UK priest: ‘I will be arrested’ before denying sacraments to the faithful again
NOTTINGHAM, England, October 23, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) – A priest in the United Kingdom vowed rather to be arrested than to stop offering Mass for the faithful during a potential second lockdown. He also expressed regret over having stopped public Masses earlier this year.
“Wales has decided to close the Churches again,” Fr. David Palmer tweeted. “I will be arrested before I deny the sacraments to the people of God again. And I repent for having backed down before. Eternal life comes before this life... or our faith means nothing.”
Wales has decided to close the Churches again. I will be arrested before I deny the sacraments to the people of God again. And I repent for having backed down before. Eternal life comes before this life... or our faith means nothing.https://t.co/4ZflM1OxRH— Fr David Palmer (@FrDavidPalmer) October 19, 2020
Palmer, a priest of the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham, is himself based in Nottingham, England, not in Wales, and is thus not directly affected by the prohibition of public Masses.
Some Twitter users objected to Palmer’s resolution, including a priest who said that “a momentary abstention from the Eucharist will do no harm. Especially when done for the sake of a good greater than our individual selves.” However, many others have rallied to support his decision, including, remarkably, “atheist” and non-religious tweeters.
The Real O’Neil tweeted, “I’m an atheist and I still believe you’re correct to take this stance. People should be free to observe their faith. To deny people that right is a moral crime.
I believe we have a moral duty to breach immoral laws.”
Bishop Athanasius Schneider said earlier this year, “If a priest observes in a reasonable manner all the necessary health precautions and uses discretion, he has not to obey the directives of his bishop or the government to suspend Mass for the faithful. Such directives are a pure human law; however, the supreme law in the Church is the salvation of souls.”
“Priests in such a situation have to be extremely creative in order to provide for the faithful, even for a small group, the celebration of Holy Mass and the reception of the sacraments. Such was the pastoral behavior of all confessor and martyr priests in the time of persecution,” Bishop Schneider said.
Palmer tweeted his message along with a Premier Christian News article from Monday that explained the Welsh government’s planned temporary lockdown.
“The Welsh Cabinet have decided to enforce a ‘short, sharp shock' to slow down the virus, which will start at 6pm this Friday,” the article stated.
The lockdown will close places of worship, except for funerals, wedding ceremonies, and to allow ministers to broadcast worship services to their congregations.
The BBC reported that the church closings are part of a shutdown of all “non-essential” businesses, including pubs, restaurants, hotels and community centers. Gathering indoors and outdoors with people other than those in one’s household will also be banned.
“A total of 40,253 people have now tested positive and 1,756 are known to have died with the virus in Wales,” according to recent numbers. “A total of 1,062,714 tests have been carried out in Wales, on 683,358 people, with 643,105 testing negative.”
The BBC reported, “More men than normal are dying at home from heart disease in England and Wales, and more women are dying from dementia and Alzheimer’s, figures show.”
“In contrast, deaths in hospitals from these causes have been lower than usual. The Covid epidemic may have led to fewer people being treated in hospital …”
In the U.S., following restrictions on “non-essential” gatherings, including religious worship, during the COVID-19 crisis, many have argued, and some judges have ruled, that restrictions on group assembly, including assembly for worship, are a violation of the First Amendment.
Dr. George Delgado said that he has “been associated with legal teams seeking to overturn restrictions in New York State, California, Illinois and Delaware. So far, most judges are in agreement that states and counties have overstepped their bounds in placing unreasonable restrictions on religious bodies.”
Lockdowns are also being legally challenged in the U.K.