Bishop of Raphoe calls for lifting of public Masses ban

Alan McGuckian, Bishop of Raphoe.

THE Bishop of Raphoe is calling on the government to lift the ban on public worship, put in place as a measure against Covid-19.
All churches across Donegal closed in late September as part of the Level 3 lockdown to stop the spread of the coronavirus. Since then, religious services have moved back online.
The Bishop of Raphoe, Most Rev Alan McGuckian, SJ, said the prospect of churches remaining closed in the weeks leading up to Christmas was “both frustrating and frightening”.
Speaking to the Donegal News, Bishop McGuckian said he would encourage parishioners to lobby their TDs to put pressure on the Cabinet and public health authorities to have public Masses reinstated.
“We are 100 per cent supportive, and always have been, of everything the Government is trying to do but our Churches have shown themselves to be such safe spaces. Many people who are suffering more this time than before are saying that they really need to get back to their worship of God.
“I’m really supportive of people speaking to their public representatives and encouraging them to get the Government to see that it makes perfect sense that the churches, in absolute safety, should be opened for worship,” Bishop McGuckian said.
The Bishop of Raphoe dismissed suggestions that calls for public Masses to be resumed during the coronavirus crisis were “self-serving”.
“There are many people who will choose not to go out into the public and not to go to church and they’ve every right to do that but I think those who want to, and feel that we have guaranteed safe spaces, should be allowed and even encouraged for the good it would do them,” Bishop McGuckian said.
“People are saying to me and other priests that for their own well being and good they want the freedom to go back to worship in safety. I have encouraged them to pass that message on to their public representatives,” Bishop McGuckian.
Similar sentiments were echoed over the weekend by one of the most senior Catholic Priests in Donegal.
Writing in the weekly Church of the Holy Family bulletin, Rev Dean Austin Laverty PP, parishes of Ardara/Kilclooney, also urged parishioners to lobby their TDs.
“The problem we have in Donegal is that there seems to be no lessoning of the disease in our county, so even though the Level 5 restrictions are due to be revised at the end of this month, there is a possibility that we will not see any lessoning of restrictions in the county at least until the very last moment.
feart of the birth of chirst
“We need to pressurise our government to, at the very least, allow us the Feast of the Birth of Christ by making it possible to go to Mass in the Christmas period,” Fr Laverty said.
Fr Laverty (83) said that it was important that people of faith have the opportunity to attend Mass.
“There’s been so much talk of mental health during Covid and here’s a group of people who need to be in touch with their religion and faith. The best way they can to do that is by sharing in the Eucharist.
“A lot of people haven’t had the chance of sharing in the Eucharist. We’re almost back to the Penal Laws.
“It means so much to so many. It’s part of our Constitution that people have the right to practice their religion,” Fr Laverty said.

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