Bishops warn of ‘drastic’ church closures due to lack of Goverment support in Budget 2023

Bishops warn of ‘drastic’ church closures due to lack of Goverment support in Budget 2023

The Irish bishops have called on the Government to extend energy bill supports to parish centres and churches which were ignored in Budget 2023.

The prelates warned that there is likely to be “drastic closures” due to rapidly rising energy costs.

In the Irish Catholic Bishops’ Conference statement after their Autumn 2022 General Meeting, they welcomed the provision of financial support to households, businesses, sports organisations and voluntary organisations.

However, they highlighted the lack of assistance for community facilities which were not grant aid including parish centres, community halls and church buildings.

The bishops expressed concern for those who are homeless who avail of churches to keep warm.


They stated: “Especially during winter church buildings are frequented by the homeless and vulnerable to keep warm and to be safe. With soaring heating costs, the numbers seeking to spend part of their day in such settings can be expected to rise dramatically.

“However, the related energy costs are also rising rapidly to the point where it is difficult to see how drastic closures can be avoided,” the bishops said.

“To address this dilemma, we urge Government to make assistance available so that these vital community resources can remain open on a sustainable basis throughout this stressful period, and to offer grant support to equip such facilities to be more energy efficient in the future.”

In September The Irish Catholic reported the huge concern from priests across Ireland regarding the challenges of keeping churches warm this winter.

Fr John Joe Duffy of Creeslough, Co. Donegal warned that many churches are still reeling from the effects of Covid-19, saying “it’s a struggle enough without energy prices rising”.

He added: “With prices increasing, it could bring about having to rationalise. It won’t be having churches not staying open because of the non-availability of priests, cost may indeed see churches having to rationalise usage.”