Holy Smoke

‘If necessary I’ll be arrested’: the lockdown defying priest

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In this episode

Damian Thompson

Has there been a single Covid death as a result of someone attending a socially distanced church service? The answer is no, as you'd expect it to be. But, despite this, the Government will ban public acts of worship from Thursday.

This decision is so perverse that even the Catholic bishops of England and Wales – who fell over each other during the last lockdown in their eagerness to shut churches – have written to the government asking for the scientific evidence indicating that properly supervised Masses pose a threat to the people attending them. So far they haven't received the courtesy of a reply, probably because there is no evidence.

In this episode of Holy Smoke, Fr David Palmer, a Catholic priest from Nottingham, tells me that his church will be open this Sunday, cleverly exploiting a loophole in the government guidelines. If the police try to stop him saying Mass, or administering any other sacrament, then he's willing to be arrested. Other clergy, including some in the Church of England, have taken the same decision.

Listen to the interview and ask yourself: why is the government targeting religious believers in such a cruel and scientifically illiterate fashion? And is it prepared for the backlash?

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