Members of an Australian Catholic church were stunned earlier this month as their mass was interrupted by a police officer who interrupted services to make sure that local masking requirements were being obeyed.
Parishioners at St Bernadette’s Catholic Church in Mount Hawthorn were surprised that the officer didn’t even bother removing his hat, which one member described as “disrespectful,” according to The Chronicle.
“Everyone was pretty surprised. It was pretty confronting,” a man called Matthew told local radio.
“Everyone was sort of pretty stunned, I suppose. Then as soon as it started it was sort of over as he left.”
Police confirmed in a statement to the public that they had interrupted the service to enforce mask compliance.
“Police responded to a report from a member of the public of people not wearing masks inside a church,” police said. “Upon attendance, five people were spoken to by police and complied in wearing a mask.”
“One person provided proof of an exemption,” the statement noted.
The following day, the church requested that members ensure they are wearing a mask when they attend services.
“Please ensure that you are wearing a mask when you are attending mass/adoration,” a post on social media stated. “You are not permitted to enter the church unless you are wearing a mask.”
“If you have an exemption letter from your doctor, then please make certain that you carry this on you at all times,” the post urged. “Heavy fines on the parish priest, our parish and individuals will be incurred if you are caught without wearing your mask.”
“Please co-operate with this request so as to avoid any complications,” the post also added.
A statement from Archbishop Timothy Costelloe of Perth, however, said it was “regrettable” that the police felt it necessary to interrupt one of the Catholic Church’s holy sacraments to enforce mask mandates.
“It is highly regrettable that the police felt themselves obliged to intervene during a religious service in one of Perth’s Catholic parishes in order to enforce the mask-wearing mandate,” the statement read.
“The celebration of the Eucharist is the central act of Catholic worship and is sacred to all Catholics.”
“It is my hope that other ways can be found to deal with this delicate issue in future and my office stands ready to co-operate with the police in this manner,” he added.
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