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DUBLIN, Ireland, October 29, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) – In the wake of new laws which Catholics in Ireland are comparing to penal times and the persecution of the Catholic Church, an ever growing number of priests and lay people are demanding the return of Mass and the sacraments.

On October 6 Ireland moved into a “Level 3 lockdown” meaning that all religious services must “move online.” However since then, the country has been ordered into the highest level of restrictions, and a new law introduced, expressly forbidding gatherings for “religious or other reasons” and threatening priests with heavy fines and even jail, should they attempt to offer public Mass. 

The law is in direct violation of Article 44 of the Irish Constitution, which states: “The State acknowledges that the homage of public worship is due to Almighty God. It shall hold His Name in reverence, and shall respect and honour religion. Freedom of conscience and the free profession and practice of religion are, subject to public order and morality, guaranteed to every citizen.”

Fr. Sean Mulligan of the Clogher Diocese protested the law in a powerful sermon, (which has subsequently been viewed more than 1,700 times on YouTube), in which he decried the new law as “a new type of tyranny and persecution” and stated that “it’s our own government who are orchestrating this attack on our faith and our right to practice it in public.”

Another priest in rural Ireland, who wished to remain anonymous, told LifeSiteNews of the effect which the law is having on the faithful: “It’s like going back to the penal days. I’ve been speaking with the faithful who feel very upset and distressed that they have been deprived of the sacraments. And it’s sad to think that you can buy unnecessary goods in the supermarket, yet we have been deprived of sacramental grace, which is so essential.”

He also pointed out the mistake which was made in closing down the churches in March: “By doing so, the Church in Ireland has deemed the practice of our faith non-essential…It’s been a disaster…The Church in Ireland is a devastated vineyard.”

The soon to be retired bishop of Ferns, Bishop Brennan, spoke out saying that the government’s decision was “very hard to understand, churches are very safe places.”

The bishop also issued a pastoral letter in which he called for “the need to revisit and amend the continued existence of church closures for public worship.”

However, it is not just members of the clergy who have been protesting the law, as prominent lay Catholics have also spoken out in defence of the Mass.

Rory O’Hanlon, of the Irish Society for Christian Civilization, made reference to the Church’s duty “to provide the Sacraments to the faithful, and under divine and natural law the Catholic hierarchy has the right to carry out this duty, whether the government likes it or not.” 

He told LifeSiteNews that the government was violating its constitutional duty to “respect and honour religion.” O’Hanlon said that by closing churches whilst leaving “elite sports” and schools open, the government was “uniting itself to a small club of anti-Catholic tyrannical regimes around the world.” 

Anthony Murphy, Director of Lumen Fidei Institute and editor of Catholic Voice magazine, said in a statement to LifeSiteNews that the bishops must exercise their authority and open the churches. 

“The bishops have handed over the sacraments for the government to control and regulate and God has been side-lined,” Murphy said. 

“God is being openly mocked in Ireland and the bishops do not seem to care, they stand silent while the sheep go hungry.”

Murphy continued by noting the low level of infection for COVID-19 in Ireland, and how churches had been meticulously been cleaned to prevent the virus spreading. He urged that regardless of the current laws, bishops must “open Ireland’s Catholic churches and should call the faithful to come to Holy Mass so that they can feed the flocks entrusted to their care by Jesus Christ.”

Deputy Matthew McGrath, a pro-life, independent member of the Irish parliament and the only member to oppose same-sex “marriage” in the 2015 referendum, decried the new laws as being something which “wouldn’t happen under Hitler.”

The four Archbishops of Ireland had a meeting with the Taoiseach yesterday evening, in which they “emphasised that they are fully supportive of the Public Health messages but highlighted that the coming together in prayer and worship, especially for Mass and the Sacraments, is fundamental to Christian tradition and a source of nourishment for the life and well-being of whole communities.”

The Taoiseach is reported to have thanked them, but no concessions have been made regarding the opening of churches. 

Both parties agreed the “need for a shared understanding of the effects of the pandemic as it evolves and to align our response accordingly.”

In an open letter published in May, Catholic clergy led by former papal nuncio Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò and Cardinals Gerhard Ludwig Mueller, Joseph Zen, and Janis Pujats reminded politicians around the world that “the state has no right to interfere, for any reason whatsoever, in the sovereignty of the church.”

“This autonomy and freedom are an innate right that Our Lord Jesus Christ has given her for the pursuit of her proper ends. For this reason, as pastors we firmly assert the right to decide autonomously on the celebration of Mass and the Sacraments, just as we claim absolute autonomy in matters falling within our immediate jurisdiction, such as liturgical norms and ways of administering Communion and the Sacraments,” the signatories stated.

We Need Worship Campaign 

In order to co-ordinate efforts and galvanise people into action for the return of Mass, a lay group called We Need Worship (WNW) has formed, prayerfully but firmly petitioning that the government respect the constitutional right to worship and have Mass. 

The group’s Facebook page states that “Our constitutional right to worship Jesus Christ is being violated.” WNW warns that unless action is taken swiftly, then Ireland risks still being prohibited from celebrating Mass even on Christmas Day: “Already, the Irish government have prohibited us, the lay faithful, from the proper worship that we owe (and long to give) Jesus Christ our Saviour, in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.”

WNW have also noted that the ban on worship which the Irish Catholic bishops imposed in March, paved the way for the constitutional breach: “This blithe disregard for Bunreacht na hEireann is not surprising in late October, when such disregard has been apparent since March – when the Irish Catholic Bishops Conference unanimously steamrolled over these constitutional rights – and the Irish government did nothing to stop them.”

WNW has drawn up letter templates to be sent to the TD’s, (Members of the Irish Parliament), Irish Catholic bishops and priests, demanding that the government cease the violation of the constitution.

All three letters note that the new law is a violation of religious and constitutional rights and calls for the law to be over-ruled in light of this.

The letter to the TD’s warns that the new law places the “government in conflict with the Constitution” and is “intellectually ignorant of the Catholic faith at best and intentionally insulting at worst.” 

Government ministers are accused of seeking to “provoke a confrontation between the State and the lay faithful – who are the Church” and reminded that they “have to protect our right to worship in this way.” 

In writing to the Catholic Bishops, WNW appeals to them as shepherds of the faithful, noting their duty to care for souls as outlined in Canon Law, and pointing out that bishops do not need to ask the government for permission to say Mass. 

The letter urges bishops to have zealous care for the faithful, promising to pray for them, but asking that in return the bishops will act with “fortitude, perseverance and holy boldness” in defence of the Mass and for the protection of the souls of the faithful: “Holy Mass is central to our lives. It is ESSENTIAL!”

WNW also writes to encourage priests, reassuring them of prayers and warning that those who “want to destroy religion, they begin by attacking the priest.” In the face of this warning, the letter earnestly recommends priests to have recourse to “our Blessed Mother, St. John Vianney, St. Patrick and all the Irish Saints.”

Contact information for the Catholic Bishops of Ireland can be found here, to respectfully ask for the churches to be opened, and Mass to be celebrated:

Those in Ireland are urged to contact their TD’s in order to change the current restrictions imposed upon the Church. Contact information can be found here: