10 July 2018, The Tablet

Glasgow Catholics call for action after attack on priest

After the attack, the Grand Orange Lodge of Scotland condemned the incident and said its members were not responsible

Glasgow Catholics call for action after attack on priest

Spectators watch members of the Orange Order take part in the annual County Grand Orange Order Boyne Parade through Glasgow city centre
Photo: Photo: Jane Barlow/PA Wire/PA Images

Canon Tom White, parish priest of St Mary’s and St Alphonsus' in the Calton, Glasgow, was verbally and physically assaulted and spat on during the Orange Order parade in Glasgow on Saturday 7 July.

The parish pastoral councils of both churches are calling on the council to review the routes of future Orange Order parades, scheduled to pass St Mary’s and St Alphonsus' Catholic churches in the east end of the city.

The statement says: “While we welcome the statement by the Grand Orange Lodge of Scotland, condemning the assaults on Canon Tom, as a community we are distressed and deeply saddened that in the 21st century we are unable to exercise our human rights of freedom of association, freedom of assembly and the right to celebrate our faith free from intimidation and violence.”

After the attack, the Grand Orange Lodge of Scotland condemned the incident and said its members were not responsible. A spokesman said: "We understand that abusive comments were directed at a local priest from a group of young men who were not part of the parade. We can confirm that no members of the parade were involved in this or any of the reported incidents. The Orange Order is founded on the principle of religious liberty and respect for people of all faiths. We totally condemn the bigoted actions of those involved and hope that they are dealt with to the full extent of the law. We would welcome the opportunity to work with Police Scotland to identify those responsible." 

In their statement, the parish councils said: “The Catholic faith community of St Alphonsus’ and St Mary’s in The Calton are utterly appalled and saddened at the physical and verbal assault on our Parish Priest, the Very Reverend Thomas Canon White, on Saturday 7th July 2018.  This unprecedented and unprovoked attack took place outside St Alphonsus Church on London Road, Glasgow, just after 5:20pm after Canon Tom had finished celebrating Mass.  The attack took place as the Dalmarnock Orange & Purple District No.50 Orange Order parade, marched past St Alphonsus Church as the 4:30pm Vigil Mass was finishing.

"Despite a police presence those involved in, and following the parade, were able to approach Canon Tom and the parishioners exiting the Church.  This happened against a backdrop of sectarian singing and sectarian insults. He was verbally assaulted and spat upon a number of times and members of the congregation, many who are frail and elderly, were subjected to the same treatment.  One individual also attempted to physically assault Canon Tom with a baton.  Fortunately, this person was prevented from harming him."

The Tablet has asked Glasgow City Council for a comment.

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