A CATHOLIC church has been forced to cancel a fundraising gift day in the middle of lockdown after worried parishioners called for police to intervene.

St James the Less and St Helen Church in Colchester organised the gift day, which was scheduled to take place tomorrow, to raise funds for the parish.

But the event has been scrapped after worried parishioners asked police to step in amid concerns it would breach Government coronavirus regulations.

Government regulations currently prohibit large public gatherings in churches.

A Colchester parishoner of 15 years hit out at the church.

He said: “It was grossly irresponsible to organise this event and pressure parishioners to attend.

“Many parishioners are elderly and particularly vulnerable to the virus.

“At moments like this we look to our church leaders to encourage people to follow the guidelines.

“Some clergy have a superior attitude and think the rules don’t apply to them.

“In this instance a higher priority was placed on extracting money from parishioners than their welfare and that is shameful.”

After the worried parishioner stepped in, the church has now announced it has postponed the event.

Essex Police were contacted and told the parishioner they felt the event would have been a technical breach of regulations.

The church’s newsletter stated: "For this ministry to be maintained and to flourish, we need sufficient funds.

“We would urge everyone to join us and feel part of the move to put us back on an even keel on our gift day, whatever your level of giving (every penny counts!).

“Please hand your parish gift (cash or chq) to Fr Chris or Fr Paschal.”

Father Chris Brooks said: “A fundraising gift day was organised, but perhaps the words were misunderstood.

“No gathering was intended and our intention is always to act in accordance with the current regulations.

“Following advice from the police, the day has been postponed, but the need to keep our parish on an even keel remains.

“Fr Chris and Fr Paschal would encourage parishioners to consider making any parish donation via the Diocesan giving page instead at dioceseofbrentwood.net/donations.”