Parishioners furious at 'Orange' priest's suspension

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Parishioners of the Church of St Victor in Obdam, a town in the northern Netherlands, are said to be furious at the suspension of their 'Orange' priest.

Dutch newspaper De Telegraaf reported on Saturday that priest Paul Vlaar had been suspended by Bishop Punt of the Amsterdam-Haarlem diocese. The bishop was apparently furious with Father Vlaar after he conducted a Mass last Sunday, the day of the FIFA World Cup final, with a definite football aura.

Dressed in an orange chasuble - the sleeveless outer garment worn by priests celebrating Mass - and in a church filled with orange flags, Father Vlaar asked for solidarity and team spirit.

Video pictures of the 'Orange Mass' were seen around the world and aroused displeasure in many Roman Catholics. Bishop Punt reproached the priest for his action, saying that he had, "in word and deed, paid insufficient respect to the sanctity of the Eucharist".

Local parishioners have done their best to support the priest. "Child abuse is covered up, but a priest who threatens to become too popular is suspended without mercy," one said. Other well-wishers have opened a Facebook page to show their support for the suspended cleric.

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