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Supporters defend priest who 'criticized' poor people

His words were spun out of context and he is highly charitable, they say

Supporters defend priest who 'criticized' poor people

Fr Blake's church, St Mary Magdalen, Brighton UK (picture: Wikimedia Commons)

Tim Stanley for The Telegraph
United Kingdom

September 11, 2013

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(Note: Along with many other news sources, ran a story last week about Father Ray Blake. Our story had the headline: Priest describes the poor as irritating, drug abusing liars. In the vigorous response to this, it appears that Fr Blake was speaking 'tongue in cheek' and his words were taken out of context by a local journalist. The following article is one of many which have been published in his defense.)

 Fr Ray Blake of St Mary Magdalen's Church in Brighton is one of the holiest men I've ever had the honour to know – prayerful, compassionate, full of the love of Christ. He's also a stubborn old b***** who isn't afraid to tell it how it is.

In a recent blog post, this much loved diarist talked about the challenge of living with the poor. In his parish that doesn't just mean sending off the odd food parcel to Africa. It means drunkards ringing the bell at two in the morning, drug addicts squatting in the alley and crack heads stealing from the church. The point of Fr Ray's post was to remind us that we have a duty to suffer, and that the poor might actually be sent by God to test us as Christians.

He concludes with typical humility: "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 seem to be let the poor into it to mess it up a little."

Alas, the article was spun by some little local journalist to read like Fr Ray had called for the poor to be locked up in workhouses – and he signed off the report with a quote from another priest saying that the poor were always welcome in his church. Since then, Fr Ray has been besieged by journalists and turned by some into a cross between Mr Bumble and General Franco.

Here's the truth as I see it. Having known this priest for five years I can confirm that the poor are more than welcome at his parish; his tolerance is almost limitless. Fr Ray runs a soup kitchen for the homeless in the evenings and if people ring his bell at all hours of the day then it's probably because he almost always answers it.

Full Story: It can be hard to forgive drunkards and bad journalists, but try we must. Just ask Fr Ray Blake 

Source: Telegraph Blogs

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