Irish Bishops: Help Youth Get to Mass

In Appeal to Parents, Coaches, Employers

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MAYNOOTH, Ireland, MARCH 12, 2008 (Zenit.org).- The bishops of Ireland are asking parents, coaches and employers to work together in helping young people get to Mass on Sunday.

The prelates said this Tuesday in a statement released during the March general meeting of the Irish episcopal conference in Maynooth, which ended today.

In the statement the bishops urge adults "to respect the spiritual needs of children and adolescents, particularly as these relate to family life and religious practice on Sundays, and to refrain from organizing events that clash with Sunday morning religious services."

"Ever since the Resurrection of Our Lord Jesus Christ, Sunday has held a special place in the weekly lives of His followers," said the prelates. "It is a day different in character to the other six days of the week, a day when we set aside all non-essential work."

The note said that until recent times, Sundays were dedicated to a balance of activities devoted to "family, to religious practices, visiting the sick and the elderly and to leisure and recreational pastimes."

But due to the increasing trend of scheduling sporting events and young part time workers on Sunday morning, the balance has been lost.

Conflicts

"We wish to draw the attention of all parents and guardians to the conflict of interests this scheduling can cause for children and teenager," said the bishops. "We wish also to bring this conflict of interests to the attention of officials and coaches, whom we recognize as persons of generosity and goodwill."

The prelates noted that a young person, afraid of missing a game or practice for fear of losing their place on a team, could "lose the habit of going to Sunday Mass," especially when a conflict occurs on a regular basis.

"Catholic parents and guardians too can lose sight of their responsibility of attending Sunday Mass because they may need to travel with young people to events or attend to support them," the statement said.

Regarding young people who work, the bishops mentioned concern for those who are scheduled to work on both Saturday evening and Sunday morning, "without being given time off to attend either a Vigil or a morning Mass."

The bishops added, "We appeal to employers to ensure that their young part time employees are afforded time to go to church at weekends."