In the run-up to Easter, religious leaders across Ireland are advocating for churches to reopen, as it is an essential day for the Christian faith.
‘The reopening of the church is vital for the mental health of people and is something that has been ignored to a large degree’, stated Pastor John Aherne, Chairman of Christian Voice Ireland (CVI).
In Ireland, churches have been closed for ten months out of the last year while churches across Europe remain open.
Pastor Thiago Garcia da Silva of Snowball Church in Limerick City stated “Covid-19 has had many terrible effects on people including a large loss of life, but we believe the church is vital especially in bad times.”
As churches are typically large spaces, many believe that it is safe to fellowship together while sticking to government guidelines.
“We have made church a safe place for people, by social distancing, mandatory masks and sanitization. If we all stick to these guidelines, I don’t see why we couldn’t be in a church environment’”
“People are desperate, and many see no hope. Not everyone has the strength to stay going on their own,” he added.”
CVI recently sent a letter signed by 222 pastors in Ireland expressing their desire to reopen churches in time for Easter. They received a response from the office of An Taoiseach but still see no progress.
“It is one thing to acknowledge the issue, and it’s something else to do something about it,” a statement read.
“We understand that everyone shares different views and beliefs, but if churches were to reopen, people would not be obliged to go and those at risk can continue to watch online. But the opportunity would be there for those who wish to return,” said Pastor Thiago.
Religious leaders across Ireland say they do not deny the threat of covid-19 but believe the effects of the isolation could have long lasting ramifications on the people of Ireland.
Pastor John added, “I see many people struggling in their minds now more than ever through anxiety and depression and see a need for church together. We want to give a hope and a light to people in this dark time.”