Lock-out claim over church Holy Door

The Holy Door at St Francis Xavier Church in Carfin which was at the centre of a ceremony performed by Bishop Joseph Toal. Some worshippers are angry they were not allowed in for the service.
The Holy Door at St Francis Xavier Church in Carfin which was at the centre of a ceremony performed by Bishop Joseph Toal. Some worshippers are angry they were not allowed in for the service.

It’s been a momentous 12 months for St Francis Xavier Church with 100,000 visitors passing through a symbolic Door of Mercy.

However, the Roman Catholic Year of Mercy celebration in the Carfin parish ended on a sour note with some worshippers claiming they were locked out of a special service.

Bishop Joseph Toal attended on Sunday for the ritual closing of the Holy Door, one of two sets of double doors at the front of the church.

Jubilee Years like this always start with the opening of a Holy Door at the Vatican in Rome. However, Pope Francis this year wanted churches throughout the world to nominate their own Holy Door.

A woman said she and her family were turned away from the 11am service by church attendants who told them they were under orders to let no latecomers in.

She said: “It was embarrassing. Where is the mercy? If Christ had been at the door he would have let us in.

“There must have been 20 of us standing out in the rain.”

The woman, a lifelong parishioner, said she, her husband and children won’t return to St Francis Xavier.

She added: “It’s difficult enough encouraging your children to attend church. No one should be locked out like this.”

However, the Diocese of Motherwell insisted no one was turned away.

A spokesman said: “The beginning of mass involved the ritual closing of the Holy Door which was then locked. This lasted about seven minutes.

“Those who arrived after 11am mass had begun were asked to wait until the initial ceremony had concluded before entering the church – no one was refused entry but simply asked to wait.

“Around 30 people did exactly this and found a place to be seated.”