Priest will continue blessing planes despite airport ban

Priest will continue blessing planes despite airport ban

The chaplain of Dublin Airport has insisted he will continue the Christmas tradition of blessing planes whether that be from the altar or 35,000 feet in the air, following the announcement it is to be banned.

The Dublin Airport Authority (DAA) confirmed to The Irish Catholic that due to “changes in security protocols”, the 75-year-old tradition of blessing planes ‘airside’ will be stopped.

The DAA added they are working on a “new approach to facilitating the traditional Christmas blessing”.

Fr Des Doyle of Dublin Airport Church, Our Lady Queen of Heaven, who has been blessing planes for 16 years since he arrived in the parish, said he had only heard second-hand about the change in protocol and is unaware of any plans regarding the DAA’s “new approach”.

Fr Doyle said: “If an airline asked me to bless a plane, I’ll bless the plane – delighted to do it – I’ve been doing that since I came, so that will continue. If the airport authority say ‘you can’t go out airside’ for whatever reasons they have, I can do it from the church. As a former Archbishop of Dublin said years ago: ‘I can bless the Dublin mountains from here!’

“Obviously the airline can bring me to bless their plane, alternatively I can continue doing it every Christmas from the altar, I don’t have to be standing under the plane to bless it although my favourite place to bless it would be sitting on it at 35,000 feet. As one of the great commentators of the Church today said, ‘We’re behind enemy lines’, so we have to do what we can…”

The DAA’s new security protocol, which was revealed by Gript, comes a few months after a request was made last Christmas by a secular campaigner to include a ‘secular blessing’ of planes, following a Dublin Airport tweet on Christmas Day about the carrying out of the annual blessing of planes.

Sources close to the situation say there is no correlation between the request for a secular blessing and the new protocol.

The DAA said: “Due to recent changes to security protocols, airside access is now restricted to airport operations only. For this reason, non-operational activities can no longer be facilitated airside.

“We are currently working on a new approach to facilitating the traditional Christmas blessing of the planes at Dublin Airport,” it concluded.

Airport chaplain Fr Des said that there is a strong Faith community at the airport and he has a “great appreciation for the airline world”.

“I know that security is constantly under review and rules are constantly tightening up and that’s a very good thing,” Fr Doyle said.

“I feel very happy about that myself, because as a passenger I want to be very safe. I know it’s an area you have to be really careful. I haven’t heard anything about this one… I appreciate there are constant security reviews, I’m aware of that. Everybody who goes airside, the side where the planes are, they have to have a good reason for going, they have to be vetted and have airside training. I appreciate all of that and have fit in with that over the years… I suppose something else must have changed.”

He added that he holds a special benediction every Friday at 12.50pm at the airport church for any passengers and staff who are interested – “A full blessing for everyone traveling”.