London Police Express ‘Regret’ for Raiding Polish Church on Good Friday

LONDON, ENGLAND - APRIL 04: Christians stand outside during an Easter Sunday service due to lack of space indoors because of covid-19 social distancing guidelines at Christ the King church on April 4, 2021 in the Balham area of London, England. The church had its Good Friday service interrupted by …
Chris J Ratcliffe/Getty Images

London’s Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) has expressed “regret” for shutting down a Good Friday service at a Polish church for allegedly violating coronavirus lockdown restrictions.

On Good Friday, officers from the Met barged into the church, demanding that the worshipers disperse or face fines of up to £200 per person, as well as a £10,000 fine for the church itself.

The police action is said to have following a “report” that people were lining up outside the church to attend the mass without masks or abiding by social distancing diktats.

Footage of the incident was widely shared on social media, prompting an international backlash against the police for their actions in shutting down the service. The church claimed that it was following the government’s coronavirus regulations, which allow religious services to be held in places of worship.

On Sunday, Detective Superintendent Andy Wadey and Superintendent Roger Arditti both attended the church to express their regret for the events that took place.

“We are all aware of the events that happened here in the afternoon of Good Friday. The intention of the MPS is to protect and support communities in staying safe during the pandemic. We know, however, that many people were very upset by what happened on Good Friday and we deeply regret that,” DS Wadey said.

“Since then, there has been significant reflection and learning by myself and Roger; our colleagues who work with us locally, and also Senior Leaders at New Scotland Yard,” he continued.

“The Metropolitan Police truly wishes to serve and protect you in the best possible way. I truly hope that today marks the start of a renewed deep and lasting relationship, with the Parish of Christ the King, Balham and also the wider Polish communities,” the officer concluded.

Responding to the apology, the Priest in Charge of Christ the King Parish, Monseigneur Władysław Wyszowadzki said: “The interruption of the Good Friday liturgy was very painful for our parish community, but in the spirit of the Gospel, we willingly extend our hand to the representatives of the Police authorities in order to further build a deep and lasting relationship between us, based on mutual respect and regard for the rights of worshippers to freely practice their faith.

“We ask you, Excellence, to bless both our work and that of the Police, in this difficult time of the pandemic. We would like to thank everyone for coming.”

Following the shutting down of the Good Friday service, Catholic commentator Caroline Farrow accused the police of launching an “attack on freedom of religion”.

“This is an assault on religious freedom. This is a basic human right that everybody has. If your religion requires you to go to church, which Catholicism does, and you’re not allowed to do that, then that is your religious freedom being impinged upon. There’s no two ways about it,” Mrs Farrow said.

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