Ban on attendance at religious services
Sir, – Many churchgoers ask where is the evidence to support the ban on attendance at religious services. Ireland is one of the very few countries in the EU to have imposed such a ban. Restrictions, we are told, are based on scientific evidence regarding the potential risk of the spread of Covid-19.
Under Level 2 restrictions, numbers attending services were limited to 50. In relation to Catholic churches, the highest level of safety restrictions were instituted and strictly adhered to. Stewards supervised all safety measures during public worship. Many churchgoers believed that attending Mass under such strict conditions, and in the relatively vast arena of a Catholic church, did not warrant a ban on their attendance under Level 3 restrictions.
No other EU country has imposed such a ban at a comparable level of restrictions and, even now, when most have introduced more severe measures, only a handful have prohibited attendance at church services.
In France, during its first lockdown, five French bishops were successful in their court action to overturn a ban on attendance at religious services.
Britain’s former prime minister Theresa May said a ban on religious worship set a dangerous precedent which could be misused by a future government.
The German chancellor Angela Merkel considers religious liberty a fundamental human right and there is no ban there.
What is so different in our country that our leaders are so much at variance with our EU partners regarding what is for many a hugely important issue?
People, on the whole, when given the evidence, have been very compliant with restrictions. To date, evidence to support the ban on attendance at public worship has not been forthcoming. If the prohibition is based on scientific evidence, it is hardly too much to ask that we be acquainted with such evidence. – Yours, etc,