Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Don't wear collars, you might get attacked!

Apparently priests in collars are a target of attacks in the UK. This gives a whole new twist to the "uniform vs. plains clothes" discussion!
Ecumenical News International
Daily News Service
09 October 2007

Priests warned that clerical collars increase risk of attack
By Trevor Grundy

Canterbury, England, 9 October (ENI)--Priests and pastors in Britain have been warned not to wear clerical collars when they are not working because of the danger of being attacked.

"We're not alarmists but we're telling the clergy not to risk attack by motivated offenders by wearing their [clerical] collars when they're off duty, visiting friends, shopping at the local supermarket, unless they have someone who would help them in an emergency," said Nick Tolson, director of National Churchwatch, an independent group advising clergy about security.

A recent report by National Churchwatch said the fact that priests are clearly identifiable away from their home or place of work increases the risk of them being attacked. Five clerics have been murdered in England and Wales since 1996, the report noted.

A 2001 academic study estimated that clergy are more at risk from violence than members of other professional groups. It found that 12 percent of clergy had suffered from physical violence, and that 70 percent had experienced some other form of violence such as swearing, spitting, shouting and name calling.

Tolson said that in a study of 90 clergy in 2006, he found that almost half had encountered at least one violent incident in the preceding twelve months.

However, the Rev. David Houlding of St Paul's Cathedral in London said he felt safer wearing his clerical collar.

"There is still an air of respect to it," Houlding was quoted by the Daily Telegraph newspaper in London as saying. "Most of the time I wear it every day. It's my uniform. [Without it] we'd lose our presence in the community and our witness." [282 words]

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1 comment:

assiniboine said...

And then there was the episode many years ago in the Anglican Diocese of Rupert's Land (Winnipeg, Manitoba) when the local RC synod office got its mailing list somewhat askew and included all the Anglican clergy -- and puzzled they were indeed -- in a mailout instructing clergy not to wear clerical dress outside their churches. Anglicans, you see, would rush into the sacristy to climb into a "cemetry cloak" over their vestments or cassock and surplice (depending on the liturgical function over which they'd just presided) in order to greet the exiting congregation at the west door of the church.