The general secretary of the Rural Independent Group has this week endorsed and supported the call by the Catholic Primate, Archbishop Eamon Martin, for the pastoral work of priests to be deemed essential.
Speaking on Tuesday, the group’s general secretary, John Hanafin, B.L. stated:
“Our group has been consistently seeking to have the government remove the ban on public, physical access to Church worship. We also believe the move by the government to criminalise public attendance, by Statutory Instrument, when the Churches were fully co-operating on providing safe public worship is an egregious assault on fundamental rights.”
“We stand in solidarity with the Catholic Church , Archbishop Martin and all religions on this issue. We believe the request to have priests recognised as essential workers is fair and urgently overdue.”
“The ongoing failure to classify clergy as essential workers only serves to undermine and demean the Trojan efforts of the churches nationwide, to support the protection of health, life and the common good . Since the beginning of this pandemic, priests, for example, have played a crucial role in sustaining people’s spiritual well-being, alongside their mental health.”
“Therefore, this pastoral, spiritual and supportive work must be deemed essential and should not be undermined by the unnecessary use of penal sanctions.”
“The Rural Independent Group is now again calling on the government to withdraw the provisions of this statutory provision, in so far as it relates to public attendance at worship. It is also calling for an immediate recognition of priests as essential workers.”
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