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Polish Catholic parish in London: Police ‘grossly exceeded powers’ in halting Good Friday service

Police officers interrupted the Good Friday liturgy at Christ the King Church in Balham, south London, on April 2, ordering worshipers to leave or face a fine or possible arrest.

Police halt a Good Friday liturgy at Christ the King Church in Balham, London, England, April 2, 2021. (YouTube screenshot from account of Andrzej Fryzicki)

CNA Staff, Apr 3, 2021 / 07:35 am (CNA).- A Polish Catholic parish in London, England, said Saturday that it believed that police “grossly exceeded their powers” when they halted a Good Friday service and ordered parishioners to go home.

Police officers interrupted the Good Friday liturgy at Christ the King Church in Balham, south London, on April 2, ordering worshipers to leave or face a fine or possible arrest.

A video posted on YouTube showed a police officer addressing the congregation from a pulpit in the sanctuary of the church, informing them that the gathering was “unlawful” under current coronavirus restrictions.

An April 3 statement on the parish’s website said: “On Good Friday, April 2, during the Liturgy of the Lord’s Passion, at the moment of the Adoration of the Cross, at about 6 p.m., the police came to the door of our church. We were not allowed to finish the celebration.”

“The police officers, stating that our liturgical assembly was unlawful, ordered everyone to leave our church immediately under the threat of a fine for each of the parishioners present of £200 [around $277] or even arrest. The faithful obeyed this order without objection.”

“We believe, however, that the police grossly exceeded their powers by issuing their order without adequate reason, as all government requirements were met.”

A priest at the church told CNA on Saturday that he believed the parish was treated “very unfairly.”

“We believe that we and our faithful were treated very unfairly, even on such an important day for believers,” Fr. Aleksander Dasik said.

In its statement, the parish said: “We believe that borough police officials have been misinformed regarding the current guidelines for places of worship, claiming that the reason for their intervention is the continuing ban on public celebrations in places of worship in London, due to the lockdown introduced from Jan. 4, 2021.”

“We regret that the rights of worshipers have been harmed on such an important day for every believer and that our worship has been profaned.”

The Metropolitan Police said in a statement issued April 3: “At around 1700hrs on Friday, 2 April, officers were called to a report of crowds of people queuing outside a church in Balham High Road.”

“Officers attended and found a large number of people inside the church. Some people were not wearing masks and those present were clearly not socially distanced.”

“We are particularly concerned about the risk of transmission of the COVID-19 virus as a result of large indoor gatherings at which people are not socially distanced and some are not wearing masks. As such, officers made the decision that it was not safe for that particular service to continue.”

The statement continued: “Understanding the sensitivity of the situation, officers engaged with the priest outside the church and were invited inside to address the congregation. No fixed penalty notices were issued.”

“This was one of a series of numerous events taking place at the church over the Easter period. We are engaging with church authorities today and will continue to do so in the coming days.”

The parish, which belongs to the Polish Catholic Mission in England and Wales, said it had asked the police for an explanation of the incident and encouraged parishioners to consider making a formal complaint.

It pointed out that the latest government guidelines and guidance from the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales permit public worship in Holy Week, with congregations observing strict rules to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

The parish’s statement concluded: “All scheduled services for the blessing of Easter food, the Easter Vigil, Easter Sunday, and Easter Monday will take place as indicated.”

“We ask everyone to observe the current sanitation requirements in the church and community spaces and to pray that similar situations will not occur again.”

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  1. At some point, Catholics (and their priests and bishops), need to do more than impotently ask police to take the microphone and ask their congregations to leave.

    This was a Good Friday celebration in progress. In most jurisdictions, it is a criminal offence to interrupt a worship service in progress, and police ought to have been firmly reminded of that fact. At a minimum, it would have bought the congregation time until the service ended.

    At that point, the police could ticket whomever they wished, and the entire community ought to have been rallied to support the ensuing legal challenges and/or pay any resulting fines.

    The utter fecklessness, underlined by the spectacle of police officers being allowed to wander about the Sanctuary as if it were a kitchen in a domestic abuse call, was appalling.

    Enough is enough.

  2. Friends in London and Dublin have told me of packed services at various Mosques, so it seems unfair this should happen at Christ the King Church in Balham. Today in London thousands marched for some cause (no idea what). Pray for the misguided.

