UK Police Bust Good Friday Church Service, Threaten to Fine Worshippers

Paola Ditto
Aprile 4, 2021

During Good Friday mass at the Polish Church of Christ the King in Bilham, south London, police entered the church and boycotted the mass, the United Kingdom website reported.

Metropolitan Police Service officers had interrupted Friday evening's Liturgy of the Lord's Passion service at Christ the King Polish Roman Catholic Church in Balham, Wandsworth, for being "unlawful" under current coronavirus lockdown restrictions.

"We were not allowed to finish the celebration".

The policeman goes to the pulpit and explains that due to the breach of closures, parishioners must leave the church, and if they do not, they will be imposed on anyone who remains in the church. Fine of 200 pounds.

It said it believes the officers "brutally exceeded their powers by issuing their warrant for no good reason" because "all government requirements were met".

People are also encouraged not to mingle after a service and go back to their homes as quickly as possible. "The police said it was an unlawful gathering, but it wasn't", Nowak explained. "You are not allowed to meet inside with this many people under law".

"Understanding the sensitivity of the situation, and were invited inside to address the congregation. Some people were not wearing masks and those present were clearly not socially distanced", the police statement said.

"This gathering is unfortunately unlawful under the coronavirus regulations we have now".

"At this moment in time, you need to go home. Failing to comply. ultimately could lead to you be fined £200, or if you fail to give your details to you being arrested".

Christ the King church on Balham High Road
Covid: Good Friday service shut down over 'rules breach'

Police in Wandsworth later confirmed they had investigated the place of worship in response to a "report" of people lining up outside the church. Bishop Władysław Wyszadów, after which the parish priest tells the faithful to leave the church.

Archbishop John Wilson of Southwark visited the parish on Holy Saturday. The statement did not condemn the police intrusion into the service.

One wrote: 'I'm actually ashamed of what you did on Good Friday of all days.

"In Poland, under the Soviets, life was often hard for Catholics", the liberal columnist noted.

"Seriously, when Catholics can not gather in peace on the most solemn day of their Faith, in a week when COVID deaths in London have continued to fall dramatically, then we really have gone too far", O'Neill added. This from just up the road, yesterday.

And people on social media have slammed the police's "disgraceful" handling of the situation, with some describing it as "deeply offensive".

The latest coronavirus government guidance for England states that communal worship can be attended by as many people as the place of worship can safely accommodate, but that worshippers should maintain social distancing from anyone not from their own household or support bubble.

In a statement, the Met Police said: "Some people were not wearing masks and those present were clearly not socially distanced".

Under current guidelines, face coverings must be worn in church but there are "valid exemptions for some individuals and groups to not wear a face covering in these settings", including those leading the services and those who assist them.

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