Dear Editor, I was sad to see the Redemptoristines have still not noticed an increased demand for Eucharistic bread despite churches reopening for public worship in a recent article [IC 10/06/2021]. As they say, demand is still at a “trickle”. Undoubtedly this is because of Government-imposed limits on Mass attendance. The worry I have is that this decrease in demand could also be linked to less people returning to church and Sunday Mass for fear of Covid-19 despite a significant decrease in cases. The breathless reporting about the Delta variant by RTÉ, as well as their coverage of the pandemic since the start, has scared the living daylights out of many people. At this stage it seems like our mainstream media has become a mouthpiece of the Government, spreading fear and dismay across the population, and at times even catastrophising rather than reporting the basic facts. They seem to turn to the ‘zero-Covid’ crowd who would have us shaking in our homes for the next few years.
The Government, despite its extremely cautious reaction to this pandemic, have deemed it safe for people to return to worship as long as Covid guidelines are followed. Despite this, due to the hyperbole of some medical professionals that seem to be given all the spotlight – there are other professionals who are just as qualified who have different views but aren’t given an ounce of the same airtime – people are still afraid.
This is not healthy. Right now, while sending a message for people to take into account basic hygiene measures to limit the spread of the virus such as washing hands and wearing masks where appropriate, the Government should be trying to signal that the situation has improved, which it obviously has, and alleviate some of the terror people have regarding Covid.
Catholics who divorce and remarry cannot receive Communion
Dear Editor, Regarding Catholics who divorce and remarry, the Church says that they may not receive Holy Communion. This directive is given in no.349 of the Compendium of the Catechism of the Catholic Church. Pope Francis has often said that all the teaching of the popes before him stand. The statement therefore on page 26 of The Irish Catholic, [IC 10/06/2021 ‘A bit of clarity about spectacular ‘resignation’ of German cardinal’] is entirely erroneous.
Praying for everyone and asking an occasional prayer.
Fr Noel Mc Keown OP
Newry, Co. Down
Poots ‘perfectly free’ not to attend Catholic Mass
Dear Editor, What a pity that your paper has had another journalistic bite at Edwin Poots and his willingness or non-willingness to attend Mass [IC 10/06/2021].
Given his religious affiliation, he is perfectly free not to do so.
What a warm and tolerant response you report by Alban Maginess former SDLP Assembly Member. In many ways, it captures the essence of the plurality dimension that should be present in any society that has strong Christian roots.
Conscience is as much Protestant as Catholic. Vatican II referred to us and our consciences as “being alone with God”.
It’s worth remembering when Queen Elizabeth made the ground breaking visit to Westminster Cathedral, it was to attend vespers, not Mass.
Anyway, who are we to throw stones in these matters? Many of us under pain of sin, were at one time, unable to attend the full funerals of our Protestant neighbours and if physically present in the graveyard, had to stay out of earshot of the service.
Govt must answer for fining of Cavan priest
Dear Editor, The Government and An Garda Síochána should give reasons, and outline the legal basis at the time, for fining Fr PJ Hughes in Cavan for celebrating public Mass. Although I would not have gone to Mass in my local parish church if it was being offered because I am elderly and have an underlying condition, the idea of police officers storming a church and fining a priest as well parishioners in attendance is absolutely outrageous.
I very much appreciate the fact that The Irish Catholic is still following this case [IC 10/06/2021] as a file has been sent to the office of the Director of Public Prosecutions after Fr Hughes refused to pay the fine for celebrating in-person Mass last year when Covid restrictions were in place. Who knows what may happen next, but if there are any further legal proceedings this heroic priest must be supported in any way possible.
It’s clear that at the time there was no penal provision in law that would allow for his fining, it was one month after it happened that the Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly signed a new statutory instrument that made public, in-person worship very clearly subject to penal sanctions. This was only done, in my opinion, to strengthen the State’s case against Declan Ganley’s constitutional challenge – which is currently being heard in the High Court – against the ban on Mass. Why would they have introduced this instrument if there was any doubt about the Covid-19 emergency legislation and how it related to public worship?
At a time when so many freedoms have been taken from us, safe and well-organised church services should never have been subjected to such a draconian response and it is terrible that our bishops have not responded strongly to such a drastic measure – although Archbishop Eamon Martin did speak out when it was imposed but apparently no one was listening or took it very seriously.
Our right to practice our religion is enshrined in the Constitution of Ireland, not idly should this right be denied.
Cork City, Cork
Lockdowns must not impact public worship
Dear Editor, It is imperative that the Church uses this time of relative calm to ensure, as far as it possibly can, that any future lockdowns will not impact public worship. We have just emerged from the longest suspension of public worship in Europe, with devasting consequences for Church life and sacramental practice.
Although our constitutional position is strong, the hierarchy did not see fit to test it in the courts even though it was clear that worship would be closed for the second Easter in a row. Other methods would now seem urgent, such as negotiating a memorandum of understanding with the State to ensure a blanket ban on worship is never again imposed.
There can be no more important task for prelate or for people than to ensure that rights which pertain jure divino to the Church are not again violated by the State. If this call of the hour is neglected, we will have only ourselves to blame if in some months hence a suppression of the Mass is enforced once again.
Cork City, Cork