The world has witnessed the atrocities of Charlie Hebdo, the mass-decapitation of Egyptian Christians, the murder of holidaymakers in Tunisia and more recently the killing of 150 people on a low-cost flight to Dusseldorf – but in the little village of Canelas, in Vila Nova de Gaia, residents seem to be stuck in time, waving placards and lacquering shut the gates of their church in protest to the removal of parish priest Roberto de Sousa.
It is now almost six months since Father Roberto was removed from his eight-year post after challenging the sense of spending €15,000 on a statue in honour of his predecessor.
It was not the statue he objected to, but the amount it was going to cost.
He wanted instead to put the money towards “local necessities”. The bishop of the Diocese of Porto is understood to have felt his authority somehow usurped, and thus Father Roberto was moved on.
Since then, a petition calling for Father Roberto’s return has amassed over 5,700 signatures, and last week, the “Community Reacts” movement that evolved from the fracas posed for photographs in the local post office as it sent the petition by registered post to Pope Francis at the Vatican.
Meantime, GNR police have been called to the village, yet again, this time to unstick the gates of the church which appeared to have been “lacquered shut with a chemical product during the night”, reports Lusa.