Balham: Police shut down Good Friday church service
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The raid in Balham in south west London on a Polish Catholic Church on one of the most sacred events in the Christian calendar came despite places of worship being allowed to open according to the law. In footage which has emerged of the incident police officers appeared to suggest that there were too many people in the building. Mr Fox, who is running on a ticket to end lockdown in the capital, described the police action in south London as “disgraceful” and said it highlighted why restrictions must be lifted immediately.
He said: “There is no reason for any policeman to walk into a church other than to worship. Not one.
“We are living under authoritarian socialist rule with a proposed medical apartheid system, with vaccine passports, non-crime hate incidents, police knocking on your door to check your thinking.
“We need to end lockdown now and reclaim our freedom.”
The footage showed two Metropolitan Police officers suspending the service to mark the moment of Christ’s death at the Christ the King Polish Roman Catholic Church in Balham.
One of the attendees at the church asked the officer to the sanctuary to explain the actions.
The officer told them: “Ladies and gentlemen, this gathering is unfortunately unlawful under the coronavirus regulations we have currently.
“You are not allowed to meet inside with this many people under law.
“At this moment in time, you need to go home.
“Failure to comply with this direction to leave and go to your home address ultimately could lead you to be fined £200 or, if you fail to give your details, to being arrested.
“I suggest, ladies and gentlemen, that though it is Good Friday, and I appreciate you would like to worship, that this gathering is unlawful so please may you leave the building now. Thank you.”
People dispersed immediately.
However, a message posted on the church’s website yesterday said: “On Good Friday, 2 April 2021, during the Liturgy of the Lord’s Passion, at the time of the Adoration of the Cross, the police arrived at the door of our church at around 6pm.
“We were not allowed to finish the celebration. The police officers found our liturgical assembly illegal, ordering everyone to leave our temple immediately or face a £200 fine for each parishioner present, or even arrest.
“The faithful obeyed this order without objection.
“We believe, however, that the police brutally exceeded their powers by issuing their warrant for no good reason, as all government requirements were met
We believe municipal police officials have been misinformed about the current place of worship guidelines, claiming that the reason for their intervention is the continued ban on public celebration in places of worship in London due to the lockdown on 4 January 2021.
“We regret that the rights of the faithful have been wronged on such an important day for every believer and that our worship has been profaned.
“We informed the superiors of the Polish Catholic Mission in England and Wales about this incident. We asked the police authorities to explain the incident and we are waiting for their response.”
It added: “All scheduled rites for Dedication of Easter, Easter Vigil, Easter Sunday and Easter Monday will take place in the order indicated.
“We ask everyone to observe the current sanitary requirements in the church and the space of social life and to pray that such situations will not be repeated.”
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