Scottish Catholic priest under fire for preaching in favour of independence

Pro-independence supporters take part in a march in Edinburgh, Scotland in this undated photo.Reuters

A Catholic priest in Glasgow has been criticised by parishioners and had formal complaints lodged against him to the city's Archbishop for preaching in favour of Scottish independence.

Canon Peter McBride, who took over at St Peter's and St Simon's Catholic churches in Partick in Glasgow's West End last year, has repeatedly issued homilies from the pulpit in favour of breaking up the UK, the Scotsman reported.

Canon McBride reportedly announced that he had voted Yes in the September 2014 Scottish independence referendum immediately upon arrival at his new parish, before putting up a biography of himself in the church declaring himself to be a "yes man".

Now, Archbishop Philip Tartaglia has been contacted by angry members of the parish. The Scotsman quoted one parishioner as saying: "The second week he was there he put a biography at the back of the church bulletin saying, 'I am a Yes man, I will always be a Yes man' in relation to independence. The pulpit is not the place to talk about politics and make these statements."

A month before the referendum, Canon McBride said on the Christians for Independence Facebook page: "Westminster has proven it is irreformable. With government from Edinburgh, social reform and a more equitable distribution of resources and wealth is a distinct possibility. Vote with HOPE, not in FEAR."

Facebook user Brian Fitzpatrick wrote: "Whatever, his personal views it is wholly inappropriate for this to be posted by or on behalf of Canon McBride while garbed in priestly vestments. Catholics will be voting YES or NO and, hopefully, doing so in good conscience. Canon McBride might better have decided to adopt a measure of discretion - Scotland's laity, beyond a call to the duty to vote, need no prompts one way or the other from clerics. Whatever his views, he should NOT be promoting them when wearing a chasuble."

However, some users were supportive of the priest. Peter Laird said: "I'm a Baptist. God Bless a Free Scotland. Jason Kelly wrote: "Father McBride God bless. The greatest Christian act Scotland can make on the 18th is voting yes to rid our beautiful country of the Devil's nuclear submarines. Catholics for freedom."

One parishioner, who has now moved to another church, said: "He's a one-man band, he wants to make the decisions. People have left the parish and gone elsewhere because of him."

Officially, the Catholic Church in Scotland remained neutral during the referendum. But there were widespread reports of Catholics, who had traditionally been Labour voters, flocking to the independence cause.

Although Scotland rejected independence overall with a 55.3 per cent for staying in the Union, Glasgow voted 53.49 per cent in favour of leaving the UK.