Talk to us

CathNews, the most frequently visited Catholic website in Australia, is your daily news service featuring Catholics and Catholicism from home and around the world, Mass on Demand and on line, prayer, meditation, reflections, opinion, and reviews. And, what's more - it's free!

(CNS/Chaz Muth)

An assault on a Texas priest – along with recent incidents at Catholic churches in North America – highlights the need for parishes to implement more robust security measures, says a security expert. Source: OSV News.

On April 10, Fr Tony Neusch of St Mary’s Catholic Cathedral in Amarillo, Texas, was pepper-sprayed while hearing confessions.

In a Facebook post that same day, Fr Neusch wrote that “someone dealing with mental health issues” had attacked him. He said he did “not require medical attention”, adding that police had been notified. No arrests have yet been made in the case.

Fr Neusch said in his post that the parish would “suspend confessions, except by appointment, until security cameras can be installed in the chapel”.

In recent weeks, Catholic churches and shrines throughout the US and Canada have seen a number of security incidents, including Pro-Palestinian protesters who interrupted the Easter Vigil Mass at St Patrick’s Cathedral, New York. About 10 protesters took up positions in at least two areas of the cathedral to decry Israel’s retaliatory attacks on Hamas in Gaza. In Canada, a bomb threat at St Nicholas Ukrainian Catholic Church in Toronto on March 24 was apparently made by a woman experiencing mental distress.

In security industry parlance, churches and other religious structures are known as “soft targets” — public, civilian spaces that are easily accessible and typically have limited security measures. 

Preserving both pastoral welcome and common-sense security in places of prayer can be a delicate balance, said Craig Gundry of Critical Intervention Services, a Tampa, Florida-based security consulting firm with extensive experience in church security.

Mr Gundry said that his firm has particularly focused on the details of “improving physical security for churches while maintaining an environment that is conducive to community and to spiritual celebration.”


Experts: Parishes need to get serious on security (By Gina Christian, OSV News)