Leaders in the Irish Catholic Church have voiced concerns that Mass cards are being sold under false pretenses, with the money going to shop owners and distributors rather than being used for Mass offerings and charity, BBC News reports.
Mass cards with printed signatures are sold in some retail shops. Bishop O’Reilly from Longford said the cards were part of a massive industry and its lack of accountability undermined the public’s confidence in missionary work.
The bishop said that missionary orders are concerned that purchasers of these Mass cards would think they were supporting charity work in the Third World, when, in fact, the money could go to retailers.
In the past, people would buy an unsigned card and have local priests sign them, while making a donation.
Bishop O’Reilly suggested a return to this practice.
"People that want to make Mass offerings should do so on a personal basis with an individual priest," said Bishop O'Reilly, according to BBC News.
"I would much prefer if they wrote a letter to the person who's been bereaved or better still if they undertook to personally fulfill some act of charity or prayer," he said.
The Irish government has investigated the issue in its reform of charity legislation. Michael Ring, a deputy with the Fine Gael party, claimed that in some cases Mass cards sold at retail outlets used the names of priests “who had been dead for years.”
"In other cases, writing was illegible and they were not able to discern who the priest was," Ring said.