| 3.8°C Dublin

Padre's plea Anonymous priest wrote to Taoiseach asking for churches to remain closed

The correspondence suggested keeping churches open might be driven by "financial concerns" and said older priests in particular should not be saying Mass.

Close

Archbishop Eamon Martin wanted Mass for parishes.

Archbishop Eamon Martin wanted Mass for parishes.

Taoiseach Micheal Martin

Taoiseach Micheal Martin

/

Archbishop Eamon Martin wanted Mass for parishes.

A Catholic priest wrote to Taoiseach Micheál Martin asking him to ignore requests from religious leaders for the resumption of church services.

The priest said that congregations were mainly in vulnerable age groups, as were priests themselves, and that people were becoming "increasingly lax" in observing public health measures.

The correspondence suggested keeping churches open might be driven by "financial concerns" and said older priests in particular should not be saying Mass.

In another letter, a priest asked for an official ban on wakes, which he said were "breeding grounds" for the virus as people continued to shake hands and hug.

The letters were among a series of records released under Freedom of Information communications between the Department of the Taoiseach and religious organisations.

In early October, church leaders sought an urgent meeting with Mr Martin about how religious services would be managed during Covid-19 restrictions.

In a letter from Archbishop Eamon Martin - on behalf of the Irish Episcopal Conference - he said they fully supported public health guidelines but wanted to ensure "continued access" to mass for parishioners.

"These are not simply 'gatherings' of people," said the letter, "but profound expressions of who we are as a Church."

However, moves to have church services reopened were not supported by all, with one priest writing anonymously to express his fears.

"I would like to sign this letter but experience in the Church has taught me otherwise and even loyal opposition is frowned upon," he said.

He said the Taoiseach had a "difficult and indeed thankless task" and warned he was aware of one parish where two priests were aged in their eighties.

"In many other countries, state and church authorities have urged or indeed forbidden those over 65 to attend religious functions, but alas that is not the case here and I sadly suspect some of it is driven by financial concerns."

The Taoiseach also received an email from Kevin Doran, the Bishop of Elphin, asking for clergy to be added to the list of essential workers.

He said the Level Five guidelines made no provision for clergy except as chaplains or for funerals.

A note of the meeting said the Taoiseach thanked Church leaders, acknowledged their huge role in supporting people, and promised ongoing "constructive dialogue".

Asked to comment on the records, the Department of Taoiseach did not respond.

Download the Sunday World app

Now download the free app for all the latest Sunday World News, Crime, Irish Showbiz and Sport. Available on Apple and Android devices

Sunday World


Privacy