Northern Ireland news

'Evil' Mass claim defended

Ulster Bulwark editor Wallace Thompson has defended an article that describes the Mass as 'evil'
Connla Young

The editor of an evangelical Protestant magazine has defended an article which describes Catholic Mass as ‘evil’.

The article, which has been published in the April-June edition of Ulster Bulwark, was written by Rev Peter McIntyre of Clogher Valley Free Presbyterian Church.

The article, entitled ‘The Protestant at the Mass’, focuses on the celebration of Requiem Mass - said during a funeral - and claims “there can be no greater assault on the Gospel”.

The Free Presbyterian minister adds that it is “impossible” for a Protestant to attend Catholic Mass as a “neutral observer”.

“A church is a place of worship,” he said.

“To be present is to be part of the worship, and as at any Mass, the wafer is translated into Christ and this becomes the object of worship.

“Do we not owe it to Christ to be separate from such evils which grossly offend the Christ who offered himself for us?”

He also said that “many Protestants today, rather than sacrifice reputation, willingly expose themselves to the blasphemy of the Mass” and urges readers to “reaffirm our opposition to Rome”.

“Let us object to all that brings shame on the Gospel,” he said.

Ulster Bulwark is the official organ of the Evangelical Protestant Society (EPS).

The magazine’s editor Wallace Thompson, a founding member of the DUP, is a former special adviser to Nigel Dodds when he was a Stormont minister.

Although still a member of the DUP, he said he was not speaking on behalf of the party.

He said he does not believe the article could be viewed as sectarian.

“Roman Catholics who believe in the doctrine of the church will not agree with what was written in the article,” he said.

“Roman Catholic people do not agree with Protestant doctrine as well.

“I don’t think it’s sectarian, it’s being open and honest and saying this is what we believe.”

Mr Thompson emphasised the difference of opinion is rooted in doctrine.

“Yes, we disagree with the doctrinal position but bear no ill will to any Roman Catholic person or any other person.”

Mr Thompson added that some Protestants do not understand the Bible.

“I would have more respect for my Roman Catholic fellow countrymen who hold to their beliefs than many Protestant fellow countrymen who have abandoned their beliefs,” he said.

A formal civil servant, Mr Thompson is Clerk of Session of Knock Evangelical Presbyterian Church and chairman of the Caleb Foundation.

In the past the EPS criticised former First Minister Peter Robinson and other unionist politicians after they attended the 2011 funeral of Catholic PSNI officer Ronan Kerr, who was killed after a bomb exploded under his car in

The EPS later wrote to all Protestant and unionist MLAs urging them "to take a firm stand" on attending Catholic church services and Sunday observance.

Founded in 1946 the EPS includes several members of the Orange Order and other loyal orders on its council.

According to its website the council’s only female member, Vi Dawson, who is the principal of a Co Antrim primary school, is also a regular contributor to ‘Thought for the Day’ on BBC Radio Ulster.

Rev McIntyre did not respond to requests for a comment.

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