Page last updated at 12:48 GMT, Wednesday, 30 December 2009

Protester pours pasta over shoplift sermon priest

Father Tim Jones
Father Jones said some people had little option but to turn to crime

A priest who advised needy people to shoplift has been drenched with spaghetti and ravioli by a protester.

Father Tim Jones, parish priest of St Lawrence and St Hilda in York, said in a sermon that stealing could be the best option for some vulnerable people.

He was approached on Sunday by a man who threw a bucket of spaghetti and ravioli at him as he left the church after completing his regular sermon.

A Church of England spokeswoman said: "I can confirm that did happen".

I understand the chap was agitated but Tim had a good chat with him and they parted amicably
Church of England spokeswoman

She said: "After the service on Sunday a chap approached Tim and threw a bucket of spaghetti and ravioli over him.

"I understand the chap was agitated but Tim had a good chat with him and they parted amicably. It was a misunderstanding about what Tim had said."

The protest was carried out by a York man, who said he had filled the bucket with 30 cans of spaghetti and ravioli.

The Church of England spokeswoman said Father Jones was on holiday and unable to comment about the pasta protest.

In the controversial sermon, the clergyman said: "My advice, as a Christian priest, is to shoplift.

"I do not offer such advice because I think that stealing is a good thing, or because I think it is harmless, for it is neither.

'Misguided and foolish'

"I would ask that they do not steal from small, family businesses, but from large national businesses, knowing that the costs are ultimately passed on to the rest of us in the form of higher prices.

"I would ask them not to take any more than they need, for any longer than they need."

Former Archbishop of Canterbury Lord Carey said Father Jones's advice had been "misguided and foolish".

The priest's comments were also criticised by North Yorkshire Police who said justifying shoplifting was "highly irresponsible".

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