The Anglo-Celt has reported that a Cavan-based priest was threatened with prosecution after gardaí attended his church last Sunday to check compliance with Covid-19 regulations.
While the country remains under Level 5 restrictions, public Masses remain suspended, with the exception of six for a wedding and 25 for a funeral Mass. A priest in Cork was recently threatened with “the full rigours of the law” by gardaí after he celebrated Mass with a small congregation, The Irish Catholic reported.
Fr P.J. Hughes, parish priest of Mullahoran defended his actions, with The Anglo-Celt reporting that he likened the restrictions to “living in a police state”, or akin to the time when Catholicism was considered illegal in Ireland by British rule.
Last Sunday, Fr Hughes was visited by two gardaí who informed him that he was breaking the law, to which Fr Hughes responded with Article 44 of the Constitution which asserts the right to practice religion freely.
Following the Mass, he was visited by four members of the gardaí, including a sergeant, who informed him that he could be prosecuted for breaching the lockdown restrictions. The penalty, if convicted, includes a fine up to €2,500 and/or six months imprisonment.
Fr Hughes told the paper: “So I put myself out on a limb. I have to make a decision to celebrate Mass everyday, but I cannot celebrate it at the time that’s designated because people will come in. So I’ll say Mass at a different time each day, on Facebook, for the people. Because I don’t want to be prosecuted either, although I would like to test to see would they go and bring me before the DPP because I just think this is scandalous really, we’re gone to a police state.”