crime in the country. The report led to a Labour Member of the Scottish Parliament calling on Nicola Sturgeon’s government to recognise the problem of anti-Catholicism.
Elaine Smith MSP quoted Archbishop Philip Tartaglia of Glasgow saying: “Our problem is not so much sectarianism but anti-Catholicism.”