BY Daniel Harkins | May 18 2018 | comments icon 0 COMMENTS     print icon print


‘Secular elite’ at Glasgow college accused of blocking Catholic Mass

Complaints of a ‘hostile environment’ for Christians after Ascension Thursday Mass cancelled

Senior management at a Glasgow college have been criticised as a ‘secularist policy-making elite’ after they outraged Catholic staff by shutting down a planned Mass for Ascension Thursday.

Br Antony Connelly, the Catholic chaplain to the City of Glasgow College, had arranged the Mass with the college’s Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) department, but it was abruptly cancelled hours after the principal Paul Little had been copied into an email announcing the time and location.

Staff members have now told the SCO that the college is a ‘hostile environment’ for Christians and the Catholic Church has called for an urgent review of the decision to cancel the Mass

Br Antony, a Passionist from St Mungo’s Church, has been chaplain to the college for seven months. After holding an Ash Wednesday service for the Catholic staff and pupils, and responding to a request from staff at the college, he began arranging a Mass for the Holy Day of Obligation last Thursday.

The Mass was approved by the EDI, who arranged a room for the chaplain. But when Br Antony copied the principal in an email, he soon received a terse reply demanding to know who had authorised the Mass. Within an hour, the EDI had cancelled the Mass due to ‘intervention by the higher management.’

After outraged staff made their feelings clear to the college, Br Antony was hauled into a meeting with top brass.
“It was uncomfortable and it felt heavy-handed,” he said. “The idea was just to help Catholic students and staff to get to Mass. I said in the ­meeting that there is an obligation for Catholics to go to Mass [on Ascension Thursday].”

He added that he has received no assurances that the celebration of Mass will be allowed in future on the campus, and that he is ‘not optimistic’ one will ever be allowed.


Most other higher learning institutions in Scotland make provisions for ­regular Masses, including Glasgow University and the University of Strathclyde.

A ‘quiet reflection room’ exists at the City of Glasgow College for people of ‘all faiths and none,’ but Br Antony said it has clearly been laid out for Muslim students.

And he added that ‘contradictions and illogical reasoning’ in the college’s policy for dealing with ­religious services ‘suggest the confusion and entrapment of the ­secularist policy-making elite which neglects the diversity of religions, and instead seeks to create an equality, which is a pseudo-equality, or in today’s parlance, fake-equality.’

“It seems that Cardinal Ratzinger was right when he warned, just before the 2005 conclave, of the ‘dictatorship of relativism’ being played out,” he added. “And I think that Pope Francis has also warned of this ‘tyranny of relativism.’

“The main problem is the institutionalised secularism that is ­running our public institutions.”

In his email announcing the Mass’s cancellation, Br Antony wrote that the college is ‘happy to have a chaplaincy service, and nice pages about equality, diversity and inclusion on their website but reluctant that it should come out of cyberspace and into the reality of religious people’s lives.’

Secularist agenda

One member of the support staff at the college, who asked not to be named, said: “There are signs and TV screens everywhere promoting equality and diversity—it’s almost propaganda. But this is the first time Catholics have put this into practice and our request has been point blank refused.”

He pointed out that in April it was revealed the college paid £1,740 for principal Paul Little to receive media training from Donald Findlay, the QC who in 1999 was fined by the Faculty of Advocates for professional misconduct after singing anti-Catholic songs.

And he added: “If you don’t support the secularist, humanist agenda then you are not going to get promoted at the college.”
John Kelly, a lay officer for the EIS teaching union at a different higher learning institute, was visiting the college when he was told by irate staff of the cancelled Mass.

“A member approached me to say, ‘have you heard the Mass has been cancelled?’ She was absolutely furious,” he said. “I have never heard of this happening before at my college—there has never been an issue with any religion.”

It is understood a number of staff are set to complain to the college about senior management’s actions.

A spokesman for the the Catholic Church said: “It is staggering to think that a Mass might be cancelled on the instructions of the college management. It is difficult to imagine what problems could have been caused by allowing Mass to be celebrated.

“An urgent review of this decision is needed and hopefully no such restrictions or refusals will be imposed in future.”

A spokesperson for Glasgow Archdiocese said: “It is to be hoped that the college authorities will soon make it clear that they are open to cooperating with the Church in providing for the spiritual care of a significant proportion of their students.”

A City of Glasgow College spokesperson: “City of Glasgow College is a beacon of excellence in equality, diversity and inclusion. We respect all religious beliefs and those with none and endeavour to create a welcoming environment to support that.

“As Scotland’s super college, with many demands on our facilities from a diverse student cohort of 130 different nationalities, and a valued diverse range of staff and stakeholders, we aim to be fair in all that we do. A review is underway into how we can facilitate all religious ceremonies equitably in future.”

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