Torch goes in Launceston church heist

An Olympic torch carried by a Tasmanian priest has been stolen in a sacrilegious burglary at a Launceston church.

CLICK HEREParish priest Fr Terry Southerwood told The Mercury that he was upset at the loss of the torch, which he carried in the relay at the Bellerive Bluff in 2000. But it was more of a concern that thieves also broke into the tabernacle and moved the Blessed Sacrament.

"This is the most sacred place in the church and that has been violated," he said. "It is far more distressing that they managed to get in here and open the tabernacle."

Fr Southerwood's offices were also broken into during the burglary, with the torch stolen from display.

In a suspected search for money, the thieves then entered the Church of the Apostles, forcing open a safe door and finding the tabernacle key.

Fr Southerwood said he was relieved the Eucharist had not been removed from the church altogether, or scattered.

He was concerned churches appeared to be becoming increasing targets for thieves.

"They think there is money in churches but there's not," he said. "I think it is such a shame that where churches were once sacrosanct, they are now seen as targets by desperate people looking for money."

Fr Southerwood was on Flinders Island at the time of the break-in and returned to find police scouring the Margaret St building.

"It looks as though the people responsible were inside for quite a long time," he said. "They could have caused considerable damage had they been intent on vandalism but they seem to have just been looking for money."

Torch goes in church outrage (The Mercury 15/10/05)

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Catholic Parish of Launceston

17 Oct 2005