BY Daniel Harkins | May 2 | comments icon 0 COMMENTS     print icon print

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Anti-Catholic discrimination is ‘a scourge on society and must be eradicated,’ First Minister says

SNP and Scottish Labour leaders condemn attack on Catholic church

Anti-Catholic discrimination is ‘a scourge on society and must be eradicated,’ First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has said after a shrine of Our Lady of Częstochowa was desecrated and a statue of Jesus smashed at St Simon’s Church in Partick, Glasgow.

Responding to a question from MSP Sandra White, in whose constituency St Simon’s is located, the First Minister said the vandalism was ‘absolutely appalling and a complete outrage.’

The incident took place at St Simon’s, which is popular with Scotland’s Polish community, between 1.30pm to 4pm on April 29. A statue of Jesus was smashed and a shrine to Our Lady of Częstochowa was desecrated.

On Tuesday following the attack, Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard said the ‘whole congregation of St Simon’s have my solidarity, and we must do all we can to stamp anti-Catholic bigotry in Scotland.’

Speaking on Thursday during First Minister’s Questions, Mrs Sturgeon said: “While it is for the police to investigate such incidents and any motivation for it, we should all be clear that this anti-Catholic or possibly anti-Polish discrimination must not be tolerated

“Just like anti-semitism or Islamaphobia, anti-Catholic discrimination is a scourge on our society and it must be eradicated. Places of worship whether Christian churches, mosques, synagogues, temples, any places of worship must be places of peace and sanctuary.”

She added that she and the justice secretary have ‘given a commitment’ to exploring what the government could do to ensure safety and security at places of worship.

However, Canon Peter McBride, parish priest of St Simon’s Church and St Peter’s Church Partick, said he didn’t believe the attack was necessarily anti-Catholic in nature.

“There is no evidence to suggest that it was an act of sectarianism,” he said. “My own conclusion is that the church was open and someone who has mental health issues has came in and had a bit of a breakdown. Obviously it is unacceptable and the police are now dealing with the matter.”

The incident comes one week after Holy Family Parish in Mossend, Motherwell Diocese, was subjected to anti-Catholic graffiti scrawled on a nearby bus stop.

The words ‘F**k the pope’ were tagged onto the bus stop one month after the local Catholic primary school’s windows were smashed. A meeting between Motherwell Diocese and representatives from Police Scotland is due to take place.

Last year saw a spate of attacks on Catholic churches, including the desecration of the Blessed Sacrament at St Patrick’s in Coatbridge.

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