Catholic parishioners call on Glasgow City Council to review Orange Order parades following recent attack on Canon Tom White
The Parish Pastoral Councils of St Mary’s and St Alphonsus’ in the Calton, Glasgow, have issued a joint statement following an attack on their parish priest Canon Tom White (pictured) during an Orange Order parade on Saturday 7th of July.
The statement calls on Glasgow City Council to review the routes of upcoming Orange Order parades which are currently 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.”
During the attack Canon Tom White was verbally and physically assaulted and spat upon a number of times.
The Parish Councils also ask the Scottish Parliament to take steps to ensure that all those exercising their right to religious freedom will be protected by the appropriate statutory authorities.
Here is the full text of the statement:
As a result of the widely reported incident outside St Alphonsus’ Church on Saturday July 7th 2018, the Parish Pastoral Councils of the Parishes of both St Mary’s and St Alphonsus met to consider our duty of care to those affected by these events: both the parishioners and Canon White himself. As a result of this meeting, we would like to release the following statement.
“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.
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 human rights of freedom of association, freedom of assembly and the right to celebrate our faith in public: free from intimidation and violence. At approximately 5:20pm on Saturday 7th July 2018 we were denied these rights.
On behalf of our faith community in the Calton we would like to ask the following questions:
1. In light of these events, will Glasgow City Council review the routes of the Orange Order parades on:
a. 21st July 2018 passing St Alphonsus Church
b. 4th August 2018 passing St Mary’s Church
c. 11th August 2018 passing St Mary’s Church
d. any other future parades scheduled to pass our places of worship?
2. As a faith community who are part of the wider Calton community affected by these events, how will we, and the wider community, be consulted and involved as parties who are impacted upon by future proposed marches?
3. How will the Scottish Parliament take steps to ensure that anyone exercising their right to celebrate their faith will be protected by the appropriate authorities?
4. How will the Grand Orange Lodge of Scotland be held accountable for their members and followers (including the many thousands who march alongside their parades) to ensure they show respect to those of other faiths, the public in general and refrain from bigoted and sectarian behaviour?
5. In light of these events that the local community has endured, how will the competent authorities (local and national government and Police Scotland) ensure that our right to exercise the celebration of our faith without fear or intimidation is upheld?