Man threatening priest, parishioners in Providence arrested

A 28-year-old man was arrested on Monday evening after bringing a gun to the former parish of a recently-arrested priest in Providence and threatening the priest and parishioners. 

The man, whose identity has not been released, went to an apartment located near St. Mary’s Church in Providence after threatening a priest and parishioners with a firearm. He was arrested “without incident” at 8:00 p.m. on Nov. 1. 

Police said they have not yet recovered the gun and are continuing to investigate the incident. 

According to St. Mary’s website, Mass is celebrated at 6:00 p.m. on Mondays. 

Police officials told Rhode Island media that the threat was related to the recent arrest of the parish’s former pastor. The priest threatened on Monday was assigned to the parish. 

On Saturday, the former pastor of St. Mary’s, Fr. James Jackson, FSSP, was arrested and charged with possession of child pornography, transfer of child pornography, and child erotica prohibited. If convicted of all three charges, Jackson faces up to 21 years in prison. 

Following Jackson’s arrest, Bishop Thomas Tobin of Providence stripped Jackson from his position as pastor of the parish. St. Mary’s is an apostolate of the Priestly Fraternity of Saint Peter (FSSP) in the Diocese of Providence. 

“The Diocese of Providence applauds the efforts of the Rhode Island State Police and the other law enforcement bodies involved in making this arrest,” said the diocese in a statement dated Oct. 31. “We look forward to working with law enforcement and the Attorney General to ensure the safety of children.”

The statement said the diocese had been presented with a letter of suitability for ministry for Jackson prior to his arrival in the state, and that the parish will continue to be entrusted to the care of the FSSP. 

Tobin added “the use of child pornography is a serious crime and a grave sin,” and that the charges against Jackson “are very disturbing to all and must be taken very seriously.” 

“At the same time, I renew my pastoral concern and offer my fervent prayers for the good people of St. Mary Parish during this difficult time,” he said. 

Jackson was unable to post bail and will be in court at a later date.