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'Lying and messy' poor sent by God to test us, says Brighton priest
A complaining priest claims “lying” poor people have been sent by God to “test my holiness”.
Father Ray Blake condemned “messy” street drinkers, who enter his church to plead for money, branding one an “irritating little b*****d”.
But the controversial cleric admitted his “challenge” as a Catholic was to love all people, no matter how penniless or dirty.
In a lengthy blog post titled The Trouble With the Poor, Father Blake raged: “The trouble with the poor is that they are messy.
“There is a secluded area between the church and our hall, a passage. Often it smells of urine and there is often excrement there and sometimes a used needle or two.”
The priest went on to complain about a homeless man, who regularly attends Mass at his church, St Mary Magdalen’s on Upper North Street.
He said: “During the silence of the Canon the man will pray aloud: “Jesus, I want you to bless Father Ray and God, can you persuade the good people here to give to the poor – I am poor”.
“Unchecked he will take his cap off and have a collection. It makes a mess of our prayers – it stops some coming to Mass here.”
Later, Father Blake blasted homeless people who “ring the door bell at every hour of the day and night” and “tell lies”.
He wrote: “They tell you their gran is dying in Southampton and they need the train fare.
“You give it to them and if you don’t find them drunk in the street they are back the next day and the other Gran is dying in Hastings this time.”
Finally, the priest’s post ended with: “My big difficulty with confession at the moment is that I have grown complacent in my lifestyle – I don’t want it changed.
“The message of the Gospels seems to be to let the poor into it to mess it up a little.”
For years Father Blake washed the feet of the homeless in a traditional ceremony every Easter. But earlier this year he announced he was abandoning the idea, suggesting it was “seriously sinful”.
Speaking about his latest controversial blog post the priest admitted he often found poor people “quite a trial” to deal with.
He said: “We have a duty to care for the poor because it teaches us to be human. It leads us to a greater understanding.
"However, I sometimes think they are sent to test my holiness. The man who comes into my church and disturbs Mass, for instance, is an irritating little b*****d.
“You can con yourself that you love them, but they do sometimes create difficulties.”
Reverend Archie Coates, vicar of St Peter’s in Brighton, said homeless people were “always welcome” in his church.
He said: “Christians should love everyone unconditionally, including the street community of course. We have plenty of homeless people and we all love them being here.”
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