Rorate Caeli

"Declaration to Reopen Churches in Ireland": Roundtower Association

Rorate was asked to publicize this initiative of our suffering brethren in Ireland, where the lockdown has been merciless and indiscriminate. The following open letter to the Irish Bishops asks them to re-open the churches: they have been shut for public Mass for 37 Sundays out of the last 52. The petition has been signed by 2500 so far and they are looking for signatures (from Irish Catholics only) to exceed 3000.


To their Lordships, the Bishops of Ireland.

We the undersigned, Roman Catholics of Ireland, declare that we accept and submit to the doctrine of the Kingship of Christ.

It was this doctrine that the Fathers of the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council proclaimed when they defined the independence of religion from civil control. Among other things, they declared:

"The religious acts whereby men, in private and in public and out of a sense of personal conviction, direct their lives to God, transcend by their very nature the order of earthly and temporal affairs. Government therefore ought indeed to take account of the religious life of the citizenry and show it favour, since the function of government is to make provision for the common welfare. However, it would clearly transgress the limits set to its power, were it to presume to command or inhibit acts that are religious (Dignitatis humanae, 3).

Among all public actions, religious worship thus enjoys a unique immunity from civil control. Provided that public morality and peace, and the rights of other citizens, are not infringed, as the Vatican Council noted in the same place, the civil power may not limit “the right to honour God in public worship”. Moreover, it belongs ultimately to your Lordships, as entrusted by God, with the charge of bringing those under their authority to the final goal of human life, to judge if the State is pursuing some subordinate “earthly and temporal” end, such as public health, in a way that will unacceptably impede the salvation of souls. We also note that during the past calendar year, the Catholics of Ireland have been prevented from gathering for public worship on thirty-seven Sundays out of fifty-two.

We therefore respectfully request your Lordships to (i) to reassert the principle of the independence of public worship from civil control; and (ii) to apply this principle by re-opening Ireland’s churches, lest the prolonged separation of the people from the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, from the sources of grace and from the preaching of God’s word, turn to the ruin of souls.

On the brink of the feast of St. Patrick we trust and pray that your Lordships will look to this saint’s example when, despite great opposition from the political powers of the time, he established the foundations for the social kingship of Christ on this island and honoured God in public worship that Easter vigil night on the hill of Slane.

Irish Catholics may sign the letter here.