Churches and other places of worship will reopen to the public from next month, Taoiseach tells religious leaders in letter
CHURCHES and other places of worship will reopen to the public from next month, the Taoiseach told religious leaders in a letter sent this evening.
icheál Martin told parliamentary party Fianna Fáil he sent solace after being tackled on the issue by backbench MPs.
They echoed a passionate appeal from a former minister earlier in the Dáil.
Seán Canney, now an independent DT, told Mr Martin that churches were “safer than supermarkets,” which have remained open throughout the pandemic.
He said many Church leaders consider it a breach of trust that the holding of unauthorized services was added to a bylaw against illegal gatherings, punishable by a significant fine.
The Taoiseach replied that this was a general legal precaution and that the government was by no means “anti-religious”. The only motivation was to protect public health and save lives.
Mr. Canney said: “I know a lot of people in my constituency for whom it was part of their daily routine, especially retirees, to go to mass every day.
“They’d probably have 20 or 30 people there, that was part of their socialization, and they probably went for a cup of coffee for a few days.”
He added: “I think a church is a much safer place to go to mass, where you socialize rather than going to a supermarket.
“Churches were closed again after Christmas. People aspire to return to public worship, to receive the sacraments, and to do so in a way that respects restrictions and social distancing. “
Mr. Martin replied that he considered religious worship “a very fundamental right in any democratic society”.
“Ordinarily would not apply such restrictions on people, but a global pandemic is such a context.”
The government was increasing the number of people allowed to attend the funeral to 25 from next Monday, which was still very difficult for families who have suffered bereavement, he said, adding that this was the time. one of the worst aspects of Covid-19.
“But I think it needs to be said very loud and clear. The sole motivation of the government is to protect life and protect people from serious disease.
“There is no other motivation. The government is not anti-religious and does not want to suppress religious worship. Any suggestion to the contrary is deeply offensive, wrong and unfair. “
The regulation to punish illegal religious gatherings was one that “covers all indoor gatherings, which internationally have been found to be responsible for a wide spread of the infection.”
But he added: “We will look into this situation next week.”
Mr Canney said categorizing religion with the opening of museums was “a bit offbeat” and religious ceremonies played a vital role in society.