Bulldozers and a squad of deinulition workers disrupted the peaceful life of the parishioners of the Sacred Heart Church, Coventry, last week. At one moment everything was normal and at the next they found they had a heap ot rubble where the Catholic Men's Society clubroom used to be.
The Catholic Men's Society feel that the demolition was no accident but had been deliberately engineered by Fr Laurence Smith. the parish priest. Some parishioners are threatening to boycott collections and covenants and go instead to the neighbouring parish. The CMS members claim they have been very unfairly treated. Mr William Jackson, the president of the club, said that Fr Smith had given the 100strong club until December to find new premises but had kept the demolition a secret from the membees, They found out about it quickly enough because Mr Tony Latterly. the vicepresident of the club, was amazed to see the bulldozers at work early in the morning last Thursday, He rushed to tell Mr Jackson, who protested to Fr Smith without success.
The two men could only well eli powerlessly as the 50y ea rold club-house was dr oiolished, pulled to pieces and burnt. They tried to obtain a writ to stop the demolition but could not get one in time to save the building. Mr Jackson said that Fr Smith told him the demolition squad was the only way he could clear the ground for the new church building which is to be erected on the site of the club.
Defending his action, Fr Smith pdinted out that the plans for the church extension had been agreed 15 years ago and there were eight months of further consultation five years ago. He said they had been given perfectly reasonable notice in December, 1976, and that if action had not been taken last week work on the new extension would have ground to a complete halt. Extending a hope for a more harmonious future, Fr Smith added: "Club members have been offered facilities for their meetings in the new extension and in addition they have been invited to become members of the new social club for the parish."