CAVAN, Ireland, November 19, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) — Irish police are threatening a Catholic priest with prosecution because of his refusal to turn people away when they arrived for Mass.
Under the current law, the Irish government is expressly forbidding gatherings for “religious or other reasons” and threatening priests with a fine of €2,500 and/or six months imprisonment should they attempt to offer public Mass. The law has come about as part of the Level 5 lockdown currently enforced across the country.
Speaking to the AngloCelt, which reported on the story, Fr. P.J. Hughes mentioned that “somebody reported me,” which led to his Masses becoming known to the local bishop and the civil authorities.
Fr. Hughes’ superior, Bishop Francis Duffy, had contacted the priest last week after receiving a complaint from a parishioner that he was saying Mass with people present. Duffy reportedly told Fr. Hughes that he was in “dangerous territory.”
Fr. Hughes told the AngloCelt, “I have continued to say Mass because I feel it is our Constitutional right to practise our religion,” and also mentioned that when members of his congregation would arrive at church, he “did not chase them away.”
He noted that the church had taken all the measures required by the government in the face of COVID-19 and that people in the church are “just there to pray and go home.”
Based in Mullahoran, Cavan, in the Diocese of Ardagh and Clonmacnoise, Fr. Hughes was approached by two police officers before offering Mass this past Sunday, who informed him he was breaking the law.
Shortly after Mass ended, four officers appeared, stating that “a file would be prepared for the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), meaning that he may be prosecuted for breaching the Covid rules introduced during the last lockdown period.”
Hughes challenged the police, appealing to the constitutional right to freely practice religion.
The law banning public Mass appears to be 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.”
Apparently, Fr. Hughes has been offered a final chance to submit to the ban on public Mass.
He explained he has “no support, only from the people maybe, but I have no support. So I put myself out on a limb. I have to make a decision to celebrate Mass every day, but I cannot celebrate it at the time that’s designated because people will come in.”
“So I’ll say Mass at a different time each day, on Facebook, for the people,” Fr. Hughes continued. “Because I don’t want to be prosecuted either, although I would like to test to see would they go and bring me before the DPP because I just think this is scandalous really, we’re gone to a police state.”
In a radio interview after the Mass, Fr. Hughes mentioned that “people mattered more to him and God mattered more to him than anything else.”
The case of Fr. Hughes is not an isolated event, as police in Cork also approached a priest to warn that they would “apply the full rigours of the law,” if he continued celebrating Mass with people present.
Remarks attributed to Pope Francis (and, not denied by the Vatican) in support of homosexual civil unions have caused grave scandal to the faithful.
Please SIGN this urgent petition which asks Pope Francis to clarify and rectify these heterodox and scandalous remarks on homosexual civil unions, and which will be delivered both to the Vatican and to the Papal Nuncio of the United States (the Pope's official representative in the U.S.).
As the last guarantor of the Faith, the Pope should clarify and rectify these remarks, which go against the perennial teaching of the Church, even including the teaching of his living predecessor, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI.
"What we have to create is a law of civil coexistence [meaning civil union law, for homosexuals]...," Pope Francis is reported to have remarked, in what is arguably his clearest statement of public support for a practice morally prohibited by official Catholic Church teaching.
In fact, the Church has been crystal clear in Her opposition to homosexual unions.
Just in 2003, Pope Saint John Paul II approved a document from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, titled 'Considerations Regarding Proposals to Give Legal Recognition to Unions between Homosexual Persons' and written by Cardinal Ratzinger (now, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI), which concludes with the following:
"The Church teaches that respect for homosexual persons cannot lead in any way to approval of homosexual behaviour or to legal recognition of homosexual unions. The common good requires that laws recognize, promote and protect marriage as the basis of the family, the primary unit of society. Legal recognition of homosexual unions or placing them on the same level as marriage would mean not only the approval of deviant behaviour, with the consequence of making it a model in present-day society, but would also obscure basic values which belong to the common inheritance of humanity. The Church cannot fail to defend these values, for the good of men and women and for the good of society itself."
It could not be more clear: the Church is calling people to repentance, not to be left to indulge in grave sin.
Since becoming public, several senior prelates as well as other notable Catholic figures have voiced their opposition to these remarks attributed to the Pontiff.
Cardinal Raymond Burke stated: "It is a source of deepest sadness and pressing pastoral concern that the private opinions reported with so much emphasis by the press and attributed to Pope Francis do not correspond to the constant teaching of the Church, as it is expressed in Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition."
Cardinal Gerhard Müller commented: "Where there is tension between the plain and obvious Word of God and the infallible interpretation on the one hand, and private expressions of opinion even by the highest church authorities on the other, the principle always applies: in dubio pro DEO [When in doubt, be in favor of God]."
And, Catholic theologian and apologist Scott Hahn, without directly quoting Pope Francis, shared on Facebook the 'Letter to the Bishops of the Catholic Church on the Pastoral Care of Homosexual Persons,' published by the CDF in 1986, with the statement: "Holy Father, respectfully and humbly, I beg to differ... if that is indeed what you said. In any case, please clarify and rectify your statement, especially in view of the official teaching of our Lord through the magisterium of His Church."
But, the silence from the Vatican has been deafening, with no clarification forthcoming.
We must, therefore, ask the Pope for clarification in this serious matter.
Please SIGN and SHARE this petition which asks Pope Francis to clarify and rectify remarks attributed to him in support of homosexual civil unions.
FOR MORE INFORMATION:
'Cdl. Burke: Pope’s homosexual civil union remarks ‘contrary’ to Scripture, Tradition' - https://www.lifesitenews.com/opinion/cardinal-burke-on-popes-homosexual-civil-union-remarks-contrary-to-the-teaching-of-sacred-scripture-and-sacred-tradition
'Cardinal says Catholics ‘can and should’ disagree with Pope’s ‘opinion’ on gay civil unions' - https://www.lifesitenews.com/blogs/cdl.mueller-popes-words-on-gay-civil-unions-purely-private-expression-of-opinion-which-every-catholic-can-and-should-freely-contradict
'Archbishop Vigano, Bishops Tobin and Strickland respond to Pope’s approval of homosexual civil unions' - https://www.lifesitenews.com/blogs/archbishop-vigano-and-bishops-tobin-strickland-respond-to-popes-approval-of-homosexual-civil-unions
'Pope’s comments on gay civil unions cause shockwaves around the world' - https://www.lifesitenews.com/news/deepest-sadness-cardinal-burke-condemns-pope-franciss-remarks-supporting-civil-unions
The Irish Catholic reported on the anonymous priest, who termed himself a “conscientious objector” to the ban on public worship.
The priest said he and another priest had been saying public Masses “for the last few weeks,” with an average of 10 people attending. The Masses were streamed online, which meant that “someone saw it on the webcam and … they got onto the guards.”
After being contacted a couple of times by the police, the priest was warned that if he continued to offer public Masses, then police would “apply the full rigours of the law.”
The police warnings come in spite of Health Minister Stephen Donnelly claiming upon the introduction of the law that “I assure the Deputy and other colleagues that with regard to penalties, religious services are non-penal in that there is no penalty attached to them.”
In order to coordinate efforts and galvanize people into action for the return of Mass, a lay group called We Need Worship has formed, prayerfully but firmly petitioning that the government respect the constitutional right to worship and have Mass.
Readers in Ireland are encouraged to contact their bishops to respectfully ask for the churches to be opened, and Mass to be celebrated. Contact information for the bishops of Ireland can be found HERE.