The poor are messy and irritating, says Catholic priest
It is hardly the language normally expected of the clergy, but one Roman Catholic priest has felt moved to describe the poor as messy, irritating "b******s" who take drugs and lie.
Destitutes sleep rough outside the church and beg for money during prayers, says Fr Ray Blake in a blog post titled 'The Trouble With The Poor'.
They even deter some of his congregation from attending Mass, he adds.
Yesterday the priest said that his point was that helping the needy was seldom a comfortable experience.
The British priest, who has served in his parish for 13 years, wrote: "There is a secluded area between the church and our hall, a passage. Occasionally we find someone has got a few cardboard boxes together and has slept there and if it has been raining leaves a sodden blanket, (and) cardboard there to be cleaned up.
"Often it also smells of urine and there is often excrement there and sometimes a used needle or two." He cites the example of a man who comes into the church, St Mary Magdalen's in Brighton, and during silent prayers will pray aloud, saying: "God, can you persuade the good people here to give to the poor; I am poor."
Fr Blake writes: "Unchecked he will take his cap off and have a collection. If they are not doing that they are ringing the door bell at every hour of the day and night, and they tell lies.
"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."
Fr Blake insisted that he was not attacking the poor but making a point about the better-off having a duty to care for them. Speaking after the blog came to light, he said: "The man who comes into my church and disturbs Mass is an irritating little b*****d.
"Either we can just simply wash our hands of them and say 'this is another species of human being or something that's not human', or we've got to get involved with them.
"I'm a Catholic priest so I tend to have to get involved with them. The poor don't leave us to be comfortable."
His congregation fed the needy "365 days a year", he said and most of the regular beggars have been in care for years.
"If you're an atheist or an unbeliever you might find it annoying," he said. "I think everyone does. But the teaching of the gospel is we must respond to these people."
In a previous post, Fr Blake expressed sympathy for Jon Venables, who killed James Bulger, as well as for the toddler and his mother. He wrote in March 2010: "It must be horrendous for Venables to wake up every morning and see facing him in the mirror a hated child killer." (©Daily Telegraph, London)