Priest forced to sleep in former ambulance after dispute with church
Father James Twist: 'For the past 6 weeks I have been living in a disused ambulance parked in a friend's driveway"
By Ben Endley
The Watford Observer
ABBOTS LANGLEY, England — An unholy row has left a Catholic priest destitute and sleeping rough in a former ambulance in Abbots Langley.
Father James Twist, 58, claims he has been cut off by church leaders and has not received a penny for food or essentials, surviving on state handouts and his own meagre savings for the past 18 months.
A Catholic priest for almost three decades, he said things turned sour while he was living in the presbytery in The Crescent, Abbots Langley.
He claims he has become the victim of a targeted campaign by other members of the clergy.
Father Twist left the house in Abbots Langley in December 2010 and moved into a private rented flat in Garston at which point he claims he was cut off without a penny and took a job working with adults with learning disabilities in Bushey.
When the landlord decided to sell the flat in May he was offered a flat on the outskirts of Hemel Hempstead but turned it down as he would not be able to continue his work.
He said: "After 28 years with the Salvatorians they have finally turned me out with nothing. They've been trying to do this for years.
"For the past 18 months I have not received a penny from the society to buy food or anything else. A letter... promising that the province would pay my bills has never been honoured and for the past six weeks I have been living in a disused ambulance parked in a friend's driveway.
"Three years ago, when I was living in the presbytery at Abbots Langley, I was told to say mass privately and not talk to parishioners, as the Salvatorians didn't want anyone to know what was really happening.
"It was never enough that the Salvatorians should get rid of me. It has to be in the worst possible circumstances for me."
Father Twist says he is now fighting back and has written to the Archbishop of Westminster and the Vatican for intervention but says so far to no avail.
The case is understood to have been referred to the Congregation for Religious, an order responsible for overseeing life in the Catholic Church, by his canon lawyer Rev Noel Barber.
In an email to Vincent Nichols the Archbishop of Westminster, seen by the Watford Observer, he warns: "My position is now quite desperate and my options limited. This is only the latest development in the dreadfully abusive relationship with the Salvatorians that I have been enduring for far too many years."
A spokesman for the Salvatorian Order said: "James Twist is not a priest in active ministry and he has very little contact with the Order.
"He is not destitute since he is in employment and the Order has offered to help him with bills.
"He had to leave his last accommodation but the alternative flat which has been provided does not suit him".
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