The chief of the Irish Catholic Church is seeking an urgent meeting with the Irish government on what he calls a”draconian” ban on public Mass..

Archbishop Eamon Martin accused the authorities of behaving in a”covert manner without notice or consultation”.

Irish Health Minister Stephen Donnelly signed a regulation last week allowing only virtual religious services as a result of pandemic.

The archbishops said they considered his action”a breach of trust”.

They are seeking legal information.

In a statement, Archbishop Martin said he just became aware on Friday that a statutory instrument was published a week on the matter.
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picture captionA priest celebrating a internet Mass in a vacant church throughout the first lockdown last year

He called the move both”provocative” and”draconian”, including the law was”confusing and unnecessary”.

“The exact provisions are unclear and initially reading seem to be draconian, going further than the limitations we’ve been cooperating with during the pandemic so far,” he said.

“We will be looking for legal counsel to counsel on several questions concerning the degree of the legal instrument”

Taoiseach (Irish Prime Minister) Micheál Martin met Irish bishops, including Archbishop Martin, on Thursday, 15 April.

Archbishop Martin stated it was highly disappointing that despite the reassurances given that the taoiseach knew the value of worship to those of Ireland, this statutory instrument was released”at a covert fashion and without notice or consultation”.

The Irish health ministry has defended the recent limitations on Mass, saying there is a ban on all big indoor gatherings due to the risks introduced by Covid-19.

Irish broadcaster RTÉ has noted that Mr Donnelly said he was aware it was a serious imposition for a good deal of people and as soon as public health information deemed it safe, public Mass would be allowed.

He also said he would be delighted to meet the bishops.

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