'Catholic Mass is evil' minister says he is not sectarian
Claims by a Free Presbyterian minister that the Catholic Mass is ‘evil’ have been branded “grossly offensive”.
The remarks were made by Free Presbyterian minister Rev Peter McIntyre in the magazine Ulster Bulwark, which is the official organ of the Evangelical Protestant Society (EPS).
Rev McIntyre last night sought to explain the article and maintain he is not sectarian.
Former SDLP assembly member Alban Maginness has strongly criticised the controversial comments.
The magazine’s editor, Wallace Thompson, a founding member of the DUP and a former special adviser to Nigel Dodds, has previously defended the article.
Entitled ‘The Protestant at the Mass’, the article focuses on Requiem Mass - said during a funeral - and claims “there can be no greater assault on the Gospel”.
Rev McIntyre said that it is “impossible” for a Protestant to attend Catholic Mass as a “neutral observer”.
“A church is a place of worship,” he wrote.
“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.
However, writing in today's Irish News, Rev McIntyre denies being “sectarian”.
“Those who know me in the Clogher Valley community will acknowledge that I do not have a sectarian bone in my body,” he writes.
“I will die to defend the right of my Roman Catholic countrymen to worship God in all sincerity, according to their conscience.”
He added that “the word evil must be appreciated in its true biblical context”.
“There is good and evil in this world,” he said.
“There is sin and holiness, justice and injustice, God and Satan. There is no middle ground.
“There are no grey areas.”
Rev McIntyre added that Christ “died once to pay the price for our salvation”.
He later added: “It is the false theology of the Mass that is evil because it dishonours Christ who is our only priest, sitting at the Father’s right hand,” he said.
Former MLA and senior SDLP figure Alban Maginness was last night critical of the remarks.
“My view would be that this sort of archaic language, that harks back to the hay day of Ian Paisley, is totally unacceptable in modern times,” he said.
“To describe the Requiem Mass as blasphemous is grossly offensive to Catholics and hurtful to families who attend and derive considerable comfort from Requiem Mass.”
Mr Maginniss said he was surprised by the comments.
“I’m surprised they are still using that sort of tone and language when even the secular wing of the Free Presbyterian Church, ie, the DUP, would never use language like that.”