Warning: Clericals Might be Hazardous to Your Health in England
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
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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