As a statewide level 5 lockdown reaches into its fourth consecutive week and some priests face legal sanction for hosting Mass a Catholic Youth organisation has launched to lobby for an easing of restrictions on ecclesiastical events.
Named ‘We Need Worship’ and composed of younger members of the Faith the campaign group has commenced lobbying Bishops and state representatives to overturn the ban on services which has seen all Churches in the Republic shut for the majority of the crisis.
Coming to prominence with a viral video of Young Irish Catholics appealing for the ban to be lifted, the group has additionally organised a letter writing campaign targeted at members of the Catholic hierarchy and politicians.
Citing constitutional arguments on the right to unencumbered worship and freedom to assemble, the group objects to the fact that the state turned a blind eye to Black Lives Matters protesters when they thronged the streets early on in the lockdown, but refuse to give reprieve to the faithful.
The moves towards mobilising young Catholics comes as a constitutional challenge has been lodged to enable religious functions to occur with Archbishops meeting Taoiseach Martin seeking a relaxation on measures. Presently under Level 5 measures Churches are shut with the exception of private prayer with some pointing out the disproportionate deterrents on Churches relative to the rest of Europe.
In correspondence with this publication spokeswoman for the group Sandra Parda outlined the motivations in launching the group and its aims.
“The Level 5 restrictions imposed on 22 October 2020 make it unlawful for a priest to celebrate, or for an ordinary Catholic to attend, a public Mass. We recognise the need to protect health, but according to the government’s own data, there are very few outbreaks of Covid-19 associated with places of worship. Therefore, the closure of churches and places of worship is completely disproportionate in response. The Irish government has failed to strike the correct balance between physical, mental and spiritual health. Ireland now stands out as one of the only countries in Europe or the western world which has a prohibition on public worship. There are serious constitutional questions arising from these restrictions. In our constitution the State acknowledges the “the homage of public worship” and stresses the guarantee to every citizen of “freedom of conscience and the free profession and practice of religion”.