GLASGOW, Scotland, July 13, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) — Following an attack on a Catholic priest last weekend, the Archbishop of Glasgow will meet with the Scottish government to discuss the anti-Catholic hate crime.
Archbishop Philip Tartaglia and Anthony Horan, director of the Scottish Catholic Parliamentary Office, will meet Humza Yousef, Holyrood’s cabinet secretary for justice later this month.
On Saturday at approximately 5:20 p.m. after an early vigil Mass at Glasgow’s St. Alphonsus Catholic Church, Canon Tom White and some members of his congregation were subjected to anti-Catholic abuse as a parade of the Orange Order walked past.
The Orange Order is a worldwide organization formed to celebrate British Protestant religion and heritage. Long associated with anti-Catholic feeling, it celebrates the victory of the Protestant King William of Orange over the Catholic King James II of England at the Battle of the Boyne in 1690. Parades or “walks” with marching bands are central to the festivities, which take place throughout July.
Canon White told the BBC that, while it was customary for the Orange Order bands to stop playing when they pass places of worship, the silence outside St. Alphonsus was filled with anti-Catholic chants. When police officers accompanying the march were called away, the priests and other Catholics leaving Mass were left defenseless.
“They were called to another incident in Kent Street and it left myself and the parishioners vulnerable to an escalating incident which at that point I was enduring verbal assaults – Fenian scum, and worse, I was being called a beast and a pedophile,” White stated.
Someone spat on the priest, and when he turned around, his attacker spat in his eye.
According to a Facebook statement by the Archdiocese of Glasgow, White was “then further insulted and lunged at by a man carrying a pole before police arrived to restore some kind of order.”
“What kind of society is it that allows ministers of religion and churchgoers to be intimidated and attacked by a group which has a long history of fomenting fear and anxiety on city streets?” the Archdiocese demanded. “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 Order denied responsibility, saying the young men involved were not part of their parade.
The attack has been condemned by members of all Scotland’s political parties and 75,000 people have signed a petition asking for an end to Orange marches in Glasgow. (More than 15,000 others have signed a petition asking that they continue). The petition will not be considered by Glasgow City Council, however, as it does not meet their “eligibility criteria.”
Anthony Horan of the SCPO released a statement saying the widespread condemnation of the attack on White was “heartening.”
“It is heartening to see so many people showing support and solidarity towards Canon Tom White and his congregation at St. Alphonsus Church in Glasgow,” he wrote. “Nobody should experience the vile abuse and violence directed towards them as they came out of Mass on Saturday evening during an Orange walk.”
He pointed out that anti-Catholic hate crime accounts for at least 50 percent of hate crimes in Scotland and is a “scourge on Scottish society.”
“ … This attack is not an isolated incident. Anti-Catholic behaviour is a sad reality of life in Scotland and, far from being a new problem, it is an age-old problem that just won’t go away,” Horan continued.
“In our so-called modern, progressive, tolerant Scotland, we have witnessed the desecration of a Catholic Church in Coatbridge, a priest and his congregation attacked as they came out of Mass in Fife, and the words ‘Kill all Catholics’ emblazoned on an iconic Glasgow bridge. These, and the attack on Canon White, are all examples of life in contemporary Scotland. They are not a throwback to the '70s or '80s. It is Scotland, here and now.”
The Scottish government has so far refused to acknowledge that anti-Catholic violence is a specific problem in Scotland, preferring to sweep the issue into a catch-all file marked “sectarianism” and to focus on churchgoers. In Scotland, 42 percent of churchgoers are over age 65.
Several more Orange parades are expected to march past Catholic churches in Glasgow this month. The next is scheduled to pass St. Alphonsus Catholic Church on Saturday, July 21.