British vicars have been advised to consider self-defense lessons and installing video cameras at their rectories to fend off an increase in attacks.
A Church of England report released Tuesday on security recommended that clergy take better precautions to protect themselves and their homes from attack by burglars, vandals and people suffering from mental illness or high on drugs."We are deeply concerned about the attacks on clergy and their families. Ordained ministry often takes clergy into areas of vulnerability and, on occasions, conflict," the archbishops of Canterbury and York said in an introduction to the report.
The report was drawn up after a spate of assaults on Anglican and Roman Catholic clergy in the summer of 1996, including the murder by a mentally deranged man of a young Catholic priest in the northwest port city of Liverpool.
Its publication on Tuesday coincided with a vicious attack on a priest at his vicarage in Lincoln city center. The 45-year-old priest was hit in the face by late-night callers who then fired an air gun through the letter box.
"There is no sense in having a fortress mentality," said Archdeacon Gordon Kuhrt, who drew up the report.
The report contains detailed advice ranging from the installation of security alarms, better lighting and a guide on how to deal with casual callers demanding money or making threats.