GLASGOW, Scotland (ChurchMilitant.com) - A senior Scottish priest who has conducted over 60 COVID-related funerals is taking Scotland's government to court to protest the latest lockdown that criminalizes gathered worship.
Canon Thomas White of St. Andrew's Cathedral, Glasgow, announced Wednesday he was "seeking Queen's Counsel" on the new laws that "impinge on our liberties" and "which seem to have very little regard for the rights of freedom of worship and family life."
The parish priest of St. Mary's and St. Alphonsus churches, who holds licentiate degrees in canon law, sacred theology and philosophy, said he hoped a "judicial review" of the lockdown would recognize that the State cannot shut churches as if they are coffee shops.
"I, as parish priest of this parish, do not think these people are immune to COVID, in fact, quite the opposite. I have celebrated over 60 COVID-related funerals in this time. The impact, in this community, has been devastating," Canon White said in a video statement.
"What I do object to is without any evidence or indeed without any explanation or justification, the Scottish government has impinged [on] our human rights," White stressed.
"Regardless of the capacity of our churches, an arbitrary number of 20 and five have been imposed upon significant celebrations [funerals and marriage] in people's lives," he reasoned.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon's left-wing government announced draconian measures shutting all places of worship from Friday, Jan. 8 until Monday, Feb. 1, including giving police powers to forcibly enter homes on suspicion of a breach of Wuhan virus regulations.
On the feast of Epiphany, the day Canon White announced his legal challenge, police stormed their way into a Scottish home at 11:20 p.m. in Aberdeen after a neighbor snitched and alleged that guests had gathered next door.
A shocking video filmed at the scene shows police using brute force to enter the home, resulting in a physical confrontation with what appears to be three individuals while children are heard screaming for help.
Big Brother Watch, a feed monitoring government lockdown abuse, said: "the family's seriously ill daughter had just been discharged from hospital."
"We have reviewed a lot of poor and unlawful policing during the pandemic. This may be the most heinous and senseless example yet," the monitoring body tweeted.
The woman can be heard saying: "It is my house, get out of my house. I did not ask you in here." Amidst escalating shouting and swearing the woman can be heard pleading with the officer to get off another female, claiming that she has epilepsy.
Despite video evidence to the contrary, three individuals in the house have now been charged with assaulting officers.
A Scottish Catholic who watched the video told Church Militant that Scotland was now the "most locked-down country in the world."
Speaking on condition of anonymity, a Scottish priest told Church Militant that Canon White's attempt at crowdfunding for £50,000 for legal fees to fight the lockdown was a "façade" for the bishops' own inaction and unwillingness to confront the left-wing government of First Minister Nichola Sturgeon.
"These are the bishops who shut churches even before they were asked to," he said. "What they should be doing is holding services in or outside their cathedrals in defiance of the dictatorial regulations, like Catholics in France are doing."
Church Militant made repeated attempts to contact Canon White by phone and email but received no response.
The canon noted that he was launching the judicial review "as a private citizen and that no church funds or resources will be used to finance, support or facilitate this action."
White explained that the options open to him as a private citizen are "very different from the options open to the bishops of Scotland as pastors of the Church who are bound to make their decisions with consideration to the wider institution and have their own avenues for interacting with the Scottish government."
"This action is designed to complement the already existing interaction that is taking place with government, and criticism of the bishops of Scotland posted on this page are neither helpful nor in keeping with the spirit of this action," he added.
On Tuesday, the Bishops' Conference of Scotland released a statement saying it had shown willingness "to cooperate" with the government and "to support its efforts in protecting the common good" by "curtailing public worship in extreme circumstances and for a limited period."
"No evidence has been forthcoming to justify the inclusion of places of worship as sources of infection" and "without such scientific evidence, these restrictions will appear to Catholics to be arbitrary and unfair," the bishops argued.
Catholic columnist Martin Blackshaw blasted the bishops' letter as "timidity once again on full public display" and as "pusillanimous and embarrassing."
Challenging the prelates to "demand an end to this unprecedented and inhumane abuse of government power," Blackshaw urged the bishops to "not wring your hands over a respiratory virus that hardly compares with past deadly pandemics."
"You have continued to collaborate with the new government dictatorship in the suppression of people's inalienable rights to freedom and the worship of God," he added.
Christian Concern, which successfully challenged church closures in England by demanding a judicial review, told Church Militant it is considering launching its own action in Scotland.