Police halted the service at St Bernadette’s Glendalough church midway through the priest addressing the congregation following a tip off that people were not wearing masks.
Masks are currently required to be worn at all public indoor setting across Perth and the Peel, South West, Wheatbelt and Great Southern regions.
Five people were found to not be wearing masks, one of which had an exemption while the four others were made to put them on.
The incident was shared to Facebook by a parishioner, who wrote “a policeman allowed himself in, strutting up the aisle demanding correct mask behaviour and checking exemptions.”
“Where have we seen this behaviour before in history?
Police said in a statement they responded to a report from a member of the public of people not wearing masks inside a church in Mount Hawthorn.
“Upon attendance, 5 people were spoken to by police and complied in wearing a mask,” they said.
“One person provided proof of an exemption.”
Catholic Archdiocese of Perth archbishop Tim Costelloe said it is “highly regrettable” that police felt obliged to intervene during the service to enforce the mask rules.
“It is my hope that other ways can be found to deal with this delicate issue in future and my office stands ready to cooperate with the police in this matter,” he said.
“It is the formal and very public policy of the Archdiocese of Perth to do everything it can to facilitate compliance with all the government’s requirements in relation to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“It is a matter of regret to me that the police were placed in a position which led them to take the action they did.”
The church has since shared a message to its Facebook page reminding all parishioners that they cannot enter the place of worship without a mask.
The interruption left churchgoers stunned, with one audience member saying it was “confronting” to see an officer in the church.
“Everyone was pretty stunned, it was confronting,” parishioner Matthew told 6PR Radio.
“It’s troubling to see the liturgy you love stopped by police.”
He said parishioners were “left a bit shaken” by the incident.
Police have copped strong backlash online for the interruption, with some labelling it “appalling”.
There are currently 203 active COVID cases in Western Australia, while 92.8 per cent of the population aged 12 and over have received at least two doses of a COVID vaccine.