Limerick friar condemns Good Friday rugby match


RUGBY FANS who attend a match due to take place on Good Friday can no longer call themselves Catholics and can expect to face the wrath of God, a leading religious order has claimed.

The Franciscan Friars in Limerick yesterday called on fans to boycott a controversial Thomond Park clash on April 2nd as the city’s publicans came one step closer to securing permission to open on the day.

Following a meeting between Limerick vintners and Chief Supt Dave Sheahan, a spokesman for the publicans said the way was now clear for them to seek a court order that will allow drink to be sold on the holy day.

Dave Hickey said: “We will seek our own legal counsel’s advice and then we will apply for an area exemption which would allow drink to be served on Good Friday. We will let the judge be the final arbiter.”

However, the head of the Franciscan Friars, Br Shaun O’Connor, whose friary is located in the shadow of Thomond Park, in Moyross, slated those who put money ahead of their faith.

“I heard someone quoted this week who said that rugby is more important than religion – that’s just ridiculous and it’s a shame. If you identify yourself as a Catholic, then you should be nowhere near Thomond Park or a pub on that day.”

Br O’Connor said the debate surrounding the scheduling of the Magners League game on Good Friday was like something out of the Old Testament.

Local politicians have backed publicans in their move to have pubs open in a bid to cash in on the €5 million which the game is said to be worth to the city.

Br O’Connor said: “It really shows you who you are worshipping, is it God or is it mammon? This is like something out of the Old Testament. If you’re going against God and making a public stand about it, then you are serving mammon over God. I don’t care how much money you pull in, it will backfire on you on a spiritual level.”

He warned that those who attended the game had no right to call themselves Catholics. “Ash Wednesday and Good Friday are the most solemn days in the whole Christian calendar. I don’t think you have the right to call yourself a Catholic if you go to this match.”

The friars are planning to hold their own public ceremony on Good Friday in a bid to remind Limerick people of the sacredness of the day.

“This might spur us on to do something more public, just to make a statement and be a visible witness of what the day is all about. We’re not going to make a scene or anything. It will be a public and prayerful event of some sort.”

The vintners plan to seek a district court order in the next two weeks which will allow them to open pubs on Good Friday.

The Franciscan Friars came to Limerick from the US in 2007. Veterans of working in some of the world’s worst trouble spots, they set up a friary in the deprived housing estates of Moyross. They came, they said, to give locals a sense of hope and to help them see that God cared about them.