Cavan priest Fr. PJ Hughes has said he and his parish will not be “dictated to by a pagan and communist government.”
The remarks came after Taoiseach Micheál Martin announced that places of worship could allow 50 people to attend services, with Fr Hughes expressing his annoyance at the restriction.
“So what? Big deal,” he said.
“Who the hell do they think they are giving us permission to have 50 people in? They should mind their own business and let us live our lives and let the people be responsible for their own health.”
Fr Hughes said he will meet his parish council soon to decide their Christmas arrangements, but said he “didn’t care any more” for being “condemned because I was practising my faith”.
The priest has been visited by Gardai earlier this month for holding a number of public Masses in violation of the Covid-19 regulations, with his bishop eventually insisting that the church’s doors had to close during Mass.
Hughes was particularly critical of Micheál Martin, saying “it would stick in the Taoiseach’s throat if he mentioned Jesus at all.”
“All he could talk about the other evening was Mr Fox and Roald Dahl. It is not about Jesus anymore.”
“They do not recognise what I do as necessary, and what Jesus Christ did, coming into this world, as necessary,” Fr Hughes said.
The government, he said, is “turning a blind eye” to violations of the rules by sporting groups, while people are “going from parish to parish to play football and soccer and hurling”.
The Mullahoran parish priest was also critical of other leaders in the Catholic Church, claiming that the four archbishops had “let us down.”
“They have not spoken up and represented Christ who they signed up to represent. They are giving in to a government who, from where I am standing, don’t believe in God and don’t understand what faith is all about.”
The elderly going to Mass are “not stupid”, he said.
“They know that they need God, and they come to pray. They are not coming to talk to each other, they are not going to spread the virus. They hardly open their mouths.”
“When is the penny going to drop with these people in authority that Jesus is the messiah, and that they are not the messiahs, that the CMO or the HSE or Nphet is not the messiah.”