Scuffling congregation members interrupt mass


A priest feared parishioners' lives were in danger when a fight broke out in his church during midnight mass on Christmas Eve.

Monsignor Vincent Harvey said heavy chairs were thrown down an aisle at St Edmund's Church, Southampton, during the brawl on Saturday night.

The priest could only continue the mass to his shocked congregation after police arrived and arrested those involved. "There was loud talking going on at the back but I just assumed some people had had a bit too much to drink," Father Vincent said. "But then there were scuffles... the person involved started throwing fairly heavy chairs. If they'd hit anybody they could have been badly injured."

The priest asked the congregation to pray for the fighters: "I just asked people for a bit of silence so we could recollect ourselves and to pray for the person involved.

"My sermon had been about how we are broken people, fragile people, and I said he is one of the very people I'm talking about."