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Orange Order march won't pass church where priest was spat on

Canon Tom White was spat at as the group passed his St Alphonsus church in Glasgow.

By STV News

Published 22 Jun 2019.

The Orange Order won't march past a Catholic church where a priest was spat on.

Canon Tom White was spat at by Bradley Wallace as the group's march passed his St Alphonsus church during the annual Boyne Parade in Glasgow last year.

The event on July 6 will this year avoid the church in the "spirit of positive co-operation".

It comes after the Catholic Church acknowledged the right of marches to go ahead "in accordance with the law".

Wallace was jailed in February for assaulting Canon White in July 2018.

The decision from the Orange Order comes after Glasgow Sheriff Court threw out a Loyalist bid to overturn a council decision to reroute four parades away from St Alphonsus Catholic Church, planned for June.

The Catholic Church's Archdiocese of Glasgow said: "The Archdiocese of Glasgow acknowledges the right of any group or organisation to parade in accordance with the law.

"We recognise too the wisdom of Sheriff Stuart Reid's recent determination that "the right to freedom of expression is not an unrestricted right on particular grounds.

"The preferred solution of the Archdiocese of Glasgow is that marches be scheduled at times and along routes which do not cause difficulties or create anxiety for parishioners attending their local church."

Jim McHarg, Grand Master of the Grand Orange Lodge of Scotland added: "Our position remains the same, in that we are always willing to engage in open and honest dialogue on the issues at hand.

"We fully recognise the recent positive comments from the Roman Catholic Church, and in the spirit of positive cooperation, we have proactively offered to parade on a different route for our main Boyne Celebrations this July.

"We have made this gesture in the hope that we can continue to progress discussions around a shared long-term solution that accepts and respects each other's religious differences, without the need for religious divides."

Speaking to STV News, the Archbishop of St Andrews and Edinburgh, Leo Cushley, was asked if Orange walks should ever pass a Catholic Church.

He said: "Objectively that shouldn't be a problem. If it is done respectfully, I don't see where the problem is.

"If it is done to taunt your neighbour that's a different question but it is difficult for me to look into the hearts of everyone who is going past a church."

He also rejected the notion that the Orange Order is anti-catholic, adding: "I see it as coming from another chapter in our history."

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