We must let politicians know that worship is ‘utterly essential’, says Bishop McGuckian

We must let politicians know that worship is ‘utterly essential’, says Bishop McGuckian Bishop Alan McGuckian SJ of Raphoe diocese.

The Bishop of Raphoe said he “longs for churches to be open for Mass” and expressed his frustration that worship is not treated as an essential service in his pastoral message for Lent.

Bishop Alan McGuckian SJ took issue with the fact that public officials view religious services and Mass as being “non-essential”, and as such less important than shopping, physical exercise and other activities.

“I know that some of you feel that, by cooperating as fully as we are with the Government, we are acquiescing in the falsehood that God and his service and our public witness to him are not essential,” the Donegal bishop said in his statement.

“I want you to know that I long for our churches to be open for Mass and the sacraments as soon as possible.”

Bishop McGuckian said that “we need to let our political leaders know that God and our worship of Him are central to us; they are utterly essential”.

He went on to quote Pope Francis, who said recently that “the right to worship must be respected, protected and defended by civil authorities like the right to bodily and physical health”.

When churches were open, parishes across Ireland took “the utmost care” to make sure churches were as safe as possible, Bishop McGuckian continued.

He expressed his gratitude “for the dedication of clergy and countless numbers of volunteers who made this happen”.


Bishop McGuckian’s comments follow those made by Bishop of Meath Tom Deenihan to this paper, in which he called for a resumption of Masses for Easter.

Bishop Deenihan said that it would be “difficult to justify” Catholics not being allowed to gather for Mass for Holy Week and Easter saying “Our churches are probably safer that shopping malls and supermarkets – there is less movement and more social distance. I think that it would be difficult to justify closing churches for Easter and quite unpopular”.

Meanwhile, north of the border Bishop of Derry Donal McKeown has expressed optimism that there could be a return to public Masses early next month.

“I think we’re all keen to get the churches open for public worship as soon as at all possible,” Bishop McKeown told The Irish Catholic.

“March 8 marks the beginning of an ease down of the government-imposed restrictions, I think we’ll have to be pushing as well to ensure that our churches are open for public prayer [the Mass] and not just for private prayer,” Bishop McKeown said.