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Harsh comments Priest hits out at 'Mass hoppers' trolling online services 

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Fr Tim Hazelwood

Fr Tim Hazelwood

Fr Tim Hazelwood

A leading cleric has criticised so called Mass-hoppers who criticise priests on-line.

A new phenomenon has taken off whereby people are going from one online Mass to another passing comments over the “performances” of priests on social media platforms such as Twitter and Facebook .

Since the re-emergence of lockdown and level 5 restrictions, masses are gone back online but Fr Tim Hazelwood (57) from the Association of Catholic Priests (ACP) and PP in Killeagh in East Cork says it has not been easy for clerics.

Speaking on WLR FM in Waterford, he explained that the online ‘Mass-hoppers’ are undermining many priests – some of whom are already very self-conscious – by passing "very hurtful" criticisms of them on social media .

"The reality is that nowadays, people have plenty of time at home and some people go online and they watch Masses. Certain people you meet now can tell you the best Mass for singing, the best Mass for preaching."

He said the move to online for Masses was difficult for many priests, as well as parishioners. "We’ve no training in it. Here you have a camera in your face.

"Personally, I don’t like it. I find it demoralising. I’m just after celebrating Mass now with a phone stuck on me; an empty church. Our job was about meeting people. Mass was about gathering people, meeting people after Mass."

Fr Tim who is a trained psychotherapist said ‘’some priests haven’t opted for conducting online Masses at all because they didn’t like it, while others love it.

"People who pass comments need to be aware that when online that their comments fall somewhere – and can be hurtful."

Fr Tim also said that the Pandemic had been very tough on priests ‘’not only because of isolation but also in financial terms’’. He also confirmed that the ACP, was planning to launch a helpline for priests, most of whom lived alone and many who, particularly in rural areas, had become very isolated over recent weeks.

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