  3. As an American of English descent, and a life-long Anglophile, it has been my sad observation that the Brits went over the the dark side in attacking civil rights some time ago. The heinous lock downs and extreme over-sensitivity of any criticism of Muslim residents for example, even when violence and other actions would make such comment warranted, could result in your arrest and imprisonment.Now they are shutting church services. The long lauded “rights of Englishmen” have collapsed and been eradicated in favor of political correctness. We cannot feel superior here however as the same virus has now infected us. This has been seen in the loss of constitutional rights, courts making decisions which abrogate clearly written law, and targeting the church and anyone who professes Christian moral positions with as much oppression as possible. Even a simple baker is not immune to MULTIPLE prosecutions for the same “offense”.An opposite political opinion is not allowed. If the Emperor is not wearing any clothing, better for your own survival not to say so. There ARE no unaccompanied minors at the border, so dont film them; Biden is NOT in dementia although he cant complete sentences and walk up stairs; and if church services ARE constitutionally protected, we will pretend not to know, so keep those church doors SHUT. The Brit’s cousins the Australians conducted aligned anti Catholic activities when they jailed Cardinal Pell for a year, all the while ignoring clear evidence of his innocence of sex abuse charges. People of good will and moral compass need to push back at “woke” culture and leftist over-reach wherever it is found, before it is too late. Write a letter or email and take to task corporate heads like those at Coke, Hallmark, Delta, Chase Bank, and others who are supporting leftist suppression. Let them know you oppose the slippery slope we are now witnessing, and will boycott their products. A company may chose not to support a certain candidate. But inevitably, they will then PREVENT that candidate from speaking to YOU, or speaking out on what HAD been “public platforms”. It is stunning that the former president of the US has been stripped of public communication simply because the left doesnt approve of him. That is NOT freedom of speech. My advice —speak up NOW while you still can.This action in London is the exact opposite of freedom of religion. We have our own battles to fight here.

  4. I read about this incident just prior to attending Easter Vigil Mass this evening. As we sang I expected the police to charge in. Our wonderful Priest suggested an Encore. Stand firm in faith.

  5. As the Editor of Crisis Magazine, Eric Sammons, noted, the lockdowns will not end until we actively defy and ignore them. There are not enough police and prison cells to enforce laws rejected by everyone. At this point in time Lockdown regulations demand from us the same level of obedience as Jim Crow and the race laws of the Apartheid regime-that is to say, none at all.

    • The “laws” are unjust. Don’t call something that which it is not. A law is – by nature – just. An unjust law is not a law, but is a perversion of law.

  6. What angered me is how the police so rudely entered and then hovered the sanctuary. No respect at all. Very unprofessional.

  7. What the people at that parish should have said was “So we being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another.”

    One body in the whole church doesn’t exceed the legal limits.

    And if the government insists that a woman can become a man just because she says so, and vice versa, then who are they do tell us that we are not one body? Unlike the people who think they can change their sexes, this has the virtue of being true.

  8. The Great Reset steadily makes its new order way towards fascism. The so called science presented as definitive by lockdowners is anything but. We live in a time of neo Gnosticism, there is only one way and the self proclaimed practitioners, which includes those making fortunes from the new order, parade their fraudulent wisdom.
    Unfortunately, too many in the leadership of Church are willing to cooperate with the fraud. The «law» is truly become a fear driven ass.

  9. The Commies wouldn’t dare do that in Poland during thei dictatorship; it might start a local uprising.

    When I visited Poland in 1979 shortly after St. John Paul II’s first visit, there were still road-side yellow and white bunting along the roads that he travelled as well as the cross erected in Warsaw’s Victory Park where he offered Mass.

    What surprised me were the road-side shrines erected between the two World Wars when Poland was a free country still untouched after almost 35 years of Communist dictatorship.

    You could tell a Party building by the small red sign next to the main door. One small building which appeared to have been built before World War II had the obligatory red sign and on the side of the building a life-size crucifix!

  10. Big Caeser with his fines!

    Never been to that side of the pond but have always found it puzzling, here, how the law ignores certain blatant lawlessness in front of their faces, yet picks on those easy targets in society.

  11. Before God, these Police Officers committed a grave Sacrilige for which they will answer to God when they are judged by the severe Justice of the Omnipotent. The Iscariot who reported the Good Friday services, is in a serious sinful condition before God, as the Police interrupted the service right at the veneration of the Cross of our salvation.

  12. Unfortunately the vast majority of the world’s bishops and priests have created the conditions where the police thought they could get away with this fascist behaviour, by meekly accepting without demur the civil authorities’ wrongful assertion of the right to dictate how, and even whether, religious rituals can be conducted inside a place of worship. Or even declare which religious rituals are essential and which are not! 12 months ago the pope and bishops should have loudly declared NO! The State can, at the very most, suggest to religious leaders any restrictions that the religious leaders might choose to impose on their own rites for the sake of public health.
    And the compliant reaction of the priest and congregation was very disappointing. They should have told the police, “you’re not coming in here unless it’s to join in the act of worship. If the state health department has any concerns about public health relating to this religious activity, then health officials (not armed police!) can make an appointment to discuss them with the priest at some other time when he’s not conducting a religious service.”

  13. Notable that the police not only singled out Catholics for this brutal and bigoted treatment, but also racism in singling out a small migrant community.

    Children at the service were terrified. But I wonder if the reason some congregants didn’t react was that they thought it was some modernist reinterpretation of a Passion Play with armed police taking the role of the pagan Roman soldiers.

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