Fr Patrick McCafferty, a parish priest in Crossgar, Co. Down from Northern Ireland will be joined by a prominent Muslim academic and London cleric Dr. Muhammad Al-Hussaini and Pastor Nick Park, the director of Evangelical Alliance Ireland, all in defending Pastor James McConnell at Belfast Magistrates Court from today.
Pastor James McConnell, aged 80, is faced with a tendency of a six months jail time if tried and found guilty. Pastor McConnell stands trial for calling islam a “Satanic” and “Heathen” in one of his last years preachings at Whitewell Metropolitan Tabernacle in Belfast . He was charged under the 2003 Communications Act with making “grossly offensive” remarks about Islam.
Fr. McCafferty expressed his discontent of the court’s action on Pastor McConnell telling the Belfast telegraph that:
“I will be delighted to give evidence on behalf of Pastor McConnell. We don’t see eye-to-eye on many things but his prosecution is an absolute outrage.
There is no public interest in dragging a clergyman who is nearly 80 years of age and battling cancer into court. The police and the Public Prosecution Service need to wise up and leave the poor man alone.”
Fr McCafferty claimed that Pastor McConnell had previously said “far worse things” about Catholicism than Islam in the past: “I heard him make some very offensive remarks about Catholicism but it never entered my head to go crying to the police about it.
“I went to hear him preach and I confronted him afterwards. I told him that he had got it wrong about Catholic Church doctrine on many fronts. We sat down and had a cup of coffee together and talked it through. Facing the things that divided us in an adult way was a very positive experience for us both and we became friends.”
But Fr. McCafferty stands against Pastor McConnell’s statement of branding Islam “heathens” and “Satani”
“I’d never have preached a sermon like that against any other religion. But it’s not an issue for anybody to go running to the authorities about. Even at this late stage, the PPS should catch themselves on and abandon this farcical prosecution.
It is ludicrous that taxpayers’ money is being wasted on this charade when we can’t afford to grit the roads in winter and hospital waiting lists are spiralling.”