While Ireland plans to keep the ban on public religious ceremonies until July 20th, other European countries are allowing public worship again much sooner. In fact, we seem to be one of the last countries to restore public worship.
In some countries like Sweden, Poland and Bulgaria, public worship has never been discontinued even if only a very limited number of faithful are allowed to take part at one time.
In the Netherlands, the various Churches rather than the Government decided to suspend public ceremonies, with the exception of funerals and weddings. The State had permitted gathering of up to 30 people.
The following countries have already reinstated public worship services, with the due safety precautions:
– Czech Republic: April 27th
– Germany: April 29th
– Croatia: May 2nd
– Monaco: May 4th
– Hungary: May 5th (May 18th in Budapest)
– Slovenia: May 5th
– Slovakia: May 6th
– Lithuania: May 7th
– Latvia: May 8th
– Luxembourg: May 10th
– Estonia: May 10th
– Norway: May 10th
– Austria: May 15th
– Romania: May 17th
– Greece: May 17th
– Italy: May 18th
These are the countries that are planning to reopen their churches soon:
– Portugal: May 31st
– Netherlands: June 1
– Switzerland: June 8th.
Yesterday (May 18th) the French Government has been ordered by the Council of State to allow public worship again within 8 days. It described the ban as a “serious and manifestly illegal infringement” of liberty of religion. In Germany a similar ban was lifted on April 29th when the Constitutional Court of Karlsruhe found that it violated the religious freedom guaranteed by the German Constitution.
The only countries with no official date for reopening are Belgium and the United Kindgom.
All of the above nations will require strict social distancing, limited numbers and proper hygiene. Nonetheless, they are permitting public ceremonies again.
If almost every other European country has or will soon re-establish public worship, why is Ireland waiting until July 20th?
Remember, some of these countries had much worse outbreaks than here, and even though they went into lockdown faster than here, they are restoring public worship much sooner, often after pressure from bishops.
Archbishop Dairmuid Martin gave an interview on RTE Radio last week on allowing public Masses again. A transcript of it is here.