Ireland, a country with a population of almost five million people, has recorded a total of 230,599 cases of COVID-19 and 4,587 deaths as of March 22, according to the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center. Authorities reported 769 new cases on Sunday -- the highest figure since Feb. 26.
In a homily on St. Patrick’s Day, Dublin’s new archbishop called on authorities to prioritize the right to worship as COVID-19 measures are eased.
Archbishop Dermot Farrell said March 17: “As a matter of human dignity and fairness -- but even more so as a matter of wellbeing and the restoration of normality, I call on the public authorities to give assurance that the legitimate desire of people to gather responsibly and within reasonable guidelines to exercise their constitutional right to worship will be prioritized in the easing of restrictions.”
David Quinn, director of the Iona Institute, an advocacy group promoting the place of marriage and religion in society, told CNA March 22: “Fr. Hughes potentially faces prison if he does not pay the fine. If this happens, it will be the first time in centuries that a priest in Ireland has been jailed, or even fined, for saying Mass in public.”
“It highlights the totally unjust and disproportionate nature of the current situation in Ireland. Public worship has been banned for about eight of the last 12 months, longer than anywhere else in Europe.”
“Currently only a handful of European countries are prohibiting public worship. The rest are permitting it because, once health measures are being followed, gathering for worship is safe. Health authorities and governments everywhere else can see this, but not Ireland, where the right to worship in public has been reduced to an afterthought.”