Irish police have issued a final warning to an Irish priest who held Mass during the COVID-19 pandemic, arguing that God will protect his parishioners from the coronavirus.
Fr. PJ Hughes, a Catholic priest in Mullahoran, Cavan County, has challenged Irish Government COVID-19 legislation by keeping his church doors open during COVID-19 Level 5 restrictions.
Fr. Hughes said earlier that he “could not accept” the Government’s decision to close places of worship for six weeks and move online services as it would be “an insult to the people”.
The priest described Irish Government COVID-19 regulations as similar to “living in a police state” and stressed that he was not forcing anyone to go to Mass. Anyone who decides to participate in his service will be protected by his faith, he said.
“The free choice of its peoples to practice their faith – people who do not want to go to church should not go – but people who want to; their faith will lead them to the end,” Fr. Hughes told Claire Byrne on RT Radio One.
Host Claire Byrne asked the priest what he would say to a scientist who told him that faith would not be enough to overcome the virus, the priest said he would tell the scientist that they were wrong.
“I would tell that scientist that he is wrong. God has healed people and he has even raised people from the dead. God can heal and cure the greatest and worst diseases and he has done,” he said. it.
Fr. Hughes also told Shannonside Radio on Thursday that a Garda sergeant had arrived at his church with a colleague on Sunday after he continued with the Sunday Mass to inform that he had broken the law.
He said he told the guard he was unaware that there was “a law against people practicing their religion” and that he was protected under the constitution.
However, he said Sergeant Garda told him that this was his last warning and that he would be prosecuted if he celebrated Mass again with people in the church.
The Guard told him they would send a dossier to the Director of Public Prosecutions and that he would face a sentence of 2,500 or six months in prison.
Fr. Hughes also said he had been contacted by Bishop Francis Duffy of Ardagh and Clonmacnoise, who warned him that he was in “dangerous territory” staying open during the blockade.
He said the Bishop had contacted him after receiving an anonymous complaint about his decision to remain open and said the Bishop also warned him that a complaint would likely be made to the guard if he continued to give Mass.
Fr. Hughes said he listened to what Bishop Duffy had to say, but that he did not promise to stop talking at Mass, arguing that people and God were more important to him than Irish Government regulations.
He said he had urged Bishops to appeal for the reopening of churches during the COVID-19 pandemic and told Shannonside that their obligation to remain closed was “an insult to the faith of the people and an insult to God”.
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