by Dorothy Cummings McLean, LifeSite News:
Police stopped a Good Friday Catholic service, threatening worshippers with a fine if they did not immediately leave.
LONDON, England, April 3, 2021 (LifeSiteNews) — Police entered the sanctuary of a Catholic Church during a Good Friday service and threatened worshippers with a fine if they did not immediately leave.
Video footage taken from within Christ the King Polish Catholic Church in southwest London shows police officers following a priest into the sanctuary past altar servers, who were standing ready for the second part of the sacred liturgy, the Veneration of the Cross, as the celebrant looked on. An hour had already elapsed since the beginning of the solemn commemoration of the death of Christ. The liturgy was being livestreamed.
“Somebody called the police,” said Fr. Aleksander Dasik without preamble.
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[embedded content]“The police have arrived, and they say that we aren’t following some rules.”
He said that he did not understand exactly what rules they were breaking because they all had masks, they were keeping their distance, and attendance had been restricted to those with tickets. In broken English, he asked the police to explain.
As the female police officer stood staring at the congregation with folded arms, the male officer told the congregation that their “gathering” was illegal—a strange declaration, as public worship is, in fact, legal in England.
“Ladies and gentlemen, unfortunately your gathering is unlawful under the coronavirus regulations we have currently,” he said.
“You are not allowed to meet inside with this many people under law.”
Currently there is no firm restriction on the size of congregations during worship services in England. The guidance is that “when attending a place of worship visitors must not mingle with anyone outside of their household or support bubble”, not that they should be limited in number. Nevertheless, the police officer then threatened to arrest and fine the Catholics who did not leave the church.
“At this moment in time, you need to go home,” the officer said.
“Failing to comply with this direction …. ultimately could lead to you to be fined £200 , or if you failed to give your details to being arrested.”
There was a pause as the worshippers looked at each other and began to complain. But while acknowledging that it was “difficult”, the celebrant, Fr. Władysław Wyszadów, told the congregation in Polish that if they didn’t leave the church, every person would be fined £200. He said they could make a spiritual communion.
“Please leave the church quickly,” he said. “Please go.”
The female police officer wandered around the sanctuary, making or taking phone calls.
“We believe that the police brutally exceeded their powers, giving their orders without any good reason, for all the government requirements were met,” it said in Polish.