Police Scotland have announced that a 24-year-old man has been arrested and charged in connection with the alleged assault of a priest in Glasgow earlier this month while an “Orange walk” passed by his parish church.
“He is due before Glasgow Sheriff Court on Thursday, 26 July, and a report will be submitted to the Procurator Fiscal,” the police force added.
Canon Tom White, 43, was greeting parishioners after Mass July 7 when an Orange march approached. Orange marches are organized by the Protestant fraternal group the Orange Order, largely in Northern Ireland and Scotland, to commemorate the defeat of James II by William of Orange at the Battle of the Boyne in 1690.
According to the Archdiocese of Glasgow, Canon White was spat at, verbally abused, and lunged at.
John McBride, a Police Scotland Superintendent, said, “This was a despicable and shocking incident and I would like to take this opportunity to thank members of the public for their support during our investigation.”
“Police Scotland takes any form of hate crime extremely seriously and I hope this sends a clear message that this type of deplorable behaviour will not be tolerated.”
The Grand Orange Lodge of Scotland has denied any involvement in the assault on the priest.
Subsequent Glaswegian Orange walks were cancelled after the outcry over the attack on Canon White.
The Glasgow archdiocese had asked Police Scotland and Glasgow City Council ““What kind of society is it that allows ministers of religion and church goers to be intimidated and attacked by a group which has a long history of fomenting fear and anxiety on city streets?”, and “Why is the Orange Order still allowed to schedule its intimidating parades on streets containing Catholic Churches at times when people are trying to get in and out for Mass?”
A petition at change.org posted after the attack calling on Glasgow City Council to end the Orange walks has gained more than 82,000 signatures.
Scotland has experienced significant sectarian division since the Scottish Reformation of the 16th century, which led to the formation of the Church of Scotland, an ecclesial community in the Calvinist and Presbyterian tradition which is the country's largest religious community.
Sectarianism and and crimes motivated by anti-Catholicism have been on the rise in Scotland in recent years.
An April poll of Catholics in Scotland found that 20 percent reported personally experiencing abuse of prejudice toward their faith; and a government report on religiously-motivated crime in 2016 and 2017 found a concentration of incidents in Glasgow